So for the past week I have been running through every issue of The Walking Dead comic, and I have to say, the folks on TV are getting off easy. The comic is one of the most brutal things I have ever read, at some parts I found it really hard to continue, as a father, the stuff involving the children in the comic really gets to me. That being said, this was actually a great episode that finally picks up some of the steam that had seemed to whither since the mid season started, so lets get to it.
Rick calls a meeting with Herschel and Daryl to tell them that he plans to hand Michonne off to the Governor, and though they follow Rick’s lead, Daryl and Herschel disagree with the call, but this is a Ricktarship, so they follow. I loved Daryl’s simple line here “This ain’t us.” Of course its not, but at the same time Rick has had to shoulder all the tough decisions, is this is just one more to add to the list. Rick also knows they will need Merle’s help, and I thought it was big of him that he insisted on talking to Merle alone to get him on board. The group meanwhile is setting up barricades outside the prison, which Rick thinks was a great idea, and Daryl offers up that the idea was Michonne’s. Way to rub it in Daryl. My overall concern with Rick wanting to hand her over isn’t the act itself, its that Rick was stupid enough to believe that the Governor would just let them be after. Come Rick, after everything you have been through, you should know better than that. The Governor will still come to kill you, and everyone else, except you’d be down one bad ass, sword-slinging soldier.
Carol and Merle have an interesting moment where Carol finally asks if Merle is with them or against them. Merle notices the changes Carol has been through, every single one of them have been through a lot, and just about everyone in that prison is tough as nails, Carol is no different. I think Merle finally figured out that these people are no push over’s who are going to put up with Merle and his B.S. Daryl and Glenn finally a chance to talk about Merle, and Daryl asks Glenn to show some forgiveness. This was another great scene that played out in a powerful way. Glenn’s problem with Merle isn’t about what Merle did to him, it was about Merle bringing Maggie to the Governor, and what happened from there. I love that mentality; Glenn doesn’t care about what happens to him, he just wants to keep his loved ones safe. We also got a nice moment from the comics with Glenn asking Herschel for Maggie’s hand in marriage, and Glenn procuring the engagement ring.
Merle and Daryl have their own moment as well which ends with Daryl telling Merle that he just wants his brother back. You can see on Merle’s face how heavy that weighed on him. Maybe that factors into what happens next. Merle decided to take Michonne to the Governor himself, knowing that Rick wouldn’t be able to do it, but seeing it as his chance to save Daryl, and possibly the others, from the Governor. He kidnaps Michonne and takes her out on the road. Meanwhile, Rick has a change of heart due to an appearance from Lori, but he soon discovers that it’s too late as he can’t find Michonne or Merle. I like that Rick finally realizes he’s not making a good call, I just wish he had been thinking like that all along. Daryl decides to track down Merle alone, possibly feeling a bit responsible for Merle’s actions.
Merle and Michonne have some great moments on the road; such as Merle not wanting to admit there’s some good in him, which Merle counters by saying that he’s killed sixteen men since the whole thing started. That scene at the hotel was also pretty intense as Michonne is tied up while walkers start to move in on them while Merle is distracted trying to hotwire a car. Michonne makes some nice killed even though she’s tied up, and Merle proves that even he’s a crappy person, he’s also pretty bad ass too. Then it happens, Merle’s redemption. He lets Michonne go, with her sword, and decides to take on the Governor himself. It seems that the talks with Daryl and Michonne have weighed on Merle, and he finally decides to do the right thing for once. His plan for taking out the Governor was brilliant! Not only is Merle bad ass, but he’s also a great tactician. Eventually though, Merle is overwhelmed, and the Governor puts a harsh beat down on him.
Daryl catches up with Merle, and its not good, Merle is now a walker. This was one of the toughest scenes of this season emotionally, and its played perfectly as Daryl knows exactly what he must do, but it still kills him inside. Who would’ve thought that a great emotional scene would be played out by Daryl and involve Merle? Rick also holds a meeting with his group where he lays out the deal he was offered from the Governor and why he hid it from everybody. He relinquishes his Ricktatorship, realizing that he can’t keep making all the tough calls for everybody, and they must decide as a group to stay and fight or to flee. Rick bares so much of the responsibility and you can see how it crushes him. In the comics he states after losing just about everybody, that he always made decisions based on what he thought was best for his family, not the group, but he’s realized that keeping the group alive is what’s best for his family. It looks like TV Rick as figured that out well before everybody dies, and I think it will make him a much better person than his comic counterpart. Michonne finally makes it back, and it will be interesting to see how she feels about Rick once she is back inside the prison.
Overall this was a very strong episode with some great character evolvement and interactions. I’ve always said that the best thing about the show is that is about people, not a zombie apocalypse, and this episode was a perfect example of that. Rick, Daryl and Merle all grew from this episode, Merle gets his final redemption and goes out as a hero, and Rick and Daryl I think will become even better people going forward. The only shame is that it took this long into the second half of the season for the show to deliver these kind of moments. This week was definitely an actor’s showcase.
4.5 out of 5 nerds
You can follow Christopher on Twitter @AUDone44 and The Nerd @nerdfollowing