This week on The Walking Dead, we took a trek back to the prison and our nuclear group of survivors. The last time we left them, they had felt rather confident in their new-found prison surroundings. Hershel is a little lighter and a bit more crippled, Lori is about ready to pop and Rick is on a downward spiral into insanity.
The opening few moments of this episode were the usual tension building moments. It was rather obvious that the person laying in the deer carcass was Andrew, the inmate that Rick had thrown out into the yard with the parting words “you better run” a few episodes ago. This tension eases into more light-hearted moment when we all get clued in to the fact that Glen and Maggie have been going at it like rabbits. The only chunk of lightness in this episode is complete when Hershel musters onto his own foot (complete with new crutches) and hobbles into the yard with Lori and Beth. What a tough old dude. Lori and Rick share what is the first intimate, heartfelt moment they have had in a very long time just before the horde they thought they had caged attacks. Some day we will all begin to realize that these people will never have one full day that is defined as “a good day.”
On the other side of the The Walking Dead universe, Woodbury is becoming more and more like a prison for Michonne. We follow her on a walk of the town as she finds the army trucks that were brought back after the Governor took them out. She is quite obviously still not buying his brand of B.S.
This episode did a lot of jumping around. Having important characters in two different areas of the show’s universe makes that necessary sometimes, but I felt that it almost distracted the viewer. Every jump would require a few seconds of realization and processing before being able to shift into the moment. While much of it was centered on the prison, the jaunts to Woodbury seemed almost useless in furthering the story. I found myself eager to switch back to the prison and know what was going on over there.
Speaking of the prison, Rick’s shrill scream for Lori when the horde hits proves that there is still a human being in there that cares for her. His first thought was not for Carl or for Hershel whose leg he hacked off two episodes ago, but for his wife and unborn child. Way to man up, Rick. The frantic way that Rick, Glenn and Daryl race back to the group does little good as Hershel has to take out a walker with his new crutches while Lori, Maggie and Carl run into the bowels of the prison to escape. In what can only be described as an “aw, man!” moment, T-Dog gets the bite. Ever the martyr, he throws himself at two walkers to give Carol the ability to escape. Whether or not she is alive is left up in the air toward the end of the episode. This show has a wonderful way of making us fall in love with characters that meet their maker far too soon.
While Rick, Glenn and Daryl try to contain the prison, Andrea is across the ‘verse cavorting with the enemy. She meets with Merle in secret to give him a shot at finding Daryl – at least, she thinks so. Merle is now The Governor’s top dog and makes Andrea believe that he is a good man only wanting to help. If only that we’re true. We may not know his true intentions, but The Governor is not to be trusted. Frankly, Michonne is the only one not wearing rose-colored glasses or drinking the tea.
With the alarms sounding at the prison and drawing every walker within a ten mile radius, Rick drags their two inmate neighbors into the bowels of the prison to turn off the back up generators that have somehow been switched on. Andrew, perhaps? Rick is so furious and so anxious to find Lori that he is beginning to lose it, falling into the pit of insanity that is his mind. While shutting down the generators is a great notion, on the other side of the prison Lori goes into labor at what is possibly the worst moment. Naturally. Why didn’t we see that one coming? For the first time this season, Carl looks like a scared little boy as blood pours from Lori and Maggie announces something is wrong. One can’t fault the kid – he is, after all, still a kid.
Back in Woodbury, The Governor hits golf balls off the walls of the town smacking walkers in the head for sport. Merle bends his ear about going after Daryl and is shot down. Being top dog doesn’t always garner you the right to go off and do your own reconnaissance. The Governors tight-fisted grip on the control of the community is still a mystery. Who is this guy? As Andrea sits to share a drink with him later (is it laced with something?) we finally find out his name: Phillip. His lingering good-bye, that had enough tension in to have the audience asking whether or not they were about to kiss, shows us that maybe Andrea reminds him of the wife he lost. Are we going to get a look inside the heart of the heartless man? This attraction has to be the reason Andrea insists that they stay a few more days therein making an already sullen Michonne even more aggravated.
Proving me right, Andrew wielded an ax at Rick as he shut down the generators powering the alarms. As he and Rick scuffled, Axel picked up Rick’s gun and pointed. In a pivotal moment, he shot Andrew in the head and handed the gun over to Rick thereby proving is trustworthiness. Across the prison, Lori in labor on the floor and pleads with Maggie to save her baby at the cost of her own life. Like only a mother could, she proves how strong women really are. Telling Carl how much she loves him and believes in him, and how proud she is of him, is one of the most heart-wrenching, tear-inducing moments of this entire series. Carl’s final moments as a little boy are as his mother passes out from being cut open and he screams at Maggie that she is hurting her. The baby living is a small miracle, but one that no one can celebrate as Carl takes it into his own hands stating “she’s my mother” as Maggie takes the baby away and he levels the final bullet that will prevent Lori’s worst nightmare from coming true. One can hardly help but think what a horrible way to leave things between her and Rick.
Back in the season one finale, we lost a number of much beloved characters…but nothing is quite as emotional as the end of this episode. Rick hearing his baby cry and us watching his face play every emotion in the book as he realizes what has happened was one of the most raw scenes of TV this season. His words die in his throat as Maggie mouths that she is sorry, as she herself cannot wrap her mind around it, and Carl stands stoically on the sidelines. This is Rick’s madness. His distraught march around the yard, his moment of sobbing, not knowing where to go or what to do before he finally collapses on the ground in a soul-piercing fit of screams and moans should garner Andrew Lincoln an Emmy nomination. The disparity of a man who regrets, who is hurting so badly that he cannot even voice it, this is humanity. While his humanity still seems to leak out, Rick is certainly going crazy and the loss of Lori can only push him further off that cliff.
While this week was highly emotional and it was very difficult to say good bye to characters we have come to love over the last two seasons, the horde is still out there and we have several more questions to get answers for. We bid you good bye, Sarah Wayne Callies and Irone Singleton. You will be missed. Until next week.