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Last week's episode of The Walking Dead took a break from the Prison vs. Woodbury feud to focus on Rick and his issues. Tonight's episode, titled "Arrow on the Doorpost," took us back to Rick and the Governor's fight, skipping the intro and putting these two leaders in a room together within moments of the start of the episode.
Jumping past a more traditional introduction, as it was later established that Andrea set up a meeting between Rick and the Governor, the two leaders sat down for a tense discussion about a possible truce. All the while, we're left to wonder if and when one of them tries to kill the other. But that never happened. They actually talked, had some whiskey and the Governor revealed that he too lost his wife, though she died before the zombies came. Just a simple accident that changed his life forever. So the Governor knows grief. He's not entirely unfamiliar with what Rick has dealt with. And there's also the loss of his daughter to consider. Under other circumstances, the two might have bonded over this, but even with whiskey poured, the tension never abated.
In the end, the Governor revealed to Rick that he'd be content to call the situation even-steven if Rick gives him Michonne. He has two days to bring her back to the barn. Rick revealed to Hershel at the end that he sort of knows there's a good chance the Governor and his army will kill him and the rest of the prison group even if they hand over Michonne. But there's always the chance that giving the woman up could really end this feud, and maybe that'll save their children. Hershel made a good point that Michonne has earned her place among the group through the lives she's saved already. Rick agreed, and I like to think that'll win out over the remote chance that the Governor might actually make good on his promise.
Of course, we know the Governor has no intention of taking Michonne and moving on with his life. He already gave the order to one of his men to set up guys around the barn (or silo or wherever it was that they were) and to take Michonne and kill whoever delivers her. So war is inevitable, which means, from a viewer's perspective, all of this is one big test of Rick's character and leadership abilities. Will he try to hand Michonne over? Or will he show up in two days prepared for a fight? Or will they all hit the road? The latter seems least likely, judging by the promo for next week's episode, but it's still an option.
The other great thing about tonight's episode was everything that was going on outside of Rick's conversation with the Governor. Daryl bonded with the Governor's henchman after they killed a few walkers together. They shared some smokes and shot the breeze, both acknowledging that this alliance against the dead will last about as long as the cigarettes they're smoking. But the scene did emphasize the even footing they're on. They're fighters and they follow orders. It's what they have in common. In ten minutes or an hour or two days, one of them might be killing the other, and they both know it.
While Daryl was bonding with that guy, Milton and Hershel bonded over Hershel's stump. Being the scientist that he is, Milton was very curious about Hershel's spur-of-the-moment amputation, which gave them something to talk about.
Milton's conversation with Hershel might have been what he needed to begin really questioning the Governor's motives. He's seen the human side to one of these prison people, and maybe it won't be so easy for him to partake in whatever the Governor has planned against them. Especially when it seems obvious that the people at the prison aren't these terrible monsters who deserve to be killed. Or maybe I'm just being optimistic about Milton.
Of everyone, Andrea seemed the most turned by the situation. Watching tonight's episode, it occurred to me that maybe Andrea believed she found herself a Rick in the Governor. Or, a Rick with a bit more of a dark-side edge. And maybe that's why she's been looking past some of his shady behavior. But she seemed affected by Hershel's vague reveal that the Governor did something to Maggie, and it seems like she's finally realizing that this guy is bad news and not worth the effort she's putting into the situation.
Andrea returned to Woodbury with the Governor, creating the image that she was still on his side in all of this. When she asked him about the terms of his arrangement with Rick and he didn't answer, she didn't press the matter. She just smiled and walked away, which to me, suggests she's planning something and she's no longer trying to convince herself that this situation can be resolved without her having to choose a side. Whether or not this turns out to be the case remains to be seen, but I'm giving Andrea the benefit of the doubt here.
In basically unrelated news, Maggie and Glenn made up tonight, and then went at it big time on the prison floor. The sex scene went on for about thirty-seconds too long, but I may be saying that because the whole time, I was just waiting for something horrible to happen. It's probably a rare thing when a show like this can have a steamy moment that isn't shadowed by the possibility that a rotten corpse might bust in and start eating someone. On the bright side, Glenn and Maggie are ok again! Of course, the fact that they made up makes them both vulnerable. Because you know they wouldn't kill one of those two until the tension was resolved, which it now has been. Is it too pessimistic to think that their romantic scene tonight might have been their last?
That brings us to what's ahead. There are only three episodes left and all signs point toward war. Rick warned his people that they're going to war. He didn't bother telling them (except for Hershel) about the deal with the Governor, and hopefully he doesn't. Merle might be all too happy to snatch Michonne and offer her up to the Governor. But what about Rick? Will he decide to try to hand Michonne over? Or will he hatch some other plan to deal with the situation?