Friends, fellow survivors, MRE enthusiasts: welcome back. Remember how things were falling apart for our group before the hiatus? Well, they’re still hanging in the balance. Thank god we still have Daryl and Michonne to hold–
Mrrphgrl. <– the sound of me jamming my fist into my mouth.
In Tenpenny Towers, aka Woodbury, aka “Home Sweet Locked Up And You Only Leave In A Body Bag But Don’t Actually Put That On The Fliers Because There Goes Our Free And Forced Labor Home” we find the Governor holding another Thunderdome-NASCAR extravaganza with brother pitted against brother.
In this corner! Daryl Dixon, heart of gold, winner of Most Grizzled Survivor 2012 (until ousted by Carl Grimes after shooting his own mother post delivery), and wearer of artfully distressed sleeveless tops – the better to shoot a crossbow with.
In the opposite corner! Merle Dixon, owner of the prototype to Cyberdyne’s Knife Hand (patent pending), dirty mouthed, taunter of women, resident asshole because it’s all he knows how to be because his mama didn’t love him.
And…. Fight! Merle has to prove he still loves the town he’s trapped in, and that he loves the Gov even more; Daryl just has to stay alive. He’s still shell shocked to find that his brother is alive, though, and lets Merle get a few good licks in. Merle has a plan, though, and it’s to get the two of them out.
Watching all of this is a smirking Gov, a few townspeople with zombies on Nana Grabbers (those hard candies are always on the top shelf, and Jimmy just loves them… There’s gotta be a better way!), some horrifically handled extras (stop pointing and saying “YEAH!” and “GET ‘EM!” ) and Andrea, who is perpetually perplexed, as evidenced by her slightly less-bland smile.
Merle fakes out everyone, helps Daryl up, and Rick and company show up with some semi-automatic covering fire (taking out Haley, the chick that was going to “teach” Andrea how to shoot) and some smoke bombs just to confuse everything and give it that ’80s Metal Video Vibe. Daryl whips a crossbow out of one of the Goons hands and our heroes escape to fight another day. [Even though everyone is horrified to see Merle alive and kicking.]
And their leaving produces a nice gap in the wall, open enough for some Walkers to squeeze through. (Side note: a guy I once worked with on a commerical -who is a professional stunt man – is the Walker that busts through. He’s actually in the episode as three different people, two of them walkers! WTG, Craig!)
They travel all night to get to Glenn and Michonne by morning, who both see Merle and promptly flip their shit for good reason. Merle, a disgusting asshole, immediately feels confident that his baby brother will protect him and uses the opportunity to be as disgusting as possible as he delivers some exposition: Andrea is alive. Michonne and Andrea possibly had a love affair (one can hope). Michonne had some pet Walkers on chains. Andrea is now taking it [the Peen] from the Gov on the regular, and she likes it all doggie style, from what everyone hears and man, who knew she was a screamer…
Rick is angry to hear all of this, because that’s his current default setting. But if I may: RICK: STOP GESTURING AT PEOPLE WITH YOUR GUN. A) The safety’s off and B) you’re a damn trained officer of the law, and you know better. Also, he keeps holding his hand high and pointing his gun downwards, and I don’t understand why. It’s…weird.
I do approve of him knocking Merle out with the butt of his gun, however. Sometimes Merle needs help shutting his yap.
At the prison, the new group of Alan, Ben, Sascha and Tyreese are being looked over by Doc Hershel and we learn their story: Tyreese and Sascha had a crazy (read: prepared) neighbor with a bunker and supplies, which is where they stayed until a month or so ago, hooking up with others. About 25 in total. Now it’s just the four of them, because that’s life in the Big After. On the move means being picked off by Walkers. So if it pleases the court, they’d very much like to stay put in the prison and put in their fair share of work because they’re good folks. Well, Tyreese and Sascha are.
Interesting thing I want to point out: so now Beth and the baby are allowed around Yosemite Sam, who made it clear he’s looking for some nookie after being locked up for a long time? Also important is Hershel saying that the new group staying isn’t his choice, no matter how good they seem.
Speaking of who makes decisions, Rick is being told by Maggie and Glenn how very much Merle can go fuck himself. In fact, they’ll all go back to the prison and leave the entire world just for Merle, in order for him to have enough space in which to fuck said self. AND THEN THE WORST THING EVER: Daryl says where Merle goes, he goes.
DARYL BARTHOLOMEW JACKSON RODRIGUEZ DIXON YOU LISTEN TO ME. Your brother is a dirty rotten SOB that made you feel terrible as a person and unworthy of anything good in life, and you have something amazing back at the prison where people respect you, listen to you, and have the hots for you (I AM TALKING ABOUT MYSELF. Okay, and Carol.) And you’re going to- NO SIR. No.
Rick is right there with me, as is Glenn, who points out that they are Daryl’s family, not Merle. Not in any way that counts.
But Merle’s hooks were worked deep into Daryl before any of this End Times stuff happened, and Daryl even says as much. And he wants Rick to say goodbye to Carol (who he knows will understand) and to send a wry “waddyagonnado?” grin to Carl for him, and teach Lil Asskicker how to throw overhand and get her on a compound bow as soon as she starts walking, and tell her that first bow is from her Uncle Daryl.
And then he turns to look at the rising sun, thinking to himself that shucks, it’s all gonna end for us all one day, maybe today is the day he bites it. And he smiles to himself, because ain’t that just the way? AND THEN HE LEAVES WITH HIS ASSHOLE BROTHER, TAKING HIS BEAUTIFULLY TONED AND EXPOSED ARMS WITH HIM, AND I CHEW THROUGH MY OWN FACE FROM MY SORROW AND RAGE.
Rick, about in tears because that’s his new brother! That’s his Shane without all the “Hey, I porked your wife, U MAD?” shit, and he is at his limit, people. RICK IS AT HIS LIMIT. He is officially moving into the red, full throttle. He points to Michonne, who he doesn’t know and doesn’t trust – but he SHOULD – and tells her that once they patch her up, she’s out of their sight.
(And Michonne looks shell shocked because she can tell these are good people, she knows she’d be safe, she’d benefit the group, they’d help HER and she’s pretty scared in that moment and I want to curl her into my arms and shush her and soothe her brow and then ride off in the sunset to kill dead things with her because she is my favorite.)
Tyreese and his group carry Donna’s body outside to bury her, when Alan and Ben – the asshole father and son team with shit for brains in the survival department – suggest that they could “take” Carol and Carl down by the gate and get their weapons. Um, dummies? Those two look soft, but trust me. They’d clean your clocks. And then kill you. (They’re nice like that, with the heirloom cleaning. Also, a good time piece is a fun novelty to have in a post-apocalypse world.)
Tyreese and Sascha are shocked at how quickly things are deteriorating with these two, and use themselves as shields when Beth and Yosemite Sam arrive with pickaxes and shovels to help dig a grave. Yeah, those two? Those two could be taken down, but not Carl and Carol. And I seriously am digging Tyreese. He’s good people. (And Sascha seems kind. I like that, too.)
Rick’s group hits a road block; they climb out to move a stalled truck (two Walkers up the road, two in the woods and they’re closer – this is the world we live in now, and you have to pay attention to that stuff) where Glenn properly loses his shit and head-stomps a fifth walker, who was chilling out in the cab of the truck. Now he’s chilling out without brain matter on the tarmac.
Interesting note in this scene: Glenn talks over Maggie, forcibly shutting her out of the conversation with Rick, because Glenn is pissed that Rick didn’t kill the Governor. It’s hinted at pretty hard that more than just some boob-exposure happened with her and the Gov, which is disturbing. And it’s disturbing that Glenn is pretty much shutting out “the little lady” from defending herself or saying what she wants to have happen, but don’t take this to mean I’m angry with Glenn. I think this is a pretty accurate portrayal of how a young dude reacts to his lady’s attack. Guys? Don’t do this. Especially not when the woman in question is clearly handling her own business as Maggie is.
Rick’s whole point in the end is this: So, what? We let Merle come back to the prison? That should go over well… Rick had to get Daryl, and yeah it sucks that he’s gone, but could any of them have walked away without trying to save him? Exactly. Life sucks, and then you die. Hopefully not today.
Speaking of the Gov, he’s sulking while the town goes to hell in a handbasket. (Any of y’all watch Teen Wolf? Scott McCall’s mom – Melissa Ponzio – was a prominent featured extra in the outdoor scenes as Karen. Aww, I love seeing actresses I like working steadily.)
So the folks of Woodbury want the eff out of town. It’s all falling apart in their eyes, and the armed guards are threatening them with auto-weapons, because they’re jackasses with power. You don’t LEAVE town, people. Not unless you’re in a body bag, did no one read the brochure? Andrea tries to settle everyone down, which doesn’t work. Especially as two Walkers are chasing down some Woodburians right there on Main Street, bold as brass, and they even catch one dude, nomming him up real good.
Andrea kills one and stares at the dying man all, “What do I do?” WOMAN I AM AT MY LIMIT WITH YOU. The Gov hissy-stomps over, shoots the dude in the face, and sulk-flails away, looking every bit like a ten year old told to put a glass in the sink instead of going to play with his friends. Andrea gapes at him because seriously? This is the gross, unattractive, awful man she’s falling for because she is also the worst? Eh. They deserve each other.
Carol and Carl, keeping guard, reminisce over noise pollution that didn’t involve cicadas and the moans of the undead when Rick’s group pulls up. Carol immediately sees that Daryl isn’t there, and Rick explains why.
“He left? Daryl left? Is he coming back?” [HE BETTER.] Rick offers what comfort he can and Carol visibly steels herself from heartache. Yeah, she’s come a long way from being bitch-slapped by Ed. Also, I’m happy to see Carl pull and lock the second gate shut.
Protip: Always protect your physical defenses before crying over broken hearts.
Andrea barges into the Gov’s suite (with a Sheriff’s bag filled with guns, what? Is that Rick’s?) to give him a proper tongue lashing. Actual verbal tongue lashing, not that kinky shit they got up to last night and pardon me while I throw up for a thousand years because NO SIR. The Gov is mad because he had to change his dirty bandage all by himself and that means he didn’t get a banana sticker that called him a Brave Soldier and didn’t get a coin for the candy machine out front and he’s mad that everyone is ruining his fun. He had a good thing going in the little fake town he built out here, and Andrea’s stupid-face friends RUINED IT.
Well, if it’s ruined for him, then it’s ruined for everyone. NO SOUP FOR ANYONE. Oh, and Andrea, he trapped Glenn and Maggie and held them under duress and didn’t tell her about it because he was too busy tapping her hot ass while they were being tortured, and he’s known Daryl was there, and her friends killed everyone, including Garguilio (I laughed, I can’t help it) and she smells and her hair is stupid and her clothes are stupid and Neener.
Andrea, because she is the worst, gets mad at him FOR THE WRONG REASON. ”Don’t push me away! Not now!” WOMAN, CAMERA TWO.
Andrea? You are pretty. You’re in your forties and you look amazing but honey, your brain is stupid and I hate it. This is a gross man with a rotting daughter in a closet, a wall of fish tanks that hold the heads of his enemies, a man who just told you that he kidnapped your friends, pitted them against one of his “best friends” with the hopes that they’d all die, and said he did all of this while bending you over the sofa which is your cue to LEAVE AFTER CUTTING OFF HIS BALLS AND FEEDING THEM TO HIM. I hate you.
Beth sees Rick’s come home and greets him with a big ol’ smile and shirt tied at her navel and a welcome home kiss on the cheek as she proudly displays her baby-holding skills. [ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED: FARMER'S DAUGHTER!]
Honey? It’s been about a week and change since his wife (that he hated) was eaten by a zombie, so he’s not quite ready to give Carl a new mommy yet. Take a seat.
Doc Hershel gets teary eyed and praises Rick for existing (seriously, he’s totally in love with Rick, and I get it. I love Rick, too) and doesn’t get mad at him when he hears about Daryl leaving. Anything Rick wants, Doc approves. They head into the prison, pass Carl (who’s steely-gazing the new group, ignored by Rick) and head over to Beth who again displays her superior baby-holding that turns into baby-passing skills.
Rick holds Lil Asskicker and looks shell shocked. HOW DO YOU BABY. WHAT IS HAPPEN. WHY IT CRY.
The man has some PTSD, can you just let him have a nap before you shove things at him? Laws.
Andrea has decided that she needs to give a speech to the Good Fine Folks of Woodbury so they’ll settle down and have picnics and horseshoe competitions again, like decent people.
“Hey, folks. It’s been rough, we all have our stories,” she says with an ‘Aw shucks’ grin. ”Why, not one year ago I killed my own sister like it was nothing. I’ve killed just about everyone I’ve loved. Bet you have, too. But we dig deep. And in less than an hour, aircraft from here will join others from around the world. And we will be launching the largest aerial battle in the history of mankind. ‘Mankind,’” she laughs.
“That word should have new meaning for all of us today. We can’t be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interests: living verses the undead. Perhaps it’s fate that today is the Fourth of July, and you will once again be fighting for our freedom… Not from tyranny–” her eyes flick towards the Gov’s window. ”–oppression, or persecution, but from annihilation. We are fighting for our right to live. To exist. And should we win the day, the Fourth of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day the world declared in one voice: ‘We will not go quietly into the night!’ We will not vanish without a fight! We’re going to live on! We’re going to survive! Today we celebrate our Independence Day!”
Everyone scratches their heads, but it works at diffusing their anger. For now.
Beth and Carol hang up the laundry as Beth reminds anyone that will listen that she always wanted a child and hey maybe the baby Judith can be hers? Which means Rick would also be hers? What with Daryl not being available anymore, and what a butt-face for leaving, riiiiiiiiight!
Carol defends him, because she loves him, and also because they’re two sides of the same coin. Both abused, both forced to be people they didn’t want to be because of overbearing men. Carol, however, would like to think that in the year since Ed bit the dust she’s grown. If Ed showed up and demanded she follow him, she’d like to think that not only would she tell him to go to hell but that she’d put the fear of god in him while doing it.
Which is awesome and strong and powerful a message as it can get.
And then she ruins it by saying that Daryl has a code of honor, so it’s fine for him to follow his abuser. CAROL. SHOW. WHAT ARE YOU DOING.
Hershel tends to Maggie and Glenn’s wounds, thanking Glenn for being awesome and loving his daughter. Because he’s good people, is Doc Hershel. He thinks of Glenn as his own, in fact, and tells him as much. To Maggie he says that he can guess something happened, even though he doesn’t know what. He sure wishes she wouldn’t shut him out, though, because he loves her. Aww, Dad.
Rick finally goes to meet the new people and says right away that they can’t stay. I realized watching this scene that Rick has lost more people than he has saved, and he feels responsible for every life he encounters. He just can’t take on any more, even though they’re a functioning group – he doesn’t have to be the leader. He can share responsibility. But he’s been the leader for so long that he doesn’t know how to be anything else. And it’s killing him.
The group tries to defend why they should be allowed to stay (they’ll pitch in, work, do whatever it takes) when Rick finally loses it. He sees Lori in an evening gown on the catwalk above. An evening gown? Is she an angel or something? Or did he miss taking her to the Policeman’s Ball one year and this is his mind’s way of punishing himself? SHE JUST WANTED A NIGHT OUT, RICK, A NIGHT WITH PRETTY DRESSES AND DANCING, GOD.
He starts yelling at her to leave, leave now and everyone backs away like he’s yelling at them. They all have their hands out, all “Chill out, man, we didn’t want to be here anyway, ain’t nobody gotta get shot up in here” and AGAIN, SHERIFF, YOU ARE POINTING AT PEOPLE WITH A LOADED GUN and someone just needs to take the Six Shooter away from him until he thinks about his choices in life.
Rick. Honey. You need to lock yourself up and sleep for about two weeks. Fine, you can take Beth with you. (Ick.)
Next week: more Dixon brothers! THANK GOODNESS DARYL ISN’T GONE FROM THE SHOW.