Things are speeding up. After we got the new status quo set up in the previous episodes - Andrea in Woodbury, introducing us to the Governor, and the gang in the prison, minus some old and plus some new members - things are heading toward the inevitable confrontation between the group and the Governor. The focus of this episode was on Rick's state of mind, thankfully going back to normal, and on Michonne/Andrea. Since both storylines still are largely independent from each other, let's talk the prison first.
|There and back again|
Since the ringing phone set the cliffhanger last episode, it's only natural that we pick it up there. On the other end of the line is someone talking about "just dialing numbers" and telling Rick of a safe place. The Ricktator immediately jumps for it, begging the other, unknown person to take them in because "we're dying here". Not that this would be untrue, you know, but Rick's despair broke finally through the tough shell he erected around himself. If you thought that the phone was somewhat fishy, with being dead and all when you picked it up, you were right of course. Rick must have felt it somewhere inside, sending Hershel away to confront his demons alone. In the end, he reconsiled himself with what happened by talking to an imaginary Lori on the phone. Telling, by the way, that you would never recognize the other dead characters like Jaqui, and neither does Rick. They obviously never were that important, a fate currently shared primarily by Beth, whose sheer existence surprises you at times.
|Lacking a couch, a phone is the next best thing.|
So, Rick is back to normal, takes his babe in his arms (finally) and reunites with Carl. Until then, Daryl tried to console him by talking about the death of his own mother, which will surely have helped the boy. Sarcasm aside, it's good that Daryl keeps his shit together most of the time. He's becoming the anchor of the group, and I'm really glad he rescued Carol. Hope these two will finally get into a healthy relationship with each other. I'm also glad to see that Maggie didn't take too great a hit from Lori's demise and is still able to kiss Glenn. These two are very good for each other, clearly.
|Meet the daddy surrogate.|
In other news, we get the message reinforced that no one leaves Woodbury able to tell about it. The Governor really is tight with security. He's rather poor in character judgement, however. Merle is a useful tool for certain jobs, but seriously, sending him off in charge of anything is asking for trouble. Also, the Governor didn't exactly question his cheap-ass story about them being chased off by Walkers. It might be connected to his fucking Andrea (bound to happen), who happens to remind him of his dead wife and for who he surely already reserved a fishtank. Perhaps the one for Michonne which is now staying empty, I don't know.
|Only stable on the outside.|
Anyway, letting Merle stumble over Glenn and Maggie was a good move. Both immediately know that Merle was dangerous, and he was surely out to prove it. With him abducting the two to Woodbury and Michonne arriving at the prison, we finally get the link between both storylines, and Merle's abduction is the fuse to ignite tension from the get-go. That Michonne is now with the group guarantees their antagonism with the Governor, which is a clever move.
|It makes him even more sympathetic that he didn't instantly shot Merle, although he should have.|
The only thing I didn't really like about this ending twists was Michonne finding the prison. Ok, she runs through the "Red Zone", in which the prison seems to lie and which is verboten to the Woodbury people, explaining why they never found it before. But I think Michonne just staying put in the city would have been the clever move to make. Glenn and Maggie would have been missed anyway, and she knew from overhearing that Glenn and Maggie were with a group, obviously possessing vehicles. Striking out, injured as she was, just on a hunch were the camp might be seems a bit odd. Of course, it saves time for the narrative, but so far they didn't really seem in the need to cut corners there.