In the prison, a debate rages about whether to stay put and fight the Governor or to flee. To my surprise and delight, Daryl, Rick, and Merle are all back inside; I figured the show wouldn’t lose the opportunity to keep our groups separate for a while, but I guess three badasses such as Rick Grimes and the Dixon brothers could probably fight their way through a field full of Walkers. Also, to be honest, Rick, Daryl, and Merle probably smell very much like the zombies at this point. They are all in desperate need of baths.
Back to the debate: Herschel insists that they should leave the prison; Glenn backs up Rick’s decision to stay; and Merle—who’s locked away separately but within earshot of the group—tells them that they lost their chance to leave anyway.
Daryl says he isn’t afraid of the Governor, and Merle is all “you really should be!” Merle points out that the Governor has both the guns and the numbers on his side; he can just starve out the prison folks if he wants to. Good old Merle is always so upbeat!
Rick begins to walk away, and Herschel just can’t take it any more. He yells at Rick that “now is not the time.” If this isn’t a democracy but a Ricktatorship, then Rick needs to be there and actually lead.
Herschel’s words have apparently had some effect on Rick because we see him next with binoculars scouting the woods beyond the prison. For an instant, he sees the flash of something white in the woods. Remember, Rick, NOW IS NOT THE TIME! Carl has followed Rick and tells him that he should stop being the leader, and let Herschel and Daryl handle things because Rick deserves a rest. Even the Pope gets to resign nowadays, so Rick can have a temporary leave of absence!
In Woodbury, Milton and the Governor are doing a census of fighting personnel. The Governor decides that 13-year-olds and up are able to fight (and although basically everything the Governor does or says is like fingernails on a blackboard for me, I think it probably wouldn’t hurt the kids to at least learn self-defense/zombie fighting 101—after all, Carl is pretty capable and I’m not sure if he even is 13 yet.)
Andrea pops up, and finally displays a little skepticism about the Governor’s Kool-Aid. “Enough is enough!” she tells the Governor after his latest attempt to lie about his raid on the prison, saying that the prisoners attacked him. (Three words, Andrea: Wall of heads! Surely that would have been the point to say “enough is enough”?) Andrea argues that she needs to go see her friends at the prison; all she needs is one car. The Governor tells her the roads are blocked and that he and his group barely made it back; when this gambit fails, he shifts to threats, telling her that if she goes to the prison she should stay there. The Governor doesn’t know Andrea all that well, or he’d know that telling her not to do something is the surest way to get her to do it. (Or else he is already planning for her to make this trip. I can never tell with the Governor.)
At the prison, there’s a verbal tussle about the continued presence of Merle in the midst of Rick’s group. Glenn calls Merle a snake in the nest, and Daryl tells Glenn that Merle stays. “He’s with us now, get used to it, all of y’all.”
As Daryl walks away, Glenn tells Rick that Merle living with them isn’t going to fly, but Herschel argues that while Merle may be erratic (Herschel is a master of understatement), he does have military experience that they desperately need and also, his loyalty to Daryl is unquestionable. Glenn is not convinced, and suggests that they give Merle up to the Governor in exchange for a truce. (How about Michonne, Glenn? Planning to give her up too, since the Governor wants her in revenge for his eye?)
Herschel pays a visit to Merle, and they compare amputation stories. Herschel tells Merle that Rick saved his life and gave him more time with his girls, and then gave Merle more time with his brother. “Can’t put a price on that!” Herschel tells Merle, to which Merle replies that you “can’t put a price on anything these days” and this confuses Merle deeply. Herschel tries another tack: he digs out a Bible he found in the prison and tells Merle that he lost his own way for a while. “If your right hand offends you, cut it off …” Herschel begins and Merle finishes up the quote, to Herschel’s evident surprise. Merle tells him that Woodbury had a fine library and that’s the only thing he misses about it; it seems Merle is a little more complicated than we once thought.
Merle tells Herschel that the Governor will kill Merle first, then Michonne and Daryl, and then everyone else, saving Rick for last so he can watch his friends and family die before he’s killed. I’m not sure whether Merle overheard Glenn’s plans for him, but I think this realistic assessment of the Governor’s degree of crazy sadism should kibosh the idea of trading Merle for a truce. As an aside, this scene alone is reason enough to be glad that Michael Rooker came back to the show; he and Scott Wilson are just terrific together.
The Governor is displaying his charming side to a bunch of potential recruits to his army, including an asthmatic boy whose mother has enlisted Andrea’s help in getting the boy out of his compulsory military service. Andrea’s help is limited to mentioning that the kid is asthmatic. Okay then!
In a more genuinely charming scene, Carol comes to find Daryl who is whittling an arrow or something in his cell. She tells him that she’s glad he came back. He tells her that the prison is a tomb, and she says T-Dog said the same thing and that she thought he was right until Daryl found her. Aww! Then Carol gets down to the real reason why she came: Merle. She says that Merle isn’t good for Daryl, despite being his brother. “Don’t let him bring you down. After all, look how far you’ve come.” At this, Daryl and Carol both look around the bleak little cell and chuckle. Aww again! I never fail to be amazed at how the same writers who’ve made Carol so awesome and can write such nice subtle scenes as this one also manage to make Andrea so clueless and contradictory.
Speaking of Andrea, she’s in Woodbury looking for a way out of the now sealed-up town. She tells Milton that she needs to go to the prison and the Governor can’t know what she’s up to. Milton is uncomfortable at being put in the position of lying to the Governor, but Andrea says she has to talk to Rick and attempt to stop the all-out war between the prison crew and Woodbury that will surely kill more people.
The Governor is busy trying to see a match flame near his missing eye. I guess an eye chart is too normal for him! Milton knocks and enters to tell the Governor all about Andrea’s plans. To Milton’s surprise, the Governor tells him to help Andrea. Milton asks if the Governor really wants him to help or whether this is some kind of test of his loyalties. Heh!
Apparently, the Governor was serious, because in the next scene, Milton helps Andrea “escape” from Woodbury. Andrea has a not-at-all-bad plan that she cribbed from Michonne: Milton and Andrea capture a zombie, cut off its arms, and stomp its teeth out. I’m assuming that was a totally disgusting scene because I couldn’t watch. In the midst of this operation, Tyreese, Sasha, Allen, and Ben stumble through the woods toward them. So I guess they left the prison completely, rather than stick around with crazy Rick waving his pistol at them.
At the prison, Michonne is doing an impressive exercise routine when Merle walks in and starts talking about how they should clear the air. He tells her that the “whole hunting you down thing, that was just business … carrying out orders.”
“Like the Gestapo?” Michonne asks.
“Yeah, exactly. I done a lot things I ain’t proud of, before and after. Hope we can get past it, let bygones be bygones.”
Michonne has the most hilarious “I can’t believe that we just had this conversation” expression on her face. I love Merle at the prison and the way that his very existence messes with the group’s dynamic.
Back in the woods, Milton and Andrea tell Tyreese’s group that there’s a whole town where they will be welcome (no one mentions that the town is led by a sadistic one-eyed collector of heads in aquariums. No, I’m never going to let that go!) Andrea volunteers Milton to bring the group back to Woodbury and continues on her mission to the prison alone.
Andrea arrives with her captive zombie, making her way through the milling masses inside the field and axing any zombie who gets too close. As much as Andrea’s thought processes have been a mystery to me this season and as much as I cannot understand her continuing attachment to the Governor (WALL! OF! HEADS!), I have to admit that she’s a terrific fighter.
Rick reluctantly opens the gates after he’s ascertained that Andrea’s alone. As soon as she’s inside the fence, the prison group makes her kneel at gunpoint. Andrea is clearly surprised by the stunning absence of a warm welcome!
Once inside, the only person who looks happy to see Andrea is Carol, whose life Andrea saved back in the season 2 finale. Credit where credit is due, after all. Everyone else continues to be incredibly pissed off at Andrea for clearly choosing the Governor over the group/Michonne.
Andrea asks after Shane and Lori, and Carol mentions that T-Dog is also dead and then they move on to more current business. Rick tells Andrea that the Governor dumped a bunch of zombies in the field outside the prison, and as she senses how angry everyone is with her, she turns on Michonne and asks what she told them. “Nothing,” Michonne tells her. Because I guess judging someone by their actions is a foreign concept to Andrea? Michonne didn’t need to tell them anything; they could suss out from what they saw of his actions with regard to Glenn, Maggie, and Daryl that he was a bad one, which is more than Andrea has been able to do despite repeatedly being smacked in the face with clues.
Andrea says that the Governor is gearing up for war, which is why she came to make peace between the prison and “Philip.” Andrea continues to demonstrate her willful ignorance of the Governor’s nature by suggesting that there’s a way to make peace between the people and the prison and at Woodbury; she even seems to believe that the Governor would accept the prison group into the town. (WALL OF HEADS!!!)
No one at the prison is as gullible as Andrea. Daryl tells her “next time you see Philip, tell him I’m going to take his other eye.” (If Merle, or Maggie, or Glenn, or Michonne don’t get there first, that is.) Glenn says that if the Governor wants a war, he’s got one.
Andrea makes the argument of superior numbers saying that the Governor has a whole town, and that the prison group can’t stand alone any more. Rick suggests that she could help them get inside Woodbury again, but Andrea says that there are innocent people in the town, so she refuses. There are also innocent people in the prison, but I don’t see that stopping the Governor!
Outside, Andrea and Michonne have a long overdue heart-to-heart. Andrea accuses Michonne of poisoning the prison group’s minds against Woodbury, and Michonne says that she just told them the truth. When Andrea tells Michonne she wants to save the innocents of Woodbury and the prison, Michonne tells her that “I didn’t realize the Messiah complex was contagious.” She also tells Andrea that the Governor sent Merle to kill her, and that if Andrea had been with her at the time, Merle would have tried to kill her too. But that didn’t happen because “you chose a warm bed over a friend.” While I appreciate the verbal smackdown of Andrea at this point, I have to point out that perhaps if Michonne had seen fit to string this many words together earlier when she saw Andrea in Woodbury, perhaps Andrea wouldn’t have chosen to stay with the Governor. (On the other hand, she did see the wall of heads, including that of the helicopter pilot so who knows?)
In Woodbury, the Governor tells Tyreese that they can stay in Woodbury and they’ll get a car and supplies to leave when they’re ready to move on. You know, the same lying spiel that he gives everyone. He says that there are dangerous people outside the town, and this is Ben (or Allen’s) cue to mention the whack-job in the prison.
The Governor is suddely 900 percent more interested in Tyreese and his friends, who volunteer to help the Governor in his fight against Rick, even though Tyreese himself says that the other people in the prison “seemed decent.” Yes, decent enough to save your life, Tyreese, in Carl’s case, and to tend to your wounds (Herschel) and feed you, so I’m a little miffed that Tyreese is willing to give up everyone in the prison to the Governor. I suppose Tyreese doesn’t know that the Governor will probably kill everyone once he takes the prison; also, given the lifespan of adult black males in Rick’s company, perhaps Tyreese is backing the better horse!
At the prison, Andrea meets “L’il Asskicker,” and Carol tells her in more detail what happened to Lori, T-Dog, and Shane. Carol urges Andrea to imitate baby Judith’s biblical namesake by giving the Governor the best night of his life and then killing him. I’m sure Carol fantasized about killing her own abusive husband back in the day; the difference between then and now is that I think Carol would go through with it now.
Andrea decides to return to Woodbury even though her mission has clearly failed. I don’t know whether she intends to go through with her assassination mission, but in any case, Rick gives her a gun and a car. When she returns, she goes to the Governor, who’s listening to music on reel-to-reel tapes; I feel incredibly old because I actually remember those. The Governor tells Andrea that she came back because “you belong here” and then they kiss while I gag. (WALL OF HEADS!)
At the prison, Rick’s group is having a little nighttime picnic, and Beth decides to serenade them. “Some reunion,” Daryl remarks to Rick about Andrea. Rick tells Daryl and Herschel that he’s going on a run, and when Daryl offers to go with him, Rick tells him that although he’s glad Daryl’s back (as is the audience, Rick!) he’s leaving Daryl to handle Merle. “If he causes a problem, it’s on you!” Rick tells Daryl, making him literally his brother’s keeper. Rick is going to take Michonne and Carl along for the ride.
Beth’s song turns into a musical montage in which we see the Governor and Andrea sharing a post-coital nap. Andrea gets up and fetches a pocket knife that she reflectively aims at the Governor’s jugular for a while before she apparently decides she can’t kill him in his sleep. Andrea ain’t a Judas, or a Judith for that matter.
Next week—a roadtrip with Michonne, Rick and Carl, filled with lively songs and scintillating conversation. Or glowering silence. Take your pick!
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.