“I thought it was … I made a deal with myself. I would keep you alive. I’d find a place. I would fix that.”
“Then, I couldn’t open that door. I couldn’t risk it. I was keeping you alive. Carl… the baby. There’s never this.”
One of the best parts about writing these recaps has been connecting with other fans of the show. We do a lot of talking in the comments but occasionally I hear from people via text or email or on Facebook. Before I get into the (depressing) meat of this week’s episode, I wanted to address some of the questions and/or topics I’ve been asked to bring up.
What the hell is everyone drinking?
This season especially, it seems that life after the apocalypse is hardly the skin of the teeth, desperate scrounging for supplies every other post-apocalyptic tome tries to paint it as. Especially in Mayberry, you can get beer, whiskey, bottled water, tea – I’m sure they just haven’t gotten around to showing the organic smoothie stand yet. Part of that is to help paint the illusion of safety – here’s the place where you will want for nothing! – but it's so free flowing as to almost boggle the mind. It's 10 months after the world went to shit. Where are they getting non-skunked beer from? Where’s the goddamn water supply? There’s no rationing, we have to assume they can’t get any further out of the area than Rick’s group can, so hasn’t everything been picked clean yet? Shouldn’t a bottle of whiskey hold a little more importance in everyday life?
To be fair, maybe it holds a little more importance in every day life if you’re not as pretty as Andrea is.
Why is everyone’s hair so shiny?
This is one of those things that, along with the beverages, I should just let go as a completely ridiculous nitpick. But every week that goes by with Andrea’s perfectly coiffed hair and impeccable roots, and Maggie’s full tresses, and Carol’s unbelievably perfect pixie, these things grow more noticeable. With the exception of Rick’s sweaty murder-capade in the prison, mostly everyone looks like they don’t smell too bad. Like they get regular showers and someone has conditioner and they got the women doing laundry again. The guys apparently shave. Someone is mowing the lawn. In fact, post-Rick’s murder-capade, he shows up all clean and put together looking, in obviously fresh clothes that have no wrinkles. When did he have time to shower?
Andrea has the kind of tan I can buy from someone who spent basically the last year living outside. I actually thought her deep tan was a nice touch – she’s outside all the time, she’s fair skinned, she got tanned. And then during her horizontal Governor mambo, we can see it’s a color that goes all the way to her toes. Where’s the goddamn tanning bed?
What the fuck is up with the passage of time?
Speaking about Carol’s hair, how much time has elapsed since the start of Season 3. Do you know? I don’t either. Hershel has his leg cut off, which apparently is no big deal, and is up and moving around unsupervised. Rick was told he was going to get a callback two hours after he finished stabbing his bloated walker in frustration and apparently within this time frame, got showered, changed, scrubbed the mechanical room free of all gore and the blood stains from where Lori died, scrubbed away the trail from her body being dragged, but left the dead walker sitting there. Also, Lori’s remains would have to have been buried within this same time frame or there’s two empty graves out in the yard and not just one.
This is the thing that’s hardest to overlook. I can magically handwave away invisible showers and gardeners, but I need to understand how time passes in the show to know how the storylines tie together.
Any other topics need raising? Let me know!
So, the actual episode. Yet another solid outing for this new writing team – I’m really pleased with how they’ve pulled the show back together and really seemed to look at all the issues from last year. The emotional parts feel more genuine. The story arcs seem more solid. The entire show just feels better thought out.
Carl and Daryl
Daryl seems to really have taken to this makeshift family. On a walkthrough with Oscar and Carl, Daryl reaches out to the boy, telling him the story about how his own mother died. It’s an obvious big brother moment, trying to let Carl know he’s not alone. While Carl opens up to him like Daryl wanted him to, the expression on the boy’s face at the end of the sad story is frighteningly blank. Your mom died in a fire? Oh, well, I just shot mine in the face while she was still alive.
On their patrol, they pass a doorway that’s banging open and shut. Oscar wants to handle whatever is inside that they "missed" on their last patrol, but Daryl leaves it, looking for more dangerous foes. When he finds it, he also finds Carol’s knife stuck it its throat.
The scene of Daryl psyching himself up to open that banging door is phenomenal. He’s radiating pain, slamming her knife into the wall, looking for his courage. You can tell that he thinks he’s either going to have to kill Zombie Carol or find her eaten body on the other side of that door, and it drives home just how much he cares for her. Allowing him to simply find her in the closet without playing to overdone romantic gestures – a him saving her, a big romantic kiss – seems so true to the world and the character. He might love her – he does, though in what way seems up for debate – but he’s not the showy sort.
Carol’s alive, y’all!
Maggie and Glenn and Merle and Michonne
Just like Michonne predicted, no one gets to leave Mayberry alive. Merle and his hunting party are hot on her tail. They catch up with each other twice – once he manages to wound her, and the second time she accidentally stumbles into the great discovery from season one – zombies can’t sense you if you smell like their guts.
Merle hunting Michonne leads to him finding Glenn and Maggie on a supply run, which leads to Merle showing his asshole nature by taking them both hostage after pretending to be a good ole boy. This in turn leads Michonne to picking up an abandoned basket of baby formula and hoofing it out to the prison in hopes of finding some help. Maybe if she wasn’t shot she might not have bothered, but it’s a nice underscore to how rotten she knew Mayberry was. It’s not that she can’t trust or rely on others. It’s that she has a well developed sense for bullshit.
I got that a lot of this was just set up for next week, but I found it all very satisfying.
Andrea and Philip
They totally bump uglies.
There’s nothing that happens in Andrea’s story this week that disavows me of the notion that she gets treated and expects to be treated better because she’s an attractive blonde white woman. It’s hardly a punishment to be taken off wall duty for being an impulsive hot head if in the next scene you’re boning the guy who "punished" you.
Oh, Rick. Last week there was a measure of unsurity in the nature of the phone call he received. If we can buy that zombies are overrunning the earth and a group of survivors set up Andy Griffith in the middle of it, why couldn’t there be a secret stash of survivors calling numbers at random looking for other people who are still living?
Rick clutches onto this thread as he’s unwinding. He’s breaking down, unable to care for his people, unable to protect his wife. This is the brink he’s been on since last year. When he goes over it, his psyche makes him confront it by taking a phone call from Lori. He has to talk about loving her and losing her, and his fears, and she tells him what he knows already – he has to keep going on. He has a baby and a son and a family that needs him.
I thought that these scenes, especially the concluding part, were really beautiful. The calls had a creepy otherworldly tinge to them. Andrew Lincoln confirmed that it really was Lori on the other end of the call and that they were on a live phone line, which lent a very convincing feel of authenticity. And every week, Andrew Lincoln just knocks it out of the park as Rick. I believe every twitch and tear and anguished cry that comes out of him is real. He just seems to get better and better.