Like any over-amped "Walking Dead" freak, I've been dying to get back to Woodbury to see what's going to go down after all hell broke loose in the Governor's burg during the midseason finale. And now, FINALLY, we resume.
And we resume right where we left off -- with Merle and Daryl locked in a "fight-to-the-death" brawl in the Woodbury thunderdome as the bloodthirsty Governor and his minions egg them on. Somehow, we don't think this is the kind of reunion the Dixon brothers had in mind.
The Governor promises to let the winner go free, but will the brothers really duke it out? It appears so as Merle (of course) strikes the first vicious blow. Is he that cold? That heartless? For a few moments we are led to believe that he is. Then this:
"Follow my lead, little brother," Merle whispers over a fallen Daryl. "We're going to get out of this right now."
Moments after a couple of leashed zombies are brought into the ring (just to make things more interesting), Rick and the gang start firing upon the scene. There's smoke, chaos and bloodshed, and amid it all, the brothers escape with Rick's little band of warriors.
But do they really want Merle around for the ride? When they rendezvous with Glenn and Michonne in the woods, there is instant tension. After all, they both have serious issues with the demented red neck.
Merle informs them that Andrea and the Governor have become a couple ("They're as snug as two little bugs"). No
Daryl argues that his bro should be allowed to tag along ("He ain't a rapist"). Rick resists, but Daryl holds firm. "No him, no me," he says and he breaks off with Merle, despite Rick's passionate protests. Our group has just lost a very valuable member.
In the meantime, Glenn spots a zombie and beats the hell out of him, violently bashing in his head until it's zombie pulp. Clearly, he's taking out his aggression for what happened when he and Maggie were mentally and physically tortured by the Governor. And he's incensed that Rick didn't kill the Gov when he had a chance.
"You don't know what he did to her!" he snarls. " ... I'm done!"
Meanwhile, back at the prison, the new arrivals -- led by Tyreese -- are trying to ingratiate themselves to Herschel and the others. But Hershel warns him not to get too comfortable. That they've got a tightly knit group and Rick isn't open to outsiders.
This prompts a member of Team Tyreese to take the leader aside and suggest they attempt an overthrow before Rick gets back. He wants to take out the kid (Carl) and the woman (Carol). He thinks this will be easy pickings. But the sensitive Tyreese is against this plan. "These are decent people," he says.
And then there's the scene in Woodbury, where many of the citizens have become unruly. They want out. They don't think this place is a safe haven anymore. In the meantime, the barricade has been compromised and a few walkers have streamed through. Andrea helps to vanquish them, but in the process, a citizen has been bitten and is writhing on the street in pain.
Some of the townspeople plead for Andrea (or anyone) to help the man. But before anyone can make a move, the Governor bolts out of his house with a gun and shoots him dead. Clearly, the unhinged Governor isn't bothering to hide it anymore. He's wearing his evil cold-heartedness on his sleeve.
And Andrea is wondering who this man is. The man with whom she shared a bed. She's stunned to learn that he had Glenn and Maggie here, and even more stunned that the Governor and his men were shooting at her friends. Why did you keep this from me, she wonders.
"You're just a visitor here. Just passing through," he replies.
"Don't push me away," she insists.
But Andrea remains in Woodbury, much to our chagrin. When will this woman come to her senses?
Later, back at the prison, Rick and the troops reunite with the others and Hershel commends Rick on a job well done. ("You came through like always."). Hershel also tends to Glenn's injuries and notices there's something different about the young man. An edge. An anger. He broaches the subject with his daughter Maggie.
"You two seem to be holding something back. Don't disappear on me," he urges.
Meanwhile, it's starting to set in with everyone that Daryl's departure has left the group weaker and more vulnerable. Hershel tells Rick about the Team Tyreese and suggests that they could use some reinforcements, especially if the Governor and his people raid the prison. But Rick, who has a shaky grip on sanity these days, isn't buying it. Yes, he goes to meet the newcomers, but when Tyreese holds out his hand, Rick declines to shake it. "I can't be responsible" for you people, Rick tells him.
"If you turn us out, you are responsible," Tyreese replies.
Hershel urges Rick to reconsider, but the sheriff is adamant. And very much on edge. Herschel tells Rick that he's making a mistake -- that he needs to start "giving people a chance." But this just makes Rick more edgy and jumpy. Suddenly, he gazes upward and the ghostly image of a woman appears from on high. Lori?
"Why are you here? What do you want from me?" Rick blurts, growing more agitated with each word. "I can't help you! Get out!"
And with that, Rick pulls his gun and Tyreese and his friends quickly scatter. Sadly, our hero appears to be descending into madness and there's nothing anyone can do to pull him back.