Warning: Spoiler Alert
Tonight’s The Walking Dead marks the last episode before next week’s mid-season finale. It goes so fast. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with myself until February. But, really, I’m getting ahead of myself, because there’s plenty that The Walking Dead can do to me in two episodes.
So, now we know for sure that Noah was the one who emerged from the woods by the church with Daryl. They’ve explained the situation, and the group is readying to depart to Atlanta to retrieve Carol and Beth. The group has decided to split again; some will remain at the church with Judith and Gabriel (who is actually more useless than a baby), and the rest will go to Grady Memorial to rescue Beth and Carol. Part of this involves reinforcing the church’s perimeter. Sasha busts apart pews like the pews themselves killed Bob. Tyreese and Daryl dismantle the pipe organ and warily assess Sasha’s tenuous grip on her emotions.
As they ready to leave, Rick confides to Michonne that he doesn’t feel good about leaving. Michonne offers to go in his place, but he refuses. He owes Carol. Michonne reminds him that they all owe her. Rick reaffirms that his responsibility to her. Daryl, Rick, Tyreese, Sasha, and Noah load into the box truck that Daryl drove back from Atlanta. As Carl nails down the slabs of broken pews to reinforce the door, Judith begins to cry. Crying babies are never a good sign. Gabriel doesn’t react well to either Judith’s wailing or Carl’s hammering, and begins to make his way toward the front of the church. He’s drawn to the bloodstains left on the floor from the Termites’ slaughter. He begins to pick at the marks, trying to scrub them away with his fingernails and spit. The zombie apocalypse has not been good to this man’s psyche. It’s only a matter of time before he cracks completely.
Once in Atlanta, the group scouts Grady Memorial, and Rick puts together a plan. He wants to ambush Grady—take out the guards, extract Carol and Beth, kill everyone who needs to be killed in the meantime, get out, and go home. Everyone seems on board, but Tyreese objects. If Rick’s plan doesn’t work, a lot of people might die. Why not try to take a few of her people hostage instead, and make an exchange? Noah has told them all that Dawn is barely hanging on by a thread, so they should exploit her shaky confidence to get what they want instead of starting off with violence. Rick considers the plan, but counters that it’s not as surefire as the ambush. Daryl speaks up, siding with Tyreese.
Daryl. Dude. I understand that you’re feeling a little insecure about your ability to kick everyone’s ass, since you think that it’s your fault that Beth got kidnapped. You’re troubled by how the carnage, horror, and loss of this world has changed Carol. But it’s not your fault that Beth is gone. You can’t control Carol or her decisions. You need to let the self-pity go. The lives of the two people you love the most hang in the balance.
Hey, Walking Dead Ass-Kicking Survivor’s Club. You need to listen to Rick. Y’all should have listened to Rick when he wanted to make sure that Terminus allowed no survivors, and everyone talked him out of it, and what happened? Bob got his leg eaten, they threatened to kill and eat all of you, and you had to kill them anyway. The cops in charge of Grady are bad news. I’m certain that Noah has told you all in detail how badly Beth got abused. They aren’t the kind of people that you deal with. They’re the kind of people that you eliminate. Assuming that you can make a deal with them assumes that you live
in a society that is capable of handling even the simplest economy. That society is long gone. There’s no place for trading and balancing what you have and what you want when the survivors of the human race are squatting in burned out buildings, migrating from one spot to another, and trying to avoid the extremely mobile herds of walking corpses that are not only lethal but actively trying to eat everyone on the planet. Letting the bad guys walk away always burns you, Rick Grimes. It burned you with The Governor. It burned you with the Termites. Hell, it even burned you with Shane, because you gave him the benefit of the doubt long after you should have.
But, because Rick still wants the world to be a place where he doesn’t have to kill a bunch of people, he agrees to Tyreese’s plan. Noah draws one of the patrol’s attention near the hospital, and leads them to a back lot. Rick, Sasha, Tyreese, and Daryl surround the cops, disarm them, and divulge their plan. Rick is always interested in doing things the right way. He’s reassuring and honest with his hostages, believing that communicating that way is his best chance for a good outcome in his situation. Cop habit dies hard.
One of the Grady cop hostages notices Rick’s demeanor and guesses that he was a cop before the world ended. Before they can have much of a discussion, though, a car with a white cross in the back windshield drives up on the group, shooting into the crowd. The two captured officers dive into the car as the groups exchange fire.
Rick and company give chase, finding the car in abandoned in a parking lot that had clearly been napalmed (this lines up with the fire-spewing aircraft Shane and Lori saw at the series’ beginning). Walkers fused to the tarry surface. A FEMA trailer exploded with most of its contents strewn around the area. They see the two cuffed Grady cops escaping towards the back of the parking lot. The group continues in their pursuit, Daryl agrees to stay behind and sweep the area.
There are no bodies in the car (aside from the walker that’s wrapped around the driver’s front tire) and, after a tense moment, it’s discovered that there isn’t anything alive or dead in the FEMA trailer, either. However, the big bald douche who was driving the car was lurking around the corner. He seizes upon Daryl’s half-second of relief, Oklahoma-drilling him and knocking the rifle to the ground.
The two engage in a perfectly The Walking Dead fight scene—the bald douche has Daryl pinned to the ground between two street-pizza walkers, trying to choke Daryl to death. Before Daryl’s throat’s crushed, he reaches for the face of one of the snarling undead, squishes its eyeballs out, grips it like a bowling ball, and rips the head off of the walker’s rotting body so that he can beat his assailant in the skull with it. Before Daryl can finish knocking the man into submission with a snapping walker head, Rick reappears with his gun drawn.
Rick appears to think long and hard about wasting the guy who was trying to kill his friend, but Daryl convinces him that three hostages are better than two. Rick relents, and they cuff the third hostage and begin to walk back to where they’d planned on holding their hostages.
The three Grady cops (a razor-shaved-bald man who gives his name as Bob, his partner Officer Shepherd, and the driver of the backup car, Officer Licari) explain to the group (minus Rick, who has
gone to reexamine the sketches he made of the hospital) that they’re not the best hostages. It’s getting to be a real cluster back at Grady, and Dawn is completely out of her depth. Everyone is unhappy, but the three of them are especially disliked by Dawn. A rumor has floated that Licari might be trying for a power grab. Licari refutes those intentions, but states that he doesn’t want Dawn to be in power any more and would jump at opportunity to lead the group and address the problems (like murder, blackmail, and rape) that have happened. Officer Shepherd bargains with Rick to be released. They’ll take down Dawn and get Beth and Carol out, she promises.
Then Bob speaks up. He claims that, given Dawn’s situation, she can be reasoned with if she’s talked to in the right way. Shepherd and Licari object, but Bob insists—he wants nothing except a peaceful resolution, and he wants to talk to Rick to give him the scoop on Dawn so that everything will go smoothly. Daryl and Sasha seem suspicious, but Bob continues to exert that his interest is only in what’s best for everyone. They call Rick over to discuss the development.
Bob sure sings like a canary. He gives Rick a lot of information about the kind of person Dawn is and where her vulnerabilities lie. Bob sure is in awe that Rick is still such a good cop after all this time. Rick seems to take the compliment in stride. Hopefully, his instincts for when someone is blowing a bunch of smoke up his ass have remained intact, as well.
Within Grady, Beth is trying to keep an eye on Carol. Her injuries seem pretty severe. Dawn and another officer discuss the situation, who insists that they pull Carol’s plug to conserve resources. Beth explodes, accusing the officer caring more about charging his DVD player than about saving someone who needs help. Dawn, incensed by Beth’s insubordination, orders her off life support.
The officer leaves to inform Dr. Elliott of Dawn’s decision. Beth is still reeling with outrage. Dawn explains that, after Beth’s outburst, she had no choice but to side against her. But, she gives her the key to the medication lockup. Carol may pull through without life support if she’s medicated correctly. Beth is suspicious, but the situation is too dire to argue.
She goes to Dr. Elliott to ask about the medication. Elliott’s guarded in his response. He asks Beth if Dawn gave her the key for the lockup, or if she stole it, because Dawn’s intentions are dubious at best. Beth ignores his questioning, pressing for a kind of medication that could keep Carol stable and alive enough to heal. Five millilitre of epinephrine should help, he admits. Another ward creates a diversion (and a really weak one, too—a coughing fit? Really? These people are DUMB!) while Beth sneaks the epinephrine out of the cabinet. She administers the dose to Carol’s IV, and waits. She waits for Carol to wake up, and I’m waiting to find out exactly what Dawn was up to.
Back at the church, Gabriel is trying to scrub at the bloodstains in the floor. Carl interrupts him by laying some weapons in front of him. Gabriel needs to learn how to fight, Carl explains. It’s the way the world is now. He’s not happy about it, but there’s nothing they can do about it. In this world, he explains, eventually you will run into trouble that you can’t hide from, and so you have to learn how to fight. Gabriel feebly tries to pick up a machete. Carl attempts to correct his grip, and Gabriel is so overwhelmed by holding a weapon that he needs to go lie down for a while.
Michonne has kept an eye on Gabriel, and she doesn’t like what she sees. After he’s been shut away in his office for a few hours, she insists on checking on him. She’s concerned because he said he’s not feeling well. Gabriel knows it’s a lie, Michonne knows that he knows, but she also knows that no good will come from calling her out. He meekly suggests that he’s just very upset and needs to be by himself until he feels better.
Yeah. Fat freakin’ chance of that. He needs to be by himself a while so he can pull up the floorboards in his office and escape from the church. Exactly why he’s escaping isn’t clear, but the nail that he takes in the sole of his foot the minute he walks away from the church would suggest that he’s in for a rough road. Once in the woods, he’s accosted by a walker. He manages to fight off enough that he can impale its midsection on a tree stump. He raises a rock to bash its head in, but the silver cross the walker is wearing around its neck stops him. Apparently being a Christian means that Gabriel cannot perform your coup-de-grace. Sorry, random walker. You’re going to be stuck on the forest floor with your innards spilling everywhere now.
The rest of our band of characters, hereby named Team GREATM by Tara (stands for Glenn, Rosita, Abraham, Eugene, Tara, and Maggie), is still stranded by the fire truck. Eugene isn’t dead, but he’s unconscious and can’t be moved. The water tank in the truck is empty. They need to investigate a nearby creek for more water. As they’re discussing who should go, Rosita tries to convince Abraham to drink. He won’t, though—he’s staring off into the distance instead. Frustrated, Rosita snaps that he’s being childish, and Abraham punches the water bottle from her hands, rising towards her quickly and aggressively. Rosita looks uncertain of Abraham’s intentions, but Maggie draws a gun on him and dares him to take another step before things go any further. She’ll stay with Abraham, it’s decided, while Glenn, Tara, and Rosita go for water.
Really, those three don’t encounter much plot. They figure out how to catch some fish, and Rosita gives the group a bit of back story about how she met Abraham (in Dallas, she was fighting off walkers when Abraham and Eugene stepped in. Eugene said he’d save the world, Abraham said he needed her help. Rosita became impressed.) as well as some of the interesting things that Eugene taught her (like how to make a water filter with dirt and a t-shirt). They try to discuss whether or not they can forgive Eugene. The women seem ready to, but Glenn remains unconvinced.
Abraham continues to refuse water while Eugene is unconscious. Maggie isn’t impressed with his self-denial, but he isn’t moved. Until, that is, Eugene starts to choke and snarl. He’s not a walker, though. He’s just coming to with what is assuredly a very broken nose. Abraham’s demons are kept at bay for a while longer; he takes a drink of water.
Back in Atlanta, Rick has gone to negotiate the hostage situation. Sasha’s standing guard closest to Bob, who’s still looking pretty sad about being kidnapped. He gives the most forlorn, attention-seeking sigh I’ve heard on television in a while. Sasha would normally point a gun at him and tell him to shut his cake-hole, but since she’s reeling with Bob’s death and Tyreese has been on her to reconcile her emotions, she decides to give connecting with another human a chance.
Bob explains that he recognized one of the street-pizza walkers they saw earlier, and it was someone who was doing a job he was originally going to do. Because of the switch, Bob is alive and the other person is miserable, writhing undead. Bob sure wishes he could have been able to put that person to peace.
It’s just the story that Sasha needs to hear. She won’t take Bob into the parking lot, but she’ll take out the walker if she can see it from their vantage point. They walk to the window, and Bob confirms that he can see his former friend. He explains the location. Sasha moves to the window and draws the rifle scope to her eye, lining up her shot.
She doesn’t get to take the shot, though, because Bob is a Lying McLiarPants who made the whole thing up. He rushes her from behind, slamming her head into the window and knocking her out before running for the hills.
I’m not sure if next week’s episode will make me feel any better, or just give me bigger cliffhangers, but I think I’m fine with both.
The Story Continues Next Sunday at 10:00 pm on AMC.