The Walking Dead, Season 3, Episode 10: “Home”
Written by Nichole Beattie
Directed by Seith Mann
Airs Sundays at 9pm ET on AMC
The midseason premiere of AMC’s third season of The Walking Dead left many people worried. While the third season has been, by and large, a vast improvement over Season two, last week’s “The Suicide King” was a major disappointment. Thankfully the series picked up this week. “Home” is an impressively directed episode that delivers everything you could want from The Walking Dead: clever direction, lashings of gore, a witty, intelligent script, strong characters and two particularly amazing action-set-pieces.
So what makes “Home” so much better than “The Suicide King”? Well for starters, The Walking Dead creators seem to know how to direct action as well as they create scares. Sure the special effects team over at AMC does gore to perfection, but The Walking Dead has done much to sustain downright nail-biting tension without relying on special effects. The direct attack on the prison, complete with the pretty vicious use of zombies on the part of The Governor, was one of the most thrilling scenes yet. In the midst of this, “Home” also offered reasons to cheer for Michonne again. Not only did she decide to finally speak but she offered some helpful information to Glenn about The Governor. Even better, Michonne was back in action slicing zombies heads left and right. And let’s not forget to mention Darryl’s one man rescue of a family stranded between a traffic jam and a herd of walkers. That man sure knows how to use a crossbow.
There are various types of zombie films: There is the gritty political allegories directed by mavericks such as George A. Romero. Than there are the blood-soaked gore-fests made by filmmakers such as Lucio Fulci and Umberto Lenzi. And more recently, the world has been inundated with the comedy fuelled buddy/romance zombie films, made by directors like Jonathan Levine and Edgar Wright. The Walking Dead however, does not fit into neither category. Instead, it creates a new and unique take on the zombie genre, drawing on the iconography and mood of the Western. So last week, when I wrote “the ending of “The Suicide King” was unintentionally funny, and perhaps the funniest moment of the entire series to date, but not in a good way,” I meant it. That ending felt completely out of place and tone with the series. Episodes like “Made to Suffer” take inspiration from classic Westerns, in that case, Rio Bravo, whereas “The Suicide King” simply felt out of character.
By contrast, “Home” does a great job of balancing the heated drama with the action that unravels, making it one of the strongest episodes in the season so far. In Grimes, The Walking Dead gives us a hero who is supremely self-aware of the unlawful actions he must commit while cautious of the damage it’s inflicting on his body, mind and soul. Rick’s One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest transformation has slowly unravelled since the end of season two. If there is one character who’s remained consistent throughout the run of the series, it is Grimes. After everything he has gone through, it’s no big surprise that the events of his life in the past year have taken a dramatic effect on his well being. Seeing or talking to ghosts isn’t something new for Rick, but the major difference between last week’s episode and this week’s “Home” is subtlety. Over-the-top histrionics, forcing some not-so-great acting on the part of Andrew Lincoln doesn’t sit well for what is supposed to be a crucial scene in season three. In “Hounded” a simple phone call to his dead wife, was extremely well handled, as was Rick’s chasing ghosts scenes in “Home”. In ‘Home’ Rick tells Hershel that he knows the images of Lori aren’t real, but that he believes the visions could mean something. Last week I proposed a few theories: Either Rick is simply suffering from remorse, or the infection inside him could lead to side effects, thus causing him to slowly lose his mind. The third theory was that perhaps the show-runners are planing to incorporate some mystical meaning behind it all. It remains to be seen what direction they will take, but whatever the case, viewers are now witnessing Rick’s vulnerable side. Regardless if Rick is or isn’t your favourite character, The Walking Dead operates around him. The characters of the series need a purpose in order for the show to have a clear direction. If Rick is the leader, he needs something to fight for, and a reason to keep going. Hiding out behind the walls of a prison isn’t much of a life. After all, a prison is still a prison, even in a zombie apocalypse.
Balancing out the tension within the prison walls are the scenes of Daryl and Merle, which offer the episode a few genuine laughs. At last we are given a closer look at the Dixon brothers and what their relationship is like outside of extremely intensified situations. It isn’t a big surprise that Daryl would eventually decide to walk away from his brother and return to the group. It also isn’t a big surprise that the two of them would coincidentally return to the prison when most needed. But it was fun to see them interact nevertheless, even if it didn’t last very long. Michael Rooker has done a great job in making Merle a character you love to hate, and Norman Reedus has done an even better job in making Daryl a character you’d hate to lose. I just wish the writers would have kept them away from the prison a bit longer, and explore this dynamic further.
Andrea doesn’t have too much to do in this episode, but I don’t think anyone is complaining. Too much of the season as been seated awkwardly between her and her inelegant relationship with The Governor. Andrea has been one the characters who feels, well, out of character this season. Isn’t she the one who didn’t want to take orders from Rick back in season two? Isn’t she the type to take charge and not allow a man to shape her decisions? Did she not discover that the man she’s been shacking up with, collects severed heads and stores them in an aquarium? Wouldn’t she want to at least reach out to her old friends, or at the very least, be curious about their welfare? As I stated in last week’s review, I find it frustrating to root for a woman who has no interest in helping herself. Perhaps I’m a feminist at heart, but The Walking Dead has done a poor job of developing it’s female leads. Let’s not forget about how much everyone hated Lori. Now that she’s gone, Andrea has taken her mantle. The writers are doing her a terrible disservice in keeping her at Woodbury without a truly believable motive. Even Michone and Maggie have had their share of problems lately. And as for Hershel’s daughter, I’d be surprised if more than one out of every hundred viewers knew her name. Thankfully the series has Carol who has quickly become one of my favourites. It helps that Melissa McBride is a fine actress, but the writers have been kind to her this season. Sure Carol has had her fair share of bad luck with men. She endured an abusive husband, and any man who has tried to get close to her since, ends up dead. But you have to admire a woman who comes so close to death each and every week, and finds a way to survive. If only the writers could be so generous to the other ladies onboard.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of “Home” was the complete absence of Tyreese and company. In case you are confused, when they were asked to leave the prison last week, the small group did just that. I guess the writers didn’t feel a need to show it, nor mention it. Yet another reason why “The Suicide King” was a terrible episode. In any case, we can all expect them to be back very soon.
Using Axel’s body as a shield will go down as a downright classic moment.
Speaking of which, Axel’s quick death shouldn’t have been a surprise for anyone who has read the comic, but for everyone else, his scenes of offering backstory should have hinted that his death was near.
Great opening with a welcome cameo from Sarah Wayne.
“You keep an eye on her for me.” – The Governor
“I’m going to ask you to give me a very specific answer to a very specific question: Where’s the Governor?” – Andrea’s best line all season.
“I may have lost my hand but you lost your sense of direction.” – Merle
Michonne means katana action!
RIP, Axel. Monologues are deadly.
Don’t forget to tune into our Walking Dead podcast. New episodes are dropped every Monday.