The best part about TWD is that, unlike Deadwood or Justified or Firefly, there is hardly ever any compelling or exciting dialogue so it's easy to recap.
We pick right up where we left off, with the Governor pitting Merle and Darryl against each other to fight to the death in the Thunderdome. While the bloodthirsty Woodburians howl from the bleachers, Merle starts whaling on his little brother. Darryl is all, WTF? and Merle tells him to just play along and he'll get them out of here. The Governor's flunkies bring in some leashed walkers to add to the excitement and Darryl and Merle are forced to punch them, which is probably a little closer contact than either prefers. Just then Rick and Maggie (the only two able-bodied ones left, as Glen and Michonne are just too beat to shit to help now) open fire on the crowd, tossing in smoke bombs and taking out several Woodburians. As the crowd runs screaming into the night, the Dixon brothers are able to escape, Darryl snatching up his beloved crossbow en route.
Merle leads the way and he, Rick, Darryl and Maggie exit the town through a gap in the protective fence, which a couple of enterprising zombies are happy to explore. The humans run back to the car where Glen and Michonne are waiting for them. Glen and Michonne are not at all happy to see Merle with their people, and they start waving their weapons around and shouting about how Merle is the one who beat the shit out of Glen and who tried to kill Michonne in the woods and who is the nasty Governor's right hand man, etc., etc. Merle doesn't help much, grinning crazily and pushing everyone's buttons with his patented racist, sexist, redneck ranting. Finally, Rick clubs him over the head to shut him up so the rest of them can figure out what to do with him.
Glen and Maggie are adamant that Merle not join them at the prison; a couple of times Glen almost lets slip how the Governor nearly raped Maggie, but she glares at him - it's not for public knowledge, apparently. Darryl is all, the guy's my brother and if you won't have him, you won't have me. Rick's like, we want you with us but he can't come - he'll have everyone at each other's throats. Darryl pauses and then says, okay, he and I will be fine on our own. Faced with the loss of a valuable fighter, Rick pleads that there's got to be another way but Darryl says don't ask me to leave him again - I did that once already. He packs up all his crossbow bolts as Merle woozily regains his feet and the brothers walk off into the woods together. What would be really awesome would be if Darryl got some character development and a bunch of screen time out there in the world, really became a leader and then returned to the prison as even more of a badass. Any chance that might happen? We can dream. As Rick and his remaining people climb back into their car, Rick snarls at Michonne that as soon as Herschel has patched her up, she's leaving the prison. She doesn't protest.
On the way home, they have to stop to push a derelict car out of the road. As a zombie attacks them, Glen knocks it down and then overkills it, stomping its head to mush, releasing all his frustration, impotence and rage over the Governor's treatment of Maggie into the thing. He yells at Rick for not having killed the Governor back there and Rick's all, I was just trying to get Darryl back. Glen: Yeah, so where is he now? Maggie's like, look, let's just get back to the prison. There's a very nice touch with random zombies milling about in the distance, out of focus, wandering in and out of the trees.
Prison. Tyrese and Sasha try to play nice with Herschel, hoping to be allowed to stay. Herschel is friendly enough but firm: Don't get comfortable as it's not up to me. Later, as Tyrese's group prepares to bury their friend in the yard, Alan and Ben share their plan to subdue Herschel et als. and take over the prison so they don't get thrown out. Tyrese and Sasha are like, WTF, that's not the kind of people we are.
Woodbury. Things are deteriorating quickly as the Governor sulks in his house. People rush the gates, trying to leave. It gets worse when those zombies make their way in through the gap in the fence and start chewing on townsfolk. Everyone runs and screams uselessly until Andrea and Martinez drop the walkers with headshots. After that, Andrea tries to convince the Governor to come out and reassure his people but he refuses, saying that they've had it too easy and he's done holding their hands - "We're at war now." She asks WTF was Darryl doing in town and he replies, probably trying to rescue your friends Glen and Maggie. Instead of getting all outraged and loyal to the people who kept her alive (and, yes, abandoned her at Herschel's farm), she just gets a frowny face. Hopefully now that the Governor is "at war," he'll be more of the horrific sadist from the comics - he was never so charming in the books. Finally, Andrea steps up and gives a couple of speeches out in the street, calming and reassuring the townsfolk. The Woodburians are a bunch of losers, if you ask me: complacent, easily led, unable to protect themselves.
Prison. Rick's group returns and Rick has to tell Carol that Darryl's not coming back. She's pretty upset about it. Rick tells Herschel what little he learned about the Governor and Herschel in turn tells him about the new arrivals. Inside, Rick walks right by Tyrese's group without looking at them, going immediately to see his little daughter. As the baby cries, however, the noise echoes through his head: looks like Rick is definitely going crazy.
Beth talks to Carol a little about Darryl, saying she doesn't understand why he left since "Merle sounds like a jerk." Carol understands, drawing from her experience with her own abusive husband: people like Merle get into your head, make you feel like you deserve the abuse? Beth: Even Darryl? Carol nods. Meanwhile, Herschel ministers to Glen, noticing the tension between him and Maggie. Glen won't tell what happened at Woodbury, though, so Herschel just thanks him for taking care of her, telling the younger man that he thinks of him as his own son. When Herschel checks on Maggie, she's a little closed off, dealing with recent events and not ready to talk. He doesn't press her, just gives her a hug.
Later, the discussion turns to Tyrese and his group. Rick is initially opposed to letting them stay, refusing (like an asshole) to shake Tyrese's proffered hand, saying that they've been betrayed before. Carol points out that without Darryl, they're down a fighter and could use the extra hands. Tyrese pleads his case. Herschel takes Rick aside and says that while he's backed Rick up until now, he really needs to let these people stay. Rick looks like he's about to change his mind ... and then he sees a ghostly figure in a white dress standing on the balcony, staring down at him. Her face is shadowed but it looks like it could be Lori. Rick freaks out, shouting, "Why are you here? What do you want from me? I can't help you, you don't belong here - get out!" Everyone assumes he's shouting at Tyrese so Herschel hustles the newcomers out of there. The rest of the group stares at the madman, aghast.
Previously on The Walking Dead / next time on The Walking Dead
40 minutes ago