by Kat Rosenfield
When we left off last week, the group at the prison had taken some heavy hits indeed: two of our heroes are now zombie fodder, there’s a newborn member of the group to contend with, and Rick Grimes — the fearless leader who’d ordinarily handle such things — is sobbing prostrate on the ground.
So, naturally, it makes perfect sense that we start off this episode in Woodbury, where they’re having the most killer block party ever.
And man, what a party it is! The weather is fine, the drinks are cold, and Andrea, sweating glass in hand, is happily drinking the Woodbury koolaid in every sense of the word… which, in proud “Walking Dead” tradition, means that it’s time for a jump-cut to the Governor doing something weird and inappropriate with a member of the zombie population. And sure enough, there he is: tenderly brushing his little girl’s hair, fending off her attempts to bite him, and politely ignoring the way her decaying scalp keeps coming away in pieces.
Not everyone is ready to kick back, however: Michonne, seeing an opportunity, slips away from the Governor’s party pep talk and retrieves her katana from his apartment — and also discovers a marbled notebook that begins as a journal of the post-apocalypse but quickly becomes nothing but pages upon pages of vertical hash marks (classic Hollywood shorthand for an obvious case of the crazies).
And when she slips out a window into the untraveled back lots of Woodbury, she finds something else: a cage full of captive walkers, who she promptly slices and dices into tiny little bits. The Governor tries to seduce her into the fold once again — “I’d like you to join our research team!” — but Michonne is fed up, and slams out the door after threatening him with a sword to the throat. There! Now they’ll have to leave!
Only: Andrea is still reluctant to look beyond Woodbury’s shiny surface and see the madness beneath.
“This place isn’t what it seems,” Michonne begs. “Nobody who comes here ever leaves.”
And just to prove it, the two of them pack their bags and head for the gates. And when the way is barred by Merle, the women exchange meaningful looks and it seems like Michonne is about to get her “I told you so” moment — until suddenly, the gate is open and they’re free to go. It’s enough to break the last of Andrea’s resolve: she wants to stay. She wants to be safe. She wants Woodbury, with its Stepford polish and iced beverages and nice, big walls!
Michonne’s gut-punching parting words: “You’d just slow me down anyway.”
And while we’re pretty sure that we haven’t seen the last of our favorite sword-wielding warrior woman, Andrea has no such confidence: she watches tearfully as Michonne leaves, and when the Governor offers some comfort, she gratefully accepts…
…at which point she discover that actually, Michonne was right, and she’s thrown her lot in with a bunch of psychos whose idea of a fun Saturday night is an ultimate fighting-esque competition where two burly men beat the dickens out of each other, in a ring full of chained-up zombies, whose teeth have been removed with pliers.
Meanwhile, back at the prison, Rick’s shell-shocked paralysis comes to an end: he grabs an axe and runs off with zombie murder on his mind. The rest watch him go, then spring into action themselves: there’s a hungry newborn on the scene, after all.
While Rick tears his way through the prison’s walker population (and assaults the well-meaning Glenn, who tries to comfort him and nearly gets strangled for his trouble), Daryl and Maggie head off on the motorcycle in search of baby formula. We see them breaking into what looks like a day care: cribs in a row, kiddie handprints on the walls, and — jackpot! — formula in the kitchen. Daryl pauses to look at the handprints; one of them says “Sofie,” and he grimaces at the memory. Sofie, Sophia, so many little girls lost.
When the two return with their booty, Daryl takes the crying baby in his arms and gently, tenderly feeds her. Yep, it’s a girl. And while Carl wonders which of their fallen women to name the baby for — Sophia, Andrea, Jackie, Lori? — Daryl is thinking of something a bit more… aspirational.
“Lil’ ass-kicker,” he croons. “Yeah, that’s right. Lil’ ass-kicker!”
And while the survivors come together again, welcoming this new addition to their fierce little family, there’s only one person missing: Rick, whose rampage through the prison has finally found him in the room where Lori died. There’s no body, just a pool of blood and brainy bits… and a walker with an enormous, distended belly, so sluggish and overstuffed that it can barely move. Rick blows its head off and sinks to the floor.
And then looks up, dazed, as the phone on the table begins to ring. He shuffles toward it. He picks it up. He presses the receiver to his ear.