The mid-season finale of The Walking Dead, written by the comic-book’s creator Robert Kirkman, was packed with memorable scenes and “wow” moments, beginning the introduction of a new gang of survivors and ending with lots of tenuous alliances. In the post-apocalypse, civilization has been destroyed and it’s being rebuilt. First there were tribes, and soon after came war.
Led by Tyreese (Chad Coleman—Cutty from The Wire), the new group is running for their lives in woods full of walkers. They find shelter when they come across an opening in the wall of Rick’s prison. When Carl hears their screams, he volunteers to go—alone—and investigate. After helping to rescue them and offering to “take care” of their dead mother, he locks them in a cell supplied with food and water. With Rick slipping into madness, it might be time to let this kid lead.
Glenn and Maggie get a few moments alone after he was beaten by Merle and she was forced to strip for The Governor. They comfort each other before Glenn makes a shiv out of a zombie arm bone. “Take them to the screamer pits,” The Gov. tells Merle. Despite Maggie taking an arm bone to a guard’s throat and a gun to Merle’s head, the pair are recaptured and prepped for execution. Fortunately, Rick, Daryl, Oscar and Michonne come to the rescue with a couple of flash bangs.
The ensuing escape is intense—machine guns blazing, smoke bombs obscuring, Rick hallucinating (and re-killing Shane) and Oscar dying. Apparently, as Chris Kirk points out in our discussion for Slate, one black guy at a time is all the show can handle (first Morgan, then T-Dog, then Oscar, now Tyreese). Oscar was heroically hoisting Glenn over the wall when he was shot.
But the firefight wan’t nearly as intense as the hand-to-hand combat between Michonne and The Governor that followed. Or even the encounter between Andrea and Michonne in its aftermath.
Michonne finds The Governor’s Crazy Cave and sees a little girl in chains and straightjacket with a hood over her head. The little girl, of course, turns out to be his zombie daughter, Penny, and The Governor walks in as Michonne is about to put her out of her misery. After she puts a katana through Penny’s head, The Governor puts Michonne’s head through a zombie tank. As the wall of heads comes crashing onto the floor, Michonne manages to stab The Governor in the eye with a shard of glass.
She’s about to finish him off when Andrea walks in with a gun. Andrea says, “What have you done?” and Michonne, a women of few words, says nothing. But there’s so much in that stare. And so much in Andrea’s look when she sees the tanks full of zombie heads and The Governor cradling a little zombie girl.
And that’s the first tenuous alliance. Andrea helped fend off the unknown-to-her attackers, but she’s starting to see a little of The Governor’s insanity (she already must realize how much she looks like his dead wife). As the truth trickles out, her loyalties are going to be tested.
The two groups at the prison would make for natural allies, but we see in the previews of the season’s second half that two of the four survivors suggest that that a kid, a young girl, a woman and a cripple would be easy pickings. With The Governor on his way to the prison, they’re going to need to work that out.
And since Merle told The Governor that he killed Michonne, he becomes a nice scapegoat for the security breach in Woodbury. Ever the gifted politician, The Governor turns his people against Merle and Daryl—who was caught in the rescue attempt. The two brothers, on opposite sides of the gunfight, find themselves allied against their captors.
The second half of Season 3—returning Sunday, Feb. 10 at 9pm EST—can’t come soon enough.