The Walking Dead’s superhero strength is its shockingly short memory. With an apparently endless ability to move forward as if past episodes never happened, the characters exhibit such a lack of cumulative learning from their experiences that it’s not even jarring when someone makes a complete 180 from one episode to the next. Why shouldn’t they? The world is off its rocker, and so is everyone in it.
So that’s why it’s completely cool that everyone is still doing whatever Rick tells them to do, even after he ditched them all to have a little pow-wow with Lori in the woods. All it took was some mass-zombie killing to put Rick back in good graces. Only Carl seems to know that Rick’s reprieve is far from permanent, flat-out begging him to relinquish his leadership.
Having helped to fend off the large portion of the Governor’s zombie attack, Merle and Daryl have rejoined the group. Insisting that Merle not be initiated permanently, everyone seems to share the idea that it ain’t no thing for Daryl to have been reunited with his brother, a seemingly totally impossible eventuality given not only the world they live in but the fact that the last sign of him was a bloody handcuff left on a roof in Atlanta some years ago. Even Carol, who still manages to deliver a modicum of normative behavior, has no problem advising Daryl that Merle is “no good” for him. No really, Daryl, abandoning your brother is quite simple – just forget the fact that Merle has done nothing but protect you all your life and it’s easy!
Seriously, people. Get a clue.
Meanwhile, it should be ridiculously easy for Andrea to walk away from Woodbury after everything she’s seen there. I know it’s the equivalent of a Trump International Hotel and the prison is a HoJo on the New Jersey turnpike, but even a fleabag motel has got to be a better option than throwing your lot in with a literal psychopath who has tried to kill your friends. But for Andrea, no decision is ever simple, and we’re guaranteed to be witness to a lot more hemming and hawing on her part before this plotline concludes.
I struggle to understand what exactly it is about Woodbury that seems trustworthy to her? The Governor has lied about not going to the prison, then returned with injured guards, then blamed it on Rick. Nothing in her experience of this man should make her trust him – she’s seen him pit brothers against each other, set up in zombie-human death matches for entertainment. Andrea is officially the worst judge of character on the show, possibly on all of TV.
Instead, Andrea thinks that she can arrange an accord between the two factions. Once she makes it back to the prison, she’s bizarrely appalled to discover that Shane and Lori didn’t make it (hello? Zombies that kill people attacking every day?) and even more shocked not to be welcomed back with open arms. She is adamant that the Governor (“Phillip”, apparently) is peace-loving, and it comes down to Rick’s word against the Gov’s. Andrea’s in deep at Woodbury: she’s been plied by hot showers and a warm bed … and a psycho to share it with. You know, the American dream.
Out of nowhere, Carol advises Andrea to murder the Governor post-coitus. It’s a logical move on Carol’s part, because someone who has come to arrange a treaty can probably be easily swayed to kill the other party involved. It nearly happened that way at the Geneva Convention – look it up.
Without a clear indication as to which way she will swing, the group hands Andrea a loaded gun and allows her drive off in one of their vehicles. She returns to Woodbury – drives right up to the gate (so much for all that secrecy she told Milton was so important), then rolls into the Governor’s house and confesses all.
In a feeble attempt to create some suspense, we shift back to the downtrodden group in the prison, and Beth sings a melancholy Tom Waits number into the dead air as they all sit pensively in the cellblock. It’s tedious and boring, and mercifully it fades quickly into Tom Wait’s actual voice as we shift over to Woodbury, where naked Andrea climbs out of bed to retrieve her knife. She stands next to the peacefully dreaming Governor for a long, painful moment before walking over to the window to gaze broodingly at the sky. We know you can’t kill him, Andrea, there are still five episodes left.
The only true suspense in this episode, unsurprisingly, comes out of Tyreese’s arrival at Woodbury. Introduced to the Governor just the same as Michonne and Andrea were, the small crew is given medical attention, hot showers and warm food. It takes just moments for them to reveal their connection to the prison – and the Governor hops on it without delay. One member of their group volunteers to attack Rick within seconds. So much for holding your cards close to your chest, Allen.
But are Tyreese, Sasha, Allen (and the other one?) really spies sent from the prison? Will Rick step down from his eroding position as leader? Will Carl’s head ever be big enough to manage that hat?
We’ll find out next time …