We last left on a crazy cliffhanger in which Rick took a phone call 10 months into the zombie apocalypse. And here I’ve been bad mouthing AT&T for their crappy service all this time! But before we find out if the call was from the International Space Station or other stronghold (can you imagine being trapped in outer space when the world ended?), we take a little trip through the woods.
Merle leads Bandana Guy, Leader Asian Guy, and the scared Red Shirt above the cut through the woods, looking for Michonne. Yeah, the Gov wasn’t going to let her just leave, come on. Merle calls it a “righteous public service” that they’re doing.
They find a zombie all cut up, but laid in a specific pattern. What the hell could it mean? Ol’ Red Shirt deduces it quickly: “GO BACK.” Arms make a G, legs the O, and an exposed back. It’s a “Bite-o-Gram,” Merle laughs. Yeah, laugh it up, fuzz ball.
Red Shirt freaks, so Merle gets tough on him, doing that “Hey, hey, now, we’re all in this together!” sort of trickery where you really are picking up that he’ll jam his knife hand into your eye socket if you don’t come around and fast. He asks the kid’s name just to redirect him, but can’t pronounce it and chooses to just call him “Neil.”
And that’s when Michonne gets the drop on them, literally dropping out of a tree, sword drawn, because she’s the baddest bad that ever badded. And yeah, Merle, she is gonna take on all four of you, because those other guys are wet behind the ear. Mostly because she just beheaded one and the jugular has some seriously powerful arterial spray and it can reach that disconnected ear.
Red Shirt is panicking and no help, so Merle starts firing and grazes Michonne’s leg. She takes off limp-running and manages to lose Merle in the woods. I love her. Even shot and limping she’s still twice the man Merle Dixon is.
Down in the boiler room, Rick is on the phone, where a woman’s voice says they’ve been randomly calling numbers since “it all started.” She won’t say where she is (and there are people with her) but they’re safe. Rick is all shook up and whispers, “What makes you safe?”
Well, they’re…away. From them. [Oh my god, the layers of that!] He tells her that he has a son, a newborn, that his group is good people. Can they be taken in? Please? They’ll help, they’ll be helpful… Worried she’s going to hang up he whispers fiercely, “We’re dying. We’re dying.”
She says she’ll call back in two hours and hangs up. We’ll come back to this point and what it means, so keep reading.
Carl, Daryl, Doc and Beth are in the kitchen, a rare moment of peace, when Rick comes in, obviously showered and now wearing fresh clothes. He wants to know if everyone is okay. He small talks about how many Walkers he killed, but he also makes a point to tell them he’ll handle clearing out the bodies on his own. They give him space because they assume he’s mourning (he is) but he really just wants to be alone for his phone call.
Merle heads back to Red Shirt Neil, who is on his knees freaking over the dead bodies. Those gun shots will have Walkers headed right for them, so they need to be on the move pronto. Merle has to give Red Shirt some tough love in the form of a boot to the chest to snap him out of it. ”This is some real serious shit we’re in,” he says. Cowboy up and let’s get the hell out of Dodge, kid.
The kid snaps out of it just in time for Merle to remind him of the Golden Apocalypse Rule: never let your guys turn. He knife-hands Bandana Guy in the face and waits for the kid to eye-stab the beheaded head of Asian Leader Guy. Merle nods at him for a job well done and gets on the move. Michonne isn’t running. She’s hunting. “And so are we.”
Merle Dixon is one scary bastard. But I have faith in Michonne, yes I do.
Back at Ten Penny Towers (*really? No Fallout fen reading?), Andrea tells the Gov that she gets their little late-night rodeos but it’s not a good activity. The world is brutal enough, right? Also, she wants a job, and she wants to be on the wall. She’s a good shot and wants to stay that way. Gov seems delighted by this. He’ll get someone to train her on a bow ASAP.
Rick stares at the phone, willing it to ring. He even picks it up to check the signal before freaking about breaking the connection and hanging it back up. I do not miss land lines, let me tell you. The phone rings immediately after, but it’s a man on the phone. He double checks that Rick wants to come where they are, then asks, “Have you killed anyone?”
The psychology of this is amazing, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself, in case you’re reading and not able to watch the show.
Rick is taken aback by the question and answers honestly: four. He gives the reasons why, not as excuses but as an explanation. And you can see that it hurts him, that he’s doing penance for those last two.
The man then asks him how he lost his wife. Personal info I didn’t mention says what?? He’s evasive when Ricks asks and instead wants to hear how his wife died. Rick is not ready to talk about that yet, says as much, and the man hangs up. Rick pitches an absolute fit, and I can’t blame him.
In Woodbury (I’m giving up on finding my zombie gamers, sigh), Andrea sits on the wall with a kid in a ballcap that’s too big, an ego even bigger, and a compound bow that’s as tall as the girl. This is Andrea’s teacher, or will be. The kid brags about her mad skills, throws some shade Andrea’s way, and tries to look bad ass by saying she killed her dad for the bow. Yeah, but he’d turned. And Andrea isn’t impressed; she killed her sister, so she knows first hand how much that sucks.
A Walker shows up and the girl says all smart-assed, “Watch this.” She shoots and misses. She shoots again and misses. Third shot is a mile wide and dog-legs left. Andrea jumps down the wall – the girl is hooting and hollering at her for breaking the rules – and gets up to the Walker, knocks him down and brain stabs it.
“What the hell was that?” the girl yells.
“That is how it’s done,” Andrea says, her smile as bland and secure as ever. Yeah, Red Dawn up there isn’t impressed with you because this isn’t a game, Andrea. (Good, because you would never level-up, Gimmie Cap.)
Doc visits Rick down in the boiler room, and let’s all marvel at an aged man such as he is healing so very quickly from having a leg amputated badly. He tries to small talk with Rick but what he’s really doing is assessing Rick’s mental state. He gives Rick praise for “lifting us up” as long as he did, and tells him that Lori loved him, she did. She said as much.
Rick swallows then says, “I got a call. On this phone.” He looks down at it. To Doc’s credit, he does not give Rick any indication that he thinks Rick is Section 8. He picks the phone up, though, and we hear static. Not a disconnected call, but static. Doc wants to stay with Rick, but Rick wants to be alone. Doc nods for about fourteen minutes, then gets up to leave. Rick needs to be alone, and Doc knows it.
Merle and Red Shirt (how do you pronounce that again?) are hunting Michonne. She comes out of nowhere again and slices Red Shirt’s chest as Merle pushes him out of the way. They cross knife-hand to sword, and after a tussle, he flings her sword out of the way. She drops down, kicks his balls, and as he leans forward in pain, she double-kicks his face, knocking him down on top of her. She shoves him off.
And now there are three Walkers bearing down on them suddenly. Merle tosses one aside (he’s seriously bad ass. Too bad he is really evil) and gets another one’s arms pinned, but her face is close and he’s winded. A huge one comes at Michonne, who scrambled across the leaf-strewn clearing to her sword and slices his belly open. His guts come spilling out all over her. She turns her head, spits out bile but manages to keep her nausea down.
Merle is being overtaken by that lady Walker with the chompy bite when Red Shirt stabs her through the back of the head, scribbling up her dead brain meat. Well, well, well! Merle dispatches the third one, finds the gut-spilled Walker but no Michonne. Because she is a freaking NINJA.
Carl, T-Dog 2.0, and Daryl move through a cell block to clear it out. They pass a partially blocked door that is being weakly banged against from the other side. Daryl figures those Walkers don’t have much fight in them, so they’ll catch them on the return trip. They’re not going anywhere, after all.
Daryl has pretty much taken Carl under his wing at this point. He starts to tell Carl about his mom, how she was a drunk bed-smoker. After Merle was gone, Daryl could safely play outside. One day he was hanging with some kids that had bikes when a siren wailed past. By the time Daryl caught up to everyone, he saw that it was his house. It burned to the ground, and nothing was left of his mom. Everyone thought that would make it easier on him but that just made it feel like it wasn’t real.
Carl is no dummy at this point and looks at Daryl with a dead-eyed gaze. ”I shot my mom. [...] It was real. Sorry about your mom.”
“Sorry about your mom, too” Daryl replies. He means it, because Daryl Dixon is awesome. And he just realized how grown up Carl really is for his age, as well.
The Gov sits at his desk making pen scratches on paper because he is a jacked up hombre when Andrea comes in. Yeah, yeah, she broke the rule but– But nothing. They no longer need her on the wall. She takes it for the dismissal it was, but then turns back.
“Look. I got a lady boner over the Ultimate Cage Fight, okay? I don’t like that I pop lady boners over that stuff, but there it is. And I probably like you, too, and I don’t want to like that either. But yeah. I like like you, whatever.”
The Gov is all, “That is so hot.”
Merle gives Red Shirt praise for stepping up and saving him. Red Shirt (how do you pronounce that, again?) is all gung ho, ready to go after Michonne now. Yeah, ease up, Hoss. Merle knows a dead duck when he cringes from one. Michonne was wounded and headed for the Red Zone. She’s as good as dead.
Uh, that is not good enough for Red Shirt, thank you very much. What, he’s supposed to just lie to the Gov about her being dead? Because he thought they were in “some serious shit,” or something.
“You’re right. Can’t cut corners on this one. How do you say your name again? Wait, you hear that bird?”
Red Shirt turns to look, Merle pulls his side arm whip fast and shoots him in the face. I’m pretty sure his name was pronounced “dead on arrival.”
Michonne is limping through the woods when a group of four Walkers come up on her. She cringes, reaching for her sword, but they walk past her, not interested. She looks down at herself and puts two and two together: the guts are masking her “Alive” scent. (A new fragrance from the people that brought you “Coma!”) I approve of this Season One continuity.
Down in the boiler room, the phone rings again. It’s the woman and she chastises Rick for not talking about how his wife died. “You should talk about it, Rick.” UH, HOW DOES SHE KNOW HIS NAME? When he asks her, she hangs up. He is beginning to freak out, now.
Michonne limps up to a store and takes cover behind a van as a car approaches. It’s Maggie and Glenn on a supply run for formula, but she doesn’t know who they are. (I wonder if Andrea talked about Glenn… I bet she did.) They are cute and adorable and give off “We are not bad people” vibes as they go into the store, but she stays put. This is a woman that gathers all the data and does not act impulsively, and this is why she is alive.
Gov is tending his garden (of lies!) as Andrea smiles blandly at the plants. So she’s flirting pretty hard core, is what I’m getting at. The more serene her face, the hornier she gets. Her face is practically frozen in a weak smile as the two flirt with each other.
“How does your garden grow?” she leers. (Her face doesn’t change, but I know she meant to leer.)
“Long and thick, m’lady. And here…things happen.”
“Other things happen,” she replies. “Like tongues and hands in new and exciting places,” and then they KISS and it’s gross (I think Andrea is beautiful, by the way, but he’s awful and she’s being dumb and good god, they are really going at it on the patio here.)
Maggie and Glenn come out of the store loaded down with formula, excited about the batteries and canned foods inside as Michonne looks on, still trying to decide what to do. AND THAT IS WHEN MERLE SHOWS UP, GUN DRAWN.
Holy… He’s glad to see Glenn, who does not return the joy. Everyone has guns drawn, but Merle puts his down, asking if Daryl made it. Yes, but no they will not take him back to their camp. Glenn isn’t stupid. But they forgot to see if Merle had a hidden second gun, he does, and ends up with Maggie in his lap, her own gun pressed to her temple.
What choice does Glenn have but to comply with Merle’s wishes? And Merle wishes to take them both back to his camp. Michonne, tense, watches everything. So she knows they know Merle, his name is Glenn, he’s from Andrea’s group, and Glenn was there shopping for a baby at a prison. That’s some good intel.
TD2, Carl and Daryl do a final sweep down a hallway when a Walker comes up on them and gets over-killed. (Overkill? I think it’s just enough kill.) Daryl pulls out a knife from its cheek (awesome effect) and realizes it’s Carol’s. Oh, dear.
Back in the boiler room the phone rings again. And this time Rick isn’t eager to answer it. When he does, he asks straight away how they know his name. ”Because we know you.” And he knows that voice. Lori. The world collapses in on him as he figures out what’s been going on. (Nice camera effect here with a telescoping lens.) All of the voices were people he’s known.
He’s grief stricken, sobbing quietly before hoarsely whispering, “I loved you. I couldn’t put it back together.” He didn’t keep his promise to keep her alive and it’s eating him up inside (to the point where he’s hearing voices and doing his own therapy via rotary phone.) He thought he would have enough time to fix things between the two of them, but he didn’t. And he loved her. Loves. He loves her, still.
She talks to him, bucking him up for the challenges ahead, and after she says “I love you,” the voice becomes garbled and static-y. He stands, carefully sets the receiver onto the cradle and tries to pull himself back together.
Point I want to make about Rick and his phone conversations: he’s crazy, sure, but he’s still The Sheriff through this whole thing. He’s still looking out to protect and serve. ”I have a son, a newborn.” and “We’ll help.” This is why he’s not going to turn into the Governor.
Hey, naked leg! Andrea and the Gov took their little party to the bedroom for some sheet tangos when there’s a knock at the door. Can’t a guy hide the salami without being… Grumbling, the Gov answers the door. It’s Merle, who smirks at his state of undress.
Merle quickly relays what “happened.” Everyone’s dead (“Gargulio?” the Gov asks, and Merle’s pissed that he knew that name.), and because they got caught up in a crowd of Walkers, there aren’t any trophies. But yep, Michonne’s dead. I just didn’t get her sword. But I did get two folks, one from the old Atlanta group. And they’re living high on the hog. I’ll find out where it is.
Gov wants to know one thing: do they know Andrea? Yep. And what the hell could that mean? Merle is dismissed; somehow the Gov still has it up and gets back to Andrea to finish what they started.
Rick joins Carl, Doc, Beth and the baby upstairs, ready to get back to the job. He’s looking penitent and eager to fix what he may have broken. He finally takes the baby in his hands and has a mini emotional outpouring, kissing her head and holding her to him. I think he’s going to make it, guys.
Daryl is by that weakly moving door, driving Carol’s knife into the ground over and over again, bracing himself. He’s pretty sure that Carol has turned and is behind the door and he does not want to have to do that job. It takes a lot of willpower on his part, but he rises to the occasion, throws the door open…and finds Carol, very much alive, but very weak. He scoops her into his arms and carries her out of there.
Rick carries the baby outside for some fresh air with the rest of the gang following when something by the fence catches his eye. He passes the baby off, walks through the inner ring of fencing, leaving the gate open–
Protip: Do not do this! Always keep your perimeter secure!
–and walks to the outer ring of fencing. Sure, there are loads of Walkers there, but there’s a woman that is definitely not a Walker. It’s Michonne, she has the basket of baby food, and she gives him a “please let me in” look. Seriously, how awesome is that woman?
Next week: Rick learns about the Gov! Daryl and Carol give each other matching hair cuts! Wait, that must have already happened. Glenn gets a face pounding and I am hoping for a Daryl/Merle showdown.