After last week’s agonizing episode we get a slightly more subdued, but very solid follow-up with this week’s installment. Just because it wasn’t full-bore pandemonium doesn’t mean we didn’t get our fair share of strangeness we’ve come to expect. The episode starts with Woodbury having a little celebration with everyone out on a sunny day enjoying nice, cold beverages. Inside, as peaceful piano music plays, the Governor is brushing a child’s hair. How sweet until it turns out it’s his daughter, Penny, who’s a freaking walker! A chunk of her scalp comes off as he brushes. Yum.
We’re not left to wonder long about Rick’s mental state or the pressing issue of getting formula for his new baby that was delivered via the c-section from hell. Rick’s in a rage and heads back into the prison with an axe to take out his rage on the walkers and find the place where Lori died while Daryl and Maggie head out to find baby formula. Tearing through the corridors of the prison, Rick puts the Terminator to shame in his efficient and copious dispatching of the undead.
While the townsfolk of Woodbury continue their little picnic on the lawn, Michonne breaks into the Governor’s residence to retrieve her katana and do a little snooping. She find a journal and gets to a page listing the names of those lost/turned with the final name being “Penny.” In a nod to “The Shining” the rest of the journal is just row after row of hash marks that goes on for pages and pages. Can you say, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy?” The Governor is turning into one of the strangest, but most interesting characters on the show. I wonder how long he’ll be able to keep up his public facade of the benevolent savior before the psycho beast within shows itself to the rest of the residents.
Anyway, Michonne doesn’t have time to say “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” before she hears the Gov, Merle and Milton the zombie whisperer heading her way. Milton whines briefly about the party using up precious power he needs for his experiments, but he’s told to just wait until after the party. He agrees. Like he has a choice, right? Michonne quietly makes her escape out a back window and finds herself in an odd back lot where caged walkers are kept. Needing a break and knowing the world is all out of Kit Kats she releases the walkers and puts her best Veg-O-Matic moves on them. Of course she gets caught and brought before the Governor for a chat, but she quickly gets her katana back and walks out. After a conversation with Andrea, Michonne apparently convinces her to leave, but when Merle opens the front gate Andrea has second thoughts and lets Michonne leave on her own.
Daryl and Maggie find a daycare that fortunately has some bottles and powdered baby formula. They make it back to the prison shortly after dark and Daryl shows a side of himself we’ve not seen before. He comforts the baby and feeds her a bottle. When he asks Carl what he’d like to name her, poor Carl can only list the names of the ladies they’ve lost during their journey. For now, Daryl nicknames her “little ass-kicker” and brings much needed smiles to the faces around him. It’s not much, but these people are desperate for anything good or positive so it’s enough for now.
Rick’s journey finally brings him to the infamous boiler room that had us all cringing so much last week. He finds a stain and a bullet where Lori’s body was left. Looking up, he see’s bloody drag marks leading to the back of the room where a bloated walker sits in what could best be described as the zombie version of a food coma from apparently devouring damned near all of Lori’s remains. Rick places his gun in the walker’s mouth and pulls the trigger. Then he pulls out his knife and starts savagely stabbing the dead walker’s bloated abdomen repeatedly.
The sheeple of Woodbury are now about to enjoy the culmination of their day-long celebration which takes place in the back lot Michonne previously found. They’re there to watch what’s basically a cage match between Merle and another of the Governor’s henchmen. The difference here is the “cage” is bounded by six chained walkers whose chains are progressively given more slack in order to shrink the area the two men have to fight. Andrea finds it revolting, but the Governor tries to justify it by telling her he puts on these fights as a way to blow off steam and teach the people to not be afraid. The look on Andrea’s face says she’s wishing she had left with Michonne instead of staying.
It’s early morning at the prison and Rick’s still in the boiler room sitting in an exhausted stupor. He hears a baby crying, then the boiler room’s phone begins to ring. Rick picks it up, says “hello” and that’s where this episode ends. With no power, this has to be Rick hallucinating, but I’m already dying to find out who he thinks he’s talking to. Between being the leader of the group, having to kill his best friend, watch his son re-kill his best friend, lose his wife while she’s giving birth and so much more it’s really surprising Rick hasn’t lost it before now.
Even before watching this episode it was pretty clear it wasn’t going to be like last week’s kill fest. Say the Word was every bit as compelling, but in a different way. We got more information on some of the characters and more insight into the workings of Woodbury, the little town that looks like Mayberry, but runs more like something out of Mad Max. As if it wasn’t creepy enough for the Governor to have a room full of floating heads we also see him cuddling his daughter, Zombie Penny. We also saw more growth in Daryl who’s becoming one of the most interesting regulars of the show. I would never have imagined back in season one that we’d eventually see him holding an infant and feeding it a bottle. For the time being it looks as though he may be the de-facto leader, at least until Rick regains some of his sanity. That could take a while.