The best thing about tonight’s episode of The Walking Dead? No Andrea. The story has mercifully moved back to the Prison, and toggles between it, and The Drop Point.
Rick has agreed to take the governor up on his harebrained deal: turn over Michonne, and maybe nobody else has to get hurt. Rick knows he’ll need Merle for any wet work though, and Merle is much better versed in how things will go. The Governor won’t kill Michonne, at least not right away. He’ll just “do things” to her. He makes it painfully clear to Rick what kind of death and torture warrant he’s signing.
Merle agrees to help out with the Plan, but not before pointing out to brother Daryl in a heart-to-heart that what they’re asking him to do is no different than him snatching Glenn and Maggie (“those lovebirds”) and delivering them to the Governor. So be it. No sooner has Merle conked Michonne over the head and dragged her off than
Sheriff Hamlet Rick quickly has a change of heart after seeing another vision of Ghost Lori (who is apparently now his Jiminy Cricket conscience).
Great. In addition to having sacrificed one of their most able-bodied warriors in Michonne, Rick now has to spare Daryl to track the two of them and try to undo his damage. From there, the episode briefly deteriorates into ‘Merle and Michonne Take a Road Trip.’ He tells her, “I wanna be with my brother. My brother, he wants to be in the prison. This little trip, maybe it’ll keep that place standing. If I pull it off, maybe all is forgiven.” (Never get too attached to a character who’s allowed to explain his backstory… See also: T-Dog, Axel.) This could’ve been Merle’s shot to step up (be a leader, take out the Governor), Michonne tells him, but he has blown it. He doesn’t agree that the two of them could just “go back,” but he does set her free, and goes on without her.
Meanwhile, back at the prison, Glenn asks Hershel for Maggie’s hand in marriage; gets his blessing; hands her the ring; and she says Yes. (Yawn.)
Inexplicably, Daryl quickly encounters Michonne on the road (he’s an expert tracker, but is there really only one route between the prison and Woodbury?) and sets off to find his brother, who’s headed to the Meeting Point of the designated Michonne drop, expertly trailing a wake of zombies behind the car he’s hotwired. Martinez and the Governor’s men are appropriately distracted, so that Merle can take a few rifle shots from his perch in the shed. But just as he gets the Governor in his sights — Reformation! Hero! — he has to pause to dispatch a pesky zombie, and that rolls him out the door where Martinez, and his men can get at him. “You leave him to me!” the Governor bawls. In hand-to-hand battle, Merle surprisingly never gets a chance to use his lethally weaponized stump; instead, the Governor chews off a couple of Merle’s fingers and spits them out maniacally.
“I ain’t gonna beg,” Merle says defiantly. “I ain’t beggin’ you.” (Remember that scene in An Officer and a Gentleman where Richard Gere, half weeping and exhausted and still refusing to D.O.R., chokes out to Louis Gossett Jr.’s drill sergeant, “I got nowhere else to go. I got. nowhere. else. to. go.”? Merle sounds exactly like that.)
“No,” the Governor acknowledges, aiming his revolver at Merle and firing.
Rick assembles the prison crew to confess how he bartered away Michonne, but he changed his mind… sacrificing Merle, and possibly Daryl in the process. He has a new way of thinking now. “How you live, how you die, isn’t up to me. I’m not your Governor.” Everyone looks duly inspired. Then he… ambles off. But at least he hasn’t wandered off to CrazyTown again. Back at his watch perch, he spies Michonne returning to the fold.
But it’s poor Daryl who’s left to reap the full consequences of Rick’s terrible decision-making. He reaches the shed, and surveying the carnage, he slowly comes upon one lone zombie, feasting on one last corpse. There are really only two options at this point. The obvious choice is that Merle will be the corpse. But he isn’t. He’s the Walker. And it’s one of the series’ best, most heartbreaking moments when Daryl has to put down his own brother.
The Finale next week will have a tough time topping that.
Every night this week, AMC will air the entire series of Walking Dead to date, the Walking Dead zombie marathon, leading up to the Season Finale on Easter Sunday.
How You Can Attend the Walking Dead Season 4 Premiere
Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman will be judging the Walking Dead Fan Contest.“Fans make videos trying to prove that they are the ultimate Walking Dead fan. And then I’m going to be judging those things.” The winner gets to attend the Season 4 premiere party. Winner will be announced after the March 31 Season 3 finale.
Also, AMC now offers a Dead Yourself app.
Walking Dead Season 3 Episode Recaps
Season 3, Episode 13, Arrow on the Doorpost
Season 3, Episode 11 I Ain’t a Judas
The Ace Interview with Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman
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