The Walking Dead has gone to some great lengths to establish the crushing weight Rick has been shouldering, and the toll it has taken on his fractured psyche. Early on in ‘I Ain’t a Judas,’ Carl approaches his father and simply suggests that Daryl and Hershel take over the leadership responsibilities for bit. “You deserve a rest,” Carl tells the sweat-drenched lump of a man, as he continues to scan the perimeter for gun-toting Woodburians and the occasional glimpse of ghost Lori ducking behind a trees just beyond the prison fence.

Perhaps it was his father’s recent outburst in front of some otherwise congenial company that tipped Carl off, or maybe it was Hershel’s demand that Rick get his “head clear and do something,” but the astute youngster can certainly see his dad isn’t exactly playing with a full deck. How else could anyone rationalize Rick’s tentative welcoming of a one-handed redneck who beat Glenn senseless, remained complicit in Maggie’s assault at the hands of the Governor and attempted to chase down and kill the suddenly-welcome Michonne, when Tyreese, Sasha and the other two soon-to-be-zombie-chow-or-cannon-fodder guys all received the boot?

Initially, it’s good to see that the characters have recognized a problem in Rick’s mental health, and that they’ve made some suggestions along the line of having a nap and/or getting off the pot, so to speak – as if a complete lack of activity or some extreme form of activity will shake him from his foolishness. But it’s all just continuing the trend of discussion without action – or discussion while waiting for some kind of action to find the survivors.

To that end, the episode once more turns to Woodbury. The biggest benefit to season 3 has undoubtedly been the addition of Woodbury and its population of squawking non-entities who can now provide a steady stream of said action to the core group in a more compelling way than the ubiquitous presence of the undead. The advantage of this being: when The Walking Dead is ready to bring forth its strong suit, there’s the understanding of where it came from and, with the addition of the Governor, there’s a menacing face that can be applied to whatever action occurs. But more importantly, there’s the added benefit of having something as close to an actual character as possible to have a contrary viewpoint on the situation that can sometimes provide a better understanding of where one group of characters stand on a particular issue (i.e. beginning a war with some strangers down the road).

Now, granted, in Woodbury, the only characters that really exist are Philip, Andrea and Milton, but that just makes the pairing easier. Philip has had his bouts with gun-filled madness recently; Milton is little more than Philip’s pet; and while Andrea seems to be gunning for Lori’s spot as Most Irritating, at least she has a past with Rick’s group, so putting her in the same room as the Governor’s enemies could lead to some dramatic developments. And that’s certainly what it seems like the writers were going for in ‘I Ain’t a Judas.’

While the last thing this show needs is another person prone to lecturing people, Andrea is asked to do just that by showing up at the prison in an attempt find some answer to the increasingly problematic relations between Woodbury and the other survivors. While Andrea’s clearly shocked at the state her former friends are in, she doesn’t exactly get things off to a good start by first bringing up Shane and then asking about Lori (someone else has to bring up poor T-Dog, mind you). Andrea is essentially supposed to be in a difficult position, stuck between two groups she’s become invested in. There’s her worry that Philip has abandoned the whole “building a new civilization” approach to Woodbury, and he’s now just conscripting every able-bodied person to strengthen his army; while, on the other hand Andrea sees a group of people she knows and has some residual feelings for, but they’ve grown increasingly hostile.

Although her attempts to reconnect are, more or less, a failure, there are a handful of good moments, such as when Carol gives Andrea the notion of killing the Governor in his sleep and Michonne takes her to task for choosing a warm bed over a friend. As far as a reunion goes, it all appears to be fruitless for both sides, and Andrea is left with little more than a sense of pity for her old friends, while Rick and crew remain firm in wanting a confrontation with the Governor. So unless Andrea is willing to take some drastic action, it seems such an altercation is inevitable.

That’s the question asked in the episode’s climax: What will Andrea do? The final scene sees Andrea standing over Philip while he sleeps, holding a knife in her hand and, most likely, contemplating Carol’s suggestion that she end this conflict before it gets even more out of hand. Perhaps what we’re intended to learn is that Michonne is right: all Andrea really wants is a warm bed, and so the safety of her (former?) friends and every able-bodied adolescent/adult in Woodbury be damned so long as she has a comfortable place to sleep at night. What the show intends to do with this woman-who-loves-her-bed character that Andrea has become is uncertain, but there’s the hope that it will inform more on her character, and possibly the notion of “friends” on opposite sides of a conflict, as the ramifications of her decision begin to manifest.

Various Items:

  • Tyreese, Sasha and the others willingly join forces with the Governor, who seems all sorts of sane in comparison to Rick’s gun-waiving outburst at the prison.
  • Not only is Merle in with the group, but he also gets a gun and the keys to the front gate. Let’s hope this is just another symptom of Rick needing a nap. Listen to Carl, Rick; it’s time to step down.
  • Forget about putting Daryl and Hershel in charge, someone needs to nominate Carol. She’s proven more capable of actually talking to everyone in the group than anyone else, and her advice to Andrea – while dastardly – probably would have saved many lives.

The Walking Dead continues next Sunday with ‘Clear’ @9pm on AMC. Check out a preview below: