Another dark and dreary Sunday night, another engaging, thought-provoking, and thrilling installment of The Walking Dead. (Seriously, what has happened to this show?) Not only are we now set up for a battle between the prison gang and Woodbury, we have a kidnapped-by-Merle Glen and Maggie, Michonne at the prison, and Andrea in the Governor's bed. A year ago right now, we were still looking for Sophia. Like, seriously — think about that.
First, we learned that — of course — the Governor was never going to let Michonne leave, just as she predicted. He sent out a search-and-destroy team consisting of Merle and three other dudes, and they quickly came across three chopped-up Walker corpses in the forrest. Michonne had left them Walker limbs in the shape of a G and an O, with a Walker back lying next to them. Get it? "Go back!" A biter-gram, said Merle. Seriously, Michonne is adorable. This made the youngster in their group — the newbie — metaphorically s*** his pants. Merle did not like this. "The Governor chose you because he believes in you," he said. Sick. Merle sees being chosen to be a killer as a very good thing — loving that, in this new world, he could hunt and kill with no consequences.
Michonne quickly jumped out of the trees, impaling one goon and beheading another. One of Merle's gunshots clipped her in the leg on her way out, but this wouldn't be enough to stop Michonne. Please. When Merle and the youngster had to take out their fallen friends. the ease in which Merle stabbed his only very recently dead friend's brain was jarring, and a reminder of how shockingly different the elder Dixon is from his brother, and everyone else in the Grimes Gang. Anyway, their little game of cat and mouse continued, and their second meeting's highlights included Michonne spilling disemboweled Walker guts all over herself. This later proved to be a very, very good thing, when a hoard of Walkers sauntered by without picking up her scent. We haven't seen that since Season 1!
After this attack, Merle realized that Michonne was a killing machine who was running into a Walker-infested zone. Going after her would likely lead to his own death, and she'd probably be killed by Walkers anyway, (Except not, because she was covered in their guts.) So, he decided to give up and head home, to tell a little white lie to the Governor. His youngster companion disagreed, so, you know, Merle shot him in the face. As soon as the guy expressed this opinion you knew he was a goner, but the sly, disgusting way in which Merle took him out proved that Merle hasn't changed as much as people have been saying. (And by that, I mean that he hasn't been as sneaky or, most noticeably, racist.) Human beings are completely disposable to Merle. Anyone on this show who admits to enjoying life post Zombpocalpyse eventually becomes some sort of homicidal, violence-loving maniac like Merle, which may spell trouble for one sort-of member of the Grimes Gang. (Stay tuned.) Michonne eventually found herself at the same shopping center as Glenn and Maggie, who were out on a food and ammo run. Unfortunately Merle found them too. Michonne listened from afar, realizing through their conversation that these were Andrea's long-lost people. Merle was psyched that Daryl was alive, and wanted to head back to the prison and see his brother, ASAP. Glen and Maggie, reasonably, offered to bring Daryl to him. This honestly sounds like a very fair, win-win deal, but it wasn't enough for psycho Merle, who put a gun to Maggie's head and whisked the couple off to Woodbury. Meanwhile, back in prison, things weren't much better. At the end of last week, Rick heard a phone ring. Unfortunately, it was just the voices in Rick's head, calling because they wanted to be used as a narrative device. Of course, Rick didn't realize right away what this was. In the first call, a female voice (the ghost of Christmas past) told him they were safe. They were away from them. Ah, a glimmer of hope! Rick cried, and begged: "We're good people here, we just need some help... We're dying here." Hot. Mess. This woman was offering Rick a chance at a post-Apocalyptic utopia, the one thing that everyone wants so badly, but can probably never have again. (Unless they're crazy, and enjoy life in Woodbury.) So, denial — that's the first stage of grief, right?
Later, a man called. (The ghost of Christmas present.) The man was Rick's conscience calling, so we could see that Rick was inwardly working through his issues that stemmed from having to kill people. "How many people have you killed?" the voice asked. Rick told the voice all of his reasons and excuses for his four kills. Cathartic. "Tell me how you lost your wife," the voice demanded. Rick wasn't ready to talk about that one yet. The voice hung up.
Eventually, Hershel came down to Rick's dank, self-imposed insanity cell to try to be an actual human voice of comfort and reason, saying that Rick was a good person, and that Lori had felt bad about her actions with Shane. He also mentioned that they should stay in the prison and continue to build a life there, since they'd run before and there was nowhere else to go. Rick told Hershel about the phone call. Hershel, to his credit, didn't tell Rick he was bananapants crazy. That phone was totally not on. Instead, Hershel said he'd stay and wait with Rick for the phone to ring. Rick refused. He hadn't signed up for group therapy.
Then Christmas Past called back again, wondering why Rick didn't want to talk about Lori's death. "You should talk about it, Rick," CP said. Rick thought this was interesting, because he hadn't ever offered up his name. (Are we at acceptance already?)
The final caller, Christmas Future, revealed herself to be Lori. Fake voice Lori told Rick that earlier he had been talking to Dale and Amy. At least in Rick and Lori's imaginary conversation, Rick was able to tell fake voice Lori that he loved her, one last time. Because, you know, he basically ignored real Lori for her entire pregnancy when she was alive. Again — cathartic, right? Fake voice Lori's finally message to Rick was that he had to get it together for Carl and baby Sophia-Carol-Andrea-Amy-Jackie-Patricia-Lori. Rick put his head down, and the call faded away.
Overall this "use a fake phone call to let us know what's going on in Rick's head" device was kind of an easy way out — and I'm still not quite sure how I feel about it. Of course I care about Rick, and Andrew Lincoln's acting was phenomenal, but I think the writers could have given us something better than this. After the final call, Rick emerged from his physical and metaphorical prison cell and rejoined the group, holding his newborn daughter and staring at her with a sense of wonder. What a fast turn around! If this "imaginary phone calls from voices from your past" method of therapy actually works, please do sign me up. Rick and his friends walked outside as a group, together, literally and metaphorically letting the freaking sunshine in. And they picked the right time, because as Rick walked to the gate, he noticed a still-alive Michonne waiting there, carrying Glen and Maggie's box of supplies. Elsewhere in the prison, Carl and Daryl had an adventure of their own. Glen Mazzara and co. pretty much have free reign with Daryl since he didn't appear in the books, and I'm convinced that they're purposefully making him the swoon-worthy redneck Ryan Gosling of The Walking Dead. Last week he held a freaking baby, this week he sweetly consoled Carl over his mother's loss. You know, since Rick had been totally incapable of hanging with Carl for longer than ten seconds since it happened. Be still my heart. The two forgotten sons traded dead mom stories — Daryl's having been burnt to nothing in a smoking cigarettes in bed while drunk incident, Carl's — well, we know what happened to Carl's. The worst part for Daryl, he said, was that it didn't feel real — she was there one day, and then she wasn't. No goodbye, no body. For Carl, this may have sounded like a luxury — it was real, he said. He ended her life himself. Maybe if Carl sticks with Daryl instead of Rick, he'll have a fighting chance at not growing up to be a psycho.
The boys ran into a few Walkers, and one of them had Carol's knife lodged in its neck. In another swoon-worthy moment, Daryl sat alone with the knife, and starting punching and stabbing the walls out of grief. Sexy. Then, in a rare stroke of luck, he removed the Walker and entered the cell its body was blocking —in it, was a weak but still totally alive Carol! Everyone called that, right? Finally, Andrea spent the episode continuing to make horrible decisions. Despite last week's disturbing display of brutality, she told the Governor that she wanted to contribute to the way of life in Woodbury by joining the Night's Watch and helping out on the wall. But Andrea wasn't cut out for this wall — she went through the training process with a pretty lady trainer, but when Andrea jumped off the wall and stabbed a Walker instead of shooting it from afar, her sensei freaked out. "This isn't a game," she said. Following the Governor's rules seems to be the number one priority for all of Woodbury, right? What happens when you break those rules? Maybe it's head in a tank for some people, but if you're hot like Andrea, you just get removed from wall duty and some hot, hot sex.
"I liked the fights," Andrea admitted to the Gov, as she received her sentence in his office. "I didn't like that I liked them." This was music to the Governor's ears. He had her. The pair flirted like high schoolers throughout the episode, with the Governor opening up to Andrea about his disappointing life before the Zombpocalypse. Of course, she just loved that. Ladies like Andrea love it when you expose your messed up, wounded, sensitive side. It's probably a mix of daddy issues and Nicholas Sparks novels. The Governor told Andrea that she didn't have to be ashamed of loving the fight (or, in other words, the kill), and that she was a lot like him. She had what it took. GOD, this guy can be charismatic. That's how he gets people to follow him, and how he got Andrea to go to bed with him. Sad.
So, what did you think of the episode? Did you like the phone call gimmick? Think Andrea and the Governor make a solid couple? Shout out in the comments!