Perhaps my biggest issue with AMC’s The Walking Dead is their tendency to have episodes where nothing happens, where all anyone does is sit around and talk, talk, talk, and where all that talking amounts to squat. Tonight’s episode, “I Ain’t a Judas,” just goes to show that you can have an hour-long show where all of these things happen, but it can still be good. Who the hell would have thought?
Most of “I Ain’t a Judas” is taken up by talking. That’s how it starts—Merle (Michael Rooker) gives the survivors in the prison a rundown of what they’re up against with the Governor (David Morrissey)—and it continues from there. The group rambles on about how they should have left the prison when they had the chance, about how to proceed with the folks at Woodbury, what to do now that Merle is back in the fold, and so many more topics of concern.
In the end, they decide on very little. They’re more aware of what kind of danger they’re in, but that’s about it. Catching up with Andrea (Laurie Holden) was nice, but they’re in roughly the same place at the end as they were in the beginning. Still, the episode manages to be full of tension, there are a couple of surprise shifts in direction, and “I Ain’t a Judas” winds up a very watchable episode.
The plot of the episode is pretty simple: the survivors in the prison are some combination of terrified and angry, as are the citizens of Woodbury, both for good reason. Each side prepares, mentally and physically, for war. Andrea ventures to the prison to see if she can put her former lawyer skills to good use and diffuse the situation. She can’t. Things are going to get rough moving forward.
By the time the end rolls around, you can’t help but feel that the episode has erected a framework, and placed all of the characters—the ones you like, the ones you don’t—in a very precarious position. You’re left wanting to see where they’re going, what will happen next week, and you’re a little pissed off that you have to wait a full seven days to find out. That’s a good sign, that you walk away wanting more.
It looks like Rick (Andrew Lincoln) may be back, or at least moving in that direction. This wasn’t an easy place to get to. Hershel (Scott Wilson) has to call him out in front of everyone and remind him about that whole “This isn’t a democracy” speech he gave. Hell, it even takes Carl (Chandler Riggs) stepping up and telling his own father, in no uncertain terms, that he should step down as group tyrant. This is a big moment for the kid, and illustrates just how far he’s evolved and changed from that whiny little bastard we met a couple seasons ago.
Andrea’s visit to the prison doesn’t turn out exactly like she hoped. All she really accomplishes is steeling the resolve of both sides to fight, which is the polar opposite of what she wanted. The biggest consequence is that, when she returns to Woodbury, after seeing all of her old friends and coming to the realization of how sinister the Governor really is, she’s more torn than ever. Which is good, because I still can’t stand her, I don’t care if Holden says she’s “misunderstood.”
For a moment — one bright, hopeful moment — you think Andrea is going to take Carol’s (Melissa McBride) advice: sleep with, then murder, the Governor. Logically, you know this isn’t going to happen because there’s still like a third of a season left to go, and The Walking Dead is going to drag this conflict out for as long as they can. But didn’t you wish, just for a second, that she was going to plunge that knife into the Governor’s neck? Now, every time someone else dies, we’re all going to look at Andrea and think to ourselves, damn it, Andrea, you could have prevented all this. It does appear, at least at this point in time, that Michonne (Danai Gurira) was right, that Andrea chose a warm bed and sexy time over her friends.
Oh well, you can’t win them all.
Perhaps the biggest left turn in “I Ain’t a Judas” is when Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman) and his crew wind up in Woodbury, offering their services to the Governor. This just adds insult to injury for the survivors at the prison. They could have added numbers and capable bodies to their ranks for the impending and inevitable confrontation. Instead, Rick had to go off the deep end, start yelling at Ghost Lori, and chase off potential allies. But that’s kind of his jam, isn’t it?
“I Ain’t a Judas” leaves viewers poised on the precipice of something, hopefully, pretty damn awesome. Rick, Carl, and Michonne are heading out on a run. Both sides of the conflict are armed to the teeth and bent on destruction. Daryl (Norman Reedus) is his brother’s keeper. Basically, the stage is set for the final build towards the end of the season.
What did you think of this episode? Too much talking, not enough action? Or did they get it right this time?