- Written By: Angela Kang
- Air Date: 2/24/2013
- Directed By: Greg Nicotero
- Starring: Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Laurie Holden, Lauren Cohan, Danai Gurira, Steven Yeun, Chandler Riggs, Melissa McBride, Scott Wilson, Emily Kinney, David Morrissey, Michael Rooker
- Guest Stars: Dallas Roberts, Emily Kinney, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Chad Coleman, Sonequa Martin-Green, Daniel Thomas May, Xavier Cruz
Last week’s episode was slow until an explosive final ten minutes, featuring the Governor’s retaliation on Rick’s crew, which resulted in a spray of bullets the likes of which Rick can’t afford, the death of Axel (just when we were kind of liking him, as per TWD’s usual), and the timely return of Daryl and Merle. While this episode isn’t packed with action, it features tremendous character moments, a few reunions, and a lot of painful moments.
It’s clear Rick has stabilized a little bit since his two episode crazy man stint, but that doesn’t prevent Herschel from giving him a tongue lashing. Everyone is at odds on what to do: do they stay and fight? Do they take the fight to Woodbury? Do they hightail it? Rick’s unsure of himself and the plan of attack, for perhaps the first time. Even “mini Rick” Carl thinks that he should step down as leader, and let Daryl and Herschel handle the job in an awkward but perfect opening scene.
At Woodbury, Andrea has heard about the jaunt to the prison. She comes in a huff like she has done in about every episode since she arrived in the town, but as always, falls in line with the Governor and his web of lies in about a minute. He tells her that Rick shot them first, leading to the violence. Andrea, finally knowing that Rick and her friends are alive, has to go and see for herself. She aims to stop the impending war with a little old fashioned diplomacy. Because she’s moronic, she tells Milton about her plan to “escape” to the prison, so the Governor is fully aware of her movements. Milton helps her out, and in the process, they stumble upon Tyreese and his band, who are more than happy to come to Woodbury. Cue screams of anguish here. Even when THE WALKING DEAD stumbles, they’ve done a miraculous job making you care for every member of Rick and his crew, and the idea of Tyreese and company actually being the enemy, a polar opposite of the comic book, is a twisting the knife in your back master stroke of unpleasantness.
Back at the prison, everyone is adjusting to Merle’s presence. Carol warns Daryl about him, most everyone else glares at him (especially Glenn), but Herschel pays him a visit, and they talk about the good book. It’s a wonderful scene, and perhaps the only one where Michael Rooker’s Merle hasn’t been an outright ass up to this point. There has been a shift in Merle, and at least for now, seems like he’s trying to be a member of the group.
Then Andrea appears, dragging a walker with her to ward off other flesh-eating foes. Once within the fences, she’s a bit surprised by her treatment; Rick and company are not all that happy to see her. While they kind of left her out to dry when Herschel’s farm burned down, she’s sleeping with the enemy. Literally/grossly/awfully. She learns some hard truths, she finds out what happened to Lori, T-Dog, Shane, and we realize how long the group has been apart. It’s an awkward reunion, made worse by Michonne’s dark stares at her former friend, who hung her out to dry. It’s the most action we’ve seen Danai Gurira get aside from killing zombies in awhile, and the scene between her and Andrea is brilliant. Obviously, Michonne needs more screentime (and obviously that is still to come), whereas Andrea finds herself in an impossible position (of her own making).
Five episodes remain, and no doubt, the big ole battle will happen in the finale or close to it, leaving us four more episodes to pine, worry and ponder what’s to come, while fearing for the character’s lives in the meantime. If the episodes are like this one, setting up strong characterization and doomed confrontations, expertly done by director Greg Nicotero, that won’t be a problem. Hopefully it won’t feel the opposite: as plodding as a walker, dragged out to save all the anguish for the final episode. As always, you never know what you’re going to get.