I uncovered an ancient map yesterday. It was at the bottom of an old chest that smelled of brine, and I had to assume it was a pirate’s. The map had a picture of your computer with the words “Here be SPOILERS!”
The mayor of Crazytown is talking to dead folks, but the upside is that he realizes they’re dead. So, there’s that.
At the end of last week’s episode, Rick received a telephone call in the room where Lori met her grisly end. After Rick’s tentative “Hello?” the screen went black, and I shouted unkind things at the television. This week, “Hounded” let us listen in on Rick’s conversation with a couple of people from the Great Beyond, a painful journey of self-soothing and coming to grips with a series of incidents Rick couldn’t handle in real time. It took mowing through a cell block of walkers and several fake phone convos to help him through. Plus, it wasn’t until he had Lori on the line that he realized it was all in his head.
As usual, I shall follow the plot lines not necessarily in screened order.
“Hounded” jumped back and forth between the prison and the goings-on of everybody’s favorite town, Woodbury. But, the episode started with Merle and three henchmen searching for Michonne. Woodbury must have a “What Happens in Woodbury, Stays in Woodbury…Or If We Let You In, You Gotta Stay Or We’ll Kill You” policy much like Las Vegas, except there are no slots (Hear that, Andrea? I’m judging you!), and there’s killing and whatnot. Little differences.
So, Merle and company are tracking Michonne in the woods when they come on a message left by the irate, katana-wielding BA. She’s arranged walker limbs to spell “go”, and left an upside down torso to complete the tableau. New minion Neal correctly reads “go back,” and Merle is amused.
Good ole Merle! Always seeing the humor!
They push on and are ambushed by Michonne. Hack! Stab! Two minions are down, and Neal is sliced but still in working condition. Merle, of course, is fine, and makes squeamish Neal buck up, stab one of their two dead compatriots in the head and continue on. When Michonne returns, they are a bit more ready, but things don’t go quite as they’d like when walkers attack at the same time.
Fighting! Slashing! Stabbing! In the midst of the fray, Michonne, who was knocked down, disembowels a walker, inadvertently spilling rotting guts all over herself.
“They’re not going to do that, are they?” I said, looking through my splayed fingers. They did. Gross!
As Michonne retreats, Merle manages to get off a shot that hits her leg. Merle figures she’s as good as dead and tells Neal they can head back to Woodbury. But, Neal’s got the blood lust now, and he wants to pursue her. Merle, being the kind and gentle new soul that Woodbury has transformed him into, tries to convince him again. But, after Neal declares that he won’t lie to The Governor (TG), Merle shoots him in the face and leaves.
In Woodbury, Andrea is enjoying the town, watching a group of kids playing when TG slithers up and says she’s welcome to join in the game. She defers but tells him she’d like to help out on the wall. But, bullets don’t grow on trees (How’d you trim those suckers?), and TG asks her to train with a bow instead. Andrea flirts, accepts, and we next see her atop the wall with a younger woman named Haley, who is a self-identified bow expert. As a walker approaches, Haley jumps up to show off her skill, but cannot hit the lurching target. Andrea, eager to prove herself, jumps off the wall (Why is it so low?) and takes out the walker with a knife.
Haley is scandalized because Andrea went over the wall; TG says no one is supposed to go over the wall. Uh-oh! Andrea’s crush is going to be upset!
Back in the prison, Rick hasn’t yet realized he’s crazy. He’s talking to a woman on the phone (not Lori), who says she’s part of a group that’s in a safe place. Rick is desperate to move his people to safety and pleads with the woman to tell him where she is, telling her about Carl and the new baby.
“We’re dying,” he breathes into the receiver. She tells him that she’ll talk to her group, and that she’ll call back in two hours with an answer.
Rick then goes back to Cell Block C to ostensibly check on everyone. We see Hershel holding the unrealistically quiet baby before Rick takes off again, fleeing back to the room with the phone. It was like he had to remind himself that reality still existed, that his kids and the rest of the group still needed him. I think he was steeling himself to do whatever he had to do to get to the mysterious caller’s haven. His brief contact with his family (the kids and Hershel and Beth, who also happened to be there) gave him needed resolve.
Hershel eventually follows him back to the phone room, and tells him that Lori was sorry about how things had gone. (When they had first gotten to the prison, Lori confided in Hershel) The older man tries to comfort Rick, but Rick is too obsessed with what he’s convinced is their ticket out of the prison and to safety. He tells Hershel about the phone call, and Hershel picks up the phone, not really expecting to hear a dial tone. Of course, there is no dial tone, and that’s when I knew for sure Rick was making it up. I wanted to believe, however improbable it was, that there was a working phone and hope at the other end of the line.
I did want to believe, but I knew it probably wasn’t so. And, it wasn’t!
But, Rick’s still convinced and tells Hershel to leave after the older man offers to stay and wait with him. Hershel knows there isn’t anyone on the phone; I could see it in his eyes.
Two more calls, and then Lori is on the line for Rick’s fourth and final conversation with his psyche. Amid tears and confessions, he makes a sort of uneasy peace with what happened between them. I don’t think he’ll ever fully forgive himself, but talking to dead Lori gives him a much needed outlet for his pent up emotions.
She doesn’t hang up like the previous callers, and I think that’s important. The other callers stopped the conversation, hanging up on Rick and leaving him frustrated and needing more. But, with Lori, the connection seems to break up after he’s poured out his heart, after he’s told her what he had to in order to feel some small shred of closure.
Meanwhile, Daryl is being useful and clearing walkers from the prison with help from Oscar and Carl. They pass by a door that is being feebly pushed from the other side, and Daryl states they’ll get the walkers on the other side on the way back.
No rush, guys. Just flesh-eating creatures clamoring for your faces. Or are they? (Insert mysterious eyebrow raise)
I gotta say that Daryl is proving himself a better mother than Lori ever was by taking Carl under his wing and bonding with the boy. As they wander through the hallways, Daryl tells Carl about his own mother’s death in a fire, and Carl looks up at him like he’s grateful for the attention. Poor kid.
After killing a cheap-scare walker (You know the kind. They pop up, and you go “Ahhh!” from your spot on the couch. Is that just me? Don’t lie! You do it, too!), Daryl finds a knife stuck in its neck. He recognizes the knife as Carol’s, and the scene closes to a dramatic music crescendo!
Later, we see Daryl sitting across from the door that is still being pushed against. He’s alone, and it’s obvious that he’s all torn up about Carol. I’m sure he’s probably blaming himself for somehow failing to protect her. Ridiculous, I know, since he was no where near Carol and T-Dog, but, still, that’s how these things work. Trust me.
A large dead (deader?) walker is blocking the door, preventing whatever is behind it from getting out. Finally, Daryl grows tired of the walker(s) behind the door and leaps up to take them or it down. He throws open the door, ready to stab with the knife, when, lo and behold, who is there but Carol!
I so totally called this RIGHT before it happened.
He picks her up and carries her back to (I assume) the group’s cell block.
Back in the woods, Michonne is limping along in the forest still covered in walker guts and blood. She realizes the camouflage potential when a small group of walkers wanders by without giving her a second groan. (We already knew this, though. Remember in the first season when Rick and Glenn wrapped intestines around their necks? Ewww…)
Michonne hobbles into a small town and takes cover just as Glenn and Maggie drive up and park in front of a store. The two are on a supply run for more formula, along with other supplies, I’m sure. Michonne obviously doesn’t know the pair, but I had to wonder if she suspects who they are from previous talks with Andrea.
After a time, Glenn returns with a shopping basket full of formula, declaring they’d hit the mother lode to Maggie, who was keeping watch by the vehicle.
Suddenly, Merle comes around the corner, fresh from offing Neal!
I had to wonder why he just happened on Glenn and Maggie. Before killing Neal, Merle referred to a vehicle that they were to take back to Woodbury. So, where is it? Was his car parked by Glenn and Maggie, and we just didn’t know it? Hmmm.
“Merle?” Glenn says, not believing his eyes. Merle seizes on the moment, quickly recognizing Glenn and ascertaining Daryl is still alive. Merle advances, hands in the air but gun in his belt. Glenn keeps ordering him to stop, but Merle doesn’t under the auspices of friendship.
No such luck.
Merle attacks, taking Glenn by surprise and Maggie hostage. Oh, no! Merle orders them into their vehicle and takes them back to Woodbury. Michonne, who observed the whole thing, watches them go. The camera focuses in on the shopping basket of formula, and I immediately became worried. Crazy Rick’s baby needs that formula!
Back in Woodbury, Andrea is called in to see TG to answer for breaking the rule of not going over the wall. TG is not pleased, but Andrea bats her eyes and flirts up a storm (**cough, coughMORONcough, cough**), and soon, they are out in TG’s garden enjoying a drink. Andrea comes on to him (See what I did there? Ewww.), confessing that she actually did like the undead fighting match, and they end up in the sack together.
But, a knock on the door interrupts them mid-coitus; it’s Merle! TG steps out into the hall, and Merle tells him that, sadly, none of the henchmen made it. But, he says that Michonne was killed (Liar, lair!), so it’s all good. The short conversation makes it obvious that TG was involved in the planning of the trip, and makes the sinister feel of the too-good-to-be-true Woodbury all the more apparent…to EVERYONE (me) but Andrea, that is! Gah!
Merle glosses over Michonne’s “death,” telling TG that her head and sword were lost in a biter scuffle. (Interesting to note that TG’s people refer to the undead as biters, while Rick’s group calls them walkers. Might it be construed as a description of their outlooks on this post-apocalyptic life? Have TG’s people always seen the undead as mindless aggressors? Rick’s group seems to hold a certain respect for the people the walkers used to be. Or, at least, they used to.)
Merle further distracts TG from Michonne by telling him about the capture of Glenn and Maggie. After finding out that Andrea knows the pair, TG becomes quite interested. Just what is he planning, and how does Andrea fit in? Now that she’s slept with him, she could be easier to control. But, the sight of Glenn and Maggie could change her mind pretty quickly!
At the prison, it seems that Rick’s imaginary talk with Lori did the trick, and he is ready to rejoin the group mentally and physically. He makes his way back to Cell Block C, and takes his daughter out into the yard, trailed by Carl, Beth, and Hershel. He comes from the literal dark of the prison into the light of day; it was clear symbolism of his transition from Crazytown to Saneville and his choice to take responsibility for his family (both blood and other).
But, then something catches his eye, and he hands the baby to Carl before walking to the fence line. There, still covered in camouflaging walker grime, is Michonne clutching the shopping basket of formula! Their eyes meet, and “Hounded” slams to a close!
The DRAMA! I love it.
So, what do you think? Is Andrea a stupid moron not to see TG for what he really is? What’s TG planning to do with her? And Glenn and Maggie! What will happen to them? Michonne will obviously lead Rick to Woodbury, but will that happen before Merle shows up at the prison?
So many questions! Speculate in the comments!
((Featured image courtesy of AMC and can be found at http://blogs.amctv.com/photo-galleries/the-walking-dead-season-3-episode-photos/episode-6-merle.php.))