As has been a constant with The Walking Dead from day one, there are moments of calm mingled with tense moments of fighting for your life. This episode seemed to be one long stretch of calm before the storm with a dash of Crazy!Rick thrown in. As Lori begins to appear outside the prison walls, Rick takes a trip outside the fence to have a sweet moment. As lovely as that moment was, it is a shame that it not only came too late, but that it was only happening in his head.
Across the universe, The Governor is on his own kind of bender. He insists that Andrea is the proper choice to take over as leader to take care of the people he had failed. Andrea insists she go to the prison to see her ex-friends, but he tells her that if they leave them alone, there is no problem. I smells some BS. Staying true to his nature, The Governor visits Milton and pits him against Andrea. Some men just like to watch the world burn.
Last week, after months of building a place for himself in our nuclear little prison family, Daryl made the decision to leave and go off with his recently returned brother Merle. As we catch up with them, it seems they are back to their “big brother, little brother” relationship. From squirrel hunting to helping strangers, Merle really hasn’t changed and as Daryl jumps in to help a surrounded family of immigrants, Merle stands on the sidelines and watches before helping himself to their belongings. Finally, he and Daryl have it out about their past and Daryl makes the decision to return home to the prison. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), Merle follows.
With Rick off in CrazyTown, Glen and Carl go to where the Walkers have breached the prison with the intention of fortifying against The Governor’s impending attack. Glen goes off on a power trip claiming he could kill The Governor and we watch Maggie walk away, not knowing who Glen is after what they have endured. We finally get a moment between them after Carl and Glen report back about the tombs being overrun with Walkers. Maggie tells him what he wants to know (as much as she just wants to forget it) and shoves him away, telling him to leave her alone. No woman could blame her – that experience isn’t something you want to talk about, let alone remember. In another sweet moment, Carol and Axel begin to bond over fortifying the prison. Perhaps Axel didn’t really need to know how to use a gun.
As Rick continues to wander the ground outside the protection of the prison fence, Hershel takes it into his own hands to bring him back from the brink. Ever the cornerstone of the group, he asks Rick when he is coming back, telling him Glen is on a war path and they need his leadership. Rick insists he has ‘”stuff” out there and tells Hershel about seeing his dead wife. He lucidly tells Hershel that he knows she isn’t real, but he thinks she must be there for a reason. Perhaps she is the physical manifestation of his conscience, considering she appears whenever he is about to make a bad decision.
In an incredible twist of events, Axel is shot in the head mid-sentence as a small battle begins between The Governor’s posse and our band of merry prison dwellers. They all take cover as bullets rain down from all angles, until the gunfire abruptly stops to the revving of an engine. A truck barrels toward the prison, busting through the gates and spewing walkers inside the once-secured yard. In a show of good faith, Daryl and Merle reappear in time to save Rick from two Walkers while Glen shows back up to rescue Hershel. There hasn’t been a tense zombie moment like this in a few episodes, and it left my heart beating fast.
Rick staring into the prison yard with fury burning behind his eyes can only lead to war, and when The Governor returns, he will have the business end of a gun waiting for him.