SPOILER ALERT: The recap for the "Say the Word" episode of "The Walking Dead" contains storyline and character spoilers.
Has the zombie apocalypse hit Wisteria Lane? Nah, there's a celebration goin' on in Woodbury -- the Governor's even busted out the colored plastic party cups -- with promises of a big evening event to cap the day's festivities.
But the bright sundresses of the Stepford-like Woodbury women, who sip frosty beverages on the nicely manicured lawn of the Governor's house, don't fool us, or Michonne, for a second. Some weird stuff is about to go down in this burg.
Like, say, the Governor combing the hair of a little girl, who suddenly turns around and tries to eat him when he accidentally combs away a chunk of her scalp. Because she's a zombie. And she's his daughter, Penny. Whom he still loves (and keeps locked away in his manse).
Meanwhile, back at the prison, as Lori's baby -- still covered in afterbirth blood and goo -- cries and the gang forms a plan to track down some formula ASAP, a grief-stricken Rick is nearly catatonic until he spots an ax and goes into the prison cells to start swinging vengefully at walkers.
(The action in "Say the Word" flips so frequently between Woodbury and the prison that we fear a case of whiplash, so apologies on the play-by-play vibe of this week's walk down "Walking Dead" recap lane.)
And back in Party Town U.S.A.…
The Governor gathers the townsfolk and tells them they should celebrate the fact that they've managed to form this little community in the midst of all the chaos, and Andrea buys his act so completely that you can almost see the thought bubble above her head that reads, "I've got to get me some of that."
Michonne … not so much. She's taking the opportunity to snoop around the Gov's house, and though she barely escapes getting caught, she continues nosing around until she finds a cage full of walkers she sets free and practices her katana skills on.
The Governor is displeased, Michonne's displeased that he's displeased (which she shows by holding her katana to his neck), he tells Andrea he's displeased, and Andrea tells Michonne that she's displeased that the Governor is displeased.
Yeah, but the dude is psycho, is essentially Michonne's response. Still, Andrea tries to talk her into staying, realizing that fleeing Woodbury now means she'll never get her shot at becoming the first lady of Woodbury.
And back to the prison…
Convicts Oscar and Axel try to bond with Glenn, and they end up digging two of the three graves needed to bury Lori, T-Dog, and Carol (yes, they assume she's dead, though there is no proof yet, and we still hold out hope she'll pop up again).
Glenn goes into the prison to try to get Rick to come back out and let his friends comfort him, but Rick pushes him away, and the blood dripping off his ax says it all: He's going through the prison on a mission.
And back to Woodbury…
Merle and scientist Milton have driven up to a pit full of live biters, which they pull up to the ground in a net. Merle sets one loose on Milton, who's wearing a strange jacket with silver-colored sleeves. But it's one magic jacket, because when the biter chomps down on Miltie's arm, nothing happens … has Milton developed an anti-walker garment?
Merle's his usual brand of psycho on another walker, whose teeth he yanks while another of the Governor's minions holds the zombie down.
Back in town, Andrea and Michonne are headed toward Woodbury's exit gate, with Michonne looking relieved and in a hurry. Andrea is more reluctant, but when Merle tries to slow their roll out of town, Michonne points out that is the very reason they need to make a run for it.
Merle finally opens the gate to send them off, Andrea claims that's proof they're free to come and go as they please, and Michonne issues the ultimatum that she's leaving, whether Andrea does or not. Andrea's look says she's staying, to which Michonne replies, "You just slowed me down, anyway."
Pan to a shot of Andrea looking through an opening in the gate, as Michonne walks away from Woodbury and Andrea is locked inside.
We know some weird stuff is about to go down again, but Andrea as of yet does not. The Governor tries to comfort her about losing her friend and leads her by the hand to go off and have a drink.
And back to the prison…
Darryl and Maggie have procured formula and a few other supplies for Baby Grimes and return to the prison, where Darryl scoops up the crying infant and gets her to calm down.
Darryl, the Baby Whisperer? Makes sense.
Carl, meanwhile, suggests some names for his sister. Sophia? Carol II? Andrea? Amy? Jackie? Patricia? Lori? Damn, this kid knows too many dead females.
Lest we start to think the Baby Whisperer has gone soft, he tosses out a colorful suggestion: Little Asskicker.
The episode's one brief moment of levity passes quickly, though, as, back inside the prison boiler room, Rick has found the spot where Lori died, with Carl's knife still lying on the gory floor where her body should be. He quickly spots why the body is missing: A walker, so gorged on Lori's remains that his belly is distended, is propped up against a nearby wall.
Rick puts his gun in the zombie's mouth, looks away, and pulls the trigger, and then, in a moment that sums up just how much of his humanity has been robbed from him in the constant struggle to survive, the enraged Rick begins stabbing the walker over and over again.
And back to Woodbury…
Andrea, on the arm of the guy who's large and in charge, follows an excited group of Woodbury residents to a stadium of sorts, where rafters have been erected so the crowd can watch that big event that's been alluded to throughout the day.
As a nearly giddy Governor shakes hands and begins whooping it up with the rest of the frenzied crowd, all eyes shift to the middle of the stadium, where Merle and Martinez are about to duke it out, in a "ring" made of chained-up zombies. If your opponent doesn't get you, the walkers just might in Zombie Fight Club.
The crowd loves the sport, as they all cheer on Merle. Andrea, looking around at their excitement -- one dad even puts his son on his shoulders to get a better look -- is horrified and tries to leave. The Governor grabs her and asks why … it's a way to blow off steam, he says.
It's barbaric, she says, and his revelation that the zombies' teeth are pulled so they're actually harmless just makes her angrier. You're just making the people think, falsely, that the walkers are less dangerous than they are, she argues.
It's fun, is the governor's bottom line, and if we could see Andrea's thought bubble now, it would probably contain a few expletives, followed by "Michonne was right."
And back to the prison one more time…
In the quiet morning, Darryl visits the graves and puts a flower on the spot where Carol's death has been marked.
Back inside the prison boiler room, a beaten-down Rick sits slumped on the floor, when the sound of a crying baby is interrupted by another sound: a ringing telephone. Rick walks toward a desk, where he picks up the phone and answers, "Hello?"
Hello, indeed! Who's on the other end of that phone? Could it be Carol in another part of the prison? Or are there working phones outside the prison? Or has Rick spiraled so far into grief and depression that he's imagining the sound of crying babies and ringing telephones? Has Rick gone totally crazy?
And are we the only ones whose heads are spinning from this episode? Viewer reaction on Twitter says no:
"Rick is crazy. Governor is crazy. Andrea is stupid. Michonne is a badass. Darryl can wear a poncho & soothe babies. #thewalkingdead is great," @IDONTLIKEMAGIC tweets.
"Norman Reedus cradling a baby girl. A million ovaries just fluttered across the world," tweeted @TVKevLance.
And, as @athorny tweets, "Did anyone on Walking Dead even bother looking for Carol or did I miss something?"
"The Walking Dead" airs Sundays at 9 PM on AMC.