The Walking Dead

Episode 303 - "Walk With Me"

Starring Laurie Holden, Danai Gurira, Michael Rooker, David Morrissey and Dallas Roberts

Written by Evan Reilly
Directed by Guy Ferland

Fans who were somewhat dismayed that the previous episode of "The Walking Dead" took place exclusively in the prison, with Andrea and Michonne nowhere in sight, may feel somewhat perplexed that the flip is the case with "Walk With Me." Rick Grimes and his group enjoy not a single frame of film in the third season's third outing, which concentrates on the predicament of the intrepid female duo, plus the introduction of a new major character, the return of a long-missing old one, and a new setting.

Michonne (Danai Gurira) and the illness-stricken Andrea (Laurie Holden), complete with the former's two jawless and armless walker pets in chains, are on the road and witness a helicopter crash-land in the nearby woods. Investigating the scene, they spy a small group of humans already pulling bodies from the chopper and taking out random walker passers-by. Lest her pets fall victim to these unknown folks, Michonne quickly decapitates them herself. A familiar-sounding voice from behind orders both to drop their weapons. It is none other than Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker), who is Daryl's brother and whose backstory is all too familiar to longtime "Walking Dead" fans. In place of his severed right hand is a metallic appliance which springs a mighty handy blade.

Andrea and Michonne decide to investigate a mysterious helicopter crash.

Blindfolded and put into a vehicle, the two are brought to a heretofore unknown compound where Andrea receives medical treatment for her sickness and explains to Merle that when she last saw Daryl many months ago, he was doing well within the old group. Merle has hardly gotten over his animosity towards Rick but seems to couch that under a new air of responsibility within his new environment. Michonne demands the return of their weapons and to be released, but she is told this won't be possible until the morning, when the community's lockdown is relaxed. On a nearby cot, Lt. Welles, the injured helicopter pilot and sole survivor from the crash, is debriefed about the group from which he came.

Under the leadership of a mysterious, charming figure known only as The Governor (David Morrissey), the secure township of Woodbury is heavily guarded against the "biters" (their own term for the titular undead) and is populated by citizens who have returned to something like life prior to the zombie apocalypse. While Andrea is slowly taken in by the guiles of the Governor, Michonne remains distrusting. The Governor's right-hand man and resident scientist Milton (Dallas Roberts) has absconded with the heads of the two walker pets and is currently experimenting on them. He deduces that their practicality to Michonne was their decomposition odor, which masked her lack thereof, allowing her and Andrea to move amongst the dead safely.

David Morrissey as The Governor.

The Governor's intention, he explains, is ultimately to "take back what's ours," and by that he means the whole of civilization beyond the confines of the township. But we quickly find out that his methods of operation can be quite ruthless, particularly when he locates Welles' group of military buddies and their stockpile of supplies at a distant rendezvous point. Upon return to Woodbury, he delivers a seemingly heartfelt but purely disingenous speech to his populace, who seem to view him as a messianic figure of sorts. The outing's final scene, while by no means a cliffhanger per se, indicates a further sinister wrinkle to the man's character.

Co-producer Evan Reilly's script, the first in the series with no appearance by any series regulars other than Holden and Gurira, is thoroughly captivating in spite of that deficiency, thanks at least in part to Guy Ferland's deft direction. The introduction of Woodbury and its enigmatic leader, plus the implications of his motives, make "Walk With Me" a landmark episode which sets up a thrilling new dynamic to the series.

Review by Petch Lucas, for Pitofhorror.com