Perhaps the most accurately-titled episode of The Walking Dead, this week's "Prey" was highlighted by a suspenseful game of cat-and-mouse between The Governor and Andrea that was ripped straight out of a slasher movie. As a horror fan, once the chase moved into the abandoned warehouse, it felt like David Morrissey was screen-testing for the role of Michael Myers in the next Halloween film — and I mean that as a compliment. From his body language to the satisfaction he derives from instilling fear in his victim, Morrissey's performance effectively builds the tension so thick you could cut it with the proverbial ax to the skull, until he finally unleashes his fury and starts smashing windows when Andrea refuses to answer him.
She manages to escape after releasing a stairwell full of walkers on her ex-boyfriend and makes her way to the prison grounds, but in true horror movie style, the Governor pops up out of nowhere and nabs her at the last moment before anyone can see her. In the only appearance of a prisonite in this episode, Rick makes a wordless cameo keeping watch at the prison and thinks he sees something, but on second thought he decides now would be a fine time to overcome his post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms and shrugs it off as a hallucination. As the episode ends, Andrea is gagged and bound to the Torturepedic™ chair the Gov had designed for Michonne.
Opening with a rare flashback scene depicting Andrea and Michonne when they were on the road together, we learn that Michonne knew her pet zombies before they turned, although she notes that "they weren't human to begin with" and deserved their fate. This quote also applies to the Governor as the camera shot of the chains on the walkers cuts to a present-day scene of Gov fastening similar chains in the Ikea Do-It-Yourself torture chamber/hobby workshop he has been assembling. Since the rings on the end of the chains are too big to be handcuffs, it raises the possibility that he had always intended to lock up Michonne as well as Andrea for a menage a trois of torment and misery, or maybe he is planning to use his favorite weapon — biters — as an instrument of torture.
Although initially it seemed like the Governor might have been a good-natured average joe like Rick before the world fell apart, it's pretty clear by now that he was probably never quite right despite his pleasant exterior. Judging from his derogatory comments last week about his former boss being younger and far less intelligent than him, Philip Blake likely always had power fantasies, but he was unable to act on them until the zombie apocalypse pushed him over the edge into Ted Bundy territory. His rise to power in this new world has afforded him the opportunity to make his sadistic dreams a reality, and Andrea looks like she will be the unfortunate recipient.
All of this happens after Andrea finally realizes that her former bedmate is beyond redemption and needs to be put down by any means necessary for the good of everyone involved. Milton has the same epiphany, but he stops Andrea from shooting the Governor when she has the chance because he remembers what "Phillip" was like before he turned into a megalomaniacal psychopath. Instead, Milton suggests that she go to the prison and advise them to flee for their lives. Tyreese and his sister Sasha, now keeping watch along the walls of Woodbury, try to stop her and end up reporting her exit to the Governor despite Andrea's warning that he isn't what he seems. They begin to understand what she meant when Gov sends Tyreese and Sasha — along with the nameless white members of Team Tyreese, Allen and teenage son Ben — out with Martinez to collect biters to use against Rick and his crew at the prison. Anchored by his strong moral compass, Tyreese refuses to take part and we find out some backstory on Team Tyreese during an argument between Ty and Allen: after Tyreese saved the life of Allen's wife Donna at some earlier point before they arrived at the prison, Donna developed a strong attachment to her savior and Allen has resented him for it ever since, even after her death.
Since only black people can see through the Governor's "aw shucks" nice-guy facade, Tyreese and Sasha still seem suspicious in response to Gov's cover story that they're only using the biters as a scare tactic to keep the prisonites away, while Allen isn't concerned and wants to stay. First of all, it's kind of funny that the Governor is so far gone, he thinks tormenting women and children with zombies instead of outright unleashing them is a more palatable explanation. Secondly, Team Tyreese has seen the prison crew with their own eyes. Even with crazy-train Rick at the helm, they can't possibly believe that group, with its vulnerable population of babies and one-legged old men, would act as aggressors toward a superpower like Woodbury. Hopefully the television version of Tyreese will have the wherewithal of his comic book counterpart to realize that the Governor is truly a monster. In another character trait carried over from the comic book series, Tyreese is a terrible shot with a gun, which is why his trademark weapon was a hammer. The brief brother-and-sister banter as Sasha teased him about it provided some welcome levity.
Milton was prominently featured for the second episode in a row and received some sage advice from Andrea when he refused to leave with her, stating that he belonged in Woodbury whether he liked it or not. If he's going to stay, Andrea notes that he "can't keep looking the other way." Apparently, he took those words to heart because a mysterious figure drives out to the biter collection site later that night and torches the walking dead shuffling around in the pits. Tyreese is an automatic suspect, but he knows nothing about it and the Governor believes him after he attempts a Jedi mind trick, asking where he got the gasoline.
Unfortunately, Milton is the world's worst liar and gives himself away when he blurts out that it's "a real shame about the pits" and hopes that they catch whoever did it, then scampers away without any further questions when the Gov says they already have. I realize Milty has poor interpersonal skills, but if I were him I would have complimented Philip's snazzy eyepatch and jacket ensemble, or mentioned how nice it was to have a sunny day after all the rainy weather lately. Basically, any topic aside from the pit full of prized undead corpses that you just burned. Sadly, Milton isn't cut out for this world and has only survived this long because of the Governor and Woodbury. Now that Gov has deduced Milton isn't as loyal as he thought, I fear he is a goner.
With all the ancillary players in Woodbury like Team Tyreese, Milton, and Martinez, it will be interesting to see how the puzzle pieces fit together over the final two episodes of the season. A high body count is almost a given, and who will survive is far from etched in stone. The series has deviated from the source material so often that the comics aren't an accurate blueprint, but they may give some indication of where the show is headed as Season 3 winds down. If that holds true, it's going to be a wild ride.
FINAL GRADE: B