RECAP: ‘The Walking Dead’ – S03E07 – “When The Dead Come Knocking”

NOTE: Let’s be mindful of all the new viewers participating in this conversation and try not to spoil plot points taking place deep into the run of the comic series. Mild speculation is fine and encouraged, as well as talking about things that have happened in the comic up until the point they are at in the show, but don’t get too explicit with regard to future surprises. They will be deleted. Thanks!

“When The Dead Come Knocking”


“Dr. Milton’s Freaky Weirdo Science Lab.”

Last week, we got definitive proof that Rick is going coo-coo in the form of his conversations with dead people on the telephone (he’s got the friends and family plan), Michonne finally made her way to the prison and (sort of) met Rick, and Glenn and Maggie got captured by Merle and brought to Woodbury. Also, Andrea slept with The Governor which is only going add to the giant pile of neuroses that she’s suffering from once the full horror of his psychosis is revealed.

This week, Merle interrogates Glenn in a storage room in Woodbury. It would seem that Merle is still not over the whole “you left me on the roof where I was forced to cut off my own hand” thing. On the plus side for Merle, T-Dogg is dead. Glenn isn’t very forthcoming with information abut the whereabouts of Rick, Darryl and the gang, so Merle creepily threatens to get it out of Maggie. And when that doesn’t get a rise out of Glenn, Merle uses his fists on Glenn’s face to try to get him to talk. Meanwhile, Maggie can hear every word through the thin, corrugated metal walls of her adjoining storage room.

Roll credits!

Rick continues to stare at Michonne through the prison fence. She had been moving among zombies unnoticed because last week she got covered in zombie guts. But then just as it seems that someone might when the staring contest, one of the zombies realizes that Michonne is human and goes in for lunch. Michonne sticks her sword through his head and backs away from the fence as more zombies hear the lunch bell ringing. Carla sks his dad if they should help her, but Rick tells him to wait because Rick is no longer operating on any kind of normal moral compass. Michonne fends off the zombies until she gets light head from the gunshot wound that Merle gave her last week and she falls over on her back. Just as it looks like it’s time for the zombie buffet to start, Carl starts shooting, which snaps Rick out of his haze and he starts shooting. Aided by the cheerleading of One-Legged Hershel, they rescue Michonne and carry her and her supplies into the safety of the prison grounds.

Inside the prison, Rick pours some water on Michonne to revive her. She lashes out from fear, confusion, pain, and general caution and Rick promises not to hurt her if she doesn’t provoke him. Darryl enters the room and makes some general inquiries about the situation. Darryl says that he has something interesting that they need to see, and before going off to find out what’s up, Rick tells Michonne—after she finally talks and says she didn’t ask for their help—that he can’t let her leave the prison. Uncomfortable echoes of The Governor.

Darryl’s got a surprise for everyone! It’s Carol! To say that Rick is relieved to see her would be an understatement. The look on his face says that he really needed to know that someone survived that attack that claimed T-Dogg and his wife Lori. He needed that win. Everyone gathers around Carol and is all smiles and happiness until Rick breaks down crying after Carol sees the new baby and realizes that Lori is dead. Michonne watches this all go down from the other side bars.

In Woodbury, The Governor struts around in a robe like a guy suddenly getting laid on the regular after a long dry spell. Milton knocks on the door of The Governor’s room and informs him that a Mr. Coleman is ready in the lab. After Milton leaves, Andrea gets dressed and tells The Governor that she’s got to go, and The Governor tells her she can’t.

Rick tells Michonne that he’ll tend to her gunshot wound, feed her,a nd give her water, but that’s she’s going to have to leave. But first he wants to know how she found them and why she was carrying a bunch of baby formula. Instead of saying, “This is a giant prison, it’s not like you’re hidden,” Michonne tells Rick that she picked up the supplies when a young Asian man dropped them right before he was taken by the same man who shot her. This news is alarming to Rick, Hershel, and Daryl. So alarming in fact that they start acting aggressively towards Michonne. Rick calms everyone down when he sees something in her eyes, and Michonne tells them about the existence of Woodbury and The Governor. She thinks that she can sneak them into the town past the sentries to rescue their people.

Clearly Merle has been spending the time since the cold open beating on Glenn because Glenn’s face is swollen and bleeding a lot. Glenn tells Merle that Rick is going to come for him and that Merle is in big trouble when he does. Merle doesn’t buy Glenn’s tough talk, especially when Glenn mentions Andrea as being a part of the army that’s coming for him.

Hershel sews up Michonne’s leg wound, but she’s too preoccupied with keeping an eye on Carl who stands guard, tapping his fingers on the butt of his holstered pistol like he just can’t wait for an excuse to pull it and start blasting.

Rick and the gang debate whether or not they can trust Michonne and whether or not they should raid Woodbury. Rick, Daryl, Beth, and the two convicts Axel and Oscar all volunteer to go on the raid.

As Darryl loads a car up with weapons, Michonne basically tells Beth that she is impressed that they were able to clear the prison. Well, she doesn’t come out and say it, but she’s incapable of such sentiment right now.

Rick takes Carl aside for a little father/son pep talk. He tells Carl that he is proud of him for shooting Lori and that if something happens while he’s on the raid that Carl will have to step up and be the man of the group. He’s also going to have to watch out for his new sister. Speaking of the new baby, Carl tells Rick that his new sister needs a name, and as awesome as Daryl’s calling her “Ass Kicker” is, she needs a real name. They settle on Judith because apparently Carl had a crush on his 3rd grade teacher who had the same name.

With the car loaded up with guns and grenades, Rick, Michonne, Daryl, and Oscar head out to Woodbury to get their people back.

Charming old time music plays on a record player. A quaint landscape painting. Milton feeding soup to the bed-ridden Old Man Coleman. These are the things that Andrea comes face-to-face with when The Governor brings her into yet another storage room. After her failure on guard duty on the wall last week, it would seem that The Governor is seconding Andrea to Milton’s weirdo science unit. The Governor tells Andrea to help Milton and that he’ll see her later. Before he leaves, The Governor also tells Mr. Coleman that he and everyone and Woodbury is grateful for what he’s doing. Whatever he’s doing can’t be good. Milton has Andrea cue up the first song on the record player right after he is done creating a high pitched tone by running a stone along the edges of a metal bowl. Milton then tells Mr. Coleman a series of statements and asks Mr. Coleman to raise his right hand when he recognizes a true one. He raises his hand identifying himself, his wife, and their children. Milton says, “Very good” and Mr. Coleman whispers in Milton’s ear asking if they can keep the music playing, “While we wait.” WHILE WE WAIT FOR WHAT?!?

Merle brings a zombie into Glenn’s storage unit on the end of a metal pole leash. He asks Glenn one more time to tell him where Rick and the gang are located. Glenn, still duct taped to a chair, refuses to give up any information so Merle let’s the zombie loose, throws out one more racial slur for the road, and leaves the room. Glenn does his best impression of Black Widow from her first scene in Marvel’s The Avengers and manages to fight off the zombie until he can bust up the chair and use the broken pieces to stab it in the skull. Then, in a fantastic bit of filmmaking, Glenn lets loose a primal scream, followed by The Walking Dead music sting, followed by silence, and then deep shoulder-heaving heavy breathing.

Milton explains what creepy thing he’s got going on with Mr. Coleman. He’s about to die, and when he does he’ll comeback as a zombie. When he does, Milton is going to ask him the same questions again to see if there is anything left of Mr. Coleman’s consciousness inside Zombie Coleman. Andrea’s job, in addition to cueing up music, will be to dispatch Zombie Coleman once the Q&A session is over. Andrea agrees but she’s not buying Milton’s theories about the unconscious mind lingering on after zombie transformation. She’s had first had experience with her sister Amy.

Merle informs The Governor that despite his best efforts, Glenn is not talking about where their camp is. The Governor seems more concerned that both Glenn and Maggie know Andrea and that their people might attempt a rescue. The Governor tells Merle that he will personally handle Maggie’s interrogation.

The Governor enters Maggie’s storage room and brandishes a knife. He uses it to cut Maggie’s restraints and takes a seat across the table from her. He wants to know where her people are. She wants to talk to Glenn. The Governor forces Maggie to stand and take her shirt and bra off. He wordlessly threatens her with rape but she still won’t talk.

After pulling their car over a mile or two from Woodbury, Rick and the raiding party make their way on foot through the woods. While they walk, Rick thanks Darryl for taking car of his baby while Rick was off… finding himself… I guess is the best way to put it. Before things can get too touchy-feely they are over run by a small herd of zombies. They kill a few of the zombies but quickly realize that the numbers on not in their favor and make their escape to a small cabin in the woods. (As an aside I really like that Oscar is not nearly as proficient as the others in killing zombies. He takes more time and blows with each one. It’s a nice touch that shows the difference between zombie killing veterans and rookies.)

The cabin is quickly set upon by zombies who pound on the walls, doors, and windows. But Rick and the gang have a bigger problem: the crazy old hermit with the shotgun living in the cabin who threatens to call the cops on these home invaders. Unable to listen to reason, or recognize the army of zombies banging on his house, the crazy old hermit makes a run for the door which forces Michonne to take him out with her sword. Never one to miss an opportunity, Rick gets Daryl to help him chuck the body out the front door, which causes a feeding frenzy distraction that allows everyone to escape out the back.

Back in Dr. Milton’s Freaky Weirdo Science Lab, Mr. Coleman has awakened as Zombie Coleman. Milton runs through is list of questions again. He thinks that maybe Zombie Coleman tried to raise his hand at one of the statements but couldn’t because of the restraints. Andrea just thinks it was an inconclusive finger wiggle probably brought on by the sight of food. Milton wants to be sure and, despite Andrea’s protests, unlatches Zombie Coleman’s right arms. To the surprise of no one by Milton, Zombie Coleman lunges and almost takes a bite out of Milton before Andrea plunges her knife into his skull, thus ending another episode of Dr. Milton’s Freaky Weirdo Science Lab.

Merle, a random thug, and The Governor enter Glenn’s storage room with Maggie in tow. She’s still topless and humiliated. The Governor puts a gun to Glenn’s head and threatens to shoot him. Maggie starts talking: she and Glenn come from a group of about ten and they the are camped in the prison. The Governor is incredulous: he knows about the prison and it’s overrun with zombies. He doesn’t believe that only ten people cleared it out. After creepily hugging and kissing Maggie on the forehead, he tosses her into Glenn’s storage room.

The Governor convenes his war council in his room. Milton doesn’t believe Maggie’s claims. He thinks it’s impossible that a group that small cleared the prison. The Governor is worried that if Maggie is telling the truth about the prison then he has a hostile force in his backyard. And if they did indeed clear out the prison then they must be capable and dangerous. And if this group is being even partially lead by his brother Daryl, then maybe he needs to be concerned about Merle’s allegiances.

He has no idea how right he is to be worried as Rick, Daryl, Michonne, and Oscar stealthily approach the walls of Woodbury.

Andrea returns to The Governor’s quarters needing a drink after thee weirdness in Dr. Milton’s Freaky Weirdo Science Lab. The Governor consoles her and tells her that everything is going to be alright but that look in his eyes that only we can see tells an entirely different story.

I know that some people have been complaining that The Governor on television is not as overtly brutal and sadistic as he was in the comics. I’m so glad that he’s not. Personally, I barely endured the brutality that he inflicted on Rick and (mostly) Michonne in the comics, and that was with the protective psychological barrier of knowing I was looking at drawings and not people. To see real people go through that, even in a scenario where I know I’m looking at actors, would have been too much. And too much, I suspect, for most of the audience. What they’ve done on the show with The Governor is enough. It’s the unknown brutality that lurks below the surface that makes this version of The Governor scary and it’s enough that we have hints and implications that he is a psychopath and capable of almost anything.


  1. Definitely agree about how the Governor is being presented. Merle is all aggression and brutality and while that can be interesting in a villain, it isn’t really scary. Merle is just a playground bully with a knife hand. The Governor is something else entirely and you really can’t predict where he’s going to go next because he’s playing his crazy a lot closer to his chest than Merle does.

  2. This one was a three star episode in a (so far) five star season. I think what dragged it down for me was the science lab stuff. It’s not the fact that the idea is nowhere to be found in the book that annoys me, it’s that with everything else going on its seems incredibly superfluous. It’s not a change like the CDC arc which had storytelling purpose and dramatic effect. It seems like the definition of filler. Like they just don’t wanna catch up to the book too quickly. If it comes into play crucially down the line, I’ll gladly eat my words. Right now, though, I just wait for those scenes to be over.

    I couldn’t agree more about the scene with Glen vs. Walker. Just incredible television. As a film and TV fanatic, I tend to give the action and horror genre more points when they show me something I haven’t seen before, and that definitely qualified. Just brilliant work from everyone involved it that scene’s execution.

    I’ve come around on the characterization of the Governor. I now completely agree that this interpretation carries a lot more tension and intrigue that the dastardly bastard we all came to hate in the books. But I wouldn’t discount the idea of that disturbing stuff happening just yet. I have a feeling that it’ll be Andrea instead of Michonne that gets the brunt of his psychosis here. Of course, they can’t (and shouldn’t) go full tilt with the brutality on cable television, but I think we’re still going to sit through some seriously gut wrenching deeds before this is over. And if that serves to steer Andrea away from gullible bimbo and in the direction of hardened soldier that she so beautifully represents in the book, I’m in favor of it (for fictional storytelling purposes of course).

    As a hardcore fan of the book, I’m really curious to see where we’re going with next week’s episode. This is new ground for all of us at this point, and it’s anybody’s guess in the best possible way.

    Also, any Verizon Fios members of the iFanbase best be going on that website or calling that number in protest. Because if I lose Walking Dead and Mad Men, I’m gonna be one unpleasant son of a bitch.

    • “Also, any Verizon Fios members of the iFanbase best be going on that website or calling that number in protest. Because if I lose Walking Dead and Mad Men, I’m gonna be one unpleasant son of a bitch.”

      We’re about to move into a new house and Verizon is the carrier there. When I call to set up service I’ll definitely be asking about it. AMC is pretty much the only channel that can’t be easily accessed through something like Hulu, and is thus the main reason to even have cable TV.

    • the thing that bugged me about the Science Lab stuff, is that it took a giant departure from the theme of the books…trying to find a “cure”. I really like how this TV series has gone away from the books and done mashups of plots and characters, but if they start going down a road of trying to find causes and cures then that really changes a major theme in the book.

      i dunno maybe TV execs figure audiences wouldn’t be fully happy unless they ATTEMPTED to go down that road, since its a zombie trope. BTW, i really wanted Mr. “i telecommute from home and make the good Tea” to get bit in the face. haha

    • The science lab stuff tool like five minutes out of the episode and highlighted the difference between people who have been roughing it on the road and those who have been operating on second-hand knowledge. Don’t see how that warrents 3 out of 5 stars.

      Also, the science guy wasn’t looking for a cure: he’s trying to see how much of the “old person” is retained after they turn.

  3. Judith Asskicker Grimes. Got a nice ring to it.

    Big points this week to everyone in the prisoners subplot. Merle’s evil, the Gov’s super-evil, Maggie’s toughness, and especially Glenn earning his Ph.D in zombie killing were all well written and gripping to watch.

    You gotta feel sorry for Mr. Hermit. Dude’s minding his own business with his dead dog, ignoring the zombies, when all of a sudden, BOOM! Four strangers break into his house with weapons, try to restrain him, kill him as he’s escaping, and throw his body to the dead. Rough day for that guy.

    Next week, we might actually have the Dixon brothers meet face-to-face! That should be good.

  4. Maybe I missed something, but Andrea wasn’t with the group (?) when Rick revealed what the Dr. at the CDC told him: that they’re all infected. Yet she didn’t seem surprised in the Lab of Horrors. Did Michonne tell her?

    • I think the Governor mentioned it to her when they arrived. I seem to remember it being mentioned in kind of an offhand fashion to her early on.

    • The Gov told her and Michonne when they first got to Woodbury, after they said he stabbed a dead guy in the head. He didnt really specify that everyone’s infected, just that however you die, you come back. Side note I scared my neighbours during Maggies interrogation scene cuz I was yelling so loud at the T.V lol “MAGGGGGIEEEEEE NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!”

    • Thanks folks!

  5. i also like how they’ve treated the governor. To me this is more realistic than how he was in the comics. I like the idea of a feared leader who rarely gets his hands dirty. Kinda like a mob boss or a dictator…..but everyone knows, you don’t unleash the beast, cause there is a very good reason why he is so feared. Its an interesting dynamic.

    That scene in the woods and then at the cabin was strange. I was under the impression that there was something attracting the zombies to the group moreso than usual. So they just stumbled upon a herd and it got crazy from there?

    Kinda odd that the area immediately around Woodbury is basically zombie free. I’d kinda expect it to be swarming despite the watchers on the tower…the smells of all those people inside and all that.

    • I believe what Mr. Coleman actually said is “kill me.” Don’t think he agreed to be an experiment at all. Watch again, makes it even creepier.

    • I’m guessing the reason for the swarm is that they might be in the “red zone” as Merle called it which is crawling with biters if Merle is to be believed.

  6. PymSlap PymSlap (@alaska_nebraska) says:

    We missed you on the podcast this week Conor. This episode wrap-up looks like a lot of work. Do you take notes while you’re watching?
    I loved the makeup on the zombie on the end of the metal pole leash. Whoever the director was for “When The Dead Come Knocking” shot the best-looking episode of the year, in my opinion. It reminded me of Day of the Dead, Re-Animator, and Evil Dead. My enthusiasm is full steam ahead for next week’s midseason finale.

  7. I was sure Merle was going to chop Glen’s hand off during those couple of scenes. Also Glen is now officially a badass.

    Definitely like this version of the Governor than the comics, and how the show is kinda comparing and contrasting the Gov and Rick. Both crazy, but Rick’s a good kind of crazy- if there is such a thing in a zombie apocalypse. I’m guessing maybe the Gov’s what Rick could become if he lost Carl and baby Judith.

    Speaking of the baby, since the prison is basically up for grabs with only a couple kids, a cripple and frail Carol, I got a bad feeling most will die over there while Rick’s Spartans are kicking butt at Woodbury. I’m gonna take a wild guess only Carl lives.

  8. The ‘brutality’ or sadism of the Governor is only ONE facet of the argument though. I NEVER expected to see a guy that looks like the lead singer of Monster Magnet running around raping people and lopping off hands.

    EXCLUDING the torture porn trait of the comic Governor, the point is that you didn’t need to know his story. He’s not in the comic to tell HIS story, he’s in the comic to further develop the characters you are following, your ‘heroes’ if you will. He’s there as a PLOT DEVICE… his involvement in this tale has a beginning and end and for a purpose.

    Lex Luthor and Moriarity, in comparison, are villains that have tons of characterization. But they are also villains that become life-long arch enemies. I just don’t see the point in making The Governor more of a Lex Luthor when he should be more of a Noonien Khan or Moby Dick. Or, look at Tucco in Breaking Bad as another example. The Governor doesn’t need to be Walking Dead’s Gus Fring, he needed to be their Tucco.

    Pointing back to Merle… are there any complaints about Merle? I haven’t read any. Why not? He’s a ‘one note’ character filled with brutality and sadism. Everyone loves to hate Merle because that’s the purpose he serves, because stories of ‘good and evil’ need both sides. I’m more on edge watching Merle than the Governor.

    Ironically, if you all like the TV Governor more, its because you actually are going back and comparing to the comic Governor. A person making this comparison is coming from the same place of a person who complains it not exactly like him. If you could see it as strictly as a character in a TV show or film, the Governor is pretty cheesy in all honesty, and inconsistently developed. If he’s keeping his madness and sadism close to heart, they should have kept it from the viewer as well to make a bigger impact. Showing him sweet talk Andrea one scene, then watching decapitated heads, then back to sweet talking, then his book filled with crazy nothing… meh. I have yet another example: The Shining. Once you get the madness roller coaster going, its got to keep going.

    And to make clear: Not hating on the show. Love it. Can’t wait to watch it every week… but its not the end-all be-all. I also really like Arrow, but come on, but I’m not going to be afraid to admit its pretty cheesy.

    • “Pointing back to Merle… are there any complaints about Merle? I haven’t read any. Why not? He’s a ‘one note’ character filled with brutality and sadism. Everyone loves to hate Merle because that’s the purpose he serves, because stories of ‘good and evil’ need both sides. I’m more on edge watching Merle than the Governor.”

      Look through the discussion during the first season and you’ll find plenty of complaints about Merle being a one-note stereotype.