This week’s “The Walking Dead” may not have pleased the adrenaline junkies in the fan base, but it delivered major thrills in the character department — including Andrea’s long-awaited reunion with the group and what could be a significant turn for the better in the Ricktatorship.
In typical “Walking Dead” fashion, none of it went smoothly — especially for Andrea — but let’s begin with Rick. After throwing Tyreese out in episode 9, and going totally off the range last week, he couldn’t avoid facing the consequences of his actions this week.
“I put my family’s life in your hands!” Hershel exclaimed while everyone was regrouping from the Governor’s attack. “So get your head clear and do something!” Those sentiments were echoed, in a calmer but perhaps even more cutting fashion, by Carl just a few moments later. “You deserve a rest,” Carl told his father in a man-to-man chat, proving not only how much Carl has grown-up recently but that the little soldier also has some of his father’s typically clear-eyed ability to asses a situation.
Of course Rick isn’t ready to resign his leadership role, but he finally seems ready to ask for help. By the time the final scene in the jail rolls around, Rick is consulting with both Hershel and Daryl, taking their advice into consideration. Although when it comes to Merle, Rick is clear: “If he causes a problem it’s on you,” he tells Daryl.
But Rick’s breakthrough wasn’t really the main event. That was Andrea’s trip to the prison. She’s missed a lot in that time away — she didn’t even know about Shane’s death, let alone Lori and T-Dog, the birth of Judith and Hershel’s amputation — but her biggest shock is the hostile treatment she receives from her former friends. Andrea’s entire mission is to offer an olive branch from Woodbury, but everyone is understandably skeptical that she’s drinking the Governor’s Kool-Aid.
“There is room in Woodbury for all of you!” she tells them. But Daryl, Glenn and Rick make it clear they’re only interested in one thing: revenge. They don’t want to make friends with the Governor, they want to kill him.
Andrea blames Michonne for turning the group against her, but also tries to explain how she feels about Woodbury. “I wanted a life,” Andrea tells her. And Michonne finally drops her steely resolve for a bit of sarcasm (“I didn’t realize the messiah complex was contagious”) and outright anger (“You chose a warm bed over a friend! That’s why I went back to Woodbury, and exposed him for what he is. I knew that it would hurt you”). Their friendship has taken a serious hit and obviously won’t be repaired anytime soon.
About the only person who welcomes Andrea back with open arms is Carol, who takes an opportunity later to introduce Andrea to “Lil’ Asskicker” (Andrea knows instantly that was Daryl’s nickname). Carol fills her in on some of what she’s missed, including Rick killing Shane. “Shane loved Rick,” Andrea says with shock. “Shane loved Lori,” Carol replies matter- of-factly.
Andrea is worried about the change in Rick, telling Carol he’s become “cold” and “unsteady.” But Carol has something she needs to say. She still trusts Andrea enough to give her some blunt advice about how to handle the Governor: “You need to sleep with him. Give him the greatest night of his life. Get him to drop his guard. Then when he’s sleeping, you can end this.” (How many times do we think Carol thought about that exact same thing to Ed?)
Andrea returns to Woodbury shaken, and maybe even stirred. “I went to the prison. They’re broken. Living in horrible conditions,” she tells the Governor. He’s happy to hear she made the decision to come back: “Because you belong here.” He strokes her face and she gives him a loving look, but is she considering Carol’s advice?
Yep, she is. After they make love and the Governor is sleeping, Andrea gets out of bed and grabs a knife. But unlike many of the bigger badasses on this show (Rick, Michonne, the Governor) she’s never killed anyone. Can she do it? Not yet. It turns out Andrea isn’t quite as ruthless as all of her friends think she’s become.
– Carol was full of advice tonight, not just for Andrea but also for Daryl. “He’s your brother, but he’s not good for you,” she tells him about Merle. “Don’t let him bring you down. After all, look how far you’ve come.” It’s rarely wise to predict what’s going to happen on this show but if these two aren’t making out by the end of the season, it’ll be… disappointing.
– Only someone like Merle apologizes for trying to kill you by saying he was just “carrying out orders.” Michonne: “Like the Gestapo?” Merle: “Yeah, exactly!”
– Great job, Rick. Tyreese and his group have been welcomed into Woodbury with open arms, and they’re more than willing to let the Governor in on everything they know about the prison…
– Don’t trust Milton. Andrea asked for his help in sneaking out of Woodbury to visit the prison and he immediately ran to tattle to the Governor. He encouraged Milton to help her out, but Andrea seriously needs a reliable friend in Woodbury. Maybe when Tyreese figures out the Governor’s true nature?
– That song Beth was singing: Tom Waits’ “Hold On.”