Back at Woodbury, Merle forced the Governor to leave Andrea in bed while he gave him an update. We lost three guys in the forest, said Merle; I killed Michonne, but walkers attacked. The Governor was disappointed that Merle hadn't brought Michonne's head or her sword. He looked suspicious. But Merle mentioned that he had a couple of prisoners…and that one of them came from the same group as Andrea. The Governor has plans for them. One imagines it won't be pretty.
Meanwhile, Rick had a surprise. The phone rang again, and the voice on the other end sounded familiar. By "Familiar," I mean it was Lori -- and the whole Ringing Phone subplot was really just Rick's brain figuring out how to deal with his grief. Twist! Shyamalan! Imaginary Friend Trope Alert! I'm going to be cruel to be kind: This was really, really silly. (It was also a plotline lifted directly from a Walking Dead graphic novel which was already bad the first time; translating it to screen is practically unforgivable.) Still, the whole thing was almost rescued by Andrew Lincoln, who delivered an extended apology. "I made a deal with myself," Rick said. "I would keep you alive, find a place…I thought there'd be time."
Watching this episode, I came to a sudden realization. Even though The Walking Dead feels like it's been moving much faster this year, not that much has actually happened. Most of the momentum of the first five episodes of this season have been based around introducing two new settings and slowly watching them spiral downwards. This episode, by contrast, was all about fusing those two new settings together. Two members of the Grimes Gang are now captive in Woodbury. But The Grimes Gang got a fair trade on Glenn and Maggie. At the end of the episode, Rick emerged in the prison yard with a peaceful look on his face. He has said farewell to Lori; he has recommitted himself to turning the prison into a safe refuge. But he saw something in the distance. He walked to the fence…and stared straight into the face of Michonne, covered in camouflaged Zombie Intestine and holding a couple hundred gallons of baby formula.
ALSO: Carol is alive and all our theories were wrong. Daryl picked her up and carried her out into the sunlight, a moment which ranks a Daryl Motherf---ing Dixon Swoon-o-Meter, which means everyone who watched this episode is pregnant with Daryl's brain babies. THE END.
Fellow viewers, this was a manic Walking Dead episode, with various chess pieces moving into position for the final two episodes of this half-season. It will be interesting to see how Andrea reacts to the return of her former allies, especially since she has so completely drunk the Woodbury Kool-Aid. It'll be even more interesting to see how Rick responds to what Michonne has to say: About Woodbury, about Merle, about the captured young lovers. Will Rick try to rescue Glenn and Maggie with an all-star Melee Squad composed of himself, Daryl, and Michonne, with Carol providing sniper support? Will Glenn and Maggie find themselves in an uncomfortable Abu Ghraib allegory? And will Merle Dixon ever find true love?
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