‘The Walking Dead’ Recap: Merle is Always Right About Everything

The Walking Dead Rick meets the Governor.

Okay, so the title of this recap may prove to be divisive, and sure, Merle isn’t exactly right about everything. Like, for instance, the racism and the sexism and I would say homophobia but there are no gays on this show, so. Regardless, I’m sure Merle is homophobic. Anyway — Merle isn’t right about everything, but he knows an enemy when he sees one, and has survived this long by using his animalistic instincts to tear those enemies down. But now poor, brilliant Merle is stuck with the dumb dumb heads in the Grimes Gang led by King Dumb Dumb Head Rick Grimes, so no one will listen to him when he says they should just go in there, shoot the Governor, and be done with it. Sounds like a great plan, no? Quickly eliminate the terrorist who has already proven himself to be a brilliantly strategic sociopath who wants nothing more than to kill you and everyone you love?

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But this isn’t Zero Dark Thirty and Jessica Chastain was eaten long ago, so logic and reason did not prevail during tonight’s installment of The Walking Dead. Even Michonne thinks they can bargain with the Governor now, which may just be because she’s finally trying to fit in, but still. Despite what Andrea the sudden optimist thinks, you can’t reason with a hellbent-on-revenge sociopath, and now the Governor has the upper hand, again. Rick thinks that by turning in Michonne he can save his people, but everyone with one tenth of a brain (Merle) should realize that the Governor would ruthlessly murder everyone except maybe Baby Asskicker (whom he would raise as his own to replace the child Michonne/Walkers killed) if he caught the Grimes Gang pants down. Fight the dead, fear the living, you guys. At least Glenn and Maggie got some hot sexy time in before the end of days.

Most of the episode took place in and around the random shack where the two fearless leaders decided to meet. We had Rick and the Governor in the shack, and a really engaging B-plot outside of it. Hershel drove them over in the Grimes Hyundai, and we got a nice shot of him examining the knife attached to his stump in the driver’s seat before he left the car. You guys, how great is Hyundai? Even when the world burns, even when your leg is nothing but a horrid shell of its former self, you can still drive a beautiful looking Hyundai through the wreckage. And somehow, someway, everything will be okay. That’s what Hyundai does.

Hyundai also set the stage for some serious commentary on the state of modern warfare. While Rick Grimes and the Governor tiptoed around their assured mutual destruction (or, well, the destruction of those around them), Daryl and Hershel were standing outside, bonding with that Martinez everyone is talking about and Milton, respectively. Because that’s what war is all about — petty squabbles between two leaders that end up needlessly ruining the lives of everyone around them. It’s kind of like that scene in every war movie where the American guy gets stuck in the trench with the German guy and realizes — hey, this guy is just like me! Why the f**k are we fighting, again? But then he blows his brains out because A, kill or be killed, and B, this is an American movie so the Germans can’t win.

But just like most of the Germans in that movie (the non-Nazi ones), when it comes down to it, the citizens of Woodbury aren’t all that bad. That Martinez guy everyone keeps talking about (overrated) once had a wife and a family. Milton is just a big ol’ nerd, and had they not been on opposing teams, him and Hershel probably would have been good buds. It just shows, once again, the insanity of the post-apocalyptic world of The Walking Dead — don’t these people realize that strength comes in numbers? In a logical world, the Governor would realize that the capable fighters and young people with functioning reproductive organs could help turn Woodbury into a genuine second hope for society. Just like it was stupid for Rick to turn down Tyreese and his crew, it’s stupid of the Governor to hate the Grimes Gang so much — but then again, Woodbury is more about his own ego than anything else. 

Anyway, back to the show. Rick showed up to meeting HQ, and the Governor appeared from the darkness with his eyepatch and that s**t-eating grin he always sports because he knows that he’s smarter than everyone else. So smart, in fact, that he knew Rick would disarm him, so he taped a gun to his side of the negotiation table. “We have a lot to talk about,” he said. And talk they did. They talked about the weather, they talked about the Grimes Gang getting out of dodge before the Governor killed them, they talked about the Governor’s past — heck, they even skimmed over what happened to Maggie! (Andrea, who was allowed in the room for approximately three minutes, did not enjoy this part. She will probably still have sex with him later.)

“We’re here to move forward,” the Governor proclaimed, with his signature southern charm and that stupid grin that somehow manages to feel like nails on a chalkboard sounds, if that makes sense. Rick proposed a relative truce with location boundaries, but the Gov then pissed off both Rick AND Andrea when he revealed (duh) that he was there for one thing and one thing only: Rick’s surrender. He even brought whiskey, that’s how confident he was in his mentally-torture-Rick-Grimes-skills — he could do it drunk. Burn!

Even though Rick is terrible at the art of war, he did come prepped with some of his best zingers. “You’re the town drunk who knocked over my fence and ripped up my yard,” Rick said. “Nothing more.” But then the Governor hit below the belt, kind of literally, by bringing up Baby Asskicker’s ambiguous parentage. So this round, again, goes to the Governor. The Governor continued to prove his brilliant, egotistical insanity when he gave his reasoning for wanting to slaughter the entire Grimes Gang: if he didn’t, Woodbury would think he was weak, and everything would be destroyed. “This fight, it’s a failure of leadership,” said The Governor. Both men feel that they need the respect of their constituents to effectively “govern” (hah) their way to safety. I, for one, do not think that this is true. Maybe I’m being a little too Andrea right now, but I’m sure most of the folks at Woobury wouldn’t mind a new friend or two, especially if one of those friends is Daryl.

But, I digress. The Governor got into some exposition, revealing — as we always suspected — that he was some low-level corporate schlub before the outbreak. What’s worse, he was a low-level corporate schlub with a dead wife, because she died in a car crash on a day when he didn’t return her call. The story was sad, but it was the Governor, so it’s hard to care too much. While he was telling his epic sad tale Rick just sort of sat there silently, because what the f**k was he supposed to say? What do you say when your mortal enemy tells you a really sad story about his wife dying, when your wife just died too in an even more horrific fashion, and like, this is the apocalypse so everyone is dead? “Sorry, bro?” Rick said nothing, which was the wise move. I’m not sure why they included this scene.

Related: ‘The Walking Dead’ Recap: Who Will Kill Andrea?

So, anyway — threat threat threat, meaningful Grimes stare meaningful Grimes stare meaningful Grimes stare. In the end, the Governor revealed that he only wanted one thing (I think his fingers were crossed under the table): Michonne. If Rick would deliver Michonne, he’d let the others live. He even removed his eye patch for dramatic emphasis. “Is she worth it?” Gov asked. “One woman, worth all those lives at your prison?” Rick seemed a bit flabbergasted at this request: “You’ve obviously got big plans,” he said. “You’d waste it all on a two-bit vendetta? You could have a statue of yourself in the town square. Killin’ Michonne is sorta beneath you.” Then Rick just threw out some more meaningful stares, but he was clearly considering the Governor’s offer. Stupid Rick Grimes. Didn’t Morgan tell you that you should always clear?

After that, negotiations were over. The Governor walked into the sunset with Martinez, Milton, and (gag) Andrea, and Rick drove back to the prison in that beautiful, wonderful Hyundai. The Governor said he’d be back in the same place in two days, at noon. If Rick would bring Michonne, there wouldn’t be a battle. Riiighhht.

While all of this was going on, we were treated to several scenes of the B-Team first arguing, then semi-bonding over their shared interests. For Hershel and Milton that meant science, for Daryl and Martinez, killing things. When Milton first showed up, Daryl snickered: “Great, he brought his Butler.” Zing! But Martinez fired back with an even better one, referring to Daryl as Rick’s henchman. I mean, it’s true…

Anyway, as the two gents in the shack sorted things out, Milton revealed that he’d been keeping tabs on everything that happened everywhere, ever, since the outbreak, since his words would eventually become the boring history texts that future children would read, skimming over to the parts with the highlighted vocabulary terms. Hershel though this was a real swell idea. Then some Walkers came around, and Daryl and Martinez had this cute, badass, totally sexy kill-off. It was a draw, and thus respect was earned. They even called each other “pu**y” and “douchebag” as signs of mutual admiration. Our enemies — they’re just like us!

These bonding scenes were pretty sad, because all four men knew that they might kill or be killed by their new buds. It’s like the early scenes in The Hunger Games, when they make the kids train together. When Milton, for morbid curiosity/scientific purposes asked to see Hershel’s stump, he reacted with mock disgust. “I just met you — at least buy me a drink first,” he laughed. It was sweet. It was refreshing. It would be short-lived, because the two psychos running this show were mere feet away, plotting their destruction.

Andrea was outside too after “Philip” kicked her out, and she asked Hershel what had happened to Maggie. “He’s a sick man,” Hersh said. She looked crushed. “What am I going to do now?” she cried. “I can’t go back there.” Hershel gave her a VIP pass to re-join the Grimes Gang, but added that (duh) that once she went back with them, she could never return to Woodbury. Needless to say, she went back to Woodbury. The Governor must be insanely good in bed.

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Meanwhile, back at the prison… 

Over in Cellblock C, Merle Dixon was having a terrible, horrible, no good very bad day. No one would listen to him! “What we should be doing is loading some of this firepower in a truck, and paying a visit to the Governor,” Merle said. [Crickets.] “But we promised Rick we’d stay put!” exclaimed Michonne. “My Dad can take care of himself!” added Carl. Both of those statements were stupid. Merle tried to leave anyway, but Glenn version 2.0 stopped him. Glenn version 2.0 is super sexy, but still very wrong on this particular occasion. Him and Merle started scufflin’, until Beth proved herself useful for once by shooting a single gunshot in the air. So dramatic, Beth! Now climb back into your cell and sit there silently for the rest of the episode. Thanks.

Merle tried to recruit Michonne for his mission, but she proved herself to be a tried and true member of the Grimes Gang by refusing. Then, hilariously, when asked why Merle had not succeeded in capturing her back when, Merle responded: “Must have been seduced by your sterling personality.” Daryl is clearly the sexier of the Dixon brothers (by a long shot), but all of the humor in that family went straight to Merle.

At the end of the day, it was as suspected: The Governor told Martinez that, when Rick and co. would arrive in two days at noon, Martinez was to kill everyone but Michonne, so the Governor could enact his weird vengeance plot. “That’s a slaughter!” Milton exclaimed in horror. The Governor pooh-poohed this immediately. “No way we can all live side-by-side,” he said. Men (sigh). This was all very expected, but at least, hopefully, we’ll get some traitorous deeds by Milton (or even Martinez?) over the whole thing. They didn’t look too thrilled about the idea.

Rick, for his part, chose to put the fear of God in his batch of warriors: “I met this Governor. He wants the prison. He wants us gone, dead, for what we did to Woodbury. We’re going to war.” Alright, then. However, he then told Hershel a completely different story — one where he was considering trading Michonne for their supposed safety. Neither option is appetizing, but I could see why Rick would consider giving up the least friendly member of his tribe. Still — “I’m hoping you can talk me out of it,” he said.

So, that’s about it kids. Woodbury and the Grimes Gang are (still) at war, and Rick is considering killing Michonne. Something tells me that this is not going to happen. Oh, and Glenn and Maggie had sex. This wasn’t very important to the overall theme of the episode, but it let us know that these two crazy kids are totally in love again. It was a sweet, steamy moment, but it raises some questions. Question 1 — are they using protection? You’d think, after knifing a baby out of Lori (and spending time with Carl), that Maggie would never want to have children, ever. Question 2 — since they’re happy now, does that mean that one of them has to die in the finale? 

Overall, another solid outing for The Walking Dead. I really hope new showrunner Scott Gimple takes some cues from his predecessor, because the second half of this season has been largely superb. 

Follow Shaunna on Twitter @HWShaunna

[Credit: AMC]

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