Andrea is caught in the middle in “I Ain’t a Judas.”

No stars walking the red carpet last night on AMC, only The Walking Dead, up against the Oscar telecast, but still bringing it with a new episode. If you haven’t seen, “I Ain’t a Judas,” then put your eyepatches on, because there will be spoilers ahead.

Tonight’s episode was all about watching and waiting. After last week’s insane shoot-out that ended the episode, both sides are doing their best to plan and prepare for their next encounter. The gang at the prison is assessing their situation, and things look bleak. Axel is dead, and they have no way of knowing how many men the Governor might have left out there, prowling around. Not only that, but the yard is now full of walkers. Getting out of the prison is no longer as simple as it used to be. Merle, always helpful, continually chimes in about how they should have run away in the night–abandoned the prison and tried to get out of the Governor’s reach, but that window of opportunity, he points out, is now closed. Of course, we know Herschel actually agrees with Merle, and calls Rick out on his erratic behavior and lack of leadership. At this point, other than hallucinations, we don’t really know exactly what’s going on in Rick’s mind. Carl, however, thinks the solution is simple. “You should stop.” “Stop what?” “Being the leader.”

Back in Woodbury, the Governor is trying to build an army. Anyone over thirteen is conscripted and will be trained to shoot. Milton assists, as they go through the list of the able bodies. Thirty-some people may not sound like much of an army, but compared to the numbers Rick is working with, it is more than enough to outgun them. Andrea enters, having heard about the confrontation at the prison. She challenges the Governor, but of course he only gives her his whitewashed view of what happened. They instigated, they were hostile, they aren’t who they were when she knew them. It’s remarkable to me that Andrea still takes anything he says at face value. She has suspicions, but she still basically accepts his version of events. At least she has enough sense to try to get out from under his thumb for a day to make her own visit to her old companions. The Governor tells her that if she goes to the prison she shouldn’t bother coming back, but one thing we know about Andrea is that she’s stubborn, and she won’t be deterred that easily. She tries to recruit Milton to help her, but he’s way too faithful of a soldier, and immediately reports her intentions to the Governor. He tells Milton to do what Andrea asks–why exactly isn’t yet clear. Is he letting Andrea dig her own grave?

Merle’s presence at the prison is making waves already. Not surprisingly, Glenn is not happy: “Now there’s a snake in the nest,” he spits at Daryl. Daryl may have realized last episode just how different he and his brother are, but that still doesn’t mean he’s willing to abandon him. Herschel is the one who points out, from a practical standpoint, that Merle is another strong fighter–a man with military experience and knowledge of the enemy. In fact, Herschel actually makes an effort to get to know Merle, in an interesting scene between the two amputees. After they talk a little about their injuries, Herschel brings out a Bible he found in one of the cells, and discusses the verse about cutting off your right hand. Merle picks up where he left off, citing the chapter and verse, and although Herschel tries not to show it, it’s obvious he’s somewhat surprised. Merle explain that Woodbury had an excellent library–one of the things he misses. I wouldn’t have pegged Merle as a big reader. It’s interesting–with his intelligence, his fighting ability, and survival skills, Merle would be an excellent companion in the apocalypse if he wasn’t such a racist asshole!

The Governor’s army is something of a motley crew, but at least he agrees to let the elderly and arthritic Mrs. McCloud off the hook. Honestly, he took her hands like he was testing her. Because that Mrs. McCloud really looked like a slippery one, guys. Carol and Daryl had a nice moment together, where Carol gently reminds Daryl that he IS a better man than his brother. Those two are just so sweet together. They haven’t been getting to share nearly as much screen time lately, so it’s nice they got at least one little scene, just the two of them.

We get a nice juicy close-up of the Governor’s messed up eyeball, and it is truly effing nasty. I had to look away from the TV for a little bit because it was really grossing me out. It did make me appreciate even more how bad-ass it was for Michonne to shove a piece of glass in his eye. Milton, fulfilling his promise to both Andrea and the Governor, helps her to corral a walker in the woods, which they pin down so Andrea can pull a Michonne, chopping off his arms (so he can’t grab) and busting his jaw (so he can’t bite). Then a couple of walkers are drawn to their noise, and right when it looks like Andrea and Milton might have a little bit of a problem on their hands, Tyreese and his crew show up! Surprise! They look thrilled when they hear about Woodbury, even though I wanted to yell “No, don’t go to Woodbury! It’s CrazyTown!” Of course, as we saw when they were at the prison, they really just want to stop running, and sleep at night in a place that’s secure, so Woodbury probably DID sound like heaven to them. Milton agrees to take them back to meet the Governor, and Andrea heads out for the prison with her new pet.

Merle is trying, after a fashion, to make amends with Michonne, and it’s interesting to speculate what his motives might be. Personally, I believe it’s that he knows she could be a danger to him, even within the walls of the prison, so he’s trying to cover himself with an explanation of sorts, (“Carrying out orders,”) which causes Michonne to pause in the middle of her work-out, cut her eyes at him and reply, “Like the Gestapo.” “Exactly.” For a guy like Merle, comparing him to a Nazi is probably not actually that much of an insult.

The back half of the episode all focuses on Andrea’s return to the prison and to her friends. There is distrust and confusion on both sides, not the least because Andrea has only gotten the Governor’s version of their interaction. There was something kind of tragic about that scene of her standing in the cell block, surrounded by them all, trying to learn the fates of Shane, Lori and T-Dog, seeing Herschel’s leg, hearing about Lori’s pregnancy, and trying to piece together all that happened in the time since she left them. They, in turn, are none too gentle about her “boyfriend,” trying to make her see just how bad a man he is. And while it’s kind of sinking in, it also kind of isn’t. But I think that’s because, even if she believes the Governor (sorry, “Philip,”) did all of those things, she’s still never seen him in his really evil mode. That man, that personality, that tells you everything you need to know. Hearing about it is not enough. So they can tell her they’re ready to finish a war that he started, but because her personal experience with the Governor has been dealing with a man who seemed to be reasonable and well-intentioned (mostly), she still thinks it’s possibly for them all to sit at a table together and hammer out some kind of cease-fire, when everybody else knows it’s far too late for that.

Even Carol knows it, and in her own way makes one of the more outrageous suggestions to Andrea, urging her to use her feminine charms to…ahem…”exhaust” him…and then kill him while he’s in a deep, blissful post-coital sleep. Andrea also has an emotional exchange with Michonne, with whom she has just as much history as the rest of the group. Michonne reveals the Governor’s attempt to have her killed after she left Woodbury, reminding Andrea of her choice–the safety and security of Woodbury over staying with her friend. Michonne is clearly very bitter,  and even confesses that part of the reason she returned to Woodbury to expose the Governor was because she knew it would hurt Andrea. She walks away, and Andrea breaks down in tears.

Later, when Andrea returns to Woodbury, she falls into the Governor’s arms, but this time we’re not sure how much of it is genuine. After their rendezvous, she pads out of bed to the window, holding a knife. She walks over and stands beside him as he sleeps, but she can’t do it. Even if she thinks he deserves it, she can’t pull the trigger, so to speak. At the prison, Beth takes advantage of a quiet moment to sing a song, and her voice echoes through the cell block as Rick carries Judith downstairs. He tells Daryl and Herschel that he’s going on a run, and taking Michonne and Carl–Daryl will be in charge, and is especially cautioned to look after his brother.

We haven’t seen a lot of Rick and Michonne together, so it’ll be a change of pace to have them paired off next week. And how will things shake out with Andrea? We’ll find out next week.

Quote of the night:

“You chose a warm bed over a friend.” – Michonne


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