The slow drip-feed of tension continued this week as we had another 'filler' episode that draws out the story towards what is sure to be an explosive and devastating finale. Prey focused on the residents of Woodbury and the troubles that exist for those that try to overrule the dictatorial will of the Governor. Focusing on Andrea, Milton and Tyrese, whilst the episode certainly felt flat in places we did get a terrifying climax towards the end as the malevolent Governor hunted escapee Andrea down.
Many have found Andrea a frustrating character to watch throughout season 3 (perhaps you've even found her aggravating from the start). Though shown to be stubborn and strong-willed, her periods of indecisiveness are often mystifying. She's heard from her former friends at the prison and Michonne how dangerous the Governor is and what he did to Maggie, and has seen his barbarity first hand in the gladiatorial fights and the way he has armed the town for war.
And yet rather than make a concrete decision she dilly-dallies between whether to stay loyal to her lover or not. The unnecessary scene at the start where Andrea aims her gun at an ignorant Governor from a distance before Milton convinces her not to is a recycled version of when she held a dagger by the Governor's beside back in I Ain't a Judas.
Alone in the Dark
Seeing the Governor's torture chamber finally sways her mind that maybe she should leave Woodbury and warn the others of what's to come. This provokes the Governor to go off and hunt her down before she can make it to the prison. What follows is a series of contrived scenarios where Andrea, the prey, is hunted by the Governor, the predator.
David Morrissey's character appears to have a lot in common with the famous Predator alien as well, spotting with eagle-eyes Andrea hiding in the open plains, before somehow managing to locate her in a derelict factory.
That's not to deny that the finale is an incredibly claustrophobic climax filled with real terror. The Walking Dead has always been indebted to the Romero zombie films, but here borrows from another horror sub-genre, the 70s/80s slasher film. Followed by an indefatigable pursuer in the mould of Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees, Andrea manages to think on her feet and release a staircase of zombies on the Governor in order to flee the scene.
The problem is that whilst the peril for Andrea in escaping from the Governor was real, the conventions of the story mean we know the Governor would not meet his demise when surrounded by the undead hordes in the factory.
What's even worse is that after having Andrea outwit the Governor she is reduced to helpless damsel in distress when she is snatched at the prison gates and tied down in the torture chamber come episode's end. Not only do we feel cheated by such a finale, but with so few strong female characters in the show you hope that Andrea will still get a chance to become the hero rather than the victim.
Tired of Tyrese
Andrea's not the only one who could soon feel the wrath of the Governor. Tyrese's group also find their loyalties to the town tested. Guarding the walls, Tyrese and Sasha are perplexed by a panicked Andrea's protestations that they must let her leave the town, as the Governor, "Has done terrible things and he's planning worse". Later when they are taken to the zombie pits, they are horrified to learn that they plan on unleashing the undead monsters on the prison.
The thoroughly unlikeable Allen repeatedly whines that Tyrese is jeopardising the good thing they have going with his new group, which leads to Tyrese deciding to dangle Allen over the zombie pits for a few seconds of artificial tension.
With a whole new cast of characters already introduced from Woodbury, as well as others entering the story such as Michonne, The Walking Dead already feels too muddled to now divulge time to Tyrese and his group. Critically underdeveloped before this episode, every scene with them currently feels tacked on to fill up time and you are left caring little for their current situation.
Not much was developed in this episode other than seeing that Andrea and Milton appear to have permanently turned against the Governor, and Tyrese and Sasha have become suspicious of his motives. The problem of how the prison plan to deal with the impending threat of Woodbury is where the real drama lies, so let's hope that Rick and co become the focus next week, and that Andrea doesn't spend too long tied down in that dentist chair, a helpless victim.