See last week's debrief here.
See memes for this episode here.
WARNING: EPISODE 3x08 SPOILERS AHEAD!
Click "READ MORE" below to get the full debrief and some best moments...
* Tyreese! At long last the burly hammer-swinging bad ass has arrived, and with a contingency of fresh meat following him. The name Donna (given to the woman who gets bitten on the arm) is a reference to the comics. Her husband is Allen (another character from the comics) - however both Donna and Allen were part of Rick's group from the very beginning. Good to see some more familiar names turning up.
* I was beginning to get a bit distracted by the fact that the prison wasn't looking much like what we saw in that final shot of season two, but here we saw another portion of it, which gives a good impression of a far larger facility.
* The scene between The Governor (Philip) and his undead daughter Penny was an interesting one. We've seen a much deeper and multi-faceted version of one of the comic's most iconic villains, and even though we hate this guy, we still feel a pang of sympathy for him and all the losses he has endured since the outbreak began. Emotional, but also rather disturbing.
* Glenn's walker bone shiv idea was a cracking (ba-boom-boom, tish) little moment. Now that's survivalism, Walking Dead style.
* Axel's a bit creepy - although he was known for peeping on the women in the showers in the comics - so his talk with Beth was, yeah, a bit shady (Carl didn't like it much either). Although his exchange with Carol - him assuming she was a lesbian because of her short hair - brought levity and toned-down the creep-factor from Axel.
* ACTION! Assault rifles, silenced pistols, shotguns, smoke grenades, flash bangs - plenty of good fun to be had.
* I dug Daryl's roller coaster during this episode. He's a gun-toting bad ass, but the little brother in him comes to the fore when he finds out Merle is not only alive, but here in Woodbury. Furthermore, when he's captured and in front of that baying mob, you can see his inner child come forth - he's actually scared for the first time in a long, long time ... but then so would you be if you were surrounded by an audience who was after your blood, having been labelled a "terrorist".
* So long Oscar - he didn't last long. Kind of a bummer as I was growing to like his character. I wonder if he ever got to put his feet up at the end of the day with those slippers he found?
* Shane! A nice little touch having Jon Bernthal return briefly - Rick's not fully out-of-the-nutter-woods yet, then.
* Michonne's fight with The Governor was brutal and tense, and rather kick arse. It felt pretty real too, with lots of scrabbling around desperately trying to get the upper hand. When she grabbed the shard of glass, slicing her hand open in the process, it elicited a good old wince from me. Then when he got the shard broken off in his eye ... ooh ... another strong wince was had.
* Speaking of Michonne, some folks out there have been a bit critical of her thus far, but I think this was definitely her strongest outing in the show thus far. We got a broad range of emotions from her here, she kicked plenty of arse, and she's enough of a troublemaker to keep things interesting when she's around others - she was always a bit of a rogue in the comics anyway.
* Andrea's seen behind the mask with Philip now, and with the end of the episode proving he's gone to the dark side, she has little in the way of options. As the previews for February suggest, she's going to be getting the hell out of Woodbury soon.
* Carl is referred to as a "man" by Tyreese, which was a nice little touch. Carl's come a long way since his weakest and most child-like moments in season two.
* An element that's ever-present in the comics is rash decisions, or decisions based on revenge, coming back to haunt you. As the cast talked about, Penny - albeit in undead form - was keeping a lid on Philip's undercurrent of insanity and mayhem. With her gone, he has no connection to his former self and his former life - the beast has been unleashed. Let the blood flow...
BEST GORE MOMENT:
The Governor taking a shard of fish tank glass in the eye. It packed a genuine jolt during his gripping scuffle with Michonne. One thing that does raise questions is what are the rules regarding infection in this show? The glass did come from a fish tank full of fluid that was swishing around severed walker heads after all.
BEST TWIST ON THE COMICS:
Generally giving The Governor more depth and more sides to his character - he's not an outright villain, but he's not exactly cuddly either. It's also wise to spread out some of the names from the comics - they did have a tendency early on to introduce a shed load of characters and then not do an awful lot with a number of them (making them background filler more than anything, as well as eventual cannon-fodder, and in some cases bigger players further down the line). Keeping us waiting for Tyreese was a good plan - we sustain heavy losses early-on in the season, and just when we're looking a bit sparse-on-the-ground, we get a new batch of key players.
The Governor's gone over to the dark side, he's captured Daryl, and he's cut Merle loose in front of a baying mob (or is it a cunning plan to get Merle to be an inside man at the prison?) ... plus Andrea's finally beginning to see the dark side. It's a right old tease for the viewers, although if you watch the mini trailer for the return of the show in February, you can find a few answers. It's a good ending for the mid-season finale though, and it's interesting that this is the very first time that Daryl and Merle are actually on-screen together in the same scene. It's a testament to the strength of these characters that we've always believed them to be brothers, and that their fractious bond remains strong, in spite of the fact that it's taken twenty-seven episodes to get them in the frame together.