Poor, poor Glenn. He just gets beaten the shit out of him, but to see the once so reckless runner stand through it so tough is worthy some cheers. We get a little remainder on just what a fucking, disgusting asshole Merle really is. A bully if there ever was one. But Glenn suffered through all of the beating, while Maggie, seperated only by a thin tin wall, heard everything that went on and was forced to use her imagination to paint a picture of what was happening exactly. That placement of hers surely wasn't accidental.
|Because nothing shows you're a nice guy more than threatening to cut noses off.|
Merle shows that he is not only an asshole, but a self-absorbed asshole, too. It's nothing to him that they came back to rescue him, that Glenn and T-Dog both had come back. He just brushes it aside. For Merle, it counts for nothing. But don't be fooled; he would beat Glenn bloody even if he had pushed Rick over the edge back down into the street back then and shattered the cuffs personally. It's just who Merle is, and it seems astonishing that the Governor still seems not to have a full grasp on his personality.
|Do you want to be near people teasing you with a knife?|
He knows very well how to exploit a relationship, however. It quickly becomes apparant that having a relationship is dangerous in this new world, and Michonne's proven right about her loner strategy in terms or practicability. She also demonstrates, just by her looking at the group when they reunite with Carol or when they dispose of the zombies in their path, that she quickly grasps the mutual respect, affection and professionalism that they display now. For the viewer, it's such a stark contrast to all the stupid talking, hiding stuff and constant fighting over trifles in season 2. Seen through Michonne's eyes, we get a clear picture of what happened.
|If you need to join a group, Andrea, pick this one.|
To drive the point home, the Governor is clearly impressed by what he learns when Maggie finally breaks. It becomes clear that the safety of Woodbury kept the people in it from reality, just like Hershel was in season 2. The experiments Milton conducts on the Walkers are old news for the group for months now: Walkers have no memory. It's straining belief a bit that Milton really never saw anyone rise before. Under what stone did he hide? It's testament to the Governor's skills in keeping his little illusion together, that`s for certain.
|Please, he has a personal interest in the research.|
The Governor also gives us some nice realpolitik in a zombie world: when people clear the prison in the Red Zone, you don't applaud them for their bravery and skill at arms. Like when they stumbled into the military convoy, the Governor recognizes a threat to his authority when he sees one, and my initial assumptions about his motivations have proven true. People like Rick and his gang are potentially dangerous. Their skill is one thing; the other is their determination. To clear an overrun factility with just ten people was deemed clearly impossible by Merle, and it means quite a bit that he comes off as the reasonable one in that conversation. Seen under that light, the transformation we witnessed in the pilot - from soft, talky group to effective zombie killers - is even more impressive.
|You know Merle. Reasonable. Tactful. Thinking it through. That kinda guy.|
All this carefully crafted and well written and acted stuff shouldn't distract us from a rather annoying thing they do. Let's call it pulling a little "Lost". In two instances, a character clearly possesses information that would be rather helpful for anyone involved in the moment and doesn't even consider sharing it. First, we have Andrea, who takes part in an experiment that she clearly knows is stupid. That alone you could shrug off as typically Andrea, but she really knows better. A lead scientist from the CDC told her so in episode 6, season 1. She got a video presentation for it. Explained for dummies. Why doesn't she tell Milton what she knows about the brain functions and reanimation?
|Remember that? I do, and I don't live in that freaking world.|
The other thing is Michonne. Initial reservations, granted. She doesn't want to spill all the beans on the table before she knows just what to think of the group. But after they left the eremite's hut (just a very strange encounter, that one) there was really no reason at all not to tell them "Hey, in Woodbury, there's this crazy guy, Merle, the brother of Daryll here". Because when your plan is to infiltrate Woodbury, the last thing you want is the dangerous guy with the crossbow dumbstruck by the encounter or, worse, changing sides because "blood is always blood". The Governor's words, not mine. It leaves the awful feeling that these kinds of keeping stuff to yourself will become plot points, and these are the worst kind of plots imaginable.