“The Walking Dead” – I Ain’t A Judas episode review 2

Rick and the others stand ready to defend the prison

Rick and the others stand ready to defend the prison

★★★★☆

Coming off the ending of last week’s episode, “I Ain’t A Judas” is a little bit of a letdown action-wise. We do get some great character moments and plot motion, however, and I think that whatever boiling point this all reaches is going to be worth any of the comparatively slow scenes we have to go through to get there.

Tensions are running high in the prison as everyone argues over whether they should stay or make a run for it. Merle, locked in a vacant cell, might be trying to be helpful by explaining that the Governor has the numbers and the weapons to take them all out easily but it mostly comes off like he’s just stoking the flames of their conflict. At least everyone can agree that Rick is losing his grip on leadership; Hershel even straight up yells at him to clear his head and do something, and that strikes more fear into me than some of the zombies. Even Carl tells Rick when they’re out on guard duty that he thinks he should cede leadership to Daryl and Hershel; that’s got to be rough, coming from his own son.

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In Woodbury, the Governor and Milton are tallying up the available able-bodied people they can train to use weapons. The Governor extends the count to include anyone age 13 and older and thankfully Milton raises an objection, however meek it may be. Andrea interrupts their conversation to confront the Governor about the attack on the prison, and he feeds her lies about Rick’s group firing first and being bloodthirsty. Finally, Andrea stands up to him about the lying and insists she wants to visit them.

At first I thought nothing would come of her desire to leave Woodbury, but I was pleasantly surprised when she enlisted Milton’s help in sneaking her out so she could try to talk to Rick’s group. It seems a little naive of her to think she can talk them out of fighting, but from her perspective I suppose it makes sense. After all, she only knows that her friends were responsible for the shootout at Woodbury and that they had an altercation with the Governor. Andrea gets a lot of hate from fans, and it’s easy to get frustrated by her; I know I often have to remind myself what information she’s actually working with in order to understand some of the things she does.

The prison group talks strategy, and comes to the conclusion that they’re basically screwed. They don’t have enough ammo to clear the yard of walkers, let alone defend themselves against the whole Woodbury “army.” Hershel takes this opportunity to have a chat with Merle in his cell. Hershel’s been having a lot of one-on-ones with people this season. Are the writers getting all the good advice out of him before something horrible happens? I hope not, I’ve grown really attached to Hershel ever since they left the farm. Anyway, they bond over being men with missing limbs and knowing Bible quotes. Was anyone else surprised that Merle missed the Woodbury library or was that me making judgmental assumptions about him?

Carol and Daryl reunite over in his cell, and even though this scene was not nearly as long as it should have been, it was so nice to see them together again. I just really love their friendship, okay. Carol calls the prison home while Daryl calls it a tomb, but she does give him the great advice to not let Merle bring him down. They’ve both lost so much and grown so close over the course of the show that it’s as close to heartwarming as The Walking Dead gets to have them share a laugh again.

In Woodbury, the Governor examines his ruined eye by matchlight before donning the eyepatch that I’ve been waiting to see ever since I started reading the comics. I don’t give enough props to the makeup/special effects team—the Governor’s eye is super gross and very well done. If I want to watch a scene from between my fingers, you know the special effects team is doing their job. Anyway, Milton has come to fulfill his role as mild-mannered double agent and rat out Andrea for wanting to leave. The Governor surprises him (and me) by insisting Milton help her out.

And help her he does, though he’s worse at walker wrangling than Andrea is. They pin one down in the woods, Andrea hacks off its arms and stomps its face against a rock to neutralize its biting ability, and once again, I am equal parts disgusted and impressed by the effects. Milton mostly looks disgusted. In a twist that genuinely surprised me, Tyreese and his group show up to help take down an extra walker. I was wondering where they had gone! Milton offers to take them to Woodbury while Andrea makes her way to the prison.

Her live walker shield combined with her hatchet skills get her to the gates unscathed, though Rick gives her such a rough welcome that the Governor’s cover story is starting to look true. She reunites with the rest of the group, and is especially glad to see Carol. I had forgotten she had gotten separated from the group at Hershel’s while saving Carol’s life. Andrea’s first question is about Shane – mistake – and then Lori. Rick and Carl can only stare at her, so Hershel explains about Judith. Carl has the creepiest stare of anyone on this show, I have to say. If he snaps one day I won’t be that surprised.

Rick tells their side of the attack story and reveals that their plan is to kill the Governor. I suppose it’s obvious, but way to spill the beans on your endgame to someone who might be a spy for him. Andrea calls him Phillip when she references him, which doesn’t sit too well with the others in the group.

Andrea and Michonne end up arguing outside in the yard, and Michonne gives the post-apocalyptic version of every “You’re with a guy who’s no good for you and you sacrificed our friendship for it” that has ever been had by any two high school girls. Only, you know, with the threat of death and war hanging over it all. Inside the prison, Carol introduces her to Lil’ Asskicker, and Andrea rightly guesses the nickname came from Daryl. After Carol explains about Shane and Rick, she gives Andrea the greatest plan of all time: sleep with the Governor and then kill him afterwards. Simple, yet effective, and the last thing I ever would have expected to come from Carol. I like the new Carol.

Andrea leaves in a car that Rick and the others can spare, and he even gives her a gun before she drives off. I really hope Andrea makes the right choice. While she makes her way to Woodbury, the Governor greets Tyreese and his group in the medical/holding room. At first he tries to keep the facade up with them, but when he finds out they came from the prison, it’s a whole new ball game. Tyreese and the others are willing to fight and give information in order to stay in this ostensibly safe place, and it seems like Rick’s inhospitality is going to come back to bite him in the ass if they give the Governor what he needs to attack the prison properly.

The episode ends with a song from Beth as they sit around a makeshift campfire in the cell block. Her voice is very pretty; if this wasn’t the middle of the zombie apocalypse, she could find YouTube singing fame easily. Rick announces to Daryl and Hershel that he’ll be going on a run tomorrow with Michonne and Carl, so that’s something to look forward to. The song continues and we see Andrea struggle with the idea of carrying out Carol’s plan; with the first half down, she stands over the Governor in the dark holding her knife, but can’t follow through with it.

I think as long as The Walking Dead keeps up this sort of pace for the remaining episodes of the season, this will be the best yet; even “slower” episodes like this one keep the plot moving along and let us get into the minds of the characters. I for one can’t wait to see where the writers take Andrea after this, and how Merle will change the group’s dynamic in the prison.