Where we left off: Merle beat Glenn into a bloody pulp and The Governor sorta-kinda-was-probably-about-to-rape Maggie in order to find out where Rick and the gang were living. Michonne led a rescue mission to Woodbury, but the Prison Gang's plans were waylaid when zombies chased them into a cabin and they killed a crazy man who lived with his dead dog to escape. Rick left Carl in charge of the group left at the prison. The Governor demanded that Merle pledge his loyalty to Woodbury and continued having sexytimes with Andrea. The rescue mission reached the walls of the town and we all got ready for shit to get real.
Where we pick up: My goodness gracious, it's the mid-season finale and we're just meeting a new group of survivors! Where have these people been for three seasons? Here's Tyrese and his band of not-so-merry men and women, tearing through the woods and fighting for survival. One of the ladies in their camp is bitten, badly. Tyrese thinks he spotted a tower through the trees and he leads his gang into a prison. Which prison? Our favorite prison, where the Still Alives are camped out in Cell Block B. I guess they forgot to check the back door.
Over yonder in Woodbury, Andrea snuggles up to The Governor, who still hasn't mentioned that Merle is holding her old pals hostage. The Gov enters his man cave to try to bond with Penny, his zombie daughter. He's still holding out hope for that one shred of human consciousness that he wants desperately to remain in the girl. He sings to her soothingly, but she hisses and snarls and is more interested in a hunk of raw meat than in her dad. Penny refuses to act like a non-zombie girl and The Governor grounds her and takes away her allowance. Just kidding, he shoves a hood over her zombie head and freaks out in his man cave.
Glenn and Maggie reunite after all that torture, and she reveals that surviving the ever-present zombie threat made her forget that human beings themselves can actually be horrible. Too true. Glenn tears apart a zombie corpse and offers its bones to Maggie to use as weapon. Ew.
The Governor tells Merle that they'll attack the prison to clear out the Still Alives. They'll pull another maneuver like they used on the National Guard, waving a white flag and pretending to be good guys, and then they'll pounce. Merle wants to make sure they save his brother and The Gov assures him they'll use Daryl as an inside man. Uh-huh. The Gov is worried that Andrea will find out about Glenn and Maggie so he instructs Merle to take them to "the screaming pits." Whatever the hell those may be. They sound pretty grim, like one step above the pits of despair.
Rick and his gang prepare to storm the walls of Woodbury. Michonne leads them into an apartment but a security guard dude discovers them. The dude says he doesn't know anything about Glenn and Maggie so Rick shoves a gag into his mouth. It is ON.
Glenn and Maggie bust out of their torture chamber with their bone shivs. Merle hears the scuffle and joins in the fight. He pins Glenn and holds his stabby-hand to his neck but Maggie pulls a gun on him. Oh shit. Merle's henchmen attack and round Maggie and Glenn up for execution. Rick's gang arrives and tear-gasses the room. Woodbury is under attack! Rick et al rescue Glenn and Maggie and Michonne peels away because she's got a V for Vendetta against the Governor.
Daryl launches a tear gas canister and the great battle of Woodbury begins. The Prison Gang opens fire and Andrea spots Oscar in the smoke. Rick sees a very-Wolverine version of Shane coming through the fog. He hesitates before shooting him, and the man who of course turns out NOT TO BE SHANE is dead. Rick's hallucinatory pause means the end of Oscar, who was shot while helping to rescue the rest of the gang. Goodbye, Oscar! We knew you so briefly but you turned out to be a pretty good dude, despite the incarceration thing. Daryl disappears.
Prison break! (Get it? Ha ha ha). Carol asks Axel to stop hitting on Beth. He explains that he's been locked up without any women for so long, and now the only ladies he sees are Beth and Carol, who's clearly a lesbian because of her short hair. Silly Axel! All ladies with short hair are not lesbians! Carol is not a lesbian. Good luck with that one, Axel. Doc Hershel and Carl discuss their remaining formula supplies for feeding Baby Judith. They hear screams from inside the prison. Carl steps up and investigates and discovers Tyrese and his crew. Carl may be becoming a bit of a sociopath, or at least someone who doesn't feel emotions, and he "helps" the group by taking out their bitten lady before she turns zombie. He leads them to safety but locks them up away from the rest of his people.
Michonne slips into The Governor's man cave, She is way skeeved out by all the floating heads, especially when she recognizes the helicopter pilot from the day she arrived at Woodbury. She spots Penny and tries to rescue her, until she realizes that the little girl is no longer human. The Governor begs Michonne not to hurt his daughter and drops his weapons. Tough titties, Gov. Michonne drives her katana through Penny's skull and straight through her mouth. The Governor is furious and attacks. As they fight, The Gov throws Michonne into the floating head tanks. She fights him off and (stop reading right now if you are phobic about eyes, like I am), she shoves a chunk of broken glass right into his eye. Squelchhhhhh. Auuuuuuuuuugh. And that's when Andrea shows up and discovers her one-time traveling companion standing over her now-blind boyfriend. Andrea lets Michonne go to tend to The Gov, who clutches his dead zombie daughter while his collection of floating heads bite at nothing in bodyless reanimation.
The Governor rallies the people of Woodbury in the Fight Club arena and issues his "Independence Day" style battle cry. Today we are at war! And the person who is responsible for the war is: Merle! The Governor scapegoats his best man and reveals his reason for accusing Ol' Stabby-Hand – here is one of the terrorists, and it's none other than Merle's brother Daryl! The Dixon brothers are reunited, face-to-face, about to be executed. Andrea looks on in disbelief as the Woodbury crowds call for blood.
And now we have to wait until February to learn the fate of our zombie fighting friends. And to learn about Tyrese's gang. And to find out what happens when Rick meets The Governor. And which side Andrea will choose. And whom Axel will hit on next.
Amazing season thus far, Team AMC. Until February, Zombiefriends! Stay safe until then, and remember to always aim for the head.