“Most people don’t have it, what it takes to see the whole story. To live with it. To use it.”
After rewatching “Say the Word” I wondered if Rick’s brutality on Foodbaby-Walker was symbolic rage at the pregnancy that killed Lori.
Merle is hunting Michonne. No one escapes Woodbury, and as Michonne perceived, her release was only a show for Andrea’s benefit. He and his men find a grim warning in walker pieces, suggesting they go back. Merle laughs it off as a bitergram, scolding Red-Shirt Neil, “If you keep announcing to the world that you’re pissing your pants I’m gonna have to smash your teeth in.” but Michonne kills two of the four before taking a bullet in the thigh/ass region.
The voice on the other end of the “Say the Word” ringing phone has been trying to call since ‘it’ began. When asked how her location is safe, she cryptically replies, “It’s just away… from them.” Rick asks if they can take in others; he’s still a broken man. “We’re dying. We’re dying here.” She promises to call back in two hours. During that time, Rick cleans up before checking on the others (and ignoring his baby completely). He turns to Daryl in an acknowledgement of Daryl’s interim leadership as he tries to pull the group back under his wing. This is the moment for Daryl to challenge if he’s going to, but instead he sets Rick at ease. Daryl has implemented a plan, which is good because Rick runs off again, eager to get back to the hope Phonecaller is dangling.
Andrea has a bag over her shoulder; in spite of her decision to stay in Woodbury she’s having mixed feelings after the fights. GOV challenges her to talk and after spilling her feelings, Andrea says she wants to contribute. He tries to put her on food detail, but she wants to work the wall. “I’m a good shot. I want to stay that way.”
Another caller, male, tells Rick, “You could be dangerous. Have you killed anyone?” Suddenly Rick is confessing his sins to an impartial third party, awaiting judgment for his crimes. Will his sins bring suffering upon his children and keep them from this safe haven? When the voice on the phone asks about Lori and Rick refuses to speak, though, the caller hangs up.
Andrea is with her bow-hunting trainer on the wall. When a walker arrives it’s evident the girl is flustered; maybe she can hit a haybale, but she certainly can’t hit the walker. Andrea gets fluttery too, but what looks like fear is adrenaline; as she jumps off the wall to stab the walker through the eye she is grinning and revitalized.
Hershel finds Rick by the phone. He dissembles, “I’m a ghost from the knee down,” thanking Rick for saving his life, and comforting him about Lori. Rick tries to explain the call on the seemingly dead line, “They said they were just dialing numbers and I picked up.” Hershel offers to sit with him but Rick refuses the company and solace.
As Oscar, Daryl and Carl sweep the lower level, Daryl tries to comfort. He tells Carl of the death of his own mother, a woman who loved her wine and Virginia Slims, burning the house down around her by passing out with a cigarette. “People say it’s better that way… Just made it seem like it wasn’t real.” Carl counters; Lori’s death was at his hands, and was very real. As he and Daryl exchange sympathies, it is the first time Carl is treated as an equal by a man in the group.
In GOV’s office, faced with reprimand for leaving the wall, Andrea admits she liked the fights. GOV pushes one step further, adding smugly, “I think I’m growing on you.”
Merle saves Neil from Michonne, then they’re all engaged fighting walkers. Michonne escapes. Neil insists they kill her though Merle is ready to let nature run its course and lie to GOV, “She’s headed straight for the red zone. She’s good as dead.” Neil is not convinced, so after a moment of agreeability Merle goes, “You hear that bird?” and shoots him in the head. Meanwhile Michonne is hobbling and 4 walkers ignore her, perhaps because she’s covered in the gore of one she gutted.
A new caller knows Rick’s name. It sounds like Jackie. There is a possibility Rick has gone around the bend.
Michonne happens across Glenn and Maggie, carefully avoiding being seen. Maggie says, “A kid growing up in a prison could use some toys,” and Michonne now knows where they’re staying.
GOV is seducing Andrea with whiskey and a lovely garden and incredibly awkward entendre. He loves the fight; “Nowadays it’s part of being alive.” Again he tells her to call him Phillip when he’s “off the clock.” He adds, “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” Maybe he’s paraphrasing the bible, or maybe Shakespeare. Maybe he’s being literal, or maybe good old Phillip is a Dave Matthews fan, but either way this has an aphrodisiac effect, and Andrea is thoroughly seduced into disgusting makeouts.
Glenn and Maggie revel in their foraging success when suddenly Merle. This is unexpected for all parties; Merle doesn’t even have any racial epithets or sexist slurs prepared. Merle lies about GOV, trying to manipulate Glenn into taking him to Daryl. Glenn is too wary; he says he’ll tell Daryl so he can come to Merle. Merle grabs Maggie and effectively kidnaps the pair back to Woodbury, presumably to prove to GOV that Daryl lives. Michonne is still lurking, and sees the formula left behind.
Oscar is thrilled to find new slippers, “You know, end of the day. Relaxing.” This residual enjoyment of life’s simple pleasures is cut short by a walker, and Daryl recognizes the knife in its neck as Carol’s.
Back to the phone. Rick is crazypants, now talking to his dead wife. The phonecalls from beyond the grave maintain their confessional tone; Rick is purging himself of a year’s impurities, unburdening his soul and finally making peace with the dead. As he returns from the brink of insanity, Lori’s voice grows weaker and breaks up, eventually going silent entirely. Here is Rick’s chance to ‘learn from the whole story,’ as GOV puts it.
Merle interrupts GOV/Andrea sexy-time to tell him the others have died. He lies and says he killed Michonne, then distracts from the lack of proof by mentioning Glenn. GOV only seems interested in whether Glenn knows Andrea, and what that might mean for this new wrinkle in their relationship.
Rick returns to the group and holds his baby for the first time. A machine in the background bears the letters ME, like a not-so-subtle proclamation of the return of Rick to the good man he is at his core. He has had a crisis of self and come through, one imagines, a better man for it. Meanwhile Daryl is grieving Carol some more. A door is stuck on a fat walker, and when he opens it he finds her looking weak and bloody but otherwise unharmed. As he carries Carol to safety Rick is carrying the baby outside. He hands her to Carl and walks to the fence, where Michonne is surrounded by scrambling walkers who are still ignoring her. She has Glenn’s dropped basket of supplies.
It’s interesting that Michonne has gone to the prison intentionally, given how hard she fought to leave Woodbury. Perhaps it isn’t that she prefers to be alone after all, and that was an excuse to get out. Or perhaps she takes sympathy on the prison group, realizing that they have a dire need for the formula and supplies. Or perhaps it’s not-so-subtle commentary on how the main group, though their home is less than ideal, is still decent at heart while Woodbury appears perfect but is rotten at the core. Then there’s the walkers ignoring her even without her walker packmules.
Merle seems less loyal than in “Killer Within.” Rather than following the Governor’s wishes like an obedient lackey, he’s got his own plans. He isn’t willing to risk his ass pursuing Michonne when she’s as good as dead to him, and kills Neil for threatening to reveal this deception to GOV. Seeing he can’t convince Glenn to take him to Daryl, Merle instead takes Glenn to Woodbury; if Glenn tells the Governor about the prison, Merle will be encouraged to do just what he seems to want–charge in and take over. I’m still finding it hard to swallow that Merle is full of filial affection; there’s got to be some ulterior motive behind his search for Daryl.
I was relieved to see Andrea finally express interest in not letting her hard-won badass skills atrophy, especially when presented the alternative of Getting In the Kitchen. When she jumped off the wall aglow with the kill, I was thrilled. This got crushed a bit when GOV told her, “We don’t need you on the wall.” I thought it would be followed up by assigning her to Merle’s crazy team of mercenaries, but instead they got all fleshy. I’d hardly call it a promotion. Especially since there was more creepy significance given to what they were drinking during the episode.