Rick and the Governor finally have a long-awaited face-to-face as they try to hash out the differences between their two groups.
It seems that Rick’s little interlude last week did him some good, as he arrives for the summit with the full intention of coming to a truce with Woodbury, dividing the lands, and living in peace. Unfortunately, the Governor has no such good intentions. David Morrissey is electric throughout the episode, calmly telling Rick the very human story of how he lost his wife to a car accident, and just as calmly demanding Michonne in return for a halt to his vendetta against the prison. As usual, Morrissey’s Governor wears his most jovial smile while saying his most terrible things. Andrew Lincoln plays it quiet this episode, apparently intimidated by the Governor, realising very quickly that he’s both out-gunned and out-crazied. The Governor does most of the talking in these scenes, but Rick’s mind is clearly working behind those baby blues, figuring a way out of this mess.
While the leaders of the respective parties stare menacingly at each other across a table, their advisors wait outside, doing some No Man’s Land bonding while they wait for hostilities to resume again. Hershel chats with Milton, who seems genuinely thrilled to finally have an intelligent, civilised person to speak to, while Daryl and Martinez keep themselves busy with a little bit of zombie-killing one-upmanship. It looks like Hershel might have been the one to do the most good in this episode, with his talks with both Andrea and Milton leaving them both apparently turning against the Governor. Will they become the cuckoos in the nest in Woodbury? (Although quite why Andrea is staying with the Governor now that she thinks he raped Maggie is a mystery.)
There’s not much going on in the prison, except for Glenn continuing to exert his leadership skills and him and Maggie making up with a raunchier sex scene than we’ve come to expect from The Walking Dead. At the same time, Michonne seems to have forgiven Merle for trying to kill her, and the two of them are agreed on one thing: assassinating the Governor is probably the best course of action.
Much of the episode was treading water. We didn’t actually expect Rick and the Governor to agree a truce – that’d make for a pretty dull final three episodes. The real thrill of the episode was in seeing the two characters – and actors – go toe-to-toe. It’s taken them a while, but The Walking Dead has finally realised that, if your characterisation is good, two characters having a conversation can be just as tense as a zombie attack.
The episode left us in an interesting place, with Rick weighing Michonne up against the others in the Prison. Will giving her up to the Governor be a necessary evil if it keeps their families safe? A few episodes ago, Rick would have given Michonne up without a second thought. But Michonne has proven her worth, and Rick has recovered a big chunk of his sanity now. All the same, it’s something he’s seriously considering, even though he knows it could well be a trap (and it is). Would you be willing to give up the life of a person you don’t know very well to protect your family? That’s the moral quandary we leave Rick and Hershel in. Of course, they’re assuming they’ll be able to get Michonne to do something she doesn’t want to do, which, given her track record, won’t be all that easy.