My parents live on Woodbury, Long Island. A golf course. A 24-hour diner or two. A decent Jewish deli or ten.
Then there’s the Woodbury of “The Walking Dead,” episode 8. Once an eerily calm refuge from the zombie apocalypse where a decent pastrami sandwich is probably hard to find, things went a bit haywire Sunday night during the fall mid-season finale. Hostage escape! Loose heads! A painful eye injury! Tear gas! Ridiculous amounts of gunfire! And terrorists! At least that’s how the Governor phrased them.
Best part: An angry Governor tells the entire town of Woodbury that he places the blame on the whole mess on… Merle Dixon! And yes, it was technically Merle’s fault this whole mess happened. But Merle didn’t do anything specifically to undermine the Governor’s leadership but did conveniently lie to the Governor about killing Michonne. (Whoops!) But he did want to see his brother again and brought Maggie and Glenn into the city to get the ball rolling. Then the Governor pulls his trump card: a captured Daryl Dixon! The two brothers are reunited in not the most optimal circumstances. And now the townsfolk are chanting “Kill them!”
Let’s wind back a bit to see how we got there:
The opening scene features a group of five people we’ve never met before who are trying to get away from zombies. One gets chomped on. Bad news. They know she’s going to turn. But they drag her into the prison anyway because her significant other can’t give her up quite yet. The leader appears to be a black dude named Tyrese, who was heavily featured in the comics as Rick’s right hand man. With T-Dog gone, Rick needs more man power soon, doesn’t he?
Later, Carl finds the crew fending off walkers in the prison, shoots a couple and leads them to safety. Then he locks them in a separate room. He learned well from his dad to be suspicious of newcomers. (And yes, we get a creepy moment where creepy Axel starts hitting on 17-year-old Beth and Carol tries to ward him off. He thinks she’s a lesbian. She says no. He’s interested. She? Not so much. During a very serious episode, this was the closest to comedy relief.)
But let’s get to the A story. Rick, Michonne, Oscar and Daryl enter Woodbury through a weak spot in the defenses, courtesy of Michonne. She splits off from them as they try to find Maggie and Glenn.
She enters the Governor’s apartment to wait for him. She wants him dead. She hears a noise where Penny, the Governor’s daughter is kept. (If she’s so noisy, why haven’t others heard her?) Michonne sees her. Her head is covered. She thinks Penny is not a zombie at first and starts acting oddly motherly. Then she lifts the bag off her head. Oops. Penny is a zombie after all.
Michonne’s about to kill her when the Governor pops up and says, “Don’t hurt her!” He still loves his daughter and wants a manifestation of her, even if it’s just a zombie Penny. He doesn’t want to lose her. “No need for her to suffer,” he says, begging, pleading.
“She doesn’t have needs,” Michonne says, incorrectly. (Zombies do need blood.)
So Michonne kills Zombie Penny through the throat.
He goes nuts, attacks Michonne. They go at each other. He bangs her into one of the fish tanks holding loose heads, shattering it. A zombie head rolls to the ground, teeth biting. He has her in a lock but she reaches for a glass shard and stabs his left eye. Ouch! Then Andrea pops up with a gun and she is shocked to see Michonne, who holds her sword up to her. They are at a stand off momentarily. Then Michonne drops her sword. Somehow, Andrea lets her get away, off camera. (Andrea also asks the Governor later about the zombie heads and he says he’s using them prepare for worse times ahead or some odd, lame excuse.)
Meanwhile, Glenn finds out Maggie didn’t get raped by the Governor. He’s relieved in a sense but still angry. Hee knows their lives are in danger. So he gives her a shank, a very cool shank. He rips off the right arm of the zombie he killed episode 7 and rips a bone out of it for Maggie to use as they exit. He’s in pretty bad shape but when they exit the room to await their death, Glenn starts tackling Merle while Maggie kills some other dude in the throat.
But other Woodbury security folks show up. Things are not looking good for Maggie and Glenn. But Rick, Daryl and Oscar hear them and all the ruckus enables them to locate Glenn and Maggie. They use tear gas to extricate the couple. But now they have to figure out a way to get out of Woodbury.
The townsfolks are on full alert. The Governor tells Andrea to do door-to-door duty instead of join the armed staff to try to kill the invaders. She tries to convince him otherwise but fails. He obviously does not want her to find out the intruders are her folks. Rick & Co. do eventually find a way to get out – except for Daryl and Oscar. At one point, Rick thinks he sees Shane and hesitates shooting the guy. But then the dude kills Oscar, forcing Rick to shoot the guy, who obviously is not Shane. (Oscar’s out. Tyrese is in? I guess we always figured Oscar wasn’t long for this show, eh?)
Michonne meets back with Maggie, Glenn and Rick, minus Daryl. They are suspicious of her disappearance but Rick grudgingly gives her props for leading them to Maggie and Glenn once he takes away her sword.
Anyway, the Governor is reeling over losing his eye and his Penny. He then meets the townsfolks and conjures a story that isn’t remotely true while creating a veneer of vulnerability.
“What can I say. There hasn’t been a night like this since the walls were completed. I thought we were past it, past the days when we all sat huddled and scared in front of the TV during the early days of the outbreak. The fear we all felt then. We felt it again tonight.
I failed you. I promised to keep you safe.
Hell, look at me. I should tell you we’ll be okay. That we’re safe. Tomorrow we’ll bury our dead and move on. But we won’t. I can’t. I’m afraid. That’s right. I’m afraid of terrorist who want what we have. [There's the fake story to set up what's coming up next. Most of the townsfolk had no idea he had taken two people hostage, found out where they're from and plans to exterminate them. Fact: the "invaders" were merely there to get them, not to get what they have.]
“They want to destroy us. Worse because one of those terrorists is one of our own.’ [Gasp!]
He then points to Merle. Merle grimaces. His buddies moments before point guns at him.
“A man I trusted. He led them here. He let them in.” [In a sense, that's true but not really.]
He brings out another guy and it’s… Daryl!
That’s when the crowd goes crazy. The brothers look confused, ready to die, because it sure looks like they’re doomed, doesn’t it?
We won’t know what will happen for at least two months because the show won’t be back until February. Another solid, action-packed episode with a great cliffhanger.
Episode 7 last Sunday was typical in terms of ratings this season: 10.43 million and 5.4 18-49 rating.