Another Andrea episode? ANOTHER ONE?! Dear god, what did we do to deserve this?
And “Prey” is even worse than the last. It’s a full hour devoted entirely to Andrea’s quest to escape Woodbury and return to Rick’s group. All the while, she’s being stalked Vorhees-style by the Governor, who’s determined to make sure she never leaves. Before that though, the episode opens with a flashback that shows us Andrea and Michonne in happier times, when they were on their own together, surviving in the woods with an assist from Michonne’s zombie bodyguards. What point the scene ultimately serves must have been lost on me, unless it was an attempt by the show’s writers to address the criticism that it’s hard to care about Andrea and Michonne’s relationship since 99.9 percent of it took place off-screen. Well, if that’s the case, it seems a little late now.
After that we fade to present day, where the Governor is busy building a torture chamber for Michonne. Milton and Andrea both discover what he’s up to, which leads to this little inane back and forth:
Andrea: “I have to kill him.” (Oh, now you come to that conclusion.)
Milton: “You’ll never get close to him. They’ll gun you down first.” (She won’t? Wasn’t she fucking the Governor just like two days ago or something? Andrea’s actually the the one person who CAN get close to him!)
And, as if to show Milton just how silly he sounds, within seconds of this talk Andrea’s got the Governor in her gun’s sights, ready to pull the trigger and end this thing. But though Milton’s a doubter, his heart’s not fully set on treason yet, and he forces her to drop the gun. So Andrea gives up on assassination and bolts Woodbury to make for the prison. The Governor soon discovers she’s gone, however, and decides to go out after her alone. From there, “Prey” starts riffing on all your substandard slasher-movie tropes, with the Governor in his truck tracking down Andrea across the southern countryside. There’s a ludicrous scene where he almost runs her down in a field, slamming on his horn the whole time, but she clears the treeline of the nearby woods just in time.
Eventually the two end up inside an abandoned industrial building, where they play a drawn-out game of cat-and-mouse while also trying to avoid the occasional shambling zombie. More dumb stuff here, like the Governor’s continued insistence on whistling. I suppose it’s meant to fill Andrea (and thus the audience) with dread, but I just kept wondering why the guy would choose to give up his position over and over. Even Abu Nazir knew to keep quiet while he was stalking Carrie through that mill on Homeland last fall (in a scene we all laughed about at the time but that would probably compare favorable to tonight’s Walking Dead shenanigans).
Andrea and the Governor eventually come face to face, but she escapes by opening a door to a stairwell full of walkers on him in a scene so awkwardly staged that I rewound it twice to try to figure out just how Andrea managed to slip by them. (I think she manages to duck behind the door, but it’s not terribly clear.) Anyway, the Governor appears to be overrun and Andrea is free. She heads back outdoors, makes her way to the prison, raises her hands near the outer-fence-line when she sees Rick standing watch … and surprise! Like any good slasher-movie villain, the Governor pops back up just in time. He slams her down to the ground out of view and smothers her mouth with his hands so she can make no peep in Rick’s direction. (By the way, I like to pretend that Rick would have seen Andrea and saved the day here, if not for the conversation he was currently having with his dead wife.)
So close, Andrea. So very, very close. At episode’s end, she’s drug back to Woodbury and thrown into the torture dungeon that was meant for Michonne.
This is just the second episode to air since “Clear,” one of The Walking Dead‘s very best hours ever, but it already feels like the goodwill built up during that episode has been squandered away. The entire hour this week offered nothing but a litany of thriller-flick cliches and heavy doses of characters who have clearly not worked out this year like the show’s writers had hoped. The only B-plot was some bit of drama between Tyreese and the nondescript white guy he was traveling with that seemed far too trivial to pay any attention to. Even the zombies weren’t used well this week, with multiple occurrences of walkers suddenly appearing right behind Andrea when she easily should have been able to hear them shuffling up behind her. In a season full of drastic, whiplash-inducing ups and downs in terms of quality, it’s likely “Prey” is the nadir.
Let’s hope anyway. There are, after all, still two episodes left.
A few more thoughts on “Prey” …
— Andrea to Tyreese’s crew: “The Governor — he’s not what he seems to be.” Now that’s rich.
— The Woodbury zombie pit seems like way more trouble than it’s worth, no? Though the shot of all the trapped walkers, burnt to a crisp but still moaning away, was gnarly in all the right ways.
— Zombie kill of the week: The Governor slicing through a walker’s head face-first with a shovel.
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