The Walking Dead "Prey" Review: Chasing Andrea

By Tim Surette

Mar 18, 2013

The Walking Dead S03E13: "Prey"

I feel like I've been pretty positive about the past handful of episodes of The Walking Dead, focusing on the things the show is attempting to do well rather than pick apart some of the old bad habits it just can't quit. But that's because those episodes had some positive parts to elevate above the rest. "Clear" was obviously fantastic all around, and the two that bookended "Clear" had their moments that were worthy of discussion and at least some praise so as not to dump all over everything else. But there's a sense of impatience building up (and for some of you, already flowing over), and The Walking Dead needed a strong episode to pull it out of the muck.

Tonight's "Prey" was not that episode, nor did not have those good moments to mask the bad. In fact, it was pretty horrible through and through. "Prey" should have been called "Opaque," because it was the exact opposite of "Clear" (I know, *groan*, I can't even believe I typed that). It staggered around aimlessly and repetitively like a Biter/Walker/Zombie on a NASCAR track, dropping us off pretty much where it started with just minor discontent for The Governor among some Woodburyites and Andrea about to get BDSM'd as our payoff. Sometimes when nothing happens, some interesting things can still come out of it like a good speech about drunk neighbors or an unlikely character interaction (Hershel is still waiting for that drink, Milton), as parts of the nowhere-fast "Arrow on the Doorpost" showed. But "Prey" was a negative byproduct of expanding the show to 16 episodes (when condensing it would provide better drama), and one of the biggest wastes of an hour in this inconsistent Season 3.

The tiny wave of momentum created by Rick declaring WAR in "Arrow on the Doorpost" was squashed underfoot when the episode never revisited our prison buddies putting on war paint and drinking deer's blood or whatever it is people do to get pumped up for battle. Instead, we spent "Prey" hanging out with everyone's favorite flip-flopper Andrea as she, for the umpteenth time, tried to leave Woodbury, this time with the intent to defect and warn Rick and his peeps to hit the road. 

I know I've been something of an Andrea apologist around these parts, in the sense that I don't hate her nearly as much as the rest of the world does, but good God "Prey" certainly didn't help my case and I think I'm beginning to see the light. The problem with Andrea is less about what she does and more about how she's being used for the story The Walking Dead wants to tell. In an ensemble drama like this, I tend to look at characters as parts that serve the story rather than rational human beings, and aside from Andrea seeing how much Rick's group has changed in "I Ain't No Judas," she's been as useful as a coffin in a zombie apocalypse. In "Prey" Andrea tried to go to the prison and got caught. That's it. That's how we spent our hour. Maybe she finally waffled over to definitively realizing her boyfriend Philip was a terrible, horrible person, but beyond that, she essentially got caught sneaking out of the house like a horny teenager and shall now pay for it by being subjected to the tools of a disgruntled dentist or a gynecologist with female issues. It won't be pretty.

Bright side alert: There was a lot of accidental entertainment value in Andrea's great escape, however, as "Prey" devolved into a low-budget horror movie financed by foreign oil tycoons. While ducking away from Martinez and his men (because she was trouncing down the MAIN ROAD IN PLAIN SIGHT), Andrea ran into the woods and was ambushed by four zombies. Again with the zombie ambush! Walking Dead writers, you do realize that the way survivors avoid zombie ambushes is by keeping their eyes and ears open, right? These undead dudes aren't exactly masters of stealth, what with the gurgling and the moaning and the shuffling. Twigs still crack and leaves still crinkle under the foot of a zombie, even if they were ballerinas when they were alive. Anyone who gets sneaked up on by a zombie at this point in the show deserves to die right away. Ray Charles wearing Bose noise-canceling headphones would have known those zombies were coming. ENOUGH WITH ZOMBIE AMBUSHES WE AREN'T THAT DUMB OR DESPERATE.

Later, Andrea was jogging (she did a lot of jogging this ep) through a field when The Governor and his Mad Max truck tried to run her down by going the exact same speed that Andrea was running. But Andrea found some trees to run into and The Governor stopped pursuing her because he's scared of trees I guess? Or maybe there was a really good song on his radio and he didn't want to leave the truck? Whatever the reason, it felt like the crew just decided to shoot this scene on the way to shooting another scene and stuck that in there. There was really zero purpose for it other than to stretch out "Prey" to its required length.

Then Andrea popped out of the woods later that evening and what do you know, The Governor was pulling up in his Destructo-Truck, too! Good luck and timing on his part, I guess. Andrea ducked into an abandoned building, and Andrea and The Governor did their version of Homeland's regrettable Carrie vs. Abu Nazir in the warehouse scene, but this one went on for way too long because this filler episode needed some filler of its own. After Andrea stopped kicking buckets full of tools over, she did a cool, if unbelievable, trick to get away from The Governor by hiding behind a door that led to a stairway full of zombies. The zombies went after him, and Andrea escaped. But nothing about this scene was exciting unless you were trying to pick up on some hide-and-seek strategy. Walking Dead web series idea: flashback to how all those zombies ended up in that stairwell.

Run away from The Governor once, good on you. Run away from The Governor twice, shame on him. But run away from The Governor three times, shame on The Walking Dead, so just as Andrea was approaching the prison, The Governor popped out from nowhere like a ghillie-suited sniper and grabbed her. Nice try, Andrea! All you had to do was scream to Rick or, you know, pay attention to your surroundings. In the final scene, we saw Andrea chained up in The Governor's kinky room, prepped for a good old torture scene. Something tells me that maybe now Andrea believes The Governor is a bad guy, but I still wouldn't be surprised if she slept with him anyway because she's the hottest of hot messes. 

You'd think that because Andrea's near escape took up so much of the episode, it'd be memorable, but I only know what happened because I took notes. I've had trips to the bathroom that were more tense than these scenes. It's too bad, because with just a few strong creative choices, they could have been at least entertaining on purpose. Instead, bleh. Andrea murdering some zombies in the woods was tacked on. The chase through the field was lame. The game of hide-and-seek in the warehouse was directed so poorly that suspense never entered the scene. And The Governor popping out from nowhere to catch Andrea? Is he Rambo now? This is the laziest this show has been in a while.

But dare I say that Andrea's storyline might be better than what was given to Tyreese? With the stupid mostly knocked out of Andrea, someone else needed to play the role of clueless character who was unsure about The Governor. Tyreese and Sasha were more like new-to-Woodbury Michonne actually, with Allen, the worst character in the show by far, playing the part of new-to-Woodbury Andrea. Allen: Don't mess this up for me, I like it here! Tyreese: I think The Governor might be a mass murderer! Allen: Who cares, I like it here! Yes, once against it's back to the recycling machine to find a storyline, only this involves characters we barely know (and one we can't stand) who drummed up old jealousy issues as their source of conflict. Tyreese really should have done us all a favor and held Allen's head a little lower over the pit so the zombies could eat his scalp, because the sooner Allen is horrifically murdered, the better this show will be.

Tyreese had concerns about the tactic of using Zombie Warfare, but the smooth-talking Governor quelled his fear by saying he was just gonna use the zombies to scare Rick and his group. Tyreese said, "Oh okay, that's okay then." And that was that. That's like me saying, "I'm not actually going to eat this delicious looking burrito, I just want to hold it." It's pretty weak overall, and not the way we wanted to spend more time with Tyreese.

I guess we should also talk about Milton, who is now mid-Season-3 Andrea. He knows enough to realize The Governor should be stopped, but he can't allow him to be killed. And he's the worst liar in the world, barely able to hide the fact that he burned the zombies and that he told Andrea everything. There, we talked about Milton.

"Prey" needed to follow the tiny sliver of momentum of the last episode and build up the inevitable final battle, but instead, we chased a blonde through the woods and played the "good guy or bad guy?" game with Tyreese and Sasha the contestants. Even though the episode was mostly confined to Woodbury and Andrea, two of Season 3's biggest problems, it wasn't those two factors that made "Prey" such a chore. That blame falls to the storytelling, which was just an hour of chasing Andrea. I'm quickly joining the ranks of the frustrated as even I can't talk myself into thinking the season is in a good place.


SURVIVAL NOTES

– If Season 3 ends with Rick and company needing to save Andrea from The Governor, I'm going to throw my TV out the window. More likely, either Milton or Tyreese will help her escape before the big battle with the prison. 

Yes, I will have a GIF of Andrea tripping and knocking over a bucket soon! (Edit: and it's here, plus her late episode trip!)

– How sneaky was Andrea when she was about to shoot The Governor through those wide-open blinds? And how blind was The Governor not to see her? 

– The episode opened with a flashback to Andrea and Michonne in the woods with Michonne's pet zombies, and I still have no idea what the purpose of the flashback was except to be the first half of a match-cut with the zombies' chains and the chains used in The Governor's torture chamber. 

– Ummm, since when are Andrea and Milton so close that she'd kiss him on the cheek? 

– So I guess The Walking Dead is ending most of its episodes with music from small artists now? In anticipation of the release of its crappy soundtrack? Tonight's song was "You Are the Wilderness" by Voxhaul Broadcast.


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter if you want to: @TimAtTVDotCom

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  • AaronWesley Jul 17, 2013

    After watching the first scene of this episode again and Michonne's response to the memory of her "pet zombies'" former selves, it's clear she was probably victimized by them -- rape, maybe, explaining her steely reserve; I haven't read the comics -- but that helps relate the scene to the rest of the episode. The predator connection. I concur, though, it's a strange if not extraneous leap.

  • BatteryAAP Mar 30, 2013

    In all honesty I saw the episode as somewhat of a canonical filler that added character depth for a lot of the people we see on the other side. We see a reason to why Milton can't allow the Governor to die, we see that the group Rick casted away aren't really hungry for vengeance as much as wanting to survive and we see how much Andrea has grown and rebuilt as a person after being broken down. A decent episode if you ask me

  • fan1983 Mar 29, 2013

    I love Andrea. There, I said it. She's been one of my favourites since the beginning, and all I've wanted ALL SEASON was for her to merge back with the prison group. *sigh* So close!

  • kittysanchez Mar 24, 2013

    Andrea has got to go. She is a walking, talking liability. And although not a character flaw, it looks super fake when she obviously slows down the momentum of her hand right before she stabs a zombie in the eye. Let Michonne shine.

    And I liked this episode. Was hoping for Andrea's death. oh well.

    Could the governor and MIlton be brothers? Why hasn't one of them killed the other yet?

  • Mate Mar 24, 2013

    The dumbing down of Andrea is nearly complete. For whatever reason they are doing it. Basically that was an hour of Andrea being a B Horror movie actress, committing B movie mistakes resulting in getting caught again. Because she didn't adhere to the one and only simple rule of their universe. A person isn't dead unless you personally ram something through their brain, or see someone do that. Why not take his truck? If he took the keys with him. Hot wire it, or render it useless. Thought it didn't help that the person having delusions was on watch guard duty. Who's bright freaking idea was that?

    She should have shot the Governor in the head in the torture chamber, and then escaped in the clamor. Or teamed up with the pseudo scientist and led the town. Assuming the second banana would just jump right into the Governor's spot, without the Governor's supernatural ability to somehow come off uber creepy and sketchy but having that not be picked up by the characters, I am not sure how he would take over.

  • Sam20 Mar 24, 2013

    Mate Positive Review: Mate will just say "great episode, let's hope they keep it up."
    Mate Negative Review: Long, in-depth look at all the continuity issues and all the logic problems of an episode, and his take on what characters should or shouldn't do.

    Sorry, I couldn't resist that Mate. lol. I will say I agree with most of this, but I felt Andrea not shooting him in the head was more the fault of Milton than her. A scene earlier, he said she will never get close to him, but then a scene later she is very close to him and he still denies her the kill. Where's the logic in that? She's to blame too for not going through with it, but still.

  • Mate Mar 24, 2013

    Hey, my reviews of POI, Justified, The Americans, Grimm and some of the Arrow that I have really liked and other shows are just as long. My negative reviews just happen to be more memorable.

    As for Milton? HA. Andrea is, well was a formidable, she could have slapped him away and shot the Governor without even breaking a sweat. It was another scene that seemed. Either way it is still the dumbing down of Andrea. She is a shadow of what she was last season. I hope they redeem her before the finale. I am not sure even her killing the Governor will accomplish that.

  • Sam20 Mar 24, 2013

    Yeah, I miss those reviews since I don't watch those shows. I guess it only applies to The Walking Dead. As for Andrea, I don't think she will be redeemed, and at this point, I'm not sure if I even care. She finally realized the Governor is evil, after several episodes of people telling her, so I don't think one scene in the last two episodes will make up for her stupidity that lasted most of the season, and is still pretty much ongoing.

  • Hariboctane Mar 24, 2013

    Excellent review, Tim writes what I think. The Walking Dead seems as random as the weather, and I feel like if you want good episodes, you have to take terrible episodes. It's like "Prey" was more meant for a future in syndication, perfectly unimportant for the endless regurgitation of episodes out of order. Definitely someone needs to remix this show for new viewers down to its reasonable length.

  • Ankh49 Mar 23, 2013

    I've never been a fan of Andrea's but after seeing her take on zombies (and the Governor) armed with nothing but a pocket knife I'm actaully starting to respect and (dare I say) like her a little bit more. I do agree that she is still completely useless - which is a shame 'cos according to friends of mine who have read the comic she is supposed to come across as more likeable. In fact they say that she is one of their fav characters. I am going to give the writers etc the benefit of the doubt as i get that TWD is an ensemble piece and not everyone can get to be the quarterback.
    Was it just me or did anyone else find it kinda jarring when TWD moved from zombie horror to classic stalker/slasher horrror? It felt really weird.
    I like how they are keeping the theme of 'humans are worse than zombies' - as shown when Andrea decided that it would be better to wade through a crowd of zombies rather than face the Governor. Although I think I must have blinked or something 'cos I don;t understand how got past them without any of the zombies in the stairwell trying to bite - surely she would've been an easier (closer) target than Phiillip?
    I really hate it when the villian pops up at exactly the right time and place without being spotted to stop the hero getting rescued - how did he get past the crowd of zombie back to his car, drive past Andrea without being spotted and know to hide in exactly the right spot to grab her before she got to the prison?

  • ktfahel Mar 22, 2013

    "Twigs still crack and leaves still crinkle under the foot of a zombie, even if they were ballerinas when they were alive." Spoken as a person who truly has no clue about ballet, or ballerinas.

    Incidentally, I loved the episode (finally got to see it this morning). I don't try to overthink everything an just enjoy the entertainment. I actually screamed when the tree-zombie grabbed Andrea, and I was literally on the edge of my seat when they were in the building. I had a definite "ew" moment watching the burned zombies still writhing and reaching...effective! The only complaint I had was Andrea standing in plain sight behind the grating watching the Gov.

    Oh, and "duh"...if you couldn't figure out why Andrea kissed Milton on the cheek, you have no heart. It was not an intimate or sexual kiss.

  • Gnomeygnome Mar 22, 2013

    I think black people might be immune to The Governors charm.

    Also, this episode was lame. Just filler, and terrible terrible filler.

  • gmanBegins Mar 21, 2013

    Remember in LOST Season 6..That season gave us one of the best eps ever :Ab Aterno..and one the worst: The Man across the Sea..Well Clear and Prey fit those criteria. IMO Like that S6 of Lost. We are too close to the end of the season for this type of episode..( and it was avg at best..and really not needed espcially to fill the whole 44min!!) everyone needs to be involved ..Walking Dead you are the big dog Now!! act like it!!

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