The episode opens with Rick up on the fenced in catwalk with an automatic rifle. Rick continues to hallucinate his visions of Lori in a white dress. (As scary as Rick was hallucinating with a pistol last episode, it’s even worse that he’s wandering around with an automatic weapon. What if he sees one of his friends morph into Shane again?) Rick’s Lori-vision lures him farther from the prison, past Michonne who appears to be cured of her concussion and living in an overturned school bus in the grassy no-man’s-land between the inner and outer prison fences. Michonne watches Rick wander on, a look of bemused worry on her face. I’m sure she’s not going to say anything to the people inside the prison, though!
In Woodbury, order seems to have been restored, although I have no idea what happened to the folks who were trying to flee last episode. The episode implies that Andrea’s speech calmed everyone down, but I’m imagining that the Governor has begun a new collection with the would-be Woodbury defectors’ heads.
Speak of the devil—the Governor knocks on Andrea’s door. Apparently, he’s come to praise her, not to bury her. He also promises her that he won’t retaliate against the group from the prison. As I silently scream “liar, liar, pants on fire” at the governor, Andrea says she needs to go see her friends. The Governor makes a bid for Andrea’s sympathy by saying that he believed if he kept Penny alive long enough, Milton would find a way to reverse her zombieness. When Herschel had the same belief and kept his family members in the barn, I thought it was touching and lovable, but with the Governor this all makes my skin crawl. Maybe it’s because Herschel didn’t have a collection of heads. Andrea may have gotten over this, but I don’t think I ever will.
The Governor appoints Andrea as Leader of Woodbury while he gets himself together. Andrea looks pensive, as well she should, considering how the Governor has responded to challenges to his authority so far, not to mention the constant lies and misinformation that he’s fed Andrea. And let’s not forget about the collection of heads.
Meanwhile, the Governor’s ex-second-in-command Merle and his brother Daryl are arguing about ... well, everything. Daryl misses his friends, and points out that there’s no game to be had in the woods. Merle tells Daryl that his friends aren’t long for this world, given that the Governor is planning to strike at the prison any minute now.
At the prison, Rick’s cohort is trying to make plans for the Governor’s invasion. They’ve included Michonne in the group, since Rick is off chasing ghosts and can’t object to her presence. (Too bad he scared away Tyreese and his friends last week; they could use some more fighters.) In the absence of Rick and Daryl, Glenn is in charge, and he says that they should take the war to the Governor. He and Michonne will go back to Woodbury to assassinate the Governor.
Herschel is horrified by this plan, pointing out all the damage from Glenn and Maggie’s trip for supplies and the subsequent efforts of Rick to rescue them. (I think there’s a little difference between infiltrating the town with ninja Michonne and being captured by Merle, but that’s just me!) Herschel argues for discretion being the better part of valor; he suggests that they simply flee the prison before the Governor arrives since they survived a winter on the road. Glenn rightly points out that during that period, Herschel had two legs and they didn’t have a newborn whose crying will draw Walkers to them. In the midst of Glenn and Herschel’s argument, Maggie walks out. Glenn tables the discussion, saying that they’ll defend the prison and that he’s going to go check out the place where Tyreese got into the prison, as that’s clearly a weak spot. Michonne offers to go with him, but he says he needs her to protect everyone.
At Woodbury, the Governor flatters Milton, saying that Milton is invaluable to him, but that he’s not sure where Andrea’s loyalties lie. He asks Milton to spy on Andrea. Surely the Governor could pick a stealthier person who’s a better liar for his spy mission. On the other hand, I’m not surprised the Governor doesn’t have a high regard for Andrea’s intelligence, considering the ease with which he’s bamboozled her so far.
Andrea goes looking for the Governor’s henchman Martinez (he of the backwards baseball cap). A woman named Karen gives Andrea some attitude about her questions, which makes me question the feasibility of Andrea’s being in charge of Woodbury. Andrea backtracks, and finds Milton, who lies to her in the lamest possible way about the Governor being out on a supply run. Andrea looks a bit suspicious. FINALLY!
At the prison, Glenn returns from his scouting mission saying that parts they’d cleared out are again overrun by Walkers, because this is the most porous prison imaginable. He wants to take Maggie scouting the outer perimeter so they can identify the weak spots, but Herschel asks him whether Maggie is really up to the mission. (I think Herschel is just getting Glenn to talk to Maggie, because she certainly seemed up for creating mayhem in Woodbury just a short time after her ordeal there.)
Maggie is lying in her bunk, back to the room, and Glenn comes in and says she needs to talk about what happened in Woodbury. Maggie asks if whether its her needs or his own that are worrying Glenn; and as much as I sympathize with Glenn for being beaten up, I must say I find his attitude towards Maggie at the moment grating. I think he’s focusing on Maggie’s trauma so he can avoid breaking down about his own injuries and feelings of helplessness, but it sounds a lot like he’s turning the Governor’s sexual assault on Maggie into something about him. Maggie apparently feels the same way, because she recounts everything that happened with the Governor and asks Glenn sarcastically if he feels better for hearing it. She tells Glenn she had no choice, because she could hear everything that was happening to him. He tries to touch her, and she pushes him away, yelling at him to go away. “You got your answer!”
In a considerably more lighthearted scene, Axel and Carol fortify the walkway we saw Rick hallucinating on earlier. Axel tells Carol that guns scare him; he was put away for armed robbery of a gas station but he only used a toy gun. Carol shows Axel how to use a pistol, and Axel looks on at her admiringly, as do I. Carol has turned into such a badass!
Speaking of badasses, Merle and Daryl are still in the woods arguing about their route. “Why’s everything got to be a competition?” Daryl asks Merle. They sound just like real brothers! Their argument is interrupted by Daryl hearing a baby’s cries. He ignores Merle, who tries to tell him that it’s just raccoons; Daryl follows the sound of the cries to a bridge, where two Latino men are fighting off a horde of zombies. In their red station-wagon, the baby continues to wail as its mother alternately weeps and prays and the zombies try to break the window glass and eat them both. Merle shrugs his shoulders—the fate of these strangers is not his problem—but Daryl wades in to help the family. Merle stands back and watches admiringly as his little brother scores the most disgusting zombie kill ever, smashing the rear door of the wagon down on the head of a zombie.
After the fight is over, Merle figures the family owe him and Daryl for saving their lives, though Merle, of course, didn’t do anything to help anyone except Daryl. He starts rummaging in the family’s car as the two men stand by, helpless. Daryl points his crossbow at Merle’s skull, and tells the family to drive away, keeping the arrow aimed until the car leaves.
Evidently bitter that Daryl is so altruistic toward strangers, Merle tries to get inside Daryl’s head, guilt-tripping him about “abandoning” him in Atlanta where he lost his hand. Daryl points out that Merle was long gone before he even got to Atlanta, and further, that “you lost your hand because you’re a simple-minded piece of shit.” Merle tries another tack, saying that Sheriff Rick won’t be so happy to learn that the only reason the Dixons were with the camp back in season 1 was so that they could rob it; Daryl says that was a long time ago, turning his back on Merle. Merle grabs at Daryl’s shirt, ripping it and revealing tattoos and some nasty scars.
Merle knows exactly who hurt Daryl, and in answer to Daryl’s accusation that Merle abandoned him first to the tender mercies of their father, Merle says he had to leave because he would have killed the man if he’d stayed. Daryl is so over this conversation and his brother, and says that he’s heading back to the prison, to his friends. Merle says softly: “I can’t go with you.” Too bad, Merle! Daryl has made his choice, and walks away, and Merle looks after him with a sheen of tears in his eyes. I have to say how amazing Michael Rooker is here; Merle is a horrible, horrible person, but he does, undoubtedly, love his little brother and is clearly horrified that he abandoned him to be hurt so badly. Luckily for us, because he’s such a good actor and because Merle is such an interesting character, Merle reluctantly follows Daryl.
At the prison, Herschel hobbles after Glenn, asking whether he’s going back to Woodbury. He tells Glenn that his rage, though understandable, is going to get him killed. “What are you proving?” he asks Glenn. Glenn reiterates that he’s the leader while Rick is still “wandering around Crazytown.” Heh!
Meanwhile, Beth tries some therapy of her own on Maggie, bringing her little Judith to feed. Something about looking at the baby she helped deliver finally helps Maggie to climb out from her dark headspace, and she starts to cry a little. Beth squeezes Maggie’s shoulder, and once again, I love that they really seem like sisters here.
Rick is still wandering around in the woods outside the prison, looking completely deranged, and desperately in need of food, sleep, and a bath (not necessarily in that order). He hears a voice calling his name; Herschel continues on his mission of providing sanity to those who have rejected it, telling Rick that they need him in the prison. Herschel asks if there’s anything they can help Rick with, and Rick confesses that he’s been seeing visions of Lori. This is much worse than Herschel thought! Rick tells Herschel that Lori is trying to tell him something. (Maybe something like “hey doofus, how about you stop wallowing in grief and guilt and look out for my two kids, one of whom is a newborn!”)
Axel continues to flirt with Carol; he tells her that he liked the simplicity of prison and he’s just about to launch into a story about his brother when he collapses from a gunshot wound. The Governor has arrived!!
Rick and Herschel are both trapped far away from the prison, while in the yard, Carol turns Axel’s body into her only shield from a sniper in the guard tower. There’s a ferocious gun battle in which the only casualty is poor Axel. Eventually, a van smashes through the outer fence of the prison, discharging a huge number of zombies, all of whom head toward Herschel who’s hiding in the long grass. Aaaaah, that sneaky Governor! He’s going to let the zombies kill the prison group without risking many of his own personnel. He’s demented, but he is clever, I’ll give him that!
Helpless to assist her father, Maggie manages to shoot the sniper in the tower. At this point, Glenn returns from his recon mission, driving by the Governor going the other way; he and Michonne save Herschel.
Meanwhile, Rick has run out of ammo, and is facing two zombies intent on eating him when an arrow goes through the head of one of them. The Dixon brothers have returned at the best possible time. After a desperate battle, the Dixons and Rick subdue the immediate threat of zombies around them, though they are now trapped outside the prison. Uh oh! I can’t wait for next week, between wondering what the Governor’s next move is, and wondering how Daryl is going to keep the peace between his two older brothers!
Regina Thorne is an avid reader of just about everything, an aspiring writer, a lover of old movies and current TV shows, and a hopeless romantic.