The Walking Dead returned after a brief midseason break on Sunday right where the last episode left off. Daryl and Merle were pitted against each other in Woodbury, but it was clear that they would find a way to escape.
The episode had countless things that can be discussed, but this review, and the rest for the season, will feature the three main themes/talking points from the episode.
1. Effects of Daryl’s Departure on Main Group
Daryl has been a crucial part to Rick’s group since the beginning of the series. He is essentially Rick’s right-hand man when it comes to taking care of walkers and other humans who are threats.
(It is becoming increasingly apparent that Hershel is now Rick’s second in command as he is always there to counsel Rick on certain issues. He is the calm voice to the ones that may be in Rick’s head telling him what to do. Now that Daryl is gone, Hershel will be the one to try to keep Rick sane.)
Daryl’s decision to go off with Merle and leave Rick’s group is one that will have ripple effects for the rest of the season. He will likely meet up with his old group later on, but he now has to deal with Merle, a genuinely awful person. Daryl is a genuinely good person, which explains why the entire group is not happy about him leaving.
His departure will affect Rick and Carol the most. Rick must go on with Glenn as the only able-bodied man he trusts to help with taking care of the group. Axel is there, but Rick does not trust him as part of the “family.”
With Daryl gone, Carol is now without her protector. However, he helped her recover emotionally from her late husband, so she has become much more independent.
It is only a matter of time before Daryl sees the true colors of Merle and comes back to the group, but until then it will be interesting to see how him and Merle fend for themselves.
2. Woodbury Falling Apart
Woodbury is a town that appears to be well off on the inside, but a brief peek outside of the walls shows what is truly going on. There are walkers constantly breaching the walls, and the small town is struggling to continue living in a peaceful manner. The doom awaiting the town is symbolized by the walker entering through the walls at the beginning of the episode.
The demise of Woodbury is being caused by The Governor. The fact that he held Glenn and Maggie in Woodbury led to Rick having to go in there and rescue the two while subsequently killing members of the town in the attack.
The Governor is unstable – maybe just as much as Rick – and should not be trying to lead the town. Andrea is the only reason why the people did not try and tear down the walls, after they originally tried to. She rallied them to believe in Woodbury, while The Governor is strictly focused on war with Rick’s group.
For Woodbury to survive, Andrea will need to keep rallying the people to offset the insanity of The Governor and his actions.
3. Rick’s Declining Mental State
Rick has been on a downhill slide ever since Lori died giving birth to their child. He went off on a killing spree of walkers right after he heard the news and has never been right since.
The first evidence of his loosening grip on reality came when he received the phone calls in the prison. He imagined the whole event, including the final phone call from Lori.
In this episode Rick went through a stressful recovery mission to get Daryl, only to have him stay with Merle. These type of situations only make his thoughts darker, as the pressure of keeping the group together and simply surviving are taking a massive toll on him.
Two events in this episode highlighted Rick’s downhill trek. The first came when he was holding his newborn, and her cries were echoing throughout the prison. They were also echoing through his mind, which asks the question of why his child is causing him this much stress.
The obvious answer is that the baby reminds him of Lori. The other answer is that he sees the child as Shane’s and now that Lori is dead he has no connection to that child, as it has no part of him in its DNA. It is something to think about and take note of as the series continues.
The second event, and the main one, that shows Rick’s insanity came at the end of the episode. He tells Tyreese and his group that they cannot stay as he does not want any responsibility for their deaths.
Rick has seen so many people close to him die that he cannot allow himself to let others into his life, as they will eventually die. As he says no and Hershel says that he should allow them to say, Rick completely loses his mind.
A ghost, without a visible face, that resembles Lori is standing in the upper portion of the prison and is facing Rick. He sees the ghost and pulls out his gun, yelling at it. This scares everyone else in the prison, as no one sees what Rick is yelling at. Tyresse and his group leave the room, and Rick continues yelling at the ghost.
Lori has made several appearances to Rick after her death, and she will likely keep on showing up to Rick as time goes on.
Next episode will have to deal with the fallout of Rick yelling at Lori’s ghost while also showing Daryl and Merle on the road.
Feel free to leave any other predictions or comments about the episode in the comments section.