The Walking Dead, Season 3, Episode 14: “Prey”
Written by Evan T. Reilly and Glen Mazzara
Directed by Stefan Schwartz
Airs Sundays at 9pm ET on AMC
In the NHL, three stars are awarded to the three most valuable players of every game. If we could do the same with television, composer Bear McCreary would easily run away with one of three stars each and every week, for his work on The Walking Dead. With “Prey,” McCreary is easily the MVP; his music almost never lets up throughout the entire length of the cat and mouse chase between Andrea and The Governor, and McCreary’s score plays a large contribution in what is one of the most suspenseful extended scenes in the history of the series. I’ve noted before how various episodes in this season are reminiscent in tone and atmosphere to some of the earlier work of cult director John Carpenter. Dark atmospheres, haunted effects and subtle drone textures have long been a staple of Carpenter’s musical oeuvre, and it seems McCreary may be influenced by the legendary filmmaker’s work. But McCreary isn’t bound to imitation; instead, he creates his own sonic landscape, and his compositions are integral to the success of the series. AMC is clearly trying to milk every penny they can from The Walking Dead. Over the past few weeks they’ve campaigned tirelessly promoting the release of their latest soundtrack. But it isn’t McCreary’s work you’ll be hearing on the album, but rather the pop songs collected each week to be played during the final few minutes of each installment. Its a shame really. While some tunes such as “Civilian” by Wye Oak have worked extremely well in the past, sometimes I can’t help but wish they’d just let the original score play instead.
One can’t help but notice that “Prey” has a retro feel to it, but its not just because of the music. The handheld camera which follows Andrea throughout the abandoned building is also reminiscent of Carpenter’s best work. Here, Stefan Schwartz, directing his first Dead episode, makes good use of widescreen visuals through the dark, narrow corridors. Schwarz creates stylish setups and elegant frame compositions during the game of hide and seek, and presents to the audience a clear layout of the space where the action is taking place. We can’t help but sense deja vu while watching the chase. The close ups on Andrea, the whistling tune from The Governor, and the abandoned factory, all seem like ideas featured in some of the best horror films from the past.
Last week’s episode was mostly stalling, and this week, co-writers Glen Mazzara and Evan Reilly make some necessary adjustments and corrections. Story wise, “Prey” is better than “Arrow on the Doorpost,” because it has a clear focus, and because Andrea finally comes to her senses, and escapes both Woodbury and The Governor, rousing some much needed sympathy, while inspiring genuine concern for her safety. Milton continues to be the most fascinating of the Woodbury group and here we learn that his friendship with The Governor goes far back, which helps explain his loyalty to the homicidal maniac. We also got more of a focus on Tyreese and Sasha this week, which is always appreciated. Tyreese and Sasha are good people and it is refreshing to have two characters who you can wholeheartedly love. This is a rare episode in which nobody commits to an action that seems illogical, impossible or even implausible. More importantly Rick Grimes appears to be over the crazy spell that has been haunting him lately. In the midst of this, we are also treated to a small mystery: Who is the mysterious figure, sneaking around late at night burning walkers ‘alive’? Tyreese and Sasha seem genuinely clueless and Milton would be too obvious of a choice. Could it be Morgan, or maybe Martinez is having a change of heart? I suppose in time we’ll know in short order.
- Ricky D
The sequence showing the burned zombies in the pit certainly managed to stand out as some of the best visual effects yet.
Michonne: “They deserved what they got. They weren’t human to begin with.”
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