The long wait has finally come to an end and we’re treated to an episode that picks up at the exact spot where episode 308, Made to Suffer, left off. Daryl and Merle are pitted against one another in a fight to the death surrounded by the picnic-loving, friendly townsfolk of Woodbury who’ve suddenly turned into a bloodthirsty mob shouting for a fatal fisticuffs.
Look, I get that the citizenry of Mayberry-Upon-Crackpipe feel angry and betrayed, but you’d think by now they’d have had enough death and bloodshed to last a hundred lifetimes. Of course this spectacle was set up by the Philip the Twisted, but to suddenly have the full, rabid support of the cardigan-wearing sheeple seemed a bit much. And to have Andrea be the only voice of reason in Thunderdome kind of made me want to eat my own brain, but we needed a reason to get Merle and Daryl back together and this is what we got. I’ll just have to live with it.
The boys get into a good, old-fashioned, hillbilly throwdown and for a minute it looked like Merle was really going to try and be Cain to Daryl’s Abel by using his medieval stump-o-death as a bludgeoning tool. It turns out Merle really just wanted to give the people a WWE-style show then turn on the crowd back-to-back with Daryl. As they’re executing their turnabout, they’re aided by Rick and company who come in with blazing guns a-blazing and smoke grenades a-smoking.
Our heroes escape Woodbury with Merle in tow, leaving only Andrea behind. Oh, and they left a zombie sized hole in the town’s perimeter, effectively opening up the buffet for all those good for nothing loitering walkers who just hang around the wall hoping for a snack. This little town’s going to get the blood and death they were so eagerly screaming for, only not in the way they thought.
The bunch meet up with Michonne and Glenn who are waiting by the road, but Merle is the fly in the ointment that has everyone pointing guns at each other. Rick isn’t having Merle re-join the group and Daryl’s torn, but ultimately decides to go off with his brother, ostensibly to listen to racist remarks and banjo music. Rick doesn’t trust Michonne since she separated from the group after they infiltrated Woodbury, so he tells her she has to leave once she’s healed up. Then to put a cherry on top of their hissy fit sundae, Glenn tells Rick he failed by not killing the Governor so Glenn announces “I’m done!” It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, ain’t it?
Tyreese is a good man desperate to join Rick’s group as they’re the first decent people he’s come across since the outbreak. Hershel tells them he’s not so sure Rick will be receptive to that idea after all the people he’s lost, but Tyreese remains patient, humble and kind. Allen and Ben, the other two members of the new group, want to basically kill Hershel and the others and take their guns before Rick’s bunch returns. Tyreese and his equally decent sister, Sasha, are not about to let that happen. I think Allen and Ben just set themselves up to be redshirts in an upcoming episode. At least I hope so.
After the incursion everybody wants to leave Woodbury, but the Governor’s minions won’t open the gates. About that time we hear the screams of someone literally being eaten alive by walkers just up the street. Andrea and the minions (banana!) take out the walkers, but leave the half eaten guy to writhe in agony and gag on his own blood while everyone says, “Do something!” yet no one does a damned thing. Governor Crazypants, who has been pouting in his room up until now, walks out, pops dying guy in the head, then sulks back to his room to continue his pity party.
Andrea runs to his room to give the grousing Gov a good talking to. This is when Andrea finds out her old group is still alive and that her booty call buddy even held a couple of them captive just for kicks. Tired of his sulking, Andrea goes back to the worried citizens on the street and gives them a pep talk that turns their frowns upside-down in less than a minute. Wow, the only thing that could’ve made that platter of platitudes cheesier is having The Battle Hymn of the Republic playing in the background.
Rick and the Delta Force get back to the prison where Tyreese pleads his case to join the group. Rick is not very receptive to the idea because he’s tired of feeling responsible for so many people dying…and because he’s in-freaking-sane! Hershel tells him he’s wrong about rejecting Tyreese’ group and that he needs to start giving people a chance. Rick’s mulling it over in his head and for a moment there you think he’s going to give in to Hershel’s wise words, but then out comes the crazy.
Rick sees the shadowy silhouette of Lori standing on one of the overhead walkways and starts babbling. He starts shouting “You don’t belong here, get out!” and naturally everyone thinks he’s just having an allergic reaction to common sense. There was no way they could have realized he’s shouting at the imaginary sight of his dead wife so Tyreese and his band leave before they get any crazy on their shoes.
The episode ends with everyone looking scared to death of Rick while Rick looks pissed, crazy, and confused. That situation is becoming a running
gag theme for this season of The Walking Dead. Maybe in the next episode they’ll come across a truck full of Paxil and force feed it to Rick. Or to me.