The episode begins with Merle losing his marbles on the rooftop. He’s incoherently recounting a nasty story one minute, and cackling like a madman the next. Seems the seriousness of his situation has started to take a toll on his (questionable) psyche.
He nods off for a bit, and when he awakes, his plight has become exponentially more dire. A wall of zombies are clawing at the rooftop exit, and there is precious little holding them back. Merle has a quick come to Jesus moment as he begs for mercy and frantically tries to escape his confines.
I have a feeling that this is probably the first time that Merle has ever bothered to talk to God, here in the moments right before his impending death. He certainly hasn’t been acting very Christ-like up until now.
But wait, was he actually praying to his dead Pop? I couldn’t really understand what he was saying, even after listening several times, but it sounded like he kept mentioning Poppy?
Back at base camp, Shane is buddying up to young Carl, acting all fatherly while Lori gives her son a haircut. Shane promises to take Carl frog hunting, and tries to persuade the boy that frog legs are a delicacy. To the casual observer, they look like the perfect little family.
A few moments later the calm is shattered by a car alarm echoing through the hills. It’s Glenn, whooping it up in the stolen car. Glenn gets a tongue lashing instead of a welcome party, because he has been careless and noisy. Someone immediately silences the obnoxious alarm.
A few minutes later the van arrives, and the tension mounts while we wait for Rick to emerge from the vehicle. Shane sees Rick first, and while he processes what he is seeing Lori and Carl look up. When Rick is reunited with Carl, I choked up a bit, I won’t lie.
I watched Lori very closely to try to get a real gauge on what she was feeling. Was she happy? Upset? Confused? Shocked? I thought that Sarah Wayne Callies (who plays Lori) did a good job keeping us in the dark. Even later in the episode, after the two had shared an intimate evening I couldn’t tell what she was thinking.
It is obvious she feels very guilty, but it is merely because he showed up? She sure didn’t seem conflicted with Shane earlier in the day.
Later that night, Rick relates his tale of the hospital and what happened when he got out. Shane and Lori squirm a bit when Rick tells Shane how grateful he is that Shane has been looking over his wife and son.
Shane is the makeshift leader of the survivor group, as evidenced when he is immediately called upon to reinforce a rule of the camp after Ed puts another log on the fire. Too much smoke is detectable, so the group adheres to a rule about how many logs can be burned at once. Shane quickly sets the man straight, and it is apparent that he has the support of the whole group.
So Shane leads at the camp, but Rick emerged as the leader in the city. It looks like the two will soon be fighting over more than just Lori, but that’s just a hunch.
Talk then turns to how they are going to break the news to Darryl (Merle’s brother) that his brother was left to perish on a rooftop. We haven’t met Darryl yet, but from the fear on everyone’s faces, I’m betting he’s a real sweetheart.
The next morning, Rick tells Lori that he can’t quit thinking about the man they left behind. Uh, oh. Looks like Rick is going to go on a rescue mission. Lori is getting ready to argue with him when Carl’s screams cause everyone to grab weapons and plunge through the forest. Carl is okay, but he had stumbled across a lone zombie munching on some deer entrails.
Everyone begins bludgeoning the creature with various implements, including a good old-fashioned pitchfork. And good grief, does Andrea (Laurie Holden) have some big boobs. I never noticed them in the last two episodes, but they are about to burst forth from the constraining tank top she is wearing.
The zombie is decapitated with an ax, and the temporary crisis is averted. So was the zombie alone? Are there others that have made it this far? Suddenly there little camp doesn’t seem so safe. Just then, Darryl shows up, pissed because the deer was his kill. He kicks the zombie corpse, shouts a few obscenities, and insults the older gentleman. Rick just takes it all in.
When they reach the camp, Rick comes clean to Darryl about Merle, and he is none too pleased to say the least. Shane restrains Darryl in a headlock so Rick can actually speak with him. Darryl says that if they tell him where Merle is, he’ll go get him.
Now, was it just me, or does Lori completely throw Rick under the bus when she pipes up and says, “He’ll show you.” Rick kind of has to step up at that moment and say he’ll go. Is she trying to get rid of him? I thought it was an awfully odd thing to do, particularly if she truly still had feelings for him.
The next morning, Shane tries to talk Rick out of going, but Rick is adamant that he can’t let a man die of exposure, even if he is a bad person. Rick asks Glenn to go with him. T-dog steps up as well, which thrills Darryl to pieces.
Rick mentions that there is another reason to go back-there is a weapons cache that they can retrieve. He also wants to try to warn the father and son that helped him after he got out of the hospital not to travel to Atlanta.
At this point, Lori really does look upset and weepy. Rick barters for some bolt cutters from the old man, and Shane gives him some bullets, “Four men, four rounds, what are the odds?”
After the men depart, Shane takes Carl frog hunting. The two are giggling and laughing when Lori arrives, visibly miffed. She tells Carl to go back to camp, and turns her back on Shane. She tells him to stay away from her family. He tries to talk to her, and she yells, “Tell it to the frogs.” Then the truth comes out.
Shane told Lori that Rick was dead. He completely manipulated her. No wonder her behavior had been so confusing this episode. She had inadvertently left her ailing husband and taken up with the man who lied to her. Now it all makes sense. Did you see that coming?
Ed starts harassing the ladies who are doing laundry by the lake. He is clearly abusing his wife, and starts getting rough with the women when they try to prevent her from leaving with him.
Shane jumps in to the rescue and literally uses Ed as a human punching bag, almost beating him to death. He had the perfect guise for taking out his frustration on someone, and he further established his alpha position in the group.
Back in the city, the four men reach the rooftop, but Merle is gone. There is just a hand, and some dried blood on the handcuff, still attached to the pipe. So did Merle borrow a move from Saw, and cut off his hand to free himself, or did the zombies get him? Stay tuned…