Written by: John Edward Betancourt
It is hard to develop characters in a zombie apocalypse. To learn about who someone is, what makes them tick, what their beliefs are, all really mean little when it comes to the dead returning to life.
It is something that The Walking Dead has taken to heart. We have an idea of who the characters in this show are, and who they might have been, but our journey with them has been one of survival, of the fight to simply see the sun rise another day. That is until last night, when we finally saw a few layers of the onion peeled back and for the first time, saw many of the characters inner workings.
Rick Grimes is perhaps the only character we had a slight understanding of. The pilot allowed us to see how important family was to this man, and his moral center is something we have all seen erode as the show has progressed. In fact Talking Dead confronted the possibility that Rick had lost all of that center and was as ruthless as Shane. Thankfully we found out, that was not the case. Shane was a man without conscience, while Rick has turned his off for a little while. While a little scary in terms of sanity, the phone conversation with Lori and her urging him to pick himself up was a beautiful moment in a show filled with sorrow. I'm glad to see that old Rick is still in there, but his story was just the beginning.
We also got a good internal look at the Dixon brothers. Merle perhaps was the big stunner of the night, after cutting off his own hand in Atlanta, finding a home and a job in Woodbury, we always knew he was still a racist son of a bitch and a loose cannon to boot. But what we learned last night, that despite all of the bravado, he is one big coward. Let's be honest, we all waited patiently for Michonne to start kicking some ass in Woodbury, and this was the big opportunity, a showdown with Merle. Was it awesome? Yes. Did I expect to see Merle back down like that? No. The guy's a wimp and I am now wondering if we are seeing the beginning of the end for Merle. His brother on the other hand has turned out to be one incredible character. Daryl's chat with Carl as they cleared the cell block, regarding the death of his own mother was another insightful moment. This is a man who has truly seen it all, who has gone along with all the bull his brother wanted him to simply to get by. But now that he is on his own, given a chance to lead and shine, he has become one of the best characters on the show. But that speech last night shows he understands how hard the world can be, and he truly wants to see it a better place. When Merle and Daryl meet up, I don't think it will be pleasant. These are two men on different paths now.
The other big surprise last night, was the dynamic between Andrea and The Governor. Andrea has obviously harbored a bit of a dark side throughout the show. She was willing to die in the first season finale, but I don't think we had any idea how much anger Andrea harbors until this episode. It is obvious now from the fact she liked the fights, her need to get out and kill walkers in such close quarters combat, that she is carrying a lot of demons. It explains her attraction to the men in this world who are equally as angry, and signals an interesting twist for her character. It is possible now that she could side with Woodbury and the Governor if this newfound dark side takes over, or perhaps she can be brought back from the brink like Rick, time will tell.
The Governor on the other hand, continues to develop into the piece of garbage that he is. With his admission to Andrea that he was not proud of most of what he had in his life, we know now for sure that in the world before this one, this guy was a ghost in the crowd. A job that paid just enough to get by, a car that barely got him to that job. He was the kind of man you would pass on the street and never know he was there. He was a silent observer, wondering why the rest of world has it so good, and when will his time come. This is a man who relishes in the opportunity to leave that life behind, and thrives in becoming someone of significance. It's sad really, and for the first time last night I felt pity for Philip.
Either way, this is something the show has been in need of badly. The kills are great, the gore is there, but now we are starting to get close to these people. The plus side is, we will love these characters more, the down side is, when the bloodbath in Woodbury begins it will be all that much harder to say goodbye to the ones who fall.