The Walking Dead Season Three, Episode Thirteen “Arrow On The Doorpost”

“All war presupposes human weakness and seeks to exploit it”Carl Von Clausewitz

episode 13 daryl rick

In the pre-credits scene of The Walking Dead’s thirteenth third season episode, “Arrow at the Doorpost”, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus), and Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson) pull up to a deserted farm complex. While Hershel stays in the car as a lookout, readying his weapons, the other two jump out. Moving stealthily through the weeds, they sneak around the silos and storage towers until they come to an abandoned feed store. Rick enters, pistol drawn, looking around carefully until he sees the reason for his visit. It’s a pre-arranged summit with the Governor (David Morrissey)…

episode 13 rick with gunPost-credits, the Governor removes his gun belt an act of goodwill, and sits at a table, discreetly verifying a concealed hidden pistol; Rick remains standing, refusing to holster his pistol. Before any discussions begin, Andrea (Laurie Holden) arrives with Martinez (Jose Pablo Cantillo) and a grumpy-looking Milton (Dallas Roberts), and barges in to the meeting.  Playing the role of peacemaker, she explains why she initiated the summit:

“Too many people have died for no reason. Let’s end this. Save the bullets for the real threat. We can solve this. That’s why I asked you to come here.”

Rick ignores Andrea and takes the offensive, explaining to the Governor that he is aware of the severed walker heads, the raids, and the incident with Maggie (Lauren Cohan) in episode seven, “When the Dead Come Knocking”. The Governor deftly brushes it aside, blaming Merle (Michael Rooker), and proclaims his desire to “move forward”. The two adversaries get to the issues. Showing the Governor a map, Andrea and Rick announce a demarcation line, of which each party will not cross. The Governor laughs and tosses the map aside, announcing that he is attending the meeting for one purpose: for Rick’s surrender. Demanding that Andrea step outside – she obeys, leaving in a huff–the two continue the battle of wills. The Governor remains calm and relaxed against the edgier Rick, and comes up with superbly manipulative answers for all Rick’s accusations. For example, the Governor blames Merle for kidnapping Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Maggie, and claims that he was trying to “sort it out” just when Rick attacked Woodbury:

Rick: “So it was his fault.”

Governor: “He’s a wild card, but he’s effective. He gets the dirty jobs done.”

Rick: “I thought you take responsibility.”

Governor: “And I thought you were a cop, not a lawyer.”

Rick fires back with insults, accusing the Governor of being the “town drunk”, not a leader, for his lack of control over Merle. The Governor immediately takes the negotiation to a darker level, chipping away at Rick’s weak spot by raising the issue of his baby daughter. Rick is hit hard and begins to lose focus.

Outside, while waiting out the meeting, Hershel and Daryl similarly get off to a tense start with Martinez and Milton. After Daryl gets obnoxious with Milton, Martinez interferes:

“If you and I are gonna be out here pointin’ guns at each other all day, do me a favor, shut your mouth…”

daryl martinezMartinez smirks as Daryl stands him down, until Hershel diffuses the situation. The two separate and quiet down, but after hearing walkers in the vicinity, they spring into action and work together. A test of one-man-upmanship over walker-killing ensues between Daryl and Martinez, and although they trade insults, feelings of mutual respect underpin their jibes. Over cigarettes, they both agree that the meeting between the leaders is useless and nothing will change. Milton and Hershel similarly bond, discussing Hershel’s leg amputation.

In the meeting, the Governor uses a variety of psychological tricks. Breaking out the whiskey, he sips away as he stresses (again) the havoc Rick caused Woodbury, and how in the eyes of his people he must extract revenge or be viewed as a weak leader. He continues with thinly-veiled threats and then a tension-diffusing story of his wife’s (pre-apocalypse) death, to which Rick shows overtures of sympathy, even drinking the offered whiskey. Like a wolf with his prey, the Governor senses Rick’s edginess softening up…

In the prison, a slightly hyper and nervous Glenn doles out weapons and ammo to the others in preparation for a possible invasion, although Merle insists that they should take the initiative by raiding the summit and assassinating the Governor. Glenn reasons that too much can go wrong, plus the survivors promised Rick not to interfere. With a reminder that his word is final, he goes out to mend the cell block gate. After returning, he is stunned to see Merle preparing weapons, in an outward defiance of orders. Merle insists that he has a right to interfere, since his brother’s life may be at stake. In the argument between the two, Merle insults Glenn’s masculinity over the treatment of his girlfriend Maggie at the hands of the Governor. Glenn and Merle stand eyeball to eyeball, with neither backing down, until a fight breaks out. The two tumble down the steps, clinched in a murderous rage, with Glenn straining to keep Merle’s hunting knife from piercing his heart.  The others try unsuccessfully to break up the fight, but only after Beth blasts a round into the prison ceiling does Merle release him and get to his feet, staring at Glenn with brutal contempt.

While waiting outside the summit, Hershel talks to Andrea, looking down and dejected after getting thrown out of the meeting. When Hershel tells her that the Governor is “a sick man”, Andrea uncorks her gut-wrenching dilemma:

What am I going to do now? I can’t go back there? (to Woodbury).”

drinks

Inside, in the summit, Rick has calmed down but is somewhat glazed. The Governor reminds Rick that although the survivors have plenty of guns and are battled-tested – unlike his mainly civilian militia – he has more men and emphasizes that “this fight…will go down to the last man.” Choosing his words cleverly, he proposes a solution:

Governor: “So let’s end it, today. Let’s not do this. We can walk away…you have something that I want. One thing that makes this alright.”

Rick: “I’m not giving up the prison.”

Governor: “I don’t want your prison, that doesn’t sound safe at all, I mean you lost your wife and the other man.”

Rick: “We’re not movin’ on.”

Governor: “What good would that do me? It’s best you stay where I can keep my one good eye on you… I want Michonne… Turn her over and this all goes away. Is she worth it? One woman?”

In the prison, Merle attempts to convince Michonne (Danai Gurira) to join him on the raid. He is on the verge of success, but claims he cannot guarantee Andrea’s safety. Michonne backs out.

Rick meanwhile snaps out of his stupor with some probing questions. Playing on the Governor’s sense of glory, he asks why he would risk it all on his “two-bit vendetta” with Michonne. The Governor pulls out his ace-in-the-hole:

“You could save your son. Save your daughter. Everyone you know. It’s your choice.”

The Governor gives Rick two days to consider the offer, with an arrangement to meet with the answer in the feed store at noon. The two, silently, go their separate ways, shuttling off in their respective vehicles. Reaching Woodbury, the Governor instructs Martinez to keep a watch on the feed store, and kill any survivors that show up, but keep Michonne alive. Milton, questions the act, calling it a “slaughter”, but after the Governor smirks it off, he decides not press the issue. The Governor calls an impromptu street meeting with his citizens, glossing over the summit and presenting his actions through the noblest intentions. Andrea remains unaware of the real terms.

Back in the prison, Rick calls a meeting in the cell block, and tells the truth about the imminent war, but leaves out the proposed Michonne deal. Later, Hershel joins him outside for a private moment. The elder feels that they should take a chance back on the road – a feeling shared by Carol (Melissa McBride) – but for the sake of unity is willing to stay and fight with Rick. Rick confides the real terms of the summit, and while he knows that handing Michonne to the Governor is basically a death sentence for her, he knows that the Governor will kill them all anyway. However, Rick feels that he still must consider the possibility that it will not happen…

episode 13 governorAfter last week’s one-episode break, “Arrow at the Doorpost” brings us back to business, big-time, without losing momentum – au contraire, the show turns up the heat a notch. The episode comes as a surprise. I actually expected the initial confrontation between the two honchos to come later in the season, picturing a raid on Woodbury where Rick would channel his inner Inigo Montoya, and say to the Governor, Princess Bride-style, “My name is Rick Grimes, prepare to die”….But who am I to double guess the writers? These dudes have kept us on our toes all season, throwing us fastballs when we expect curveballs and curveballs when we expect knuckleballs.  Overall, the episode was a tour-de-force for Lincoln and Morrissey as Rick and the Governor. Lincoln was superb (as usual) but Morrissey stole the show, running through a spectrum of emotions from shmoozing, smirking, and grief, to ice-cold threats of annihilation. In fact, no two scenes were the same.

Regarding the Guv, two things come to mind. One, he is the high priest of mind games, psychological warfare, and manipulation, so much that I’d guess that in his pre-apocalyptic life he was either an ace salesman or an interrogator for the national security services (maybe even both). Two, his credibility factor is nil – nothing new here – but personified in his final chilling decision regarding the survivors.

Of course, no true Walking Dead episode can leave us without head-scratching food for thought. Was Martinez honest when he lamented the outcome of the meeting or was it a ploy to lull Daryl into a false sense of rapport? Will Glenn and Merle come to blows again, this time without outside intervention? Will Andrea make a choice as to where she truly belongs? And most importantly, will Rick turn Michonne into the sacrificial lamb to save the remainder of the survivors? With three episodes to go, another confrontation between the two leaders is looming, and this time, the Governor isn’t taking off his guns …

Evan Rothfeld

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One Response to “The Walking Dead Season Three, Episode Thirteen “Arrow On The Doorpost””

  1. […] Please click on the link to Deadloggers to continue reading about Episode Thirteen. […]

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