My goodness...an epic, intense and exciting episode tonight. Team Rick makes their move to rescue Glenn and Maggie from the clutches of the Governor, Carl deals with troubles at the prison, Michonne tries to get vengeance on the Governor, and there's the obligatory--and awesome--cliff hanger ending!
Recap, notes and plenty of spoilers after the jump!
The episode opened up with the introduction of a new group of survivors, led by a burly black dude by the name of Tyrese. Tyrese was a major character in the comics, and fans have been waiting for his introduction for a while--and he's here. His group was not doing to well, dealing with a herd of walkers with some hardware store leftovers. One of the group gets bitten, and the group seeks refuge in some ruins--the camera pulls back, revealing that it's not just any ruins, but the prison!
Meanwhile, Team Rick, led by Michonne, sneaks into Woodbury. Rick and Daryl are sporting some new hardware--Rick has a nice M4, Daryl has an AK that we got a glimpse of last episode. Inside Woodbury, they're stumbled upon by one of Woodbury's residents, who they quickly zip tie and K.O. They've unfortunately got no clue where Glenn and Maggie are being held, so they wait.
Now that they're aware of the prison, Merle and the Governor are planning their next move. The Governor wants to wipe out Team Rick and let the walkers move back into the prison...I'm not sure why, other than fear of what the other group might do to Woodbury (?), or just because he's evil and crazy. He orders Merle to take Glenn and Maggie to what sounded like the "screamer pits" - probably the weird science contraption/pit that they use to lure in zombies for experimentation.
In their cell, Glenn and Maggie comfort each other after what they went through last week. Glenn gets resourceful and tears apart the dead walker's arm, looting the bones in the wrist to use as weapons. Clever. And gross.
Merle and a couple lackeys show up, unlock the door and Glenn and Maggie make their move. Maggie shanks one of the lackeys and wrestles away an Uzi, while Merle gets the upper hand on Glenn, putting his bayonet on his throat. Maggie hesitates instead of pulling the trigger - it was an EASY head shot - and reinforcements show up and recapture the couple.
All is not lost, though. Team Rick hears the gunshots from Glenn and Maggie's escape attempt and now knows where to go. Michonne takes off at around this point, heading to the Governor's apartment to wait for him and get some samurai style revenge.
Team Rick uses smoke grenades as they launch their raid, grab the couple and head for safety. Things go smoothly for the good guys, and they make it to an empty building to regroup. There's a quick conversation--Glenn tells Daryl that Merle was responsible for what was going on, ready to execute them, etc. Daryl wants to go see if he can find Merle, but Rick talks some sense into him.
The Governor and his men do their own regrouping to organize their defense. Andrea's there and she wants to get in on the action. The Gov won't have any of it - and I'm thinking that it's mostly because he's afraid she'll spot someone that she knows and figure out what's going on. Of course, Andrea does whatever she feels like, so it's not like she's going to follow those orders anyways.
Team Rick launches their escape, which, in TV terms, is actually pretty tactically sound. They use smoke grenades to mark their movement, provide covering fire for each other (sort of), get to hard cover when they can, etc. They're somewhat pinned down at one point, and Daryl, being the anti-hero that he is, says that he'll lay down covering fire with his new AK, while Rick and the others get over the wall. When he says "I'll be right behind you," we know that he probably won't be. Yikes--Daryl!
Moving to the wall, Glenn, Maggie and Oscar try to get over, while Rick is busy fighting back the advancing enemy forces with his new M4. The M4 runs dry and Rick moves to draw his Colt Python on one of the Governor's men...but, Rick, still mentally unstable, sees his old buddy Shane, walking through the smoke raising a shotgun. Rick freezes, Ghost Shane shoots and Oscar is done for. Rick pulls the trigger, walks up to the corpse and realizes that it wasn't Shane, but just one of the Governor's goons.
At the point, we cut back to the prison, where Carl and the others are hearing screaming from deep within the underbelly of the prison. Carl, being the hardened zombie killer that he is, heads off to investigate the sounds, all alone. Strange screaming in the darkened recesses of a still-zombie infested prison? Of course I will go check it out! No fear for this kid. T
here's a great jump scene where he comes to the door of the boiler room, and we think, for a second, that he's also hallucinating and imagining the screams of his dying mom...and then a zombie jumps out and Carl goes into zombie slaying mode.
Carl discovers Tyrese and his group, barely fending back a wave of walkers, and lends in a helping hand with a few well-placed head shots. Without hesitation, Carl offers help, and leads Tyrese and co. out of the tunnels, back up to their cell block. Carl, the generous lad that he is, also offers to take care of their infected group member. Tyrese declines--they take care of their own. Of course, their way of taking care of their own is a bandanna over the face and a hammer through the forehead. Me, personally, if someone has to do the "you're turning into a zombie coup-de-grace" on me, I'd rather a single round of 9mm to the head than having it smashed in by a hammer.
Anyways, to play it safe, Carl locks the new group in the communal area. Tyrese's presume girlfriend throws a fit about it, but Tyrese realizes that they've actually got it fairly good at the moment, and thanks Carl for his hospitality.
Back at Woodbury, Michonne is waiting for the Governor, when she hears some movement coming from the Governors zombie head filled "meditation chambers." She busts down the door, finds the fishtank heads and then the Governor's caged up daughter. The Governor shows up just as Michonne realizes Penny is not among the living. He holsters his gun, begs Michonne not to hurt Penny, but Michonne katanas the zombie girl anyways. There's a great no-holds barred, back and forth brawl between the Governor and Michonne...the head tanks get broken, the Governor tries to wrestle Michonne into the waiting jaws of one of the walker heads, and then Michonne grabs a shard of broken glass and drives it into the Governor's eye socket.
Victorious, Michonne takes up her sword to finish off her foe, but stupid head Andrea shows up, gun drawn to defend her man. Michonne backs down and limps away in disgust, while Andrea seems to be only mildly horrified by the Governor's collection of zombie heads and his zombie daughter. The Governor is wounded and broken, holding the dead Penny zombie and sobbing. Really, Andrea?
Team Rick and Michonne meet up at their rally point just outside the gates of Woodbury (they had a rally point--good!), but Daryl's still missing. Rick is ticked that Michonne bailed on them and takes her sword, while Michonne promises to help them back to the prison or back into Woodbury to rescue Daryl--she seems almost pleading to let them stay with her.
The Governor gets medical attention...he's going to lose the jabbed out eye. Andrea asks him about Michonne, the heads (they helped prepare him for what was out there...uhuh) and Penny, and the Governor waves them all off with simple explanations.
Then, with the townspeople of Woodbury gathered, the Governor goes into a speech that ultimately culminates in accusing Merle of being a traitor, involved in the attack and then revealing the whereabouts of one Daryl Dixon--in their custody. The Dixon brothers are thrust together, Andrea watching and seeing Daryl for the first time, and the crowds chanting for the brothers' deaths. The camera focuses on the Governor, grim and determined, and that's the end of the first half of season 3!
As with every episode, there's a "what's next on the walking dead" promo that rolls during the credits. It looks like Team Rick sweeps in and rescues Daryl AND Merle--we see the Governor walking away from the scene, through clouds of smoke, looking quite angry, and then a later clip has Glenn freaking out and yelling "what is HE doing here!" Daryl definitely makes it, as there's a clip of him running through the forests with crossbow in hand--so that's a good thing. Looks like Andrea sticks around Woodbury (still!), though the Governor is doubting her loyalties. And, of course, war is coming between Woodbury and the prison, and there's the integration of Tyrese's group into Team Rick. One interesting clip they showed was Carl suggesting that maybe Rick wasn't fit to be the leader of the group anymore (not a bad idea -- sanity is a good prerequisite for leadership, in my opinion).
Anyways, definitely looking forward to the second half of the season, which begins airing in February! Tonight's episode was excellent, one of my favorites, with lots of action and suspense without being too grim and depressing (see death of Lori episode). I'm looking forward to seeing how the Dixon brothers escape and how crazy the wounded, one-eyed Governor gets in the aftermath of what happened tonight!
It's way late for me, but a few quick survival notes:
- Smoke grenades! Often underestimated and overlooked, but a useful way to conceal movement. Combined with suppressing/covering fire and it's probably your best bet to make movement in a combat situation. Chris Costa carries smoke grenades in his get home bag--do you?
- Big, extra-high-capacity magazines would have been useful to Team Rick in suppressing the Governor's counter attack and escaping over the wall. If Daryl and Rick both had some drum mags, 60-rounders or whatever, their escape may have gone differently.
- When you're breaking contact, you'll generally want to trade off between people shooting and people moving--leapfrogging/bounding to positions of cover. Also known as the Australian Peel; if you've seen the movie Heat, they do a decent job of it during the bank robbery scene.
- Maggie and Glenn really need to practice hostage shots when they get back to the prison. Maggie basically had that Uzi to Merle's head, and he only had a bayonet to Glenn's throat, so there's no concerns about a finger twitch pulling a trigger or some such. Of course, it's Merle, so he has to live so that we can see more of him in the future...and it looks like we might just see Merle reunite with Team Rick. So, practice those hostage shots.
- Similarly, if Team Rick had opened up on Merle and the other lackeys during the initial prison break, their escape would have been cleaner. I think they shot a couple of 'em, but not many. Of course, they had to worry about Glenn and Maggie, and Rick and Daryl are not exactly Delta Force operators.
- When you're breaking someone out of prison/captivity like that, you've got to assume they're not going to be mobile. They got lucky that Glenn was mostly mobile and Maggie was at 100%. If Team Rick needed to carry either of them...it woulda been rough.
- The decision to duck into a house and regroup...probably not what you would want to do. At that point, Team Rick had the initiative and Woodbury was reeling; by taking that few minutes, they allowed Woodbury to mobilize. If you've got the initiative and are ahead of the opposing force's reaction loop, you want to keep it that way.
- Michonne needs to carry both a gun AND a backup weapon. Katanas are great and all, but they're not a lot of help in an extreme close quarters wrestling brawl, as we saw. She's a blade person, so a fixed blade or two. A push dagger, for example, would have made real quick work of the .Gov.
One more note--I got a kick out of the exchange between Carol and Axle--probably one of Carol's finest moments so far.
Anyways, that's it for the Walking Dead until February! What did you think about the episode? What do you think about the introduction of Tyrese? Do you think the Dixon Brothers are going to make it out of Woodbury alive? Let us know in the comments section!