ratings record for the series thus far. It picks-up the action precisely where the Midseason Finale episode left-off, Merle having been accused by the Governor of being in collusion with Rick's group that attacked Woodbury and his brother Daryl being revealed as a prisoner. Andrea is held-fast, unable to intervene, as the Governor sets the brothers against each other, claiming (no doubt, falsely) that the victor will be set free.
Merle seems ready to take him up on the chance, but this is a ruse, under which he intends for both he and his baby brother to escape. They, ultimately, do so with the help of a rather timely counter-attack by a contingent of Rick's earlier assault squad, having returned for Daryl once they realized he'd been captured. The escape sets-up a serious problem, however, as none of the group are willing to accept Merle after all he's done. In fact, Glenn and Michonne, both having been on the receiving end of recent violence by Merle, want to kill him. Conversely -- and just as understandably -- Daryl won't stay with the group and see his own kin put out, so he says his goodbyes and the Brothers Dixon go off on their own.
This raises some serious questions that we as Preppers / Survivalists must bend thought toward. Most of us, if pressed, can name people in our lives -- even in our own families -- who aren't easy to get along with and whom others are forced to endure as a condition of being around us. Maybe it's a belligerent cousin whose personality does jive well with your group of friends or a bipolar sister who you aren't sure is going to function well in a SHTF scenario where meds are scarce; either way, how do you intend to handle things? Would you see your brother turned-out into a dangerous world or would you go with him, even knowing that having him around would make things harder on you and possibly lessen your own odds of survival?
Merle hearkens back to a previous article entitled "Preppers Who Make Surviving The Apocalypse Even Less Fun" -- and, for good reason, since his picture is used for it. In fact, I see him as a pretty spot-on embodiment of personality-type #3 The Moral Relativist with a bit of #1 The Self Assumed “Leader” thrown in for good measure (remember when he challenged Rick's authority in season 1?). Basically, he's not a guy you want around, but the fact that Daryl won't just write-off his only surviving kin so easily shows his moral integrity.
Back at the prison, Tyreese and his small group are being fed and receiving medical attention; they seem to be decent folks, who would fit in well with the group, but Hershel warns them not to get too comfortable because whether or not they'll be allowed to stay isn't up to him. This uncertainty prompts two members of his group to consider a hostile takeover of the prison, while the bulk of its defenders are away. Tyreese and his sister Sasha, however, refuse.
Oddly, Tyreese's tiny group of four survivors seems to embody within itself both the reasons in favor of as well as against trusting people in a TEOTWAWKI / SHTF situation.
In the end, Rick doesn't want more people in the group for two reasons: 1.) It's obvious now that trusting people brings danger; and, 2.) He's seen friends die, and doesn't want to be responsible for the lives of any more people.
Rick, by the way, is still in the midst of his breakdown as evidenced by an ever-more fracturing psyche. We've already seen him experience auditory hallucinations (the phone calls) and now he's graduated to full-on visual ones in this episode. I'm hoping it's just a temporary, stress-related reaction, because -- if not -- then that means the leader of the group is as crazy as a bedbug. You had better believe that, in any real TEOTWAWKI / SHTF scenario, some people will fold under the stress, both temporarily and permanently, so that's one more thing we'll all need to have on our radar.
He also seems to be fairly consumed with thoughts of revenge, and I fear that such a path may just as easily lead to his own demise as the Governor's.
Andrea also seems to be changing, emerging as a strong leader in Woodbury in the absence created by the Governor's de-evolution. While the Governor, himself, is now officially the villain from the comics.
The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season [Blu-ray] --- [DVD]
The Walking Dead: The Complete Second Season [Blu-ray] --- [DVD]
My previous reviews for this series can be accessed by clicking the links below: