Last week we had one birth, two deaths, one missing person, and the beginning of a mental breakdown. This, of course, raised the bar regarding the expectations for this week’s episode. Although many things happened in “Say the Word,” it was something of a disappointment after the tumultuous events of “The Killer Within.” In this episode, Rick and Michonne have apparently merged into the same character, as both do little asides from glaring angrily at people and using sharp objects to vent their internal frustrations on the walker population. Daryl sports a strange poncho while taking Maggie on a quest for baby formula. Michonne and Andrea finally go their separate ways, and Rick answers a mysteriously ringing phone. Oh, and there’s an awkward gladiatorial sport uniting walkers and humans that is the latest rage over in Woodbury.
It seems that the strategy for this season is to lull viewers into an uninterested state of mind, only to come out of nowhere with incredible scenarios and zombie killing sprees. I can only assume that “Say the Word” is intended to initiate phase 2 of the boredom. Things are definitely being set up for action, but the content still feels like filler. Nevertheless, there are some interesting things happening below surface level. The fight at Woodbury was clearly intended to be shocking, but in actuality this type of behavior is the natural progression for the citizens of Woodbury. These people have finally achieved some sense of normalcy in the midst of a zombie apocalypse, and feel that they have essentially overcome the threat. Thus, they attempt to show their dominance as a society over the walkers in a way that brings to mind the Romans tormenting the Christians in the gladiatorial arena. However, this particular situation adds an interesting twist: the staged battle is fought between two humans. The walkers, tethered and de-fanged, merely watch as the men attempt the destroy each other. Interestingly enough, this staged event captures the exact situation of all survivors: human nature dictates that they are destined to destroy each other while the walkers simply watch. The walkers may be the catalyst for the destruction, but ultimately it is the living that must be feared.
Another intriguing tidbit relates to Rick’s discovery of the bloated zombie full of Lori’s remains. In many ways, Lori’s baby is being set up as some sort of savior, or at least as the embodiment of hope for a better future. When viewed in this light, Lori’s lack of earthly remains eerily parallels a perversion of the Virgin Mary’s assumption into heaven. Not that Lori deserves any comparison to a holy woman, but this lady birthed the only hope for a downtrodden group of people, and her husband is probably not the father of this child (hmmm, sounds familiar…perhaps Daryl is a poncho clad, bike riding wise man?)
Biblical comparisons aside, one parallel that really cannot be ignored is that between Rick and the Governor. Both have dead wives and immensely disturbing children. Both are trying to be leaders, although their tactics vary. Both are played by men with British accents (not at all related to this argument, but it needed said for the sake of trivial knowledge). The Governor is polished on the surface, but he clearly has some deep-seated issues. Rick, on the other hand, is rapidly acquiring the ingredients necessary for irreparable mental trauma, which may lead him to adopt some of the Governor’s coping mechanisms. Needless to say, we should all be grateful that Lori has not been reincarnated in walker form, or we would probably have to deal with Rick keeping her caged so he can brush her hair every day.