Note: Do not read on if you have not yet seen Season 3, Episode 10 of AMC's "The Walking Dead," titled "Home."
After a slow and steady midseason premiere last week, "The Walking Dead" picked up the pace in this week's episode, which starts and ends with a quickly deteriorating Rick Grimes looking through a fence, afraid of what's on the other side. At the end of the episode, it's the walkers he fears once again, but when the episode opens, we see him staring through a fence at my least favorite new character: GHOST LORI.
In a dreamy opening without dialogue, Rick sees Ghost Lori standing in the prison fields wearing a long, white, satin, backless gown in front of three graves marked with crosses. Rick, really losing it now, walks over to her and is actually able to caress her face as Michonne watches from the distance, thoroughly confused. And now, here's a joke for the .08 percent of you who watch "The Walking Dead" AND "Say Yes To The Dress: Atlanta" like me:
But enough about G.L. Back at Woodbury, the Governor tells Andrea that he won't be retaliating against her friends at the prison and, in his typically manipulative fashion, praises her impromptu speech from last week's episode to convince her to stay at Woodbury and help him lead. "I ... We need you," he tells her before running off to Woodbury's resident nerd, Milton, telling him to keep an eye on her and her loyalty. Andrea is understandably conflicted, but her facial expression after speaking with the Governor was 100 percent Gob from "Arrested Development," so I think she'll be reuniting with her friends pretty soon:
We then pick up with Daryl and Merle, who have been wandering around the woods together for hours trying to find food and shelter. Merle is still in high spirits, but Daryl is starting to regret his decision to run off with his brother as they can't agree on what to do next. Daryl even suggests they go to the prison, but Merle reiterates that he's not welcome there. He even tells Daryl that the Governor is on his way to the prison to kill them all, anyway. Things come to a head after the two discover a couple with a crying baby trapped in a car surrounded by walkers on a bridge (side note: Merle thinks a crying baby sounds like "a couple cougars making love, sweet love"). Daryl's instinct is to help the family out, while Merle's is to rob them. But before that can happen, Big D pulls his big crossbow on his own brother.
The incident prompts Daryl and Merle to confront the elephant in the room. You know, the circumstances of their initial separation that ended with Merle losing a hand. Daryl calls him "a simple-minded piece of shit" for cutting it off. Merle rips Daryl's shirt and sees that their father whipped him, too. Daryl, now fed up with comparing wounds, says he's going "back where I belong" and walks away. Merle, defeated, follows him.
Back at the prison, Glenn, sporting some interesting new body armor, has taken charge now that Daryl is gone and Rick "went to crazy town." There's no sign of Tyrese, Sasha or the other two new "prisoners" after Rick scared them away in last week's episode so the gang is looking slim. Plans to barricade the prison and prepare for battle start to seem daunting. Glenn suggests that he and Michonne go back to Woodbury to take out the Governor themselves. Hershel wants them all to flee the prison together, saying, "We can't stay here." Glenn reminds him that he has one leg (ouch) and that they have a baby now. "We can't run." So, they decide to fight.
As everyone gets to work helping secure the prison, Hershel is still uneasy about Glenn, telling him, "This rage is going to get you killed." Hershel tries going to talk to Rick about it, but he's been in Ghost Lori mode for the entire episode. Finally, Hershel gets Rick to confess that he's been seeing things (after a hilarious initial excuse of, "I've got stuff out here"). As Rick explains his theory about the images in his head, he sounds exactly like the audience must feel about this entire B-plot. "It has to mean something," he says. "There's an answer. I know it doesn't make sense. Well, it can make sense, I think with time it will." WILL IT RICK? WILL IT?
Inside the prison, Maggie does some opening up of her own, finally talking to Glenn about how the Governor sexually assaulted her. This scene is important, but annoying. On the one hand, it's great to see the show's strongest couple confront their fears and weaknesses. On the other hand, watching a couple have a stupid fight when there's a zombie apocalypse going on reminds us of why Lori and Rick's fights in Seasons 1 and 2 were so tedious. To contrast Glenn and Maggie's tense conversation, we see Carol and former inmate Axel over in another part of the prison getting along marvelously, with perhaps a teensy bit of sexual chemistry between them. It's very heartwarming, actually UNTIL OH MY GOD HE GETS SHOT IN THE HEAD RIGHT NEXT TO HER. To add insult to injury, he had just finished explaining to her that he was in prison for a non-violent crime. Axel instantly becomes a human shield for Carol as bullets fly everywhere. The chaos begins as we see who (surprise!) has come to greet them, fully loaded:
Now this is what I'm talking about: an epic battle rages on outside the prison as the Governor and his cronies fire automatic weapons at the prison dwellers, who are spread out all over the place. It's absolute chaos. A delivery truck carrying walkers crashes through the prison gates and releases them on to the premises. Bullets run out. Things are looking bleak. But wait! It's Daryl! And Merle! They arrive just in time for Merle to save Rick's life, quite literally. I think this was the closes Rick came to getting bitten during the entire series. As the Governor finally pulls away and the remaining survivors (only Axel was lost) secure themselves behind the prison gates, we see Rick behind a fence once again, looking out.
So! Where are we? Everyone is under one roof now except for Andrea. Merle saved the life of his worst enemy. Axel is RIP. Ghost Lori remains. The Governor retreated, but will he return? Leave your thoughts and predictions for next week's episode in the comments.
"The Walking Dead" airs Sundays at 9 p.m. EST on AMC.