Ease Back, Man
I’m going to try to begin on some positive notes, because I feel like I’ve mostly been complaining about this show this season, and it’s starting to get me down. This episode felt like a little bit of a shuffle to get us in position for the last two that mostly, though not super-wonderfully, worked. It focused in on the relationship between the Gov. and Andrea, and brought in other stories to illuminate that – in other words, it actually tried to tell a coherent story. Yey! Take the oddly placed flashback, for example – if whether or not we hand over Michonne is going to be the central moral question moving forward, then this adds a small textured layer to her character – she knew her walker pack-mules, and they weren’t even human before they turned, making her herself more morally complex and ambiguous. (Those of you who have read the novels, please don’t put spoilers in the comments on who those walkers were…I’d like to see what the show is going to do with that). But the scene also served the central focus – what particularly struck me in that little fireside chat, for example, was how much of it Andrea carried. Her and Michonne’s seemingly deep friendship always made me think that Andrea had cracked through that shell in a way we were still waiting to see – the flashback left me wondering if what we’re supposed to derive from their affection for each other is that Andrea simply projects all the meaning in all her relationships with wildly broken people onto them herself. We’ve certainly seen this with the Governor – and perhaps it explains why an apparently smart woman can get herself into so many terrible situations!
I think I had the sense as Andrea watched the Governor set up his room that she was watching the stage be set for her own torture – what felt like it was supposed to be a big reveal at the end felt inevitable to me. And I honestly couldn’t quite follow the playful, almost erotic musical sweep of the camera through the hallways to land on her gagged and waiting. The mood felt off to me – I’m wondering if anyone else felt the same?? But after a season in which we’ve complained again and again about the sexism and misogyny, I’m sitting a little uncomfortable with these last two episodes setting up the finale around the potential torture of two female bodies (especially after so much of this season has grown out of Maggie’s – not Glen’s – torture…it seems only drippy women like Carol are safe!). And I’m certainly not keen to see what those gynecological instruments are for!
Which takes me to question Milton’s question – which is more delusional, thinking there are still traces of humanity left in the zombies, or thinking there are still traces of Philip in the Governor?
Friendlier commentary aside – I’ve had some frustration growing with the show over the past few weeks over the cheap tricks it pulls to keep things moving along, and this week seemed full of them. I’m thinking of how quickly and easily Michonne ran back into the bar a few weeks ago to grab the photograph off camera – how on earth are we to think she defeated all those zombies?! In this episode, the following raised my hackles or, “yeah, but why/how?!”:
- Andrea’s fun little trick with the zombies behind the door just didn’t add up – it required a quick jump behind the door on her part, but there’s no way that many zombies could spill out so quickly!
- and then, of course, just how did the Gov. defeat all those zombies with just a shovel and then find Andrea at that perfectly timed moment?
- why on earth did Tyrese – a seemingly nice and level headed guy – totally freak out on Allen (who I didn’t even realize was part of that group right away…so yeah, those guys could use a little more attention) and hold him over the zombie pit when he’d just given a big speech about not using biters against humans? Nothing was serious enough to precipitate that kind of an intense move…it seemed present only to show us that there’s escalating tension in the group, but the escalation itself was way too fast (no, no, you totally could have saved Donna…No, you never could have saved Donna – what happened in between?!)
- why on earth does Andea keep leaning against objects that have holes or spaces in them through which zombie hands can reach and then CLOSE HER EYES??!! She’s a badass, savvy fighter – I feel this kind of move is way beneath her…but she does it all the time! Basically whenever Andrea stops moving at this point, I expect a “surprise” attack.
- why on earth, after incapacitating the Governor, did Andrea not take his car that was idling outside to get to the prison? For what earthly reason would she continue on foot??
- and what on earth is with the Governor’s creepy whistling?? Ok, I actually like that one – sooooo creepy!
Ok, eager to hear what you guys thought…
Thanks for that — I’m pleased to see that you found something rewarding in this episode. I found this episode to be extremely irritating. Objectively, it’s probably not one of the worst this season, but it certainly felt like it to me. Not only was this episode complete filler, but it was stupid, incomprehensible filler. And on top of that, I found it deeply objectionable from a misogyny point of view. Not only was the weird hallway/rock music sequence leading into torture an exact illustration of the sort of misogyny the show seems to presenting week after week, but it seemed to offer it consciously so…which seems to confirm all of our worst suspicions about the show. Plus, Andrea’s capture was totally stupid — she’s this total badass who takes zombies out left and right and then can’t even make a sound or mount any sort of resistance when the Governor ambushes her?
I get that the primary function of this week’s episode (obviously) is to make the Governor seem as terrible as possible so that when the two sides clash in the future, we’ll know who to root for…but all it did, imo, was just leave me largely bored and annoyed. Sorry I don’t have anything more productive to add here. As someone who hasn’t read the comics — I have to ask, are they better? I’m tempted to get them. I’ve recently been reading Mira Grant’s Newsflesh trilogy…and it’s a good example of what the zombie genre could be like.
Nah, I’m with you buddy – I’m just also tired of articulating a misogyny of which the show seems unaware or, worse, as you point out, in which it revels. I was hoping there was something more – something I wasn’t getting – to that closing sequence than an exuberant, joyful presentation of, “looky here what we’ve got folks, another lady to punish for daring to think for even a moment that she’s strong and capable and – gasp – human!” It’s kind of exhausting…but I guess that’s how these systems work – eventually the sexism becomes so normal that you can’t even be bothered to speak against it. Perhaps that’s why the haphazardly applied gag on Andrea’s mouth struck me so – I’m not sure she’d even bother to scream at that point.
Dear N and M,
I have little to add except my voice of agreement – what a frustrating episode. The end scene left me nauseous. The positive glee in the tone of music and camera work was sickening when it led to the obvious reveal – Andrea set up for god-knows what kind of torture at the hands of the increasingly sadistic Governor. And you are right, Natalie, that we had lots of hints along the way that Andrea was going to be the first to end up in that chair, not least of which is the creepy whistle the Governor devised to instill psychological terror (all I could think about was the first season of Dexter and the Ice Truck Killer’s crinkling cough drop paper – do you think the Governor has a book on how to turn into a sadistic monster or does it just come naturally?). But hasn’t this whole season been building to this, in a way? Andrea’s comfort and stability in Woodbury has been bought at a price: there was nothing subtle about the way we’ve watched the Governor nearly rape Maggie and then return home to Andrea’s willing embraces. I think I was the one who even suggested that Andrea was being set up as a kind of morality tale for Lori’s final lesson to Carl: if it feels easy, don’t do it! There might be something interesting in this: that Andrea is reaping the results of her own moral blindness and her own willingness to ignore Michonne’s instincts and her own usual suspicions for the comfort of a warm bed, a bed-mate, and a nice glass of whiskey. Except that it is so obviously gendered and misogynistic. Silly women! So easily swayed by bodily instincts! Lori died for her moral laxity in seeking comfort after she thought Rick was dead and Andrea is headed for an even worse fate. And how can we think the writers are not aware of this when the second instrument of torture Philip lays on the table is a speculum?! That torture chair is meant for someone with a vagina. Ugh.
I am somewhat intrigued – and also mostly just annoyed – by Milton. Is he going to get coded as a kind of feminine failure: a man who wasn’t man enough to stand up to the Governor? Is there a chair being built for him somewhere? Or will he be able to do what Andrea couldn’t and somehow contribute to the Governor’s downfall?
Anyone have any thoughts on Tyrese (who will always be Cutty in my mind)?