[Previously!] Well, that title tells us the answer to this season’s big question: Can you come back from the things you had to do to survive? Well, it answers it for one person in particular. And in the words of Gen. Patton, “remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his.”
So, it’s time for an old fashioned Wild West Showdown. We open with cut scenes from last week’s end (Gov and his gun on Michonne and Doc Hershel) and the Gov/Brian/Phillip doing his best pre-Helm’s Deep Théoden speech to the RV Crew (Yeah, I just nerded out that hard.) “Let this be the hour when we draw swords together. Fell deeds awake. Now for wrath, now for ruin, and the red dawn!”
Okay, he’s not so fancy. He’s all, “No more Mister Nice Guy, because Nice Guys are eaten first. No more trying to do for other people, because other people won’t care about your family. No more trying to do what’s right; there’s only do what will keep us alive. Gosh, I sure don’t want us to have to kill anyone.”
Cut to Gov conking Michonne with the butt of his handgun and then training it on Hershel. He had evidently taken them as hostages and now addresses his RV Crew some more. “So, I took some hostages from the prison. Which we’re also taking. Because we’re better people than they are. Why, they hurt my family! Didn’t matter that my daughter was already a Walker, it wasn’t nice of them. So yeah. We’re doing that. And, uh, be prepared for bloodshed.” His sad face gets through to most of the RV Crew.
Lily, though… Lily’s wheels are turning.
(By the way, in the opening credits, there’s a shot of a bullet shell and a millipede. My husband and I finally figured out it’s a Federal .45 ACP – automatic Colt pistol – but Rick has a Colt Python. That gun shoots .357s or .38s. Remember the gun Rick dug up in the tomato patch? “This row is 9mm, and next year we’re going to bring in a crop of 10mm!” That particular garden gun shoots that .45 ACP round. I have no idea if this will truly be significant yet, I’m still thinking on it, but they never do things by halves here. Always pay attention to opening credits – they tell a lot of the story. Edit: yep. It matters. You just keep reading.)
Gov continues his schpiel about how enough people in the prison are bad, meaning that everyone in the jail is bad by association. That’s how it works. Oh, so that means everyone with you, Gov, is bad and deserves to die? Uh huh. He talks to Lily and says enough half-truths to get her to focus on the ring of believability about the shoulds he’s presenting to the group, when he tosses out an “I love you.”
I think that was his big mistake with her. Lily’s gut was churning, and nothing makes a woman more suspicious than a specifically timed “love you.” It’s like showing up with grocery store flowers. WHAT DID YOU DO, BUDDY? Never trust surprise grocery store flowers, ladies. Also, they’re crappy flowers. I have issues, clearly. Ahem.
The Gov visits the hostage trailer where Michonne (who starts off by explaining calmly to the Gov that she will kill him) and Hershel are being held. They get rations with an extra heaping helping of BS (“I know Penny was dead when you did that, Michonne. I understand, and there are no hard feelings”.) and he tells them that he’s taking the prison.
Because Hershel is a man of reason, he explains that there’s no reason why the RV Crew can’t be absorbed into the prison population. Well, the Gov is a part of the Crew, and he’s clearly never going to be able to live with Michonne or Rick. So. The Gov uses his patient daddy voice and says he’s really being sweet here, okay? He’s not killing anyone this time, and gosh, he sure hopes everyone realizes how nice he is and gets the fuck out of the prison so no one has to die. Because if people die, that’s their fault, not his.
Straight out of an abuser’s handbook, that is. Hershel, though, still tries to appeal to Phillip, the once-father of Penny. Because if people die, it’s most likely going to be Hershel’s daughters, who are innocent. The Gov adjusts the ice block he uses as a heart and says, “Yeah, but those aren’t my daughters.” Hershel? This is who you’re dealing with. He doesn’t care about anything outside his own creation.
The RV Crew breaks into two groups: fighters and fort-holding-downers. (Not official titles.) Lily isn’t happy about any of this, because who’s going to be there to watch Meghan and her? Oh, but they’re across from water, and everyone knows that water is like stairs: Walkers can’t manage them. He moseys over to Meghan, who is inexplicably making mud pies, even though the child is probably nine or ten, and I have daughters, and they’re way beyond this come the hell on. BUT IT’S IMPORTANT LATER, I GET IT. I’m just eye rolling. They hug and share love yous as Lily watches, wheels still a’turning.
We cut to the prison to learn that a) Glenn is alive and on the mend, b) Glenn and Maggie are the cutest couple still, and c) Rick is breaking the news to Daryl about Carol. It doesn’t go well. Daryl is very upset, doesn’t understand, not even when Rick says that she flat out confessed to killing their own and burning them.
“That’s her, but that ain’t her,” Daryl says, and I sort of get what he means. It’s Carol between a rock and a hard place with Walkers dropping from the sky.
(I’m ignoring the really overwrought scene with Sasha and Medic Bob and her thanks and without you hand feeding me meds I’d never feel the sun on my skin and as God is my witness, I’ll never be sick again! scene because it was weirdly dramatic.)
Daryl makes Rick go tell Tyreese right then, which means they’re heading down into the catacombs. Ty has found a jackrabbit nailed to a board with a big ol’ bite taken out of its gut, which means there’s a psychopath at the prison, and this is the person who was feeding Templetons to the Walkers, which means they’re the person who killed Karen and David and–
Rick: Yeah, not so fast on that last one.
World: EXPLOSION GO BOOM SHAKE THE GROUND!
What the what? Everyone goes running to the surface and finds that hey, there’s a tank aimed at the prison and a V of trucks loaded down with heavy artillery and HOLY SHIT THE GOV IS LEADING THEM, WHAT DO?
Gov: Hey! Mighty fine digs you got here. Come on over and let’s have us a confab, Rick.
Rick: I don’t do that anymore, the Ricktatorship was overthrown, long live the Council, even though most of them are missing.
Gov: Yeah, about that… [shows Doc and Michonne] I bet I can get their votes.
And this is where my husband and I tore at our hair and said, WHERE ARE THE SNIPERS? Because you take out the Gov, no one would be expecting that, then you take out the guy standing on the tank (Mitch), because that’s the biggest threat, and with the exception of Alisha and one other guy no one else has actual battlefield training and they’ll scatter when they start hearing the pop of gunfire. Then you pick off any folks trying to shoot back, quarantine any who surrender, and move on with your life.
Okay, Rick is scared (which I get) and heads down to “talk” and you know he’s thinking he’s going to die, because he whispers something we can’t hear to Carl and faces the Gov through the fence. Daryl melts into the background to get people on Operation Bug Out By Bus.
Gov explains that they have until sundown to leave. He doesn’t want to destroy the prison, seeing as it’s going to be his new home, but they will kill anyone who fights them on this.
Rick: JFC, we have sick kids!
Gov: I have a sick ass tank, did you see it? It goes forwards and backwards and blows buildings up!
Daryl quietly rolls up some laundry hampers filled with weapons and starts passing them out to Maggie, Tyreese, Sasha, etc, because he is the freaking best. HE IS THE BEST.
Back at RV Camp, Lily stares at the water, thinking. Wow, her wheels don’t turn too quickly, do they? She sees a Walker approach from the opposite bank and freezes, noting that Meghan is playing on the riverbank in her damn mud. Meghan calls out to her mom that she “found something” and raise your hand if you thought it was a hatch door? Just me? Instead, it’s an old muddy sign. Lily can’t look at her daughter, because she’s watching that Walker from 100 yards off shambling into the water. And oho, it looks like they CAN cross water, because this one is stumbling along, just as fine as–
Oh, nope, it fell down and the current pulled it away. Whew! And we see Meghan wiping off the sign, which reads: GORL YOU IN DANGER. (Or Warning: Flash Flood Area, which is so damn cool, I can’t even begin because OKAY, I SEE WHERE YOU ARE GOING, AND I LIKE IT.)
The ground heaves and shifts behind Meghan, and it’s a HEAD and then it is a HAND and it GRABS HER and pulls itself up and it’s a WALKER and it freaking BITES THE CHILD AND WOW I DIDN’T THINK THEY WOULD GO THERE AND THEY DID AND I LOVE IT!!
Lily shoots the Walker, but it’s too late.
Doc Hershel kneels on the ground at the Gov’s feet, still trying to be decent and thoughtful, and there’s no room in this world for that anymore, Raisin Eyes! [gross sobbing] Gov picks off two Walkers approaching and points out to Rick that the noise will draw more of them, which will make it harder for his people to escape. Because they’re still on that plan.
And in the most frustrating scene in the whole episode, Daryl and Carl stand in the courtyard, guns trained on the Gov, and Carl – who has become the best of all of them somehow, GOD DAMMIT CARL – says they should take the Gov out. And they DON’T because Daryl’s all, “But he’s 50 yards away, we could miss!”
My husband threw his hands up in the air and shouted, “I could shoot him with my dick!” Classy guy, my husband. But okay, let’s break their weapons down.
Daryl: AR-15 with an EOTech optic, designed to hit targets 300 yards away. Cake walk.
Carl: freaking Marlin 1894 with GEE DEE COWBOY ACTION (lever action, like the Rifleman) and HEY. GUESS WHAT IT SHOOTS OH MY GOD: .45 freaking ACP. Carl is going to survive this whole thing, trust. That gun has iron sights, and you could hit a sniveling bitch 100 yards away with one hand tied behind your back and oh my goodness, just SHOOT THE GOV! I mean, whatever, the fog of war, could get messy… Find your nuts, and cowboy up, son!
The kids are bugging out to the bus, and they’re carrying Judith in her car seat. Lizzie, though, has decided to follow Carol’s advice (wow) and stand strong. She’s not leaving, she’s fighting. Right attitude, wrong time to express it, kid. You need a little more experience on your resume.
Rick, watching Doc as he comes to terms with the fact that he’s most likely not getting out of this alive, says to the RV Militia that they could all live together. After all, Rick has happily taken in Gov’s people in the past (oh, how I wished he’d gone into detail here).
The Gov says nope, that won’t work. Not after Andrea. (UM, WHO YOU KILLED? THE HELL? Rick, ask the Militia what they know about Andrea, oh my gooooosh!) Rick points out that if the Gov’s people blow the fence, that will draw more Walkers and they’ll no longer have any protection themselves.
“We’ll fix the damn fences,” the Gov snarls, and holds the sword to Doc Hershel’s neck. Beth and Maggie freak out, of course. Tara’s eyes go wide and finally starts listening to Rick, because yeah, she was following a mad man she’s realizing. Rick watches Doc and says to the group, “No one else has to die. No one should die. We can still come back. We’re not too far gone. We can come back. We can all change!”
(So…this means Carol can come back, right?)
Gov chokes up on the katana’s handle and says, “Liar.” AND CHOPS DOC’S HEAD HALFWAY OFF OH DEAR LORD, HE COULDN’T EVEN DO THAT RIGHT?!! Freaking TAKE HIM, CARL!
Oh holy crap, they can hear me, because Carl shoots and tags the Gov in the arm! Maggie unloads her rifle, screaming and crying, and Michonne rolls out of danger and gets to sawing at her bound wrists, because this is a woman who is everyone I want to be in life. Doc crawls to her, not quite dead but bleeding out. The Gov takes care of that with a swift slice and wow. RIP, Hershel, you were the nicest Veterinarian the show had ever seen. [plays TAPS]
The Gov looks up and sees Lily holding Meghan’s body, walking towards him. He coolly takes Meghan in his arms and shoots her brain and yep, Lily, you had the right idea all along. He ain’t no baby daddy.
Gov orders the troops to roll in over the fences and take it – and kill them all.
They knock the fences down because they’re idiots YOU HAVE A TANK YOU CAN FIRE OVER THE FENCE and not RUIN YOUR NEW HOME, and everyone inside the prison courtyard scatters as they try to get to safety and kill as many of the RV Militia as they can. Walkers follow the tank and trucks inside, so there’s that fun addition to the battle happening.
Maggie gets Glenn on the bus, goes off to find Beth, who isn’t where she’s supposed to be. God dammit Beth, get in the
house bus! Rick tackles the Gov and whales on him, but the Gov gets the upper hand somehow and starts turning Rick’s face into hamburger with his fist. Tara freaks and walks off, done fighting. Medic Bob gets shot and keeps going, Tyreese is penned in by Alisha, but Lizzie shows up and shoots Alisha in the brain box, and wow, that was a terrific shot, kid! Um…super terrific and wholly unbelievable, but it saved Ty, so I’m all for it. Daryl is on full auto (no! Stay on semi with bursts of three!) and doesn’t seem to realize a Walker is creeping up on him from behind, and I swear to god, show, you kill Daryl and I’m burning this place to the ground!
Oh, okay, he kills the Walker and is uses it as cover (like Carol did when Yosemite Sam was shot) and tosses a grenade down the gun barrel of the tank, and that is so sweet I can’t even act like I didn’t pump my fist in the air and cheered. He even gets an arrow in Mitch’s chest, right through the heart. Later, Acevedo. (Crying, I love him.)
The Gov is actually killing Rick, hands around his neck and choking him holy crap, when SWORD THROUGH THE BREATH BAGS, Michonne stands victorious behind them both, katana blade in hand with a matching hole in the Gov’s chest. Oooooooh. So, so sweet. [fingers kiss] Rick gets his breath back enough to call out for Carl. Michonne doesn’t know where Carl is, and takes off to look, I guess, after sneering down at the Gov, who is most certainly going to die. She leaves him to it.
So everyone has scattered, the bus has left, Maggie isn’t on it, Daryl finds Beth and they leave, Ty bugs out somewhere, Michonne left on her own, and we see Rick confronted with Walkers. He has no weapon on him, but that doesn’t matter because Carl, the real hero, takes them out. Neither of them know where Judith is, and they’re freaking. Especially when they see her car seat, bloody and without a baby in it. MORE ON THIS IN A MINUTE. Rick gets the sobs (understandable) and Carl takes his anger out on Walkers, crying.
The prison is overrun now, and they need to get.
Lily stands over the Gov, a look of disgust on her face and shoots him in the head. Nice. We see a muddy boot step on the chess piece, the One Eyed King, fallen. DOUBLE NICE.
And now we just have to wait until February, and try not to get the shakes. JEEZ.
Also, THIS IS CLARA. REMEMBER HER? This is why we ALWAYS TAKE OUT WALKERS. Because they come back, for crying out loud. ALWAYS TAKE OUT WALKERS.
Okay, so my hope is that they’ll meet up with Carol, somehow. If it’s Rick, that would be best, because they need to sort out their “can you come back from that?” thing, because Rick owes her time to apologize and needs to apologize himself. Also, I think Michonne has Judith, that she pulled Judith to safety in the nick of time. The seat belt was unlocked. Walkers can’t do that! I think the whole “Where’s Carl?” thing got her mommy senses tingling.
WHAT DO YOU THINK, GUYS? Man, this was a white knuckler, and I loved it. LOVED.