The Walking Dead recap: Can't Take Chances With These Terrorists

The midseason finale sees the Grimes Gang and the Woodbury Warriors engage in all-out urban warfare. Not everyone gets out alive.
Ep. 08 | Aired Dec 2, 2012

A CRY IN THE DARK The problem with Carl is that it's very hard to tell whether his ability to unemotionally shoot people in the face counts as maturity or sociopathy, and the problem with Walking Dead is that the show might not know the difference. Still, cool gun.

Gene Page/AMC

The Governor was making plans with his trusty sidekick, Corporal Merle. Merle asked if the new plan was to move to the prison -- a very secure facility, assuming nobody leaves a huge gaping hole in the fence around back where just anyone could walk in, but again, who would do that, that's totally crazy, right? The Governor didn't like that idea. "People love it here because it reminds them of what was," he said. To get really heady for a second, there's a fairly clear-cut political allegory circling around The Governor: He runs Woodbury on a platform of Benevolent Nostalgia, reaching back to a pacifistic ideal of pre-apocalyptic living, but he uses the image of that peaceful-nostalgic-happiness society to justify horrific violence and generally immoral activities. (I don't think there's an obvious political analogue -- you could feasibly describe him as Nixon-esque, although a closer comparison is probably Bizarro Jimmy Carter.)

To get much less heady, The Governor had a fairly straightforward plan for the prison population: Terminate, with extreme prejudice. He allowed to Merle that they could turn Daryl into their inside man. But everyone else had to go. That included Glenn and Maggie: "Take 'em to the screamer pits."

A few doors down, Rick Grimes and his Howlin' Commandos were lurking inside of an apartment building. They weren't sure if they could trust Michonne. ("Think she's leading us into a trap?" asked Oscar -- exactly the kind of thoughtful question we've come to expect from Good Ol' Oscar, a character who was clearly going to be around for a very, very long time.) A Woodbury citizen walked into the room -- he saw someone moving, and it was after curfew. The Melee Squad struck like lightning: "Ziptie him," said Rick. The guy didn't know anything about anyone being held hostage. He was just scared, and you had to be struck by what a scary bunch of people the Grimes Gang are: Rick, who appears to sweat blood; Daryl, looking for all the world like Pigpen with a crossbow; Michonne, perpetually holding her sword at people's throats; Oscar, being Oscar.

Okay, okay, I'm acting grumpy about Oscar -- we'll discuss that in a moment. But give the show credit: Back at the prison, we finally got to spend a little bit of time with Axel, a.k.a. "The Inmate with a Beard." He asked Beth how old she was. "17." "17!" said Axel, "INTERESTING." Carol said that she wanted to speak with him, and by "speak," she meant "put the fear of god into him." Axel begged. He's been locked up a long while, and there ain't a lot of women around. Maggie is with Glenn. And Carol is a lesbian. "I'm not a lesbian," Carol said, amused. "You're not a lesbian? My my, this is interesting," said Axel.

Okay, back to Team Grumpy for a moment: Axel was introduced seven episodes ago. In that time, here are the two things we have learned about him:

1. He has a beard.
2. He is horny.

Maybe the show is just fundamentally better when it focuses on action. Back at the Woodbury Torture Center, Glenn and Maggie surprised Merle and his pal with their Stabbin' Bones. Maggie straight-up ended one guy with a throat slash. Glenn couldn't quite take down Merle. The point was moot: Merle's boys came in and ended the scuffle. Glenn and Maggie were preparing for their final fate. Glenn: "Just keep looking at me." At that moment, they put a burlap sack over Maggie's head. But in the next moment, Rick Grimes and the Melee Squad strolled into the torture chamber. Because Daryl Motherf---ing Dixon always chooses the best loadout from the inventory screen, he had a few flashbang smoke grenades. They threw them, went in, grabbed Glenn and Maggie, and fired some shots.

My First Response To This Scene: "Awesome."

My Second Response To This Scene, While Munching On Goldfish After The End of the Episode: "This was the first scene of the episode when extremely convenient grenades were used to specifically make sure that one character did not see another character."

Everyone in Woodbury heard the shots fired. They were freaking out. The Governor played Mike Bloomberg. He told them to go home, stay inside, keep the lights off, read a book, stay inside. The Governor had a very different speech for his squad of killers. "You shoot to kill, uh huh?" he said. "Can't take chances on these terrorists."

NEXT: Daryl Motherf---ing Dixon chooses sides

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