The Dixon brothers in “Home.”

If you haven’t seen tonight’s The Walking Dead, “Home,” then you might want to get your defenses ready because, like the Governor, spoilers are coming for you!

Tonight’s episode was a slow build … a lot of fall-out from recent events, and discussing said events. Until the end, when the proverbial you-know-what hit the fan. But we’ll get to that soon enough. We open with a slow dreamy sequence set to an ethereal score. Rick is checking the perimeters of the prison and through his binoculars spots the familiar female figure he saw at the end of the last episode. She is standing by the graves. Rick goes to her, and right as he reaches her she disappears. He sees her again, outside the perimeter fence. He follows and this time he’s able to approach her, and we see that it’s Lori. Michonne, who was out in the yard, watches with concern as Rick runs outside the gates (leaving them unlocked behind him) for apparently no reason.

In Woodbury, the Governor goes to see Andrea, who reluctantly lets him in. They have what APPEARS to be an open conversation. Andrea inquires about his plans regarding the prison, and says she’d like to visit her friends there. The Governor owns up to doing terrible things, and tells Andrea that she did what he’s no longer fit to do, which is lead the people of Woodbury, citing her inspirational speech. “We need you,” he says earnestly. It all sounds great, like a man who has truly seen the error of his ways, but I don’t buy it, and if Andrea has half a brain she won’t either.

Merle and Daryl are out in the woods, trying to make it in the wilderness, but already there is a fair amount of arguing going on between the two of them. Merle wants to stay in the woods, Daryl thinks they should head back to the prison. Merle is confident that the Governor won’t be wasting anytime attacking the prison, and casually tells Daryl that his friends are probably dead already. The only thing the Dixon boys seem to share is their ability to spit long distances.

The gang at the prison is trying to work out their next steps, trying to decide how best to prepare for the Governor. Not everyone in the group is as alarmed about it, but not everyone has MET the Governor. Michonne clues them in. “He had fishtanks full of heads–walkers and humans. Trophies. He’s coming.” Glenn asks Michonne to help him go back to Woodbury and strike first. She agrees, but Herschel speaks up and tells them it’s a foolhardy choice. Herschel believes they shouldn’t even stay in the prison. Glenn agrees to give up the plan of going back to Woodbury, but he insists they should stay at the prison. “We’re making a stand.”

The Governor drops in on Milton, primarily to test out his loyalties. He makes it clear to Milton that moving against him in any way, the way Merle did, will not be tolerated. On a similar note, regardless of the tune he was singing earlier, he does NOT trust Andrea, and he asks Milton to keep an eye on her. The Governor is taking no chances now, and wants all his soldiers firmly in line.

It’s too bad Milton is a terrible liar. Andrea has noted that Martinez, one of the Governor’s right hand men, is nowhere to be found. This clearly piques her curiosity, so she chases Milton down to ask where the Governor himself might be. “On a…run?” Andrea sees through his nervous demeanor, and while she can’t do anything about it at the moment, it’s clear the seeds of suspicion have been planted.

Glenn is telling everyone at the prison that things don’t look great for them. There are more breaches where walkers can get in, making staying there a less tenable idea than they originally thought. Glenn then goes to see Maggie. He wants her to talk about what happened to them … so she gives him what he asks for, describing in detail the humiliating way the Governor ordered her to strip, how he put his hands on her, bent her over a table. It’s clearly excruciating for Glenn, and he says, “Did he…” “Rape me? No,” says Maggie shortly. “Feel better?” Glenn reaches out to her, but she slaps him away and pushes him in a sudden outburst of anger. They are both suffering, and their suffering is pulling them apart. It was a finely acted scene between Lauren Cohan and Steven Yeun.

There is a brief exchange between Carol and Axel, where Axel tells Carol his history–how he was arrested for an armed robbery he performed with a toy gun, and that he doesn’t even know how to properly use the real gun he carries now. Carol shows him how, and he says appreciatively, “You’re quite a lady.”

Her counterpart, dear Daryl, is still slogging away in the woods with Merle. This time they’re arguing about directions, until their argument is cut off by the sounds of distress. Daryl insists it’s a crying baby, Merle says it’s nothing but raccoons. Of course Daryl is right, and they come upon a young Latino family who are trying to fight off a small herd of walkers. The woman and her baby are trapped in the car, and the men are overrun. Daryl swoops in, crossbow in hand. Merle begrudgingly helps, hoping to get something out of it. After the walkers are beaten he scares the family, calling them names and rummaging through their things, looking for plunder. It’s only when Daryl levels his crossbow at his brother that Merle withdraws, and the family is allowed to go on their way.

The whole interlude creates additional friction, and we can see on Daryl’s face as he marches back into the woods how unhappy he is with the different ways he and Merle choose to handle things now. All of the bad blood then comes out. Daryl calls Merle on his guilt trip, reminding him that he did go back for Merle. “You lost your hand because you’re a simple-minded piece of shit!” Merle reminds Daryl that their plan was to rob that camp, something Rick and the others never knew. But the issues with the Dixon brothers go far deeper than a simple zombie apocalypse. Merle rips open the back of Daryl’s shirt when they scuffle, revealing old but vicious scars. Dad must have been a real piece of work, and Merle fled, leaving little Daryl to suffer the same abuse. This was another fine piece of acting, this time by Norman Reedus and Michael Rooker. Daryl realizes he can’t be responsible for his brother anymore, and decides to go back to the prison. Merle in this moment looks legitimately scared. “I can’t go with you…I damn near killed that Chinese kid!” “He’s Korean!”

“That Chinese kid” is not doing so well himself. Herschel catches Glenn heading out on his own, and while Glenn claims he’s not going to Woodbury, he rejects Herschel’s offer of company. Herschel is worried about Glenn and tells him directly not to let the rage he’s feeling get him killed. Maggie is also still reeling, and there’s a nice moment when her sister finds her and asks her for help with little Judith. Beth hands Judith to Maggie, then gently touches her hand. Both have been through so much, and Beth shows Maggie the love and support she needs without saying a word.

And where has our fearless leader been this whole time? Out to lunch, still wandering outside the fence looking for his dead wife. Herschel spots Rick and hobbles all the way out to the fence to speak to him and call him back. When he asks Rick what he’s doing out there, he can barely form a coherent answer. “I’ve got…stuff..out here…” Herschel tries to convince Rick to come inside and rest, but he refuses, although he does tell Herschel the details of the visions he’s been having. So at least somebody with some sense is in on the secret.

Back in the prison yard, Carol and Axel are talking about how Rick is coming undone, and Axel says he saw things like that in prison sometimes. They start chatting and—BLAM! Axel is shot through the head, blood spattering onto poor Carol’s face, and suddenly everyone around the prison drops to the ground and scans for the shooter. Then we see him, the Governor, all smirks at his perfect shot.

This is when all hell breaks loose. All of the sudden shots are flying everywhere. Rick has to run and dodge shots from Martinez. Carol rolls Axel’s body over hers to use as a shield. Michonne aims for the Governor, naturally. Carl takes shots at someone in the tower–how’d that guy get there? Herschel is scrabbling through the grass trying to get back inside. Maggie runs out with more guns, offering some cover fire for Carol, Carl and Beth. And then there’s a pause and you hear it–a car engine, getting closer. There’s a small smile playing around the Governor’s mouth. A delivery truck comes barreling into view, going full speed and mowing down the gates. It skids to a stop in the middle of the outer prison yard, and for a few breathless seconds our group is watching and waiting. Then the back door opens, and walkers pour out.

Now everybody’s ass is in high gear, trying to shoot walkers, take out the Governor and his men, and get their own back safely. The guy in the tower is killed, and walkers are being shot, but there are too many. The Governor packs it in having caused enough choas for the moment, but now the walkers are the real threat. Michonne is slicing and dicing in top form, but Rick is being overrun outside the fence, and Glenn, poor angry Glenn, is just now returning, passing the Governor on his way out.

All I have to say is, thank God for Daryl, who once again saves the day, coming to Rick’s rescue right at the last second. Even Merle pitches in, killing some walkers. (So he DID decide to follow Daryl back to the prison. Interesting.) But now they’re in a bit of a pickle with all those walkers in the yard. What are our boys going to do? I guess we’ll find out next week.

Quote of the night:
“Least they could do is give us an enchilada or something.” – The always culturally literate Merle

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