We moved into an ace bit of crosscutting. Rick and his squad returned to the prison; The Governor and his people returned to Woodbury. The Governor had a very direct order for Martinez. In two days at noon, Rick would be bringing Michonne to the Appomattox Shack. "Kill the others, but you keep her alive," said The Governor. (I had been thinking/hoping that The Governor was using the Michonne thing as a red herring -- pretending to be a vengeance-obsessed madman, when really he just needed an easy way to kill the Grimes Gang. But the fact that he wants Michonne alive put paid to that idea. Milton wasn't happy about that: "That's a slaughter." The Governor didn't think of it that way: It was a way to avoid a slaughter. "No way we can all live side-by-side," he said. Then he waved at Andrea and said, "Hey hey, girly girl! Thanks for setting up that groovy hang-out sesh with Rick! He's a cool dude, and we're totes friends now!" (Andrea walked away, looking very mournful and Andrea-esque.)
Now, on one hand, I like the deeper implications of the Governor's scheme. There was a time after the zombies came -- perhaps six or seven months -- where everything was possible, where the old rules had fallen down. However, now we're in Phase 2. Groups have formed -- and if you aren't in a group, you are an enemy of that group. But to be honest, this twist also made this whole episode feel...well, a bit pointless. I don't think any of us viewers ever thought The Governor and Rick would find peace, not unless there was a common threat to unite them. Still, if I followed it correctly, the Governor's plan seemed to be:
1. Get Rick, a guy with a crossbow, and a one-legged old man with a gun to a remote location, a location that seems ideal for a heavily-armed security force to kill them, and also a location where a smart post-apocalyptic despot could feasibly lay down some explosives and just blow them all to hell.
2. Drink whiskey with Rick.
3. Ask Rick to turn over one of his best soldiers.
4. Generally act like a crazy person who probably should not be trusted. Ideally, this should involve lots of Smiles That Turn Into Murderous Frowns.
5. Send Rick and his men back to their secured headquarters.
6. Sit back and wait for Rick to return to the remote location, and then kill him.
I was much more convinced by Rick's post-summit actions. He assembled his people together. He told them, "I met this Governor. He wants the prison. He wants us gone, dead, for what we did to Woodbury. We're going to war." Rick looked out on his people. They weren't the Grimes Gang anymore; that implies a random assemblage of people. They have become Tribe Grimes: A family, an army, a barely-civilized society united in their simple but fervent desire to Keep On Not Dying.
Outside, Rick was less certain. He told Hershel about The Governor's deal: Give up Michonne, and it all goes away. Hershel told Rick that wasn't fair: She's earned her place. "Are you willing to sacrifice your daughters' lives for her?" asked Rick. Hershel had no response to that. Except a question: Why was Rick even telling him this? "I'm hoping you can talk me out of it," said Rick, as the camera rose up into the sky and the cicadas sang all around.
This was a curious episode of The Walking Dead: Slow-moving but rife with drama, filled with some great off-handed moments and some less-great Big Moments. I'm not sure that The Governor's plan makes sense, and I'm concerned that, at least according to that last scene, Rick seems to be the last man on earth who thinks The Governor should be trusted. We're approaching the endgame of this season, with only three episodes left to go. I'm guessing that the Mazzara era of Dead will end strong. The first three episodes of this season were fast-paced; I bet/hope the last three will be, also.
Fellow viewers, did you dig the Whiskey Summit? Do you think The Governor really just wants vengeance on Michonne, or do some men just want to watch the world burn? Would you watch a show about Martinez and Daryl Motherf--ing Dixon solving mysteries as a pair of zombie-apocalypse cops? It could be called Daryl and the Batboy. And
Follow Darren on Twitter: @DarrenFranich