The most intriguing characters this season are the newbies: the Governor and Michonne. A close third: Merle. And we get plenty of all three this hour.
Plus (SPOILER ALERT), we find out that Carol is alive. This isn’t all that shocking despite the presumption on the part of Daryl & Co. that she didn’t make it. We did not see her die, plus the actress Melissa McBride who plays Carol was not carted out to the press the way IronE Singleton (T-Dog) and Sarah Wayne Callies (Lori) were last week.
It’s apropos that Daryl, who first notices Carol’s knife in a zombie’s head, finds her. They were close. She’s hiding in a closet, weak from lack of food and water. So weak, that she couldn’t even yell out. (Given the time line, it’s been almost a day since she disappeared.) He picks her up and takes her to safety, evoking the image of Richard Gere does Debra Winger at the end of “An Officer and a Gentleman.”
And this is the first time people from Woodbury and the prison intersect, setting up a inevitable clash in future episodes between Rick and the Governor and a reunion between brothers Daryl and Merle.
Let’s get to the action near Woodbury:
Michonne walked away from Woodbury in the last episode, but the Governor decided to send four minions (including Merle) to chase her down and kill her. This is done behind Andrea’s back. We cut to Merle’s crew in the woods trying to goad Michonne and her “little pig sticker” out of hiding. It works. She jumps out and quickly cuts one of Merle’s men in half and guts another. Merle pulls out a handgun and starts shooting at her, grazing her thigh at one point, slowing her down. Later, they reunite for more fighting but walkers come along (gunfire attracts them, as we know) so they have to kill them off. The guts of one walker fall all over Michonne. Blecch. She escapes again.
Merle has one surviving dude left, a newbie whose first name is Neil and last name a bit more complicated Gargulio. The guy knifed a walker that was going after Merle. Merle is grateful – momentarily.
Merle thinks that Michonne, given her injury and the direction she’s going, is all but dead, and decides to go back to Woodbury. Merle plans to tell the Governor that Michonne is dead to prop himself up as a hero. Newbie Neil says they should just tell the truth and better yet, continue to chase after her and really kill her. Instead, Merle just kills the dude. That shows Merle isn’t always the most logical thinker. Or maybe he is sort of scared of Michonne and was just wishful thinking about Michonne. (Message: do not under-estimate Michonne!)
Back at Woodbury, Andrea and the Governor are getting cozier. She offers to help and he places her on wall duty. Andrea shoots the breeze with a regular, who sees a walker and tries to kill it with arrows. Andrea gets impatient, jumps off the wall and knifes the walker, looking oddly exhilarated. She complains to the Governor about how barbaric the gladiator games were but later admits she kind of got into the violence herself. He likes it, too. They bond. They kiss. They go to bed together. Since this is basic cable, not premium, we get a hint of the Governor’s posterior and a bit of Andrea’s leg but no more.
Glenn and Maggie, our lovey-dovey prison couple, go for another baby formula run and break into a store that has plenty. Michonne sees them, hears them talking about the prison. Then she remains hidden as Merle “reunites” with Glenn. Glenn and Maggie pull guns on him and even after Glenn recognizes Merle, he keeps his gun trained on him. He instinctively knows Merle is not to be trusted. Merle asks about his brother Daryl. Glenn confirms Daryl is alive. Merle wants to see him. Glenn said they could get him if he just stays and waits. Merle isn’t too pleased with that. He doesn’t like to be questioned.
So he shoots out the back window of their vehicle, then sticks a gun on Maggie’s head. He figured correctly that she and Glenn are a couple because Glenn quickly accedes and drives to Woodbury as a hostage.
We don’t see where Glenn and Maggie are taken once in Woodbury, but we see Merle tell a twisted version of what happened to the Governor. Merle’s take: Michonne killed Tim and the other two, then he claimed ot kill Michonne. They plan a cover story for the regulars. He asks where is Michonne’s sword, which would have been good proof that she IS dead. The Governor is a little suspicious (understandably) of Merle’s story. Naturally, Merle also leaves out that he killed Gargulio. Of course. But he also mentions the two hostages and promises to find out where they are based, without mentioning his brother’s status.
Back at the prison, we learn that Oscar likes slippers, Axel is oddly absent, Hershel still feels his missing leg and is grateful Rick saved him, Daryl’s mom died in a house fire likely caused by a lit cigarette in bed, and Rick is hallucinating big time.
He keeps thinking the phone is ringing and that some group is trying to find folks. But they won’t say who they are. Later, they seem to know his name. Eventually, “Lori” is heard on the phone. He, at least in his mind, is able to bring closure with Lori by telling the ghost over the phone how much he loves her. Lori, ghost edition, tells him to take care of Carl and the baby.
Rick comes back to the group, revived, if not exactly cured, resolved to be the leader again. He holds the baby while Beth (sorry, no dialogue this hour!), Hershel and Carl follow him into the courtyard outside. Soon after, he notices someone who isn’t as zombie-like as the others: Michonne! Yes, Michonne figured out the zombies don’t even notice her because she’s camouflaged by zombie gook. So she stares at him through the fence surrounded by walkers. He stares back in bewilderment.