The original title for this episode was ‘Pale Horse,’ which is a reference to the horse ridden by the Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse: Death. This kicked fans into a frenzy; after all, Michonne did have a lot of lines last episode, which is usually a harbinger of death. It turns out the original title was a double entendre also referring to a scene where Daryl spots a headless rider strapped to a horse that was left on the editing room floor. Even without that macabre imagery, the tension at the start of the episode was as thick as the stale Georgia air in the abandoned farm where our two leaders meet.
Sunday’s episode of ‘The Walking Dead’ opens with Rick, Daryl, and Hershel driving up to an abandoned farm store in an undisclosed location. As if to distract us from the fact that they let a guy with no right leg drive the car, Rick and Daryl quickly hop out to case the perimeter — but not for zombies this time. Rick steps into a musty storage room with a single table and two chairs placed in the center. Ominously, the Governor steps out of the shadows and slowly raises his hands to a position of defense. “We have a lot to talk about.”
We learn Andrea arranged this meeting with the hopes that the man she loves and the man she respects can come to an understanding, and it seems Rick came to this summit with similar peaceful intentions. He brandishes a map, outlining how the Prison and Woodbury can live in peaceful co-existence, never crossing into the other’s territory or establishing contact. (He did not mention the boundaries ghosts promise to abide.) The Governor immediately shoots this treaty down, announcing that the only option is complete surrender, which sends Andrea into incredulous Dale-mouthed shock. Both men dismiss her from the room so the grown-ups can talk and she sullenly obliges.
I don’t want to rag on the writing because the storytelling aspect could not be more brilliant and engaging. However, every time Andrea’s character is on the screen, I imagine the scene from ‘As Good As It Gets,’ where a doe-eyed young Julie Benz asks Jack Nicholson’s romance-novelist character how he writes women so well, to which he replies, “I think of a man, and I take away all reason and accountability.” What did Andrea think the Governor and Rick were going to do, high-five? Why is an alleged strong female character accepting being dismissed like a scullery maid?
Outside the summit, each leader brought his brains and brawn as backup. After some tense words between the four of them, Hershel points out they’ll get to fight each other soon enough if negotiations go south. Milton perks up at the wise words, eager to finally have a cerebral discussion with a fellow intellectual about the zombie apocalypse.
Henchmen Daryl and Martinez take care of some wandering Walkers, hesitantly granting each other respect for their fighting styles, and before you know it, they’re having a smoke together, one dinosaur question away from re-enacting the “Did we just become best friends?!” scene from ‘Stepbrothers.’
Back at the Prison, Merle’s getting restless without his brother or stump-buddy. He supports a full-frontal attack, or at least a raid when the Governor least expects it, which would be immediately. With Daryl’s return to the good guys, Glenn is unfortunately relegated back to third-in-command, and we know from earlier episodes that he’s wholeheartedly supports storming the castle. Fortunately for everyone, the group at the prison disagrees with Merle’s loose-cannon suggestions, and after insinuating that he’s just going to go break up the summit himself, Glenn tackles him to the ground.
A quick apology between Glenn and Maggie about his self-centered actions leads to a completely gratuitous sex scene that makes anyone watching with their families feel uncomfortable. Everyone knows, in survival horror, sweet lovin’ equals impending doom, but our lovers seem to have made it out unscathed…for now.
Back at the farm, the Governor tells Rick he accepts the peace treaty on one condition: Rick hands over Michonne.
By this point, everyone in the world (except for Andrea) is screaming at their TV to not trust the Governor, and we can only pray that Rick knows this is a trick. Wait, is it a trick? Oh, Governor, you’re so dreamy with your Oreo-looking eyepatch. Maybe we’ve been wrong about you all along!
Each side has agreed upon a second meeting in two days’ time. Back in Woodbury and living up to all of our expectations (except Andrea’s), the Governor lets Milton in on his evil plan of luring the Prison Team to Woodbury under the guise of handing over Michonne and simply offing them all right there. Rick also lives up to our expectations of a wise leader and informs his camp that they’re got a war on their hands. Only later does he divulge the details of the agreement to Hershel privately, asking him to “talk him out of” handing over Michonne, because even if the Governor is bluffing, the lives of his family and, well, new family unfortunately aren’t worth the life of one badass.
Well, zombie lovers, this season only has three more episodes in it, and if history has taught us anything about season finales, it’s not to get too attached. Which characters do you think our team can’t live without? Sound off in the comments, and stay tuned for next week!