"The Walking Dead" -- "When the Dead Come Knocking"
SPOILER ALERT: The recap for the "When the Dead Come Knocking" episode of "The Walking Dead" contains storyline and character spoilers.
The Governor proved himself to be evil in new ways, Glenn proved to be brave in new ways, and we're left to wonder whether evil or the brave new Glenn will win out at the end of one of the tensest "Dead" episodes of the third season.
Oh, also more rotten in new ways: Merle. He's interrogating Glenn in a basement, throwing his bayonet arm around in the name of eliciting the location of Glenn and Maggie's camp. And also in the name of just being a sadistic tool, which Merle most definitely continues to be.
But Glenn, as even Merle is forced to admit, has turned into a much tougher, more defiant dude, and with Maggie listening in the room next to him, Merle begins punching Glenn over and over again, demanding the location of the camp and his brother, Daryl.
When raining blows down upon Glenn's face (Glenn, who is taped to a chair and defenseless, by the way) doesn't work, and jamming that knife-arm against Glenn's mouth also fails, Merle sets a walker loose on Glenn and locks the door.
Bye-bye, Glenn? No! Glenn knows Maggie will be left to face Merle's brutality, and as determined as he is to protect his friends at the prison, he has promised Hershel he will love and protect his daughter. Glenn, still taped to the chair, thrashes around the room, fighting against the walker while trying to smash the chair against a wall, and ultimately, as the walker starts to chomp at him, he breaks free and stabs his undead foe.
Not Rick, not Daryl, not Andrea, not Michonne, but Glenn has just won in a hand-to-mouth battle with a biter.
Back at the prison, Michonne, who witnessed Merle take Glenn and Maggie at the end of last week's episode, shows up carrying baby formula. Rick is cautious, but the walkers surrounding her notice she's alive, and they start circling.
Carl, even after all he's seen and done, can't watch Michonne become zombie feed, so he and Rick save her and drag her into the prison, where Hershel sews up her gunshot wound (from Merle) and she spills what she knows about Glenn, Maggie, and the Governor.
"Charming, Jim Jones-type" is how she pithily describes Woodbury's leader, and it's decided that Rick, Daryl, Oscar, and Michonne will pack up their weaponry and drive off to Woodbury to rescue their friends.
Well, the friends they know about, that is -- Merle and the Governor know Andrea knows Maggie and Glenn. But Glenn and Maggie don't know Andrea is in Woodbury. Michonne, of course, knows Andrea is in Woodbury, but she doesn't know Andrea was once part of the prison gang.
Needless to say, a group sing-along to Peaches and Herb isn't in the cards for when they're all reunited.
One bright moment in the episode is the official naming of Baby Grimes. "Lil' Asskicker" just won't do anymore, so before Rick leaves he lets Carl choose a name, and the baby becomes Judith, in honor of Carl's third-grade teacher. Yet again we're reminded of just how thoughtful and sweet this boy can be despite the fact that he hasn't had even the smallest remnant of a childhood.
Andrea, meanwhile, in between looking dreamily at the Governor and walking around town like she is the first lady of zombie slaying, is asked by her new lov-ah to help Milton with his experiment. Elderly Woodburyan Mr. Coleman has volunteered to die and be reanimated so Milton can observe the process and see how much of Coleman's personality -- like his apparent love of the Jo Stafford album that Milton has on the record player -- remains intact.
None of it, Andrea warns, but a naive Milton believes Mr. Coleman's soul will be alive when Zombie Coleman comes to life. It's safe to say he has been disavowed of that idea when Zombie Coleman tries to eat him and Andrea stabs the old guy in the brain.
Zombie Elder: 1. Nerdy scientist who was locked inside his apartment when the apocalypse happened and therefore has never witnessed a reanimation? Zero.
Down in the basement where hostages Glenn and Maggie are being held, Milton's boss is conducting his own experiment on Maggie. When his Jim Jones charm fails to get the prison location from Maggie, he makes her strip off her top and bra, and slowly, creepily takes off his belt and approaches her.
The intimidation doesn't work, as a terrified Maggie tells him to do what he's going to do, because she isn't leading him to the others. Topless, Maggie is thrown in with the bloodied Glenn and still refuses to reveal her camp, until the Governor holds a gun to her boyfriend's head and she blurts out that her friends and family are at the prison.
While an incredulous Governor wonders if such a small group really managed to clear all the biters out of the jail and orders Merle and Martinez to scout the prison, Rick and company are making their way through a walker-filled wooded area -- with a quick stop at a cabin that results in an anonymous camper becoming zombie bait -- and begin their approach to Woodbury's watchtower (aka the wall o' tires).
And that will lead us into next week's midseason finale, "Made to Suffer," where Andrea will come face-to-face with the friends she thinks abandoned her, where Daryl and Merle will come face-to-face and choose between loyalties to family or friends, and where viewers will be introduced to a "Walking Dead" comics favorite, survivor Tyreese.
Reactions from our fellow "Dead"-heads on Twitter to "When the Dead Come Knocking":
From @headgeek666 (aka Ain't It Cool News creator Harry Knowles):
Scene: Zombies feasting on guts. Cut To: The Walking Dead sponsored by KFC...Multiple folks grabbing for meat out of tub. IRONY IS ALIVE!— Harry Knowles (@headgeek666) November 26, 2012
And from @theronaldbrown, who tweeted:
We say, yes, that sounds like an apocalypse supercouple that needs to happen.
"The Walking Dead" airs Sundays at 9 PM on AMC.