Last week, we got something of a “bottle episode” as Rick, Carl and Michonne went back into the Grimes old stomping grounds to pick up supplies and ended up running into an old friend. It seemed that Morgan, the man who saved Rick after he wandered back from the hospital, had fortified himself in the town and was waging a one-man guerrilla war against the Walkers. He had also lost his son Duane since last they met, and had gone a little batty as a result.
And despite his best efforts, Morgan would not come back to the prison with them since he believed that it was only a matter of time before Rick and his people would die, either at the hands of the Walkers or someone else. Letting them go with their share of guns and ammo, he said goodbye to them, and they returned to the prison to deal with their main problem – the Governor and his army operating out of Woodbury.
Which brings us to this week’s episode, where Rick and the Governor are meeting on neutral ground to hash things out.
Arrow on the Doorpost:
The episode opens with Rick, Daryl and Hershel arriving at what appears to be an abandoned silo. After doing a little recon, Rick finds his way into a large warehouse where someone has set up a table on top a raised platform. Making his way to it, the Governor appears and tells Rick they “have a lot to talk about”. After a brief stand-off, they disarm and get down to business (but of course, we see that the Governor has a second gun strapped to the table).
Another car arrives shortly thereafter carrying Caesar, Milton and Andrea. Andrea is surprised to hear that the Governor is already inside and goes in while the others wait out front. Apparently, she arranged the meeting and offered Rick a compromise where they would divide the land between them. However, the Governor rejects it and tells her to leave.
Outside, the two camps wait and endure a tense standoff until they are set on by some Walkers and begin taking them out. This gives Daryl and Caesar a chance to do a little “male bonding” as both take out their share with Andreas help. After killing their share, they reflect on how war seems inevitable, and neither one is too crazy about the idea.
Milton and Hershel begin to talk as well, with Milton taking an interest in Hershel’s amputation and how it saved him from being infected. And eventually, Andrea begins to talk to Hershel and asks about Maggie, whether it was true that Governor tried to rape her. Knowing the truth now, she realizes she can’t go back to Woodbury. Hershel invites her to come back to the prison and to her family.
Back at the prison, Glenn and the others are forced to content with Merle, who keeps insisting they go to the talks to kill the Governor. Glenn refuses, which prompts Merle to try and get out on his own. After Glenn, Maggie and Michonne restrain him, he tries to appeal to Michonne’s desire for vengeance. However, she refuses to put Andrea at risk and tells him he’s on his own. Afterwards, Glenn and Maggie finally make up after and decide to blow off holding watch on the field to go have sex.
After talking things over with some whiskey, the Governor finally gives Rick his terms. In exchange for Michonne, he will leave them alone. Rick doesn’t believe it will end there, but the Governor gives him two days to think it over and tells him to return to the silo with his answer. The meeting ends and he leaves with his people, and Andrea goes with him. All parties head back to their respective homes.
However, upon his return to Woodbury, the Governor reveals his true intentions. He orders Caesar to set up an ambush around the meeting place so they can kill Rick and anyone he can be expected to bring. Milton is surprised and objects, but the Governor insists that its the only way. Sooner or later, they will have to deal with Rick since he doesn’t believe they can ever live side by side.
At the prison, Rick tells his own version of the story: that the Governor wants the prison and all of them dead. The camp is divided, with Merle and Michonne thinking they should strike first while Carol and Hershel think they should take their chances on the road. However, he is willing to trust Rick’s leadership and stay and fight, as long as they are together. Rick tells him what the Governor really wanted, and Hershel agrees its unacceptable.
It’s official. The two camps are going to war!
Once again, I have to say I was happy with what was arguably a pacing episode. It managed to build up the suspense, let us know what’s going to come, and provide some breathing room while we build to the big climax. For some time now, its been obvious that an all-out war between the two sides will be happening, but many pieces needed to fall into place before that could happen. This episode was good in that it established much of that and hinted at where others pieces are going to fall.
And like the last episode it was thematically consistent. I liked how the show cut between the Governor and Rick dealing inside and the grunts talking outside. At once we can see two hardened leaders talking about the undesirability of conflict and how far they will go to protect their people, while their soldiers realize how much they have in common and also confess that a fight is not something they would want.
All the while, its clear that said conflict is inevitable. In a world where two sides have the exact same interests – i.e. survival and protecting their own – it would seem that peace and cooperation are the only way. And yet, that is the one thing they cannot hope to achieve, simply because the need to survive dictates that they destroy each other. As always with TWD, the greatest enemy is not the zombies, but your fellow man.
But I think the best aspect of this latest episode is how it is building towards the big finish. We have only three episodes to go this season and some key factors need to be established before it can end. Namely, there’s position of Andrea in all this, the involvement of Tyreese and his gang, and how Rick and his people plan to confront the Governor and his army and win.
At this point, its clear that Rick and the prison camp stand a better chance now of thwarting the Governor and his army than before. With Merle, Michonne, a small stockpile of guns and the prison walls, they have certain advantages, at least if they are attacked. But of course, the Governor has more people, more resources, and the freedom to use them. In any prolonged fight, he is sure to win.
Which brings up Andrea and Tyreese’s group. As a friend of mine suggested (hi Khaalidah!), she believes the Tyreese group is part of a double-cross. After Rick kicked them out, we didn’t see or hear from them at all until they came to Woodbury, hats in hand and looking for refuge. She thought it was possible that Glenn made a deal to have them do a little spying. However, if the previews for next week’s episode are any indication, they were genuine in their desire to become part of Woodbury, but Andrea will set them straight.
So between the Governor’s planned ambush, Milton and Andrea’s desire to stop him, and Tyreese and his gang’s assistance, its entirely possible we’re building towards a big confrontation that will only be won with the help of some last minute help from those people who are closest to the Governor. That’s what I’m predicting at this point. And even though it means violating the comic book material somewhat, it’s what I’d do if I were one of the writers.
It might be premature and hopeful of me to predict a happy ending, but I think if there’s one thing this show can be counted on, its to keep going and not let things get too bloody. Unlike the comic, which really didn’t pull punches and had a bigger death toll, the show has been looking to strike a balance between grimness and hopefulness, where the characters are constantly looking for a normal life and are actually managing to get closer to it. But of course, there’s always a giant cost involved, so expect plenty more death!
Three episodes to go!