Reviewing the Dead: “When the Dead Comes Knocking”

luke kalamar knows when the dead are a knocking…he better start running…

Plot: Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) are being held captive at Woodbury. Merle (Michael Rooker) is determined to find out where they came from, and will do anything he can to get the information he wants. Meanwhile, an injured Michonne (Danai Gurira) has reached The Prison and informs Rick (Andrew Lincoln) of their capture. A team consisting of Rick, Michonne, Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Oscar (Vincent Ward) is formed to rescue Glenn and Maggie by any means possible. Andrea (Laurie Holden) also assists Milton (Dallas Roberts) as he tries to learn more about the walkers.

Next week is the Mid-Season Finale of The Walking Dead. With this in mind, it is obvious that the writers want to set up for something explosive. Last year’s Mid-Season Finale for Season 2 revealed the tragic fate of Sophia (Madison Lintz), Carol’s daughter, which was honestly not very surprising. Her zombified form was expected considering she was missing since the Season Premiere, but was still sad to see. I’m sure the writers want to top this in both action and suspense, and how that starts off completely lies in “When the Dead Come Knocking”. In many ways they have created the perfect set up, but there are still some down moments with tonight’s episode.

The real focus of this week was the interrogation of Maggie and Glenn by Merle and The Governor (David Morrissey) as they try to learn about The Prison. There were some great moments throughout this entire episode, but these scenes were easily the best ones I’d be foolish not to say how blown away I was by Glenn’s one-on-one fight with a walker. While tied to a chair no less! His Hulk like scream following his victory was glorious, and I love how the writers gave him a chance to really show how resourceful he is when severely disadvantaged.

Maggie’s interrogation by The Governor was much more psychological as opposed to physical, and it was one of the tensest moments this season. It shed a powerful light on both how far The Governor is willing to go for answers and how far Maggie can go before her breaking point. Compared to the comics however, this interrogation was much tamer. The Governor interrogates Michonne as opposed to Maggie in the comics and it is infinitely more atrocious. It was the first moment where I actually cringed from shock while reading a comic. Even though I feel that the comic interrogation would’ve done a great job showcasing The Governor’s true brutality on screen, I agree with the decision to not have it happen. It’s not exactly something I wanted to see on the TV version and I’m glad I didn’t, missed moments be damned.

Michonne’s arrival to The Prison and her immediate introduction to Rick’s group went as expected too. Both Rick and Michonne have trouble trusting strangers based on past events, so the tense introduction between them was not surprising. Rick and Carl saving Michonne was awesome to watch though and it further cemented how capable Carl is when it comes to killing walkers. Rick, Michonne, Daryl, and Oscar’s trip to Woodbury was extremely exciting also with a very intense meeting between them and some random guy who’s been living in the woods all this time.

Milton’s experiment to learn more about walkers was interesting to watch, despite being absurdly predictable. I knew exactly what his ultimate goal was the moment Andrea was brought into his lab by The Governor. The whole purpose of this side-story was obviously to provide some more information about Milton’s past and for him to see first hand exactly what walkers are about. It was a nice focus on a character that hasn’t done much so far, but the predictability really held it back. In fact, it was those brief moments where we learned about Milton that prevented these scenes from being completely unnecessary. Andrea’s quick action near the end was nice to see though as she is starting to actually do stuff, albeit pretty late in the season.

In regards to setting up the Mid-Season Finale, this episode did a great job. The meeting of Rick and The Governor, the Merle/Daryl and Andrea/ Rick’s group reunion, and the beginning of a violent conflict between Woodbury and The Prison is the best way to end this first half. I’m happy that I can only say with reasonable confidence that these general statements will come true. I do not now how exactly they will go down without speculation, and that’s how a finale should be.

The absolute final moment of this episode was extremely anti-climatic though. Yes, the finale was set up perfectly, but “When the Dead Come Knocking” ended with what I felt was one scene too many. This season so far has done a great job ending episodes on exciting cliffhangers so I was a little disappointed. It didn’t end with Rick finding Woodbury or with The Governor talking about where Glenn and Maggie came from and what he plans to do. Both of these would’ve been excellent moments to stop this episode and let the finale, “Made to Suffer”, take over next week. A third option was chosen though and I didn’t feel it was a really necessary or exciting way to end this episode.

As with every past season, the Mid-Season Finale feels like it has come too soon. I wish I could watch The Walking Dead every Sunday all year round. Alas, this will never be the case. Despite this, I’m beyond excited for the finale next week and I can’t wait to see what happens as Rick storms Woodbury.

Rating: 9/10

All Photos Credit: AMC