Where we left off: Suffering from grief and rage after Lori’s death, Rick went on a Kubler-Ross rampage and took a little psychotic break by answering a series of phone calls from the afterlife. Michonne tried to kill Merle and Merle tried to kill Michonne. Glenn and Maggie went on a supply run to pick up baby formula for Li’l Asskicker while Michonne watched from afar. Merle arrived and took Glenn and Maggie hostage. Michonne approached the prison with Glenn’s looted baby formula. Daryl found Carol’s knife and struggled internally with opening a cell door to what he assumed was Zombie Carol; to our surprise and happiness, Carol was a-okay, albeit dehydrated. The Governor and Andrea finally got jiggy with it. Okay! Are you recovered from your Thanksgiving food stupor? Does your tummy look as distended as that of a zombie who just devoured Lori’s body? Perfect. It’s zombietime. Let’s hit it.
Where we pick up: It’s the penultimate episode of this half of season three, and the forces are gathering for an eventual stand-off between the people of Woodbury and the Still Alives from the prison. Let’s explore both sides of the story, shall we?
Merle tortures and interrogates Glenn, desperate to learn the location of the Still Alive camp. Merle is the worst. I mean, I love Michael Rooker to death, but the character of Merle has absolutely no redeeming qualities unless you count his stabby-hand. Merle beats the shit out of Glenn but Glenn refuses to spill the beans. After destroying Glenn’s beautiful face, Merle demands to know where the others are. Glenn threatens Merle by naming his allies: Rick, Dale, Jim and Andrea. Merle sneers grimly. Shit. Shit. Shit.
Merle leaves Glenn alone and tied up, all duct-taped to a chair. He returns with a snarling nasty zombie and sets the walker loose on Glenn. Since Merle had to fight his way off the roof with one hand, back in Atlanta, he wants to give Glenn a taste of his own medicine. He is totally one-upping Jack Bauer’s torture skills. Glenn struggles against the zombie, finally smashing the chair to which he is tied against the wall and shoving a broken shard straight through the zombie’s skull. This action is remarkably similar to Merle’s stabby-hand technique.
Milton, Woodbury’s resident nerd, knocks on The Governor’s door, disturbing sexytimes. Apparently, Mr. Coleman is ready. The Gov needs Andrea’s help with Mr. Coleman, a very old man who is dying of prostate cancer. He agreed to volunteer in an experiment for Milton, because the scientist is trying to determine how much of human consciousness remains once a dead person reincarnates into a walker. The scientist constructed an elaborate ritual to give the dying man cues as he transitions from life into death and then into zombiedom: he plays a specific song on the record player, rings a Tibetan singing bowl and asks Mr. Coleman a series of specific questions.
Mr. Coleman eventually goes quietly into that good night. Andrea and Milty restrain the dead man so he won’t attack them when he turns. Mr. Coleman starts to transform, and Milty is convinced that the restraints are preventing him from going through the consciousness-checking ritual. Andrea urges Milty to keep him tied up because she knows how fast and violent the zombification can be. Milty lived all alone when the zombpocalypse hit and he has never seen anyone transform, and he has so much hope that humanity remains in the walkers. He undoes Mr. Coleman’s restraints, and the now-zombie instantly lunges for him, trying to attack. Andrea immediately drives a knife into his skull. Alas, poor Milton. No matter how much preparation you want to do, once humans die they just go zombie.
Of note: interestingly, it seems to take some time for Mr. Coleman to turn. Was this because his body was deteriorating due to his age and illness? Because Shane turned into a zombie almost instantaneously after dying. What determines the amount of time for this transformation?
The Governor approaches Maggie, determined to find out where her people are. Maggie refuses to talk. Until now, The Governor has been shaded sort of gray – he doesn’t seem like the worst guy in the world, even though he took out the National Guardsmen and keeps dismembered heads in his man cave. But he orders Maggie to stand up and remove her shirt, and then her bra – or else he’ll bring Glenn’s hand to her. Ack. It’s horrible. The tension is palpable. The Governor removes his belt. He shoves her over the table and stands behind her and it seems like we are about to witness The Walking Dead’s first rape scene and I am terrified. The Governor is absolutely a terrible, horrible man. But he leaves her bent over the table, half naked and humiliated.
The Gov brings shirtless Maggie into Glenn’s interrogation/torture room. He announces that they’re through with games – one of them is going to reveal where the camp is, or else one of them will die. He aims a gun at Glenn’s head and Maggie blurts out “The prison!” She reveals that there are ten of them in their camp and The Gov is incredulous that so few people could get rid of so many zombies. He attempts to soothe Maggie by hugging her the way her hugs Penny (his zombie daughter) and she finally breaks free and runs into Glenn’s arms.
At the Prison:
Michonne stands outside the prison gates, surrounded by zombies. Her recent Merle-induced wound starts to bleed, attracting the zombies’ attention. She katanas several of them to double-death, until she falls to the ground from exhaustion and pain. Rick and Carl come to the rescue, opening the gates and taking out the remaining walkers. They bring her inside the prison, but Rick insists that she has to stay outside the cell blocks until they know who she is. Poor Michonne – she was so convinced that she was a prisoner in Woodbury, and now she’s locked up in an actual prison.
The Still Alives experience a joyous and pain-filled reunion with Carol. Carol is alive, hooray! And she meets Li’l Asskicker and realizes that Lori is gone. Everyone grieves together as Michonne looks on, sussing out this motley crew of survivors.
Rick tells Michonne that Dr. Hershel will tend to her wounds, but she needs to explain how she found the prison and why she knew to bring them formula. She describes seeing Mr. Stabbyhand take Glenn and Maggie, and after a tense stand-off, she finally reveals that there is a town called Woodbury run by a Jim Jones type called The Governor, and she thinks Glenn and Maggie are there. Hershel stitches up her gunshot wound so she can be back in top fighting form.
Oscar joins Rick, Daryl and Michonne on a mission to Woodbury. Before he leaves, Rick pauses for a heart-to-heart with Carl. They finally address the fact that Carl put a bullet into his dead mom’s head, and Rick is really sorry about that. Carl assures his dad that they’ll be fine while he is gone, and that he’ll keep the remaining Still Alives safe, especially his sister. It’s time for Li’l Asskicker to get a real name, and Carl chooses “Judith” after his beloved third grade teacher.
The team pulls off the road a mile or so outside of Woodbury, to continue on foot. As they set off into the woods, they are approached by walkers. Lots of walkers. So many walkers. Why are there so very many zombies in these woods? The Still Alives take refuge in what appears to be an abandoned cabin. Holy shit, there are so many zombies attempting to tear down the walls. When the dead come knocking, it’s best not to answer the door. (Titular line alert.) The team discovers a dead dog stinking up the place, and then the cabin’s owner who is still alive and probably insane. He goes to open the door and Michonne katanas him to death. The Still Alives throw him outside to distract the zombies and sneak out the back door, unnoticed by the walkers who devour the dead crazy cabin dude.
Inside and Outside Woodbury:
The Governor wants to make sure that Merle will stay loyal to Woodbury, even if his brother shows up again. The Gov orders him to take a group and scout the prison to suss out what they’re dealing with. Michonne and the other Still Alives approach the town walls. Even though it is dark out and after curfew, Andrea returns to the Governor’s house. He is surprised and thrilled that she kept her promise and returned. He doesn’t say anything about how he almost raped Maggie or how Merle tortured her old pal Glenn. Andrea pours herself a stiff drink to get over the sadness of poor Mr. Coleman’s death and second-death. The Governor soothes Andrea just like he tried to soothe Maggie (just like he tried to soothe Penny).
And Michonne and the crew are right outside the town! So next week, in the midseason finale, Team Prison meets Team Woodbury! We know where Merle claims his loyalty lies, but what will Andrea do? Can Rick and his group rescue Glenn and Maggie? And why does The Governor keep those dang heads in his man cave? And what is up with that guy? And why are there so very many walkers in the woods around that cabin? And who was that dude living with his dead dog’s corpse? Until next week, zombiefriends!