Like a tightly coiled spring, tonight’s episode of The Walking Dead, “Prey,” is winding us tighter and tighter as we accelerate towards the series finale. If you haven’t seen “Prey” then hit the deck like Andrea in an open field, because there are spoilers ahead.
The episode opened with a flashback of Andrea and Michonne in the woods, showing us a brief moment of their winter together on the run. They are huddled around a fire, eating food out of a can. Michonne’s pet walkers are chained to a nearby tree, and Andrea asks about them…who they were, how Michonne knew them. “Do you want to talk about it?” Michonne just wordlessly shakes her head. Skip ahead to the Governor, pulling on chains himself, imagining the object of his revenge fantasy bound there, subject to his punishments. You can practically see him manifesting Michonne in his mind as he lifts his face to the ceiling.
The Governor’s men are preparing for the upcoming war, gathering weapons of all sorts. Milton watches with concern. He goes to see the Governor who is still caught up in preparing his torture chamber. Milton questions his desire for revenge, asking him how any of this serves Woodbury, or helps manifest their vision for what that community could be. It’s worth noting that Milton calls him Philip, not Governor, and later in the episode tells Andrea that he knew him before the zombie apocalypse–knew the man that he was. I believe this is the first time we’ve heard this, and it helps explain Milton’s loyalty. That loyalty is finally starting to waver, however, and Andrea finds something of an ally in Milton. He shares with her that the Governor wants Michonne, and that even if Rick turns her over, the plan is to kill them all anyway. Andrea is horrified. But even before she can fully process that, Milton also shows her the torture chamber the Governor is assembling. She looks in with disgust and swears quietly that she has to kill him. Almost as though God heard her, the Governor then enters the room below while they look on. Andrea quietly draws her gun while he goes about his business, whistling this creepy melody, and she would have shot him, but Milton stops her. He doesn’t see that as a solution–not yet. It would only get her killed by Martinez and the others. They both come to the conclusion that if she really wants to help Rick and the others at the prison, she has to warn them–so she has to escape.
Unfortunately she runs into a couple of issues immediately. First of all, she meets Martinez in the street and he confiscates her weapon on the Governor’s orders. She objects at first, but realizes it will raise far more suspicions if she doesn’t do as requested. He asks if she has a knife, to which she acidly replies, “You wanna frisk me?” Of course, we know she DOES in fact have a knife, but Martinez takes her sarcasm as a negative and walks away. Then she sees the Governor, and they both have to play the fun game of lying through their teeth to each other, the Governor insisting he wants her help in the “negotiations” and she insisting with a smile that she’ll be there.
Tyreese and Sasha are on guard duty on one of the quieter walls of Woodbury, using the opportunity for Tyreese to get some target practice. It turns out that Tyreese, though he seems like a good dude, is a pretty terrible shot. It takes him four tries to get a walker through the head. Andrea comes running up to them, insisting they go help Martinez, and that she can take over. Her plan to distract the newbies doesn’t work however, as their instructions were made very clear. She climbs up on the wall and then openly declares she’s leaving. When they object, she draws the knife, telling them in one long breathless burst that Woodbury and the Governor are not what they seem. Tyreese, always trying to avoid bloodshed, tries to talk her down, but decides not to physically prevent her from jumping the wall. She leaps and takes off running.
When Tyreese and Sasha report what has happened, the Governor turns on that sociopathic smooth talk and lies to them about Andrea’s delicate mental state and how she was alone with biters all winter long in the wilderness. We know it’s bull crap, but Tyreese and Sasha seem to buy it. The Governor now has to sort this out. When he sees Milton, he puts the pieces together and realizes that Milton not only knew that Andrea was leaving, but told her what was going to happen to her friends at the prison. Milton doesn’t even try to deny it. There would be no point, since he is the world’s worst liar. This has now put a major sense of urgency on getting Andrea back, a job the Governor decides to take on himself.
Tyreese is clearly still rattled by Andrea’s partings words, but as he discusses it with Allen and Ben, Allen basically tells him to keep his mouth shut and his head down because they have it better here than anywhere they’ve been in a while. Clearly there are issues between these two, obviously stemming from a time when Tyreese rescued Donna, Allen’s wife. Martinez orders them all to get going for a special job, which turns out to be some good old fashioned zombie-wrangling at their specially designed pits. Allen and Ben are eager to help and not make waves, but Tyreese is appalled and refuses to take part. This causes a fight between him and Allen, and Tyreese, the stronger man by far, could have killed Allen by throwing him in the walker pit, but he doesn’t.
Andrea is still pushing along. The episode name, “Prey,” clearly comes from her situation as the Governor hunts her down. First she gets off the road to hide in the trees to avoid his truck, but she’s almost killed by some walkers who pin her down. Then she has to cross an open field, and when she realizes she can hear the Governor’s truck approaching, she makes a break for the trees again. He can’t or won’t pursue her in that moment, but it doesn’t matter because she ends up at a cluster of old abandoned buildings (are there any other kind on this show?) and darts inside to hide. Just as she does, she hears the ominous sound of his truck pulling up outside, and then he walks to the door, silhouetted in the truck’s headlights, stepping inside to trap her.
The scene that begins here is an incredible cat and mouse sequence, and also very reminiscent of old-fashioned slasher movies, where the killer is playing with his victim, using tricks and taunts to draw them out. Andrea, thankfully, is very smart, but that’s about all she has on her side. The two of them are constantly circling each other, the Governor occasionally giving his creepy whistle, and both of them having to kill the occasional walker that springs up in the dark. For Andrea this is especially hazardous, as any noise she makes alerts the Governor to her location. At one point he just breaks a series of glass windows with the shovel he’s carrying. At first I thought he was trying to use the broken glass to hear her steps, but now I’m not so sure. He may have just done it because he was enraged and crazy. In one paralyzing moment, Andrea is crouched, knife gripped tightly, while he comes perilously close…only to be pulled away by a noise from somewhere else. It turns out it was just another walker or three, which he dispatches with some vim, giving Andrea the opportunity to try to slip out.
Only she’s foiled again, because the stairwell that she tries to exit from is FILLED with walkers. When she reenters, she comes face to face with the Governor, who says menacingly, “Time to go home.” Andrea, however, still has her wits about her, and she acts quickly, opening the stairwell door and pulling it open so widely she’s pinned behind it and all the walkers spill out into the room with the Governor. He has to fight them all off, and she pauses for a moment and listens to him before she slips out.
In a brief interlude we see someone pay a visit to the walker pits and douse them with gasoline, burning them all. This person’s identity is not revealed, although everyone probably has a couple of suspects on their list.
It’s daylight now, and Andrea is still pushing on through the woods, clearly exhausted (who wouldn’t be) but continuing to move forward. At last she sees the prison in the distance. She raises a hand to signal someone and–
BOOM. The Governor has her in his grip, pulling her to the ground before she is spotted by Rick, who happens to be on duty in the watchtower. This is truly an “oh shit!” moment. Andrea is not my favorite character, never has been, but even I felt bad for her–to have come so far, kicked so much ass, and almost made it, only to be captured by an insane man she knows has a torture chamber. Interestingly, the Governor chooses to keep his victory a secret, telling Martinez and others that he did NOT find Andrea. He is curious about the fire at the pits though, questioning Tyreese closely. Tyreese apologizes to the Governor for his behavior (I mean, can you even…) but it’s evident he isn’t the culprit. When the Governor runs into Milton, the two of them have a very enlightening conversation, and we can see that Milton is finally growing a pair, practically admitting to setting the fire.
The final scene is a long and twisting tracking shot, leading to the Governor’s horrific secret room, where it is Andrea who is gagged and bound in the chair, trussed up and ready to be the first victim of his disturbing bag of tricks. Can Andrea survive this? And how are things going at the prison? Guess we’ll find out next week!
Quote of the Night:
“It’s a real shame about the pits…I hope you find out who did it.” – Milton