With only a few episodes left in the season, The Walking Dead spent this week’s episode setting up the ultimate confrontation between Rick and the Governor. It wouldn’t be a proper war without a parley between the opposing generals, and there is a minimum of set-up for this meeting of the minds. The camera lingers on Hershel’s thousand yard stare as he watches Rick go to meet the Governor. No one wants to attend this meeting unarmed, and Hershel’s stump now serves to carry two concealed handguns.
Rick enters the meeting room, which I can assume is situated on neutral territory, with his revolver at the ready. I find it strange that with the numerous means of walker disposal that Rick’s team has refined, the man himself favors a gun that A) makes a ton of noise, B) only carries six shots, and C) is difficult to reload quickly. Carl seems to be taking after his father when it comes to choosing weaponry.
The Governor greets Rick with a “We have a lot to talk about.” In a gesture of good faith, he removes his gun belt, but Rick refuses to do the same. Meanwhile, Hershel and Daryl meet up with Andrea and Milton, who arrive at the scene with a member of the Woodbury militia. The heretofore silent guardsman has a brief bonding scene with Daryl while Andrea invites herself into the summit, rationalizing that since she set up the meeting, she has a place at the table.
Before getting booted out of the man talk, Andrea gets a piece of information regarding the indignation that Maggie suffered while a “guest” at Woodbury. When she asks Hershel about it, he simply responds that Philip is “a sick man.” Andrea begins to agonize about the side she has chosen and doubts whether she will be able to go back to Woodbury. She does anyway.
I don’t see Andrea ending up a casualty at the end of this season, no matter how badly many viewers may want it. I dislike Andrea as much as anybody, and the show certainly improves by leaps and bounds (as we saw last week in “Clear,” which may be as close as The Walking Dead will come to having a “Pine Barrens” episode*) when she’s not in it. Andrea will likely have to face the consequences of being a traitor, but she won’t own up to it either. The greatest punishment she could suffer, I think, is continuing to live in the same manner as she has always done, once she is reluctantly re-accepted back into Rick’s group–if Rick is still around to lead it.
Merle is going through the same thing as the current group pariah. Although his respect for Glenn increased after his attempts to feed him to a Walker failed at Woodbury, the elder Dixon still rankles at taking orders from a city boy. Merle insists on leading an ambush to kill the Governor while he is vulnerable, and his disagreement with Glenn leads the two to blows. Merle pulls a knife, and Beth (of all people) fires a warning shot to break up the fight. Even though Merle continues posturing, the matter is pretty much settled in Glenn’s favor, even though he pays for it with yet another bloody nose.
When Glenn and Maggie have their make-up sex, I was of course digging my fingernails into the armrests, expecting something terrible to happen. At the same time, Merle tries to get Michonne’s support for his plan. “You get people killed, it’s on you,” she replies, as if Merle would care in the slightest. It can be assumed that no one is yet aware of the nasty things Merle did to his own underlings while hunting Michonne for the Governor.
Michonne is the thing that the Governor wants in exchange for the cessation of hostilities between the two camps. It is, of course, a lie, as the Governor reveals his intentions to Milton. Andrea asks him what they agreed on, and Philip just smiles, proving that he doesn’t have to waste the energy lying to the woman who shares his bed. Despite Michonne’s value to the group, Rick seems to be contemplating the Governor’s offer. He has precious little time left to wise up and set up a double-cross of his own.
*Fans of The Sopranos often list the third season “Pine Barrens” episode as one of the all-time greatest episodes in the series. While “Clear” had no unkillable Russians or mafiosos forced to subsist on Tic Tacs, it was still a damn good hour of television.
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