Whoa, whoa, wait a minute. Hold the phone. What the devil happened to Tyreese and his crew? One moment, they’re begging to join Rick’s tribe. The next, they’re playing hooky while our heroes get all but slaughtered by the Governor and his posse. If the idea is that the new African American in town skedaddled after seeing Deputy Grimes pull an Andie McPhee (unsolicited Dawson’s Creek reference, high five!), then “Home” really ought to have taken a minute or two to show him leave. If, on the other hand, we’re meant to understand that he and his group sat on their hands while a suicidal teenage girl and a thirteen-year-old boy went out on the walker-infested battlefield, well, sheesh, so much for that potential interim leader.
Having mentioned that, “Home” constitutes a great, big leap in the right direction as far as I’m concerned: Andrea’s starting to use her judgment again; Daryl’s returned home; Glenn’s newfound rage turns out to have been a red herring; and the conflict between Woodbury and crazy Rick’s posse continues to escalate. Admittedly, one could argue the writers are doing an astounding amount of backtracking after just one episode, but I contend The Walking Dead is probably better for it.
After all, it’s been ages since the show runners did anything this interesting with Andrea, owing in large part to the character spending the last ten episodes exhibiting the shrewdness of an aspiring model at a porn set. Now it seems she’s woken up at last, just in time to find herself between a rock and a hard place, by which I mean her legitimate attachment to the Woodbury community and her ties to Rick’s tribe. It took a fair bit of convolution to get us here, but I look forward to seeing how my once favourite civil rights lawyer (on television at any rate) reasons her way out of this jam.
Daryl works out his predicament considerably faster, opting to return to his new family and drag his big brother kicking and screaming (metaphorically). In terms of pacing, I suspect the storyline might have felt more organic if the Dixon siblings had spent at least one more week on the road, kicking ass, taking names, and stumbling on potential plot lines for the next Web series. However, I like the way our favourite hillbilly Katniss solves his dilemma by redefining its parameters: the question is not whether he should choose his kin or the tribe; it’s whether Merle can choose his family over being a jerk.
The trick, it seems, lies in shouldering the responsibility for only the things one can control. Consider Glenn and Maggie’s estrangement, which stems from the former wanting to fix the latter’s problem when all she needs is time to process the trauma on her own. I believe it a testament to their emotional fortitude that they find each other again the moment a more immediate threat rears its ugly head, but I do feel their arc was resolved a bit quickly, considering the worst Mr Grouchy Puss ends up doing in his state of rage is storm off with the car and then swoop in to save the day.
Fittingly, the only threads not to get wrapped up with a neat little bow in “Home” turn out to be those in which I was the most invested last week. The Governor still wants to exterminate our heroes, and their leader is still chasing ghosts in the backyard (tra-la-la). Like Hershel, I’m beginning to suspect Rick’s subconscious is deliberately disqualifying him for the role of Grand Poobah in order to get a break from all that repressed guilt and pressure. It’s unfortunate because Philip might not have been able to pull such a coordinated attack if someone had posted guards, something the tribe’s interim (and temporarily compromised) chief, Glenn, thinks of only too late.
I’m not complaining, mind you. The resulting battle made for some mighty fine television. I nearly flipped when the truck smashed through the gate and released its flesh-hungry cargo. What with all the great, whopping breaches throughout the perimeter, I think we can surmise our heroes have lost the prison at this point. Still, the final act of “Home” shows us what the tribe can endure without Rick’s guidance. Given they’ve only lost Axel, the glorified prison extra, I’d say they’ve proven themselves pretty resilient.
Death toll so far: seventeen. Oh, Axel, we hardly knew you or gave a damn.