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Plot: Michonne (Danai Gurira) has left Woodbury, but Merle (Michael Rooker) in hot pursuit with a small group. Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) go on a supply run for baby formula and other products at the same time. At The Prison, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) communicates with a mysterious group over the phone while Daryl (Norman Reedus), Carl (Chandler Riggs), and Oscar (Vincent Ward) survey the aftermath of Rick’s rampage. Andrea (Laurie Holden) tries to find her place in Woodbury as well, ideally by The Governor’s (David Morrissey) side.
As you can see by my plot synopsis, there were a lot of separate stories happening at the same time this week. You don’t need to be a professional screenwriter to know it must be difficult to balance all of these separate events. All stories need to be interesting to keep the viewer attentive, which doesn’t always happen. I can already think of several examples where a show or book has failed to accomplish this. An exciting story would get pushed aside for something pointless and uninteresting, and I find myself bored. Thankfully “Hounded” did not fall into this common pitfall, but some moments were definitely better than others.
Merle hunting Michonne was easily the most exciting moment of this episode. This is where the majority of the action was and it was one of the best of the season. We already got a taste of how capable Merle is at fighting living beings thanks to the arena scene last week, but this is the first time we saw how efficient Michonne is when she’s both outnumbered and fighting living people. Her ninja-like reflexes and ability to use the environment to her advantage was incredible. Michonne is one of my favorite characters on the show already and she’s only been around for a few episodes. Then again, I love the comic book version of her character so my enjoyment transferred over.
This episode also provided the perfect opportunity to finally bridge the gap between Woodbury and The Prison, and I’m glad the writers took that opportunity. With Glenn, Maggie, Michonne, and Merle all on the move, it only made sense. Plus, it really gave the viewer a good idea of how physically close The Prison and Woodbury are to each other. In a single day of travel, the two groups are now connected. This is when things get really insane in the comics and I’m officially bracing myself for some really messed up stuff.
The parts of the episode that focused on Rick were great too as we got a solid understanding of how fractured Rick’s grip on reality truly is. I knew who was on the other side of the phone because I read the comics, but I still really enjoyed watching it unfold onscreen. Plus, I found the conversation between Hershel (Scott Wilson) and Rick very enjoyable as well. It really supplanted Hershel into the “supportive old man” role, which makes sense since his character is no longer as physically capable as the other members.
The focus on Andrea and The Governor was interesting, but I actually found this the least enjoyable part of the episode. I did like that we finally got a moment with Andrea killing a zombie for the first time all season, but I haven’t been a fan of her relationship with The Governor since they first met. I understand that he seems like a great guy with all of his resources and his beautiful town, but why does she have to sleep with him? It’s clear her character is attracted to men with power, but it’s to the point where I even thought she was going to sleep with Merle when he flirted with her a few episodes back. I find her to be the least enjoyable character this season and that sucks because her comic version is so awesome. I hope she actually does more than shameless flirting soon, especially since her and The Governor finally got it on.
I also found the overall lack of action pretty surprising as well. Merle hunting Michonne and all the fighting that went on there was amazing, but other than two zombie kills outside of that, the episode was mainly dialogue. This isn’t too bad, but I really believe that more action could have been added to some places. Maggie and Glenn could have killed a few walkers for example as opposed to their adventure being left for near the end of the episode. This was actually the first time all season where I wasn’t energized throughout the entire episode. In fact, the majority of the excitement came from the events near the end and not from start to finish. Some of the events in the first half even felt a little slow.
With “Hounded” under its belt, Season 3 continues to dish out some incredible content. The ending for this episode especially was one of the most emotional all season and set the ball rolling for Woodbury vs. The Prison, which definitely ended it with a bang. Plus we got resolution regarding Carol (Melissa McBride) and some nice bonding between Daryl and Carl. Unfortunately, despite how much I enjoyed the events near the end, I felt “Hounded” was weaker overall compared to the other episodes. I still found this episode very enjoyable though and it definitely keeps the extremely highly quality going.
All Photos Credit: AMC