When there's a feud between survivor communities brewing, is it really such a good time to go on a crazy-sabbatical? Don't get me wrong. Rick's entitled to some grief. He's been through a lot. But the timing for his venture outside the prison to wander after fancy-Lori seemed all wrong. Whether or not we've seen the last of Rick's hallucination remains to be seen. What is clear is that he's in desperate need of a shower, and more ammo.
Watching The Walking Dead, I often find myself acutely aware of how much ammunition is used, especially now that the living are actively fighting the living, instead of just the flesh-eating monster-people all over the place. Bullets were flying left and right, up and down tonight and during the worst of it, I couldn't help but think, what a waste. Earlier in the episode, when Daryl was helping that family of travelers, I wondered if he'd collect all of his arrows. Because I can't imagine he comes upon a fresh supply of arrows all that often. And we did see him grab at least one from the skull of a walker as he left the scene. The crossbow has that advantage, in addition to being a quieter weapon. Of course, there's always a car trunk door if a walker is positioned for such a kill.
Another less important topic I find myself obsessing over is the biter vs. walker usage. Biter vs. Walker is the Pop vs. Soda of TWD. Biter seems more appropriate to describe a zombie, but I find it an irritating alternative to the more familiar "walker." The Governor's people seem to favor "biter" as a term for the walking dead.
Let's move on to more pressing matters. Tonight's episode had Glen hellbent on retaliating against the Governor, though his determination seemed fueled by his anger over what happened to Maggie and less a tactical strategy. He did manage to get Maggie to tell him exactly what happened with the Governor when they were being held captive, but learning that the sexual assault hadn't gone as far as rape did nothing to sooth Glenn's nerves, and Maggie was all the angrier over having to say what happened out loud.
Glenn's plan to attack the Governor seemed like a bad idea. After all, it looked like the Governor was knocked down a peg after the previous assault. We saw him check in with Milton and talked to Andrea about sticking around to help lead Woodbury, which made him appear weak, as though he needed a break. But when he disappeared, Andrea was curious and anxious about his departure, especially when Milton refused to tell her (or admit he knew) where the Governor went.
In Dixon-ville, Merle and Daryl were off on their own, looking for food and trying to figure out their next move. Merle's talk of the Governor's likely retaliation against Rick and his people seemed to bother Daryl, but he didn't comment much about it. Instead, he responded to the cry of a baby. As though the sight of Daryl holding Rick and Lori's baby wasn't enough to make us coo over his soft spot for young ones, he rushes to the aid of a family being attacked from all directions by walkers. Merle reluctantly joined in on the rescue effort, but he expected to be rewarded for his efforts. And by rewarded, I mean he let out his inner racist and started digging through their things looking for food until Daryl pointed his crossbow at him and insisted they let the family go on their way.
Daryl and Merle really are two different kinds of men. Maybe they were originally planning to rob the camp before they were separated, and we'll never know if Daryl would have gone along with that if things had gone differently, but in the present day, Daryl is a guy who saves a family without expecting a reward, and Merle's a guy who (still) uses ethnic slurs and will take advantage of a family's vulnerability for his own needs. In the end, both men are survivors, but one's also an asshole.
After the rescue, Daryl decided to return to the prison. I think that thought was in his head from the moment he left Rick, but we can't fault him for going with his brother. That was the choice he needed to make at the time. As much as it was the right choice to leave Merle in the woods and return to the prison. Daryl needed to remember where he belonged. Of course, Merle followed after him and their arrival at the prison couldn't have been better timed. But we'll get to that in a minute.
Back at the prison, Rick was wandering around outside the gates chasing after his Lori mirage. He admitted to Hershel that he knows she's not real, but he was convinced he needed to be out there for some reason. Is it possible that being out there when the Governor showed up helped in some way? We did see Lori wandering around the guard tower, which was where one of the Governor's guys was positioned. But aside from being shot at and attacked by walkers, I'm not sure I saw the benefit of Rick's position outside the gates, so maybe there's more to this ghost-Lori thing than tonight's episode had to offer.
Axel was the lone victim of the Governor's attack on the prison. He took a bullet to the head while he was making Carol smile. Poor Carol. If anyone is due for a breakdown, it's probably her. People keep leaving her or dying around her. It seemed like she and Axel were hitting it off too. With so few smiles to go around inside that prison, it's a shame Axel had to go. He seemed like a nice guy. Optimistically, at least he never saw it coming. It sounds awful to say that but when we consider the terrible ways some people have died on this show (RIP Dale, Otis and T-Dog), Axel had it easy.
The Governor's attack came in waves, starting with gunfire on the people inside the prison, followed by Rick getting shot at, and finally someone showing up with a walker-filled clown car that tore through the gates and unleashed a truckload of hungry walkers onto the prison. That last bit was sort of amazing and horrifying all at once. Everyone was shooting at everyone. But for all their efforts, Axel was the only actual casualty on Rick's side. The sniper in the tower was the only casualty on the Governor's. Of course, now there's a busted gate and there are walkers all over the yard. And a lot of bullets were wasted in the process.
Rick seemed done for on the outside of the gate, and he was about to be eaten by a couple of walkers who clearly don't discriminate against the grimiest of Grimes, and then an arrow came through the face of one of them. Daryl had arrived! Daryl and Merle showed up and helped Rick out of his situation. The episode ended with them still outside the gate, but I'm assuming they'll find a way in, and maybe Merle will even manage to get inside too. With Axel gone, there is an opening in the prison, and he did just save Rick's life. I can't imagine Rick will want to let him in, regardless, but if there's ever a chance for Merle to get inside, this would be it. And if Merle gets to stay, then Michonne definitely should as well. Not only was she in the thick of things, helping to defend the prison, but she was also proactive enough to close the gate behind Rick when he wandered out after his prom date.
What's the score in this war? Either way, no one's winning. But the Governor showed Rick what he can do with just a few of his guys. This is far from over. At the very least, almost everyone survived the latest battle, and now it's just a matter of re-securing the prison.
Walkers or Biters?