Though it may have been masked on the surface, episode four’s intriguing cliffhanger ending, which found a deranged and blood-covered Rick answering a ringing phone after tracking down the site of his wife’s tragic demise, is rather reminiscent of the series as a whole.
“Hello?” Who is this, who’s out there, what is going on and why is this happening. And I don’t mean just to our former cop Rick Grimes but to the entire world – we all want answers. But sadly, in the world of The Walking Dead, all of the meaningful answers or any sort of swift salvation will now never be found on the other end of a ringing phone. Or it could have just been a still-missing Carol who got herself locked in a supply closet.
Yes, on the other end of the receiver is a young girl claiming to have been trying random numbers for months in the hope of locating other survivors. She tells of a place – a sanctuary – safer than the prison (and free of the stink of his wife’s death) where they are free from the plague, no one has been bitten and nobody has snapped and taken life. Clearly not of any authority for that particular camp of survivors, she tells Rick to expect a call in two hours time. Emotionally resigning to the fact the click of the receiver may never beckon another call, he awaits with more than a little apprehension.
When the phone does ring, on the other end is a more elderly individual who asks tough-to-answer questions about the survivor’s state, how that came to be, and more painfully, regarding Rick’s wife. Deflecting the sensitive issue, the phone on the other end once again is placed in its cradle which sends our protagonist into one of his now regular fits.
But I won’t dictate any longer, and it’s revealed that the series of calls is all in Rick’s mind (foreshadowed by Hershel’s brief testing of the phone’s connectivity) and the voices are that of past people he feels to have failed in protecting, who have returned to remind him of the importance of things not yet passed – Amy, for leaving the season one camp to seek out the bag of guns in Alana, Dale because of his son Carl’s role and, of course, Lori for reasons readily apparent. Even his mentionings of the men he’s killed brings to the surface the regrets this man has.
Though the “actually a dream”/”they’re actually crazy” direction has been overdone to the extent of self parody, its implementation in this episode has two positives. Firstly, it allows Andrew Lincoln’s Rick to deliver a different level of insanity and secondly, it brings to the screen the “Lori ghost” angle that has been buzzed about frequently without a cheesier visual reveal.
During “Hounded,” Rick seems quite composed on the outside having wiped the grit and crimson from his face and adorned himself in a shirt rather stylish considering the apocalypse. The group is understandably wary about Ricks sudden (calm) return, though certainly seem relieved he has returned at all. But we now know that while the anger and over-boil has simmered down, a more tragic and broken character has emerged and I applaud that psycho Rick has at least reverted to a semi-state of normality after an episode of bloodlust.
Though more than overdone throughout the medium, the showrunners handled that aspect of episode six solidly, but that coupled with the more basic happenings showed a bit of a crack in this season’s façade. Certainly last week’s “Say the Word” was slighter on the zombie killing, it was absolutely an aftermath episode more than a brazenly lazy instalment. This instalment on the other hand seemed more intent on going through the rhythms (pacing-wise at least).
My feelings carry on to Woodbury where Merle and a gang of cronies have been dispatched to track a now-absent Michonne, and as The Governor eloquently states, also her head and her sword. Needless to say said pursuit results in a sword fight, some gunplay and a whole lot of perfunctory happenings, save three dead cronies and a wounded (though not fatally) Michonne.
There seems to be this implied animosity between Meryl and Michonne that exists where it shouldn’t. We know he’s a bit under The Governor’s control (and he’s significantly calmed since season one) but having known the woman for only a week or so, the dedication to her capture calls back to the overtly racist Meryl that got himself chained to a roof. I’m well aware the pursuit heralded in some carnage and set off the more significant events that came, but it seemed for the first time, the writers needed a tad of filler.
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