'The Walking Dead' Recap, Episode 13: Arrow on the Doorpost
Some of the best moments of any type of war story are when two people, each from the opposing side, are forced to meet and commune under their larger circumstances. These scenes are sometimes peaceful or even friendly, sometimes they are quite hostile. But either way, these are the moments that can affect us more deeply than the most epic battle scene. Here are two enemies in the same room, both knowing that they could end their immediate conflict with a single gunshot. But no shots are fired, and the tension is allowed to heighten to almost unbearable proportions.
The majority of this week’s episode of The Walking Dead employs a classic storytelling method of simplicity. Nothing more is happening than two men sitting and talking, but it holds the audience’s attention not with what is happening, but with the threat of what could happen. For what seems like a painful eternity, Rick and the Governor are sitting at a table in an abandoned feed store, discussing how their respective communities are to move forward after all of the recent bloodshed.
A simple division of territories is suggested, but the Governor rejects this and states that he is only interested in hearing Rick’s surrender, which is also rejected. The pieces are now in place for a true battle of wits between two unstoppable forces. And as we hang on their every word, we find ourselves constantly returning to the thought of that hidden gun taped to the bottom of the table on the Governor’s side.
What makes this kind of conflict such a compelling story is that it inevitably leads to the removal of the layers of each character. The easiest tactics of persuasion and intimidation are tried, and when those fail, the combatants are forced to go deeper. During their conversation, the Governor mentions his knowledge of Rick’s deceased partner Shane and his relationship with Rick’s wife. This then leads into the Governor’s questioning whether Rick has ever misjudged anyone, and that the battle between the prison and the people of Woodbury may be direr than Rick realizes.
Finally, when it becomes clear that no mutual agreement can be matched, the Governor makes Rick a final offer: hand over Michonne, and this all goes away. As Rick has not always been on the best terms with Michonne, we can see how Rick might entertain the thought, even if we can clearly see that the Governor’s word cannot be trusted.
While some harrowing truths about each of the men have been revealed in their discussion, it is interesting that both men decide to be dishonest with the news to their respective groups. The Governor informs his close assistants that they will be ready to wipe out Rick’s group at their next meeting, while Rick tells his group that they are to prepare for war, and mentions nothing of the Governor’s offer. These are two very different leaders who might just be able to think alike when the situation demands it, and with only three episodes left in this season, we can only anticipate how these two forces will settle the score once and for all.