The Walking Dead, Episode 15: Not a Good Week For Merle and Daryl...
Not gonna lie, last week's episode of The Walking Dead has been causing us anxiety. Not for the usual zombie-related reasons -- we're quite used to that anticipation. But last week, we saw badass Andrea return to form, escape Woodbury, attempt to get to her old friends at Team Prison, and then get foiled at the last minute by the Governor. And the last we saw, she was strapped into the Gov's torture chair, with no one any the wiser.
Worst part is, her friends in Woodbury think that she's gone to the Prison, and her friends in the Prison don't know she was trying to reach them in the first place. So who will come to her aid? Someone has to, or we're going to have a heart attack.
Last night's episode opened with Rick telling Hershel and Daryl that he needs to go from the prison, today. His argument is that "no one else dies", so we assume he's going to Woodbury to attempt to reason with the Governor again. Daryl is in favor to the degree that he offers to go, too. Rick refuses, and instead goes to Merle for advice, despite clearly hating him (like any normal human would).
As Rick asks Merle for help, he reveals that he's willing to give up Michonne -- as the Gov. requested last week -- for the sake of peace between the two camps. Merle says "Give him that girl. He ain't gonna kill that girl. Just take out one of her eyes -- both of them probably. You'd let that happen for a shot. You're cold as ice, Officer Friendly." And with that, Merle grows a conscience ... There's some Daryl in him yet. "But I know you, Rick," he goes on, "You ain't got the spine for it." Rick ignores these assertions. "We've gotta get her to him by noon," Rick says. And we hate him for it, just as much as we've ever hated Merle.
Next thing we know, Michonne is slaughtering walkers in order to help Glenn back into the prison. "We don't have to win," she tells Rick after a safe passage into the prison walls. "We just have to make them getting to us more trouble than it's worth." If Rick gives this woman up, he's officially on the wrong side.
Inside, Carol asks Merle "Are you with us?" Merle tells her that he's here for his brother. Carol tells him to "Pick a damn side". Merle tells Carol she doesn't "seem scared of nothin' anymore" and she confirms that she's not. Yup! Carol kicks ass now! Haven't you heard? It's amazing what two seasons in a zombie apocalypse will do to a woman.
Outside, Daryl is also receiving some revelations from Glenn, who's telling him about what Merle did to him and Maggie when the two were held captive at Woodbury. "I care more about her than I do about me," Glenn says. Daryl exits, angel wings painted on the back of his leather jacket (how have we never noticed them before?) and finds Merle, who repeats his assertion that Rick doesn't have the stomach to hand over Michonne. Daryl says that he backs all of Rick's decisions. Merle mocks him for it and points out that if Daryl backs taking Michonne to the Governor, it's as bad as Merle doing what he did to Glenn and Maggie. "People do what they gotta do," Merle says.
"I just want my brother back," Daryl replies. (Aw!)
Hershel prays with his two daughters inside the prison. Outside, Rick is collecting rope and seeing Lori again and struggling with the images in his mind. "You're not here," he says to his dead wife. We feel for him. Rick enters and tells Hershel of the plan to hand over Michonne: "I can't. I won't." Thanks Lori's ghost!
Elsewhere in the prison, Michonne is killing walkers with Merle. Merle clocks her over the head and drags her unconscious body into another room. Bastard. Next thing we see, Merle and Michonne are walking beyond prison boundaries, Michonne's hands bound, Merle's gun to her back. Even when Merle stops to behead a walker with her sword, Michonne stays put. "I wanted my sword back," she says, when Merle questions why she doesn't run.
Back at the prison, Rick has noticed that Merle and Michonne have gone. He expresses his concerns to Daryl, who offers immediately to go and find them. Meanwhile, Glenn and Hershel have a heart-to-heart and Glenn expresses his fears about the group. "I want to marry Maggie ... I want her to know before ... Who knows ..." Hershel gives Glenn his blessing. As moments in this horror-show go, this is truly touching.
Out on the road, Merle ties Michonne to a post and breaks into a car, sets off the car alarm and immediately causes a pack of walkers to attack. Michonne, even tied to that post, manages to kill a couple. Merle finishes off the rest, gets Michonne into the car and takes off. In the car, Michonne mocks Merle. "You choose to be on the outside. No one's gonna mourn you. Not even your brother," she says. "He's got a new family now." Merle threatens to cut her tongue out for the insolence. "Once the Governor's done with me, at least I won't have to live with myself," she says.
Michonne tries to get Merle to turn back, letting him know it's not too late to follow his brother's example. Merle unbounds Michonne's hands and tell her he has something he's got to do on his own. She leaves the car, he hands her her sword and leaves her on the road side. Daryl finds her soon after and she lets him know that Merle let her go and that she didn't kill him.
Merle meanwhile, hangs out in the car, listening to Motorhead, drinking whiskey and ignoring all the walkers trying to get into the vehicle, like it ain't no thing. He ditches the car on the edge of Woodbury, stereo still blasting, and goes about shooting a variety of Governor goons and the walkers around them. Merle attempts to kill the Gov, but hits a walker instead.
The Governor finds Merle and beats him mercilessly. The two fight in a horrifying manner, the Governor biting off two of Merle's fingers. "I ain't beggin' you," Merle says, before the Governor shoots him. Woah! We did not see that coming!
Glenn finds Maggie outside of the prison and places a ring in her dirty little hand with no words. She sees it and says simply: "Yes". The two kiss. And, dear Lord, so few nice things happen in this show, it's a bonafide tear-jerker! Let's hope that thing fits, because we're pretty sure there are no jewelers around to adjust it...
Rick gathers the group and explains that the Governor had told him he would leave the group alone if they gave up Michonne. "I was gonna do that," he admits, "to keep us safe. But I changed my mind. But now Merle took Michonne to fulfill the deal and Daryl went to stop them, and I don't know if it's too late. I was wrong not to tell you. And I'm sorry."
Then something huge happens. Rick acknowledges that the speech that he made at the end of Season 2, after he had killed Shane, where he told the group that everything had changed and they had to back him regardless, was wrong: "What I said last year, that first night, after the farm. It can't be like that. It can't. What we do, what we're willing to do ... It's not my call. It cant be. I couldn't sacrifice one of us for the greater good, because we are the greater good. We're the reason we're still here -- not me. I'm not your Governor. We choose to go, we choose to stay. We stick together. We vote. We can stay and we can fight, or we can go." Rick's sanity has finally returned in full! Rejoice!
Shortly afterwards, Rick spots Michonne at the prison walls. He sighs with relief at the sight of her. Meanwhile, Daryl is out, still searching for her and his brother. In the midst of shooting walkers, he finds Merle -- who is now, horrifyingly, a walker, eating the guts of a corpse. Daryl breaks down in tears, as his brother approaches, trying to attack. Daryl kills his undead brother, stabbing him in the head repeatedly, before fully breaking down. Honestly, it's a heart-breaker to see Daryl showing this much emotion. Massive bummer.
So our questions about Andrea in the torture chair remain unanswered. Annoyingly. On one hand, it's a relief not to have to face it. On the other, we are slightly irritated that we have to wait another week to find out her fate. In the meantime, we'll feel bad for Daryl. Next week is the season finale, and if The Walking Dead has taught us anything in the two previous seasons, it's that finales usually involve the destruction of wherever the gang is living. Let's hope it doesn't come to that...