[Previously on The Walking Dead…] Holy. Creepy. Sexual-Assaulty. There’s your trigger warning, sleeper cells. And let’s all just talk about how amazing Glenn Rhee is, because I now want my dream spin-off to include Glenn and Maggie with Daryl and Michonne. (Before, I just wanted two shows, one for fightin’ and one for lovin’. No reason we can’t combine them both!)
Glenn is being interrogated by Merle in some dank underground storage shed. Merle quickly brings up the fact that he was trying to be nice earlier, even though Glenn and the others handcuffed him to a roof back in Atlanta. So what if Glenn’s group came back for him; it was too little too late. Merle goes off on his angry racist bent about T-Dog, but you know what? T-Dog is dead, so there goes your revenge, Merle.
“Well, I hope he went slow,” Merle hisses. He gets an even more evil gleam in his eye and whispers, “Yeah!” at Glenn’s pained expression. Let’s all take a moment to suck in our breath at how freaking awful Merle Dixon is (and how freaking awesome it is to watch).
Meanwhile, Maggie can hear all of this through the thin corrugated metal walls. Merle presses his knife hand just under Glenn’s nose (ahh!! Don’t cut off his nose!) demanding to know where Rick’s group is, but Glenn won’t give it up because Glenn is the best of them all. Glenn then gets a head butt in because he has some blue steel betwixt his legs, but Merle has no problem giving one back. And then several punches. All while Maggie listens on, terrified.
Rick stares at Michonne on the other side of the fence. Is she alive? Bitten? Michonne presses at the wound on her leg, releasing fresh blood. …which the Walkers surrounding her can smell over the putrescence that is her current cloaking device. She hobbles back, drawing her sword and kills a few, but is quickly overcome with how much blood she’s lost, how dehydrated and overheated she must be, and collapses. Before the Walkers can get her, Carl takes two out, then Rick comes through the fence to rid the world of a few more Undead, dragging her inside to safety after checking to make sure there are no bites.
Protip: Always check for bites if you rescue someone! And if you can really check, you need to REALLY check. All it takes is for one tipped fingernail that was bitten off in a skirmish to bring down an entire group.
Rick has her sword, keeping it away from her until they can figure out her threat level. They’re strictly on survival mode until she explains herself. Smart. At one point Rick whispers, “You want to tell us your name?” and I flashed right back to the person on the phone asking him for his wife’s name. Just me? She eventually explains that she saw an “Asian guy and a pretty girl” taken by “the same man who shot me.” Oh, if only she’d said a guy named Merle! She gets cryptic because she doesn’t know them (I assume she knows who they are from Andrea, but she doesn’t know them) so Rick punches her gunshot wound to remind her of the balance in power. Damn.
They drop the tough guy act, so she tells them about Ten Penny Towers and Mr. Ten Penny Governor up on the balcony overseeing his wee faux-paradise amidst the End Times. She lays out that the town has about 75 people, including a few paramilitary wanna-bes. Rick leaves her to Doc Herchel’s care to figure out what to do after Daryl calls him away to “see something.”
Meanwhile, Merle is having fun with his little mouse Glenn, telling him that no one is coming for him. Glenn talks tough, saying that he has a huge group and they’re not hunkered down like Merle in this dungeon. (He has no idea where he is or how many people are with Merle.) Glenn spouts off everyone he’s ever known, claiming they’re with him, and mistakenly includes Andrea in his group. Merle grins all nasty-like and says, “Really? Is that right?”
And every hair on the back of my neck stood up because Merle Dixon is a creepy-ass man. Oh, he’s not the creepiest, but he’s up there. I do appreciate how upfront with his nasty he is, I must say.
The Gov and Andrea have finished up their sexy times [shudder] when Milton interrupts them to ask for help. Gov tells Andrea he actually needs help and not the “below my belt” kind of help. ORLY? Let’s all take a moment to admire Andrea’s perfect tush, please. Thank you. Also Andrea? Could you stop picking terrible men to bring into your life? They’re either blatantly trying to boss you like Dale, or they’re secretly controlling you like Gov. Good lord, woman, get some Michonne in you! Hey-hey! Take that however you want, Reader.
Daryl reveals Carol, beams all mama-proud at her, as Rick falls apart with gratitude for a moment at the sight of her. She sees the baby, sees Rick’s face and crumples, immediately taking on guilt at being trapped and not there to deliver the baby and save Lori’s life. If that moment didn’t choke you up a bit, then you might be a robot. If so, you should avoid handling all magnets and attempting to climb stairs because you can’t.
Protip: If you can choose between a robot apocalypse and a zombie apocalypse, always go robot. They’re easily defeated with staircases, yogurt, and large memory-wiping magnets. They are also not fond of eating humans, and they don’t smell. It’ll be a tidier End Times. (Keep balled cat hair to jam into their circuitry and stock up on canned air, preventing them from cleaning themselves.)
Rick tells the group the situation, and they’re all in support of getting their own back. Why, even T-Dog 2.0 and Yosemite Sam want in on the action! Uh, how about you sit out a few plays, Sam? Let’s get some muscle in on this one. TD2 is in.
Highlights of them packing to leave: Rick praising Carl in his stoic-man way for having to put down his mom like she was Ol’ Yeller with the Hydrophobee. He runs down what to do, but Carl’s got this. Michonne sniffs at Beth about how she doesn’t believe their group cleared out the prison, to which Beth replies, “There were more of us,” looking all Newt “Mostly…” about it. Carl comes up with an actual name for the baby. Instead of “Ass-kicker,” she’ll be “She-Ra, Queen of the Prison.” They all decide that will make a terrible acronym and settle on “Judith.” Pfft. And then Daryl tells Carol to watch out, and Carol picked up some serious sass along the way and tosses out a Dixon-level smirk, followed by “Nine lives, remember?” You might be on seven now, Carol; keep your eyes peeled.
Some old timey music is playing, and if this whole arc with Andrea and Milton doesn’t make you flash on Mr. House from Fallout: Las Vegas, then I don’t know who you are. (And you missed out on a fun game. It’s not the best of the Fallouts, but it was pretty boss.) The lyrics are more of a warning in this setting, “Hide your heart from sight, lock your dreams from sight. It could happen to you…”
Andrea? You in danger, gorl.
Here’s the situation: there’s an old man on a hospital bed drawing serious resources to his room for an experiment. Milton is repeating a sort of memory test over and over with Mr. Coleman, who is dying of prostate cancer and evidently donated his body to “science.” Andrea is all “whut” about this.
Glenn, duct-taped to a chair, is a bloody mess when Merle comes back in with a Walker on a stick. (Surprisingly not a popular Fair Food.) It might be fun for Glenn to know how Merle felt up on that roof, Walkers bearing down on him as he sawed off his own hand to get away. And with that, Merle releases the Clackin’. The Walker chomps his way to a frantic Glenn.
Glenn smartly uses the room to keep the Walker at a distance while trying to smash the chair behind his body. It’s super tense and super close and Glenn is super bad ass, managing to smash the chair arm to use as a stake up through the Walker’s face and into his brain, shutting off that last communique to Eat Braaaaaaains.
Glenn stands panting against the stone wall, screaming out, and then continues to try and catch his breath. Let’s all whistle and applaud Steven Yeun for his awesome scene, shall we? And keep in mind that Maggie could hear all of that, but couldn’t see a damn thing.
Back at Mr. House’s penthouse suite, Milton explains what they’re doing: proving that something of the person remains after they turn. Uh, Dummy says what? Andrea guesses rightly that Milton has never actually seen anyone turn before. He was an only child, his parents died a long time before, and he was a lonely guy that telecommuted to work so he basically had no friends. Well, Andrea did, and she can assure him that there’s nothing left in the end. Milton is all smarmy with the pushing of glasses up his nose and a “We’ll see.” Uh huh, we will, buddy. And just then, Coleman/Mr. House dies and they tighten up his restraints. Yeah, you’ll see. You’ll all see.
The Gov gets some basic information about Glenn’s interrogation from Merle, then takes upon himself the questioning of Maggie and HEY-O HERE IS WHERE I WANTED TO CRAWL AWAY. This was really disturbing, and mad props to the show for managing a whole lot of menace without a whole lot of graphic imagery.
Gov tries to be genteel with Maggie to disarm her. “Just tell us where you friends are, we’ll bring them to get you!” Uh huh. Maggie was born at night, but it wasn’t last night, buddy. Hmm, he’ll try something else. (Keep in mind that he just left Andrea after sexing her up, like, thirty minutes before.)
“Stand up. Stand up. Now. Take off your shirt.”
“Take off your shirt, or I’ll bring Glenn’s hand in here.”
Maggie quickly weighs her options here, and complies, defiantly standing in front of him in her bra, determined to not let him see how freaked out she is. But the Gov looks at her like, “Oh, how droll.” He then says in an almost bored manner, “Go on.”
Trembling, she pulls her bra off, covers herself and stares at him with her chin jutted out. He stands and undoes his gun holster and my skin is crawling off my body. Also can I just say how fucking sick I am of a man’s dick being the Boogie Man? Mother fuckers, I will bite that shit off of you and spit it in your face. This is seriously a massively upsetting conceit that is used over and over, and I for one am sick of being on the god damn Rape Clock.
Hey, you keep using this in your stories, Writers, so I’m going to get in your face about it. And I ain’t even sorry for my language here.
He comes behind her, leaning in close to smell her hair and be creepy as hell. She says, “Do what you’re going to do. And go to hell.” I love her and I love her determination here. He does not. He slams her face into the table just to show that he can (he’s carrying weapons and she’s not, after all), stands behind her smirking, and then pushes off. Point made. Oooh, is her revenge going to be sweet when it comes. And Show? You better let that come.
Rick, Daryl, Michonne and T-Dog 2.0 hop out of their vehicle about a mile from the patrol edge for Woodbury and cut through the woods. They’re almost immediately surrounded by a dozen or more Walkers. Rick calls out for using only knives and to get in formation. Michonne is impressed as they hack down a solid six or so, then follows as Rick leads them down a path to what appears to be an abandoned shack.
They get inside, and it smells of death in there. (Probably because of the dead dog in the middle of the room.) Rick notices a bed, pulls the blanket off of it and startles a hermit that’s holed himself up with a shotgun. Rick tries to calm him down (the guy’s clearly crazy) but the guy is going to draw even more Walkers there, even running for the door to throw it open. Michonne handles things by piercing his heart from the back. Daryl and Rick toss him through the front door. It’s like a scene from Cannibal Holocaust as the Walkers rip him up. Gack.
Our gang makes it out safely through the backdoor, and at least it’s one less kill on Rick’s hands, huh? Kill or be killed! The humans are the monsters! The only thing to fear is fear itself! Other platitudes that they can think about in the small hours of the night when there’s no one awake to comfort them!
Funny moment, though, is when Daryl sees the guy freshly dead and says, “Remember the Alamo?” Well buenos dias! (Sorry, my brain always loops back to Pee Wee Herman’s Big Adventure. It’s an internal wiring issue.)
Back at Ten Penny Penthouse, Mr. House/Coleman opens his eyes. “It’s happening,” Andrea says. Milton, shaky and scared, starts the song and the memory test as Coleman clacks his jaws at him. Gosh, his hand is moving, so clearly he’s trying to communicate with me! Milton decides to undo a restraint–
Protip: Never do this, you big ol’ idiot! Book smarts vs. common sense, I swear.
– and Coleman immediately leaps forward to bite. Andrea kept her wits about her, kept her head on a swivel and skull stabs him. Gosh, that sure escalated quickly! Milton? All due respect, you’re an idiot. So that experiment failed and I just bet the Gov is going to be unhappy to hear about this.
Glenn, bloody, unbeaten Glenn stands ready when Merle and company enter the room with guns. He knows he can’t overtake them, but damn if he doesn’t look like he wants to try. And then the Gov walks in with Maggie holding her breasts to cover them. She looks traumatized (as one would) but Glenn looks devastated. He has no idea what’s been done and the Gov knows it. The Gov points his gun at him, saying someone is going to give up Rick’s group’s location and now. Maggie has reached her limit and quickly shouts that they’re at the prison. It was overrun, they cleared it out, and that’s where everyone is.
Glenn is possibly more upset about this because he’s the guy that will fight for his life, sure, but he’ll give it up just as quickly to save others. Because Glenn is the best of all of us. The Gov tries to “comfort” Maggie by shushing her softly, trying to caress her face and kiss her, and if looks could kill, the Gov would be a bloody stain on the wall. He eventually shoves Maggie at Glenn, who takes her in his arms all while Merle watches, seemingly fascinated.
So now the Gov knows there are 10 people who are capable to clearing out a prison, one of them is Merle’s brother, and maybe he shouldn’t trust Merle so much. Merle has to think of his neck in that moment and agrees that he’s on the Gov’s side. (And I believe him. I think he wants his brother because he likes having a lap dog do his bidding and cower when Merle needs to feel like the big dog.)
While the Gov assesses the situation in his group, Rick and Co. sneak up on the outer wall, checking out the changing of the guards. They don’t see Andrea on the other side looking confused, which is a real shame. Andrea goes to the Gov for a spot of whiskey and cuddles, telling him that the experiment failed.
And the Gov’s face has “What about Penny?” all over it. Holy smokes, how is there only one episode left until February?