Walking Dead review: When The Dead Come Knocking

The Walking Dead: Michonne leading the survivors through the forest

We’ve had death and disaster on The Walking Dead this season, but tonight’s episode – When The Dead Come Knocking – was riddled with brutality of every kind. There was torture, sexual degradation, torture, hillybilly murder and more torture. And most of the torture, sad to say Glenn was the recipient of most of the torture.

When The Dead Come Knocking picked up directly after the events of Hounded, with Glenn and Maggie captured in Woodbury and a wounded Michonne is standing outside the gates of the prison, staring Rick Grimes right in the eyes.

Woodbury: The New Guantanamo?

Sometimes you find yourself grinning at some rude quip that ol’ Merle has made and find yourself almost warming to the violent, racist redneck. And then sometimes you’re horrified at him, because those words usually betray his deadly intentions.

Merle shows Glenn no mercy in his attempt to beat the location of his brother out of him. Merle’s keen to reunite with his brother and also with Sheriff Rick, who he blames for abandoning him on that rooftop in Atlanta. But Steven Yeun shines as an incredibly resilient Glenn in this episode, refusing to give up the location of his friends and being beaten to a bloody pulp for his loyalty. Things take an even more horrific turn as Merle leads a rabid walker into the room and locks him in with Glenn – who is duct-taped to a chair!

This one act is a reminder of how sadistic and thoroughly evil Merle is. If you needed reminding after he massacred an underling in the forest last week. Throwing a zombie at a helpless man is a singularly horrible act. It went beyond interrogating Glenn, because it showed that Merle just didn’t care what happened to him. Unfortunately for Merle, he underestimated Glenn’s badassery! Glenn managed to dance around the room, avoiding the snarling zombie until he managed to smash the chair he was taped to and shove a shard of wood through its head.

In the other room, Maggie has heard everything her boyfriend’s been through. And then The Governor walks in to ask her a few questions. Now, we predicted last week that this scenario would get a little rapey. And while it didn’t quite go the whole, gratuitous route, The Governor at first played things softly with Maggie, but became more aggressive with her when she wouldn’t answer his questions without talking to Glenn first. He forced her to take off her top and bra, and he took off his belt before some upsetting scenes where he held her down against the table. From what we could see, he didn’t complete on the act, but it was a really harrowing scene. I was on the edge of my seat from start to finish.

However, the effects of what the Governor did to Maggie will have repercussions: he made sure that Glenn saw Maggie had been stripped, and David Morrissey gave it enough creepy to make sure Glenn understood and hated The Governor for that. What’s really interesting is that later we see The Governor really doesn’t want Andrea finding out what he did.

The Experiment

While the rest of the Woodbury gang were being vile in the town’s ‘dungeon’, Milton and Andrea were engaged in a task of a different kind: trying to determine if zombies have any kind of cognitive abilities.

Well, we know the answer to that already, but Milton had to find out for himself. Taking an elderly Woodbury resident who was dying of cancer, Milton ‘prepared’ the man by rehearsing a sequence of identifiers with him. His name, a picture of his wife and a picture of one of his children. The idea being that when he died and turned, they would see if he remembered those triggers. Of course, he didn’t, and Andrea had to destroy the creature when Milton removed his restraints. But we get the impression that the experiments in Woodbury might have more significance than we thought at first. What are these crazy monsters up to?

Prison life

Things are…strange at the prison. Michonne’s blood draws several walkers to her and she has to fight them off before collapsing because of her injuries. Rick and Crackshot Carl fend off the approaching walkers and drag her into the prison. Still, despite her shopping basket full of baby supplies, they’re distrustful of her and relegate her to a secure area away from their cells. But once they establish some tentative trust, Michonne explains how she found the prison and that Glenn and Maggie are captive in Woodbury.

Before the fighters depart to Woodbury, there are some sweet moments to temper what’s quite a grim episode. Rick finds out the Carol has been found alive and unharmed. It’s a lovely moment until she sees the baby and realises that Lori’s dead. And Rick has a long overdue father/son chat with Carl and they decide to name the baby Judith, ignoring Daryl’s suggestion of Asskicker. Which would have been much better, because a child named Asskicker would have grown up just right for this post-apocalyptic world.

The road to Woodbury

Michonne heads out with Rick, Daryl and Oscar to show them where Woodbury is. But as they’re on their way through the forest, they get stuck in the middle of a huge herd of walkers. Rick leads them to a nearby shack, where they hole up, but they discover a crazy recluse living inside. He freaks out when he sees them in his house and threatens them with his gun before Rick disarms him. But his screaming and shouting make the zombies outside more eager to get in. As the man tries to break out of the shack, Michonne stabs him through the heart.

I think this was one of the most shocking events in the episode, because it reinforces how even the good guys are forced to kill or be killed. If the man had got to the door and opened it, they’d have been overrun by zombies and everybody would be killed. As it was, the group threw the man’s corpse out the front door to distract the walkers while they escaped through the back door.

The episode ends with Rick, Michonne, Daryl and T-Oscar hiding outside the gates of Woodbury as they try to work out how to get inside and rescue their people. Of course, we’ll immediately be faced with the question of whether Daryl’s loyalties lie with Rick or his brother Merle…and if Merle’s loyalties lie with The Governor or Daryl. Daryl’s come so far throughout the last few season that to see him fall back into the violent redneck role would be horrific for the viewers. We’ll be taking a closer look at the next episode of The Walking Dead in our next post, so stay tuned!

by Gerard McGarry on November 26th, 2012

Gerard is the founder and editor of Unreality TV. He writes about TV dramas as well as reality TV talent shows and is obsessed by sci-fi and Doctor Who. Follow him on Twitter @gerrybot or Google+

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One thought on “Walking Dead review: When The Dead Come Knocking

  1. bitchstolemyremote says:

    Not our favourite episode, despite Morrissey’s stellar work (it’s nice that he can still draw a nuanced performance out of such a despicable character). Thank goodness he didn’t finish the “rapey” bit – that would be too much.

    In our review, we think there are a few too many plot holes (why is Michonne so quickly accepted into the group? How is her leg healed so quickly? How did cabin guy survive this long considering how dumb he is), but mostly we’re impatient for the impending conflict and this transitional episode feels like too much set-up.

    Bring on Rick & co vs The Governor!

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