After Michonne’s departure from Woodbury last week, “Hounded” opens with Merle and a few good-ole-boys out on a hunting expedition to kill her, because Woodbury is like the old Roach Motels; you can check in, but you can’t check out. The group come across body parts that spell out “Go Back” in a disgustingly creative way and Merle calls out Michonnne, telling her she’s outmatched 4 to 1 and they’ve got guns. Mistake. Big mistake. Michonne drops from a tree and drops two of Merle’s group quicker than you can say “disembowel.” Merle shoots her in the leg as she’s running away, but it wasn’t bad enough to really slow her down.
If you recall (And how could you not?) Rick had just received a phone call at the end of last week’s episode. A woman on the other end of the line tells them they’re safe and Rick tries to convince them to allow his group to join them. The woman says she’ll talk to the others in her group and call back in 2 hours. Rick briefly returns to his group to check on Carl and the general state of affairs, but then heads back to sit by the phone. The call comes through and a man on the other end tells Rick they’re safe and nobody’s been attacked. Then he asks Rick how many people he’s killed and want’s him to tell him how he lost his wife, but it’s too soon for Rick and the caller hangs up.
Andrea is getting a bit too comfy in Woodbury and has decided she wants to contribute. She tells the Governor she wants to work the wall, so he puts her with a woman to learn how to shoot a bow. When a lone walker comes along, the woman misses twice and Andrea dives off the wall and stabs him with her knife. From the smile on her face it’s clear a part of her misses actively taking down the biters.
The hunt for Michonne continues with Merle and the other surviving member of his party determined to finish the job. Michonne sneaks up behind them, cutting Merle’s buddy and kicking the snot out of Merle’s crotch. All the ruckus draws a small herd of walkers and in the fracas Michonne slices open the abdomen of one of them and his undead innards spill out all over her. By the time Merle and his buddy are done with the others Michonne has disappeared.
Oscar, Daryl and Carl are on a mission to clear out a wing of the prison and Daryl tries to bond with Carl by telling him the story of how his alcoholic mom burned down their house, and herself, by smoking in bed. The thing is, Carl’s “How I Lost My Mom” story pretty much trumps any other one. Carl had to watch his mom get cut open with a hunting knife then he had to shoot her in the head before she turned and tried to eat him. You just can’t top that story. Go on…I dare you to try. Hey, at least Daryl put forth an effort and it seemed to work. Again, he’s the character in the show who’s showing the most growth and in many ways is unrecognizable from the Daryl of season one; all in good ways. The irony here being he’s finding his humanity while so many others are losing theirs.
Woodbury’s very own little miss gung-ho wall jumping zombie killer is called to the Governor’s office where he tells her she’s off wall duty. I think the “nobody goes over the wall” rule is more about the Governor controlling people than it is about their safety. Well, the conversation gets uncomfortable (for the viewer, not the participants) when Andrea admits she actually liked the fights in a flirty conversation that had me squirming more than any gore could.
Still in the woods, but about to head back Merle wants to tell the Governor that they killed Michonne, but when his companion disagrees Merle settles things by shooting the poor kid in the head. We’re beginning to see more of season one Merle instead of the toned-down Merle of earlier episodes. Meanwhile, Michonne is retrieving her pack of supplies when a group of walkers ambles by. She begins to draw her sword, but they pay no attention to her. It’s then that she realizes a nice coating of undead innards provides a nice zombie protection factor. I’d say intestines probably rate ZPF 100.
Still in the boiler room, Rick gets a third call. The woman on the other end of the line says his name which really freaks him out. Considering how justifiably freaked out he already is, that’s a feat. Rick hangs up the phone and carries on looking freaked out.
The injured Michonne limps to a small town at about the same time that Glenn and Maggie drive up on their quest to get more baby formula and any other supplies they can find. She doesn’t know them so she remains hidden, watching them to assess whether or not they’re a threat. They find a huge supply of formula and other badly needed supplies in a store, but when they emerge Merle shows up. Merle wants to see his brother, but Glenn tells him to stay put and they’ll bring Daryl to him. Merle’s not really into cooperation and at gunpoint he gets the two to drive him back to Woodbury where I’m sure they’ll all have a great time being tortured and interrogated. We see the basket full of supplies sitting on the sidewalk, left behind after Merle’s little hostage move.
Back at the prison, Daryl, Carl, and Oscar are still clearing out areas when a walker shambles up. In a hilarious response of literal overkill, the trio turn and all fire upon him simultaneously. When Daryl goes to get his arrow he sees a knife in the corpse’s neck that he recognizes as Carol’s. In the boiler room, Rick’s phone therapy sessions continue with a fourth call. This is when we, and Rick, finally know for sure these conversations are all in Rick’s head because the woman speaking is Lori. He gets his chance to say all the things he wanted to tell her and Lori reminds him he has the baby, Carl and the others. The call starts to break up as Rick’s mind finally accepts that this has all been in his head, but it’s the cathartic event he needed to snap out of his wild-eyed, crazy depression.
You think a prison full of zombies is creepy? Meh. What we see next makes that look downright normal. The Governor and Andrea have graduated from flirty conversations to working at making little Governor babies! Please, someone stab me in the head. Merle interrupts them with a knock on the door. With that one act, Merle has won my heart. He may be a bastard in every way, but I’ll always love him for cutting that scene short. I love you, man! So Merle is there to spin his yarn about how Michonne killed everyone, but he killed her in the end. The Governor wants her head, literally, but of course that’s not going to happen. The consolation prize is Glenn and Maggie, which seems to make the Governor happy enough.
Now that he’s exorcised his demons with the phantom phone, Rick returns to his family. He holds his newborn with a look of relief and sadness, but also with a tiny bit of hope. Rick’s back from Crazy Town. Daryl is in a prison corridor with Carol’s knife, sitting near a door that’s being weakly pushed by something on the other side, but blocked by a corpse. Since this was the direction the walker that was wearing Carol’s knife came from, Daryl is hesitant to open the door for fear of finding an undead Carol and subsequently having to dispatch the woman he loves. Finally unable to take any more, he drags away the corpse, swings open the door with Carol’s knife held high, and finds Carol. She’s alive, but just barely. He picks her up and carries her back to the others.
Rick takes his baby and a few others out into the yard and he sees something at the outer fence, so he gives the baby to Carl and walks to the perimeter. Along the fence are several walkers clawing at the fence, but right in the middle of them is Michonne holding the basket of supplies Glenn and Maggie had gathered. Michonne stares at Rick with a look of desperation while Rick stares back in disbelief. And that’s all we get until next Sunday!
This was another episode that was a bit lighter on the extreme zombie slaughter, but with all that happened I didn’t miss it. In fact, changing up the nature of events is what keeps The Walking Dead from getting boring. Rick losing his mind, Andrea’s creepy relationship with the Governor, and all these disparate characters slowly coming together is exciting to watch. Things are on a slow burn toward another crazy showdown and I can’t wait until Rick’s group clashes with the Governor and his minions. They’re making us wait, but they sure know how to make waiting entertaining.