All right, Glen!
Okay, maybe that’s not the right tone to strike when reviewing an episode as bleak and horrifying as this one, but his feral and triumphant one-on-one while cruelly locked in a room with a walker was exhilarating in a lot of ways, and it tied into something that’s becoming more obvious with each episode, especially this one.
We haven’t really had an opportunity to assess Rick’s group against the backdrop of the post-apoc world they live in. That’s because, up until this season, we haven’t had need to. The story in seasons one and two centered solely around Rick’s group and the only time they encountered outsiders, at Herschel’s farm or the nursing home survivors in Atlanta, those outsiders were even more insular than Rick’s group was, which cast them in a somewhat delusional light and, in Herschel’s case set the scene for their eventual disintegration, with the remaining members winding up integrated into the main cast. In other words, Herschel’s family encountered Rick’s group and considered them to be dangerous, amoral, and crazy – until reality came crashing down on them, killing most of them off, and leaving the few survivors no choice but to throw their lot in with Rick.
With this season, we’re seeing a much larger world come into contact with Rick’s group – and vice versa – the result of which is that we the viewers, by proxy, are starting to realize how much respect Rick and his group are owed. Glen took out a walker while bruised and tied up, something Merle surely didn’t expect to happen. The Governor is shocked (and intimidated) to find out that Rick’s small band was able to clear out the prison of walkers, something Merle, with good reason, told him was practically impossible to do. Michonne found herself begrudgingly (and characteristically, silently) looking on with respect as Rick, Darryl and Oscar easily took out a bunch of walkers on the road. Earlier, she silently noted with awe how much the group seems to care for each other as Carol was reunited with them all and wept over Rick’s loss. That may have been our favorite scene, not only in this episode, but in this whole season. It illustrated how far the group has come since the days of stupidity and constant bickering. And having Michonne witness it told us all we needed to know about how rare such familial bonds are in this world. The upshot of all of this is that it gives us hope that this group can survive; because the ferocity they display, as well as the love they have for each other, is clearly a very rare thing in this world, full of delusional farmers, dictators, and even hermits. Rick accomplished something the Governor couldn’t imagine doing – and he did it with a tiny force of people who all seem to deeply care for each other, unlike Woodbury, which is little more than a benign (on the surface, at least) dictatorship.
Even Andrea, although separated from Rick’s group for some time now, is smarter about the world they’re in than most of the people at Woodbury, who live in a state almost as delusional as Herschel’s when they first encountered him. It’s obvious why The Governor wants to conduct experiments to see if the walkers retain any sense of their former selves; because he has his daughter trussed up in a strait jacket, in the obscene hope that she’s still his daughter. But Andrea clearly thought the experiment was naive and ill-advised. We’re starting to really hate her character, though. We were willing to forgive a lot of her actions because she couldn’t really know what’s going on behind the scenes and because Woodbury is the first really safe place she’s encountered since the apocalypse started, but she’s seen enough to know that there’s something fundamentally wrong with Woodbury in general, if not the Governor specifically.
We loved this episode, but we did have one major problem with it. It’s lapsing into that Lost trap of not having characters share information with each other that they obviously need to share and that would alter the course of the story if they shared it. We get that Michonne is quiet and plays her cards close to her chest, but it really didn’t make much sense that she didn’t name Merle or inform the group that Glen and Maggie said his brother was back at the prison. Sure, there are reasons as to why she would keep that to herself, mostly having to do with trust, but why go to Rick’s group at all and why agree to returning to Woodbury with them without letting them know that fairly important point? And we’re not sure, but didn’t Andrea actually name some of the people she spent time with, when recounting her past to Michonne? Didn’t names like Rick, Glen, Maggie, Herschel, and Darryl come up at some point? Does Michonne not realize that the prison group is Andrea’s old group? We find that hard to believe. Thankfully, it looks like the shit is really gonna hit the fan come next week’s episode, when all of the information is finally going to be out on the table. What will Darryl do when he encounters his brother? What will Andrea do when she encounters Rick’s group? This is some seriously good stuff, and the potential for conflict and mega-drama has been building all season, right up this point.