All throughout ‘Arrow on the Doorpost’, I couldn’t help thinking the episode would’ve been better served earlier in the season. With only three episodes left in the season, we already know there isn’t going to be some kind of realistic peace offering made by either Rick or the Governor – not after the Governor’s little visit to the prison a few episodes back. At this point, any scene Rick and the Governor spend together that isn’t a life or death situation feels like needless posturing – and unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of material around it to make it entertaining.
That’s not to see it’s completely vapid: Herschel’s become a really interesting character this season, especially since he’s lost his foot and taken a more reasonable perspective on reality. His scenes are the highlights of the episode: whether he’s joking with Milton (“at least buy me a drink first”) or talking with Rick on the catwalk, The Walking Dead‘s found a great way to give the old man some much-needed texture. His elevated presence this season is for a very specific reason, revealed in the episode’s final scene: Rick’s taken to Herschel almost like a father figure, looking to him for advice and desperately seeking a way out of the impending ‘war’ he’s facing.
The rest of the non-Herschel scenes aren’t so interesting. Maggie and Glenn make up and have sex in a prison storage room, Merle is a pain in the ass at the prison, and Martinez and Daryl bond over cigarettes. The absence of activity elsewhere places an unnecessary amount of importance on Rick and the Governor’s sit down, a scene that doesn’t do a lot to ignite the building tension between them during the season. Part of this is because it’s so one-sided: the majority of their meeting is the Governor smugly smirking and talking away, while Rick sits hunched over his chair, letting his slicked back hair and broody eyes express his emotions. The few times he does speak, it doesn’t have any effect: in one sentence he calls him nothing but a “town drunk who wrecked my fence and lawn”, and twenty seconds later he’s comparing him to to the devil.
Like I said in the opening paragraph: had this scene happened a few episodes ago, it would be a lot more effective. If the two weren’t so hell bent on killing each other already, there would be more to explore about these two men trying to cling to sanity in a world that demands the insane. But we’re way past the point of trying to humanize the Governor and make parallels between him and Rick (the Governor’s wife died before he could say goodbye, just like Rick) – we all know it’s a matter of time before he’s dead. Neither of these people really care what the other has to say, and once the Governor laughs away Rick’s river proposal, there was nothing left for them to do except share some empty dramatic scenes.
I said from the beginning a 16-episode season order wasn’t the greatest idea for a show that struggles with balancing plot and character, and episodes like ‘Arrow on a Doorstep’ are perfect examples of that. There’s nothing of substance that happens in the episodes plot-wise, nor is there any kind of interesting development with any of the main players on the show. In other words, ‘Arrow on a Doorstep’ is an hour of thumb-twirling, an episode that does nothing to escalate the tension between Rick and the Governor, it just points out the obvious: it’s going to end soon.
– Maggie and Glenn’s silly argument finally comes to an end!
– why won’t anyone tell Andrea what the Governor did to Maggie?
– speaking of Andrea: her bursting into the room and trying to make peace between the two is too easy to pick on. Let’s just admit she’s a terrible character – we all know her indecisiveness is going to come back and bite her in the ass at some point (literally? we can only hope).
– Rodriguez lost his entire family… I love Daryl’s response: “that sucks.” By the way, he prefers menthols.
– apparently electrical tape is abundant: the Governor has a gun taped to the desk, and Herschel has two guns uselessly taped to his stump.
– I really hate the scenes where the camera has to show EVERY single characters face, one by one, multiple times to fill space. Nobody says anything, they just stare. It’s so fucking annoying.
– Beth shoots a gun!
– the big, booming soundtrack set to everyone leaving the meeting is so over-the-top, I couldn’t help but laugh.