Just like the Governor and Rick finally got to confront each other in last week’s episode, Andrea and the Governor finally get to confront each other in “Clear.” But unlike Rick and the Guv, Andrea and the Guv do a lot less talking and a lot more stalking, as the Governor finally reveals his true self to Andrea — and unfortunately for Andrea, that true self wants her dead… or worse.
In Woodbury, Andrea begins to suspect that perhaps the Governor may not be telling the truth about his “deal” with the prison after 1) she sees the Governor’s men preparing one of those gun-mounted jeeps they stole from the army guys, 2) seeing the Governor cheerfully organizing what is very obviously a torture room, and 3) Milton tells her there’s no deal, and the Governor’s going to kill everybody anyways.
Andrea’s first inclination is to just shoot the Governor, while she watches him check his recording devices to make sure the acoustics of the torture room work (a nicely chilling detail), but Milton stops her, ostensibly because he still kinda cares about the Governor and feels there’s some sort of speck of goodness still inside him (which, obviously, worked out so great for him with the zombies).
So Andrea finally decides to leave Woodbury and join Team Prison, mostly to warn them that the Governor is not going to play fair. She heads for the exit manned by Tyreese and his sister Sasha, who is teaching Tyreese how to shoot because Tyreese is apparently the only person in the world who can’t headshot a zombie with 100% accuracy. Tyreese and Sasha remind her she’s not allowed to leave, Andrea tells them that the Governor is a lying dick and leaves anyways, and Tyreese, being the pinnacle of humanity in the series, refuses to shoot her in the back.
He does tell the Governor, though, and the Gov goes on a solo mission to “recover” her. Meanwhile, the Guv has his troops — including Tyreese — get a horse trailer full of zombies ready from the zombie pit for Prison War round 2. Tyreese has no love for Rick, but he remembers Rick has kids, and at any rate Tyreese doesn’t believe that anyone should be sending zombies after anybody. He brings up this crazy pinko liberal belief, which meets with major guff from the Guv’s goons and from Allen, the dude with the son who was originally in Tyreese’s group, who is pissed at Tyreese for making waves in Woodbury.
Also, there’s some kind of bad blood between Tyreese and Allen because Tyreese saved Allen’s wife maybe, and somehow that affected their marriage or something, and it’s all weird and dull because no one gives the tiniest shit about Allen, and honestly I keep forgetting he exists, sometimes even when he’s on-screen. He and Tyreese get in a fight where Tyreese nearly drops Allen into the zombie pit, but he stops himself, implying that either Tyreese has a hidden temper underneath all that humanity or the writers were just trying to find some drama for him. At any rate, Tyreese wants no part of a fight using Weapons of Undead Destruction, and walks off.
Meanwhile, Andrea is slowly jogging to the prison in silence, and dodging a white GMC Terrain Denali (or something) that seems to keep popping up. Now, TWD normally does excellent silences, and this one is good but not great, partially because it’s just Andrea by herself, most of the time; partially because it’s Andrea period, and nobody likes her; but mostly because it quickly turns into Andrea running like hell from the Governor.
And there’s nothing wrong with that, frankly. Most of the episode is Andrea trying to dodge the Governor, running places he can’t drive, and eventually hiding in an abandoned warehouse. But the Governor also enters the warehouse, and, after a very brief moment of his normal, placating bullshit, finally gets mad and starts breaking things. He uses a shovel to smash glass everywhere, so that he can hear where Andrea is trying to sneak. It’s obvious that if he catches Andrea, the bullshit is over — he’s going to kill her (although whether he’ll kill her fast or kill her slow remains to be seen). It’s a reasonably tense game of hide-and-seek, even despite the fact we know neither Andrea nor the Governor are going to die (not because these characters are safe, but because they still have parts to play in the season’s over-arching story), and even though it hits a few suspense clichés, like the Governor nearly finding Andrea’s hiding spot before he hears something else and walks the other direction.
Eventually, Andrea finds a stairwell she can escape into, but when she opens the door, it’s full of zombies; when she shuts it, the Governor is right behind her. It’s a great moment, Andrea staring at the Governor’s true self with hate, contempt and fear, and the Governor smiling, knowing she knows the truth, and she still can’t do anything about it. He can’t resist one more smarmy “Time to go home”… which is when Andrea does what is unequivocally the badass thing she’s ever done — opening the stairwell door, ducking inside and hiding behind the door, so the zombies all swarm down out of the stairwell all over the Governor. It’s fantastic, and erases a shit-ton of Andrea’s awful lectures from this season — I don’t know that it makes her officially likable, but by god it’s a step in the right direction, as is her walking slowly out of the warehouse, leaving the Governor for zombie chow.
Of course, things can’t be this easy. As Andrea finally arrives at the prison the next morning — a beatific smile of her face, like it’s some kind of Mecca instead of a shitty prison half-overrun by zombies — the Governor grabs her and forces her to the ground just seconds before Rick sees her with his rifle scope. Next thing we know, the Governor is back in Woodbury. He discovers someone has set fire to all the zombies at the zombie pit during the night. He talks to Tyreese and his group, reassuring the zombies are only used as a scare tactic; Tyreese smells bullshit — especially when he wonders why the Gov’s goons didn’t just say that in the first place — but he wants Woodbury to be a safe place and he wants his group to be safe, so he lets it go. And then the Governor has an awkward talk with Milton, in which they might as well have said:
Governor: I KNOW YOU SET ALL THE PIT ZOMBIES ON FIRE.
Milton: I SET ALL THE PIT ZOMBIES ON FIRE.
Oh! And whenever anybody asks if he managed to find Andrea, the Governor replies with a taciturn, but still slightly sad “No.”, which, of course, means Andrea is bound, gagged, and sitting in the Governor’s torture chair.
“Prey” makes the same smart decision that “Clear” did, in that it keeps the focus on one group, the Woodburians. It’s not as powerful as “Clear” was, because it isn’t about building relationships or revealing characters as much as it is a straight suspense story of the Governor stalking Andrea, but again, that’s totally fine. And the stuff at Woodbury did show some forward movement, too: Andrea finally learned the Governor’s true evil, Milton stands up against the Governor (which is going to work out just great for him, I’m sure), Tyreese learned more about the true nature of Woodbury and the Guv. Nothing earth-shattering was revealed and nothing haunting or devastating was seen, but there wasn’t a lot of fluff and it was an episode that actually had its own story to it, even if the only real change was at the beginning of the episode Andrea was on the street, and at the end of the episode she’s tied to a chair with some very, very sharp implements on the table next to her.
• I was rewatching the episode after wrote the recap to make sure I hadn’t missed anything, and I did — the flashback to Andrea and Michonne, together in the woods, with Michonne’s pet zombies. Man, was that scene completely worthless.
• The GMC Terrain Denali: the official post-apocalyptic vehicle of psychotic assholes.
• Zombie kill of the week: I’m going with the melted zombies, even though only a few of them were killed. I admit, the most graphic kill was when the Governor puts a shovel through that zombie’s head, although the head didn’t look particularly real to me. The charred pile of barely moving zombies in the pit, though, looked exactly like the puddle of semi-melted G.I. Joe figures I set on fire during my troubled youth.
• And speaking of the pit, did anyone not know it was Milton setting the fire, like, immediately?
• That said, when the scene started with the dude pouring gas on the trailer of Walkers, I thought we were going to get to see the Governor drive a huge pile of flaming zombies into the prison. That would have been awesome.
• Can I tell you how excited I am to see the return of Ghost Lori next episode? I can’t, because my excitement is a negative, imaginary number.
• Callin’ it: Next episode Milton finds Andrea, asks Tyreese to free her and escape to the prison, they do, and the Governor kills Milton in rage.
ª Two more episodes, which means 1) The Walking Dead finale is on my birthday, and more importantly 2) it’s airing the same time as the Game of Thrones season 3 premiere. Sigh. Not that TWD finales aren’t pretty good, but it’s my birthday and I’m watching GoT first. I’m sure you understand.