Well, we’re one step closer to the season finale Dead-heads, and this week’s episode was, in my humble opinion, a strong one. Let’s jump right into it, shall we?

We start off with a pow-wow between Rick, Daryl and Hershel as they discuss the Governor’s deal and how they’ll need Merle’s  help to get the job done, seeing as none of them have the stomach for it. Merle has been, in the past, to be a man with no morals and very low character, so naturally they would choose him to do their dirty work. In the prison, Merle has an interesting interaction with Carol as he comes upon her taking care of little baby Grimes. He notices the change in her, that she is now a strong and capable woman, not the meek and scared person he first met in season one. It seems like this scene is a lot more important than it lets on at first. Merle see’s that people can change for the better, I think it gives him a small glimmer of hope to possibly become the brother and protector that he always dreamed he could become for Daryl and the rest of the clan.

Merle accepts the request from Rick to take Michonne to The Governor but not before getting a little dig in about Rick being cold as ice as he revels that The Governor won’t kill her, but ‘do things to her’.  Merle knows that Rick doesn’t have the heart to go through with this plan and tells him so, but before Rick gets the chance to change his mind, Merle takes advantage of the situation and kidnaps Michonne on his own and they begin their journey towards Woodbury.

Along the way Michonne tries to talk Merle out of giving her up to The Governor, making him feel like he could make a right decision for once and just turn back around and go back to the prison. No harm, no foul, right? Merle isn’t too keen on the idea and decides to try his hand at hot wiring a car they find close by. He ties Michonne up to a post while he successfully gets the car to start running, but in turn also accidentally triggers the car alarm. Every zombie that still has ears comes a’crawling to the dinner bell Merle has just rung, but luckily Michonne is a bad ass and kills two zombies, one via curb crushing (ouch. Hello ‘American History X’) and the other by decapitation. Both of which were awesome; both of which were pretty nail biting to watch. If you viewed this episode, you would have found the sever foreshadowing it held, but we’ll get to that later.

Meanwhile, Daryl tries to have a bro-moment with Glenn (seen here doing some mundane task) in his quest to find Merle some kind of forgiveness for what he did to him and Maggie back at Woodbury. Glenn is hesitant and thus crushes all of Daryl’s wishes and good intentions when he basically says ‘hey bro, your bro disrespected my woman, bro’. Daryl isn’t one to easily give up, and vows he will find a way to have them reconcile if it’s the last thing he does. He almost skips out of the courtyard after their discussion – beyond adorable.

Side story plot line – Glenn has decided he wants to make an honest woman out of Maggie and asks Hershel for his blessing. Once he has said blessing, he goes in search of a wombie (AKA woman zombie) that has the biggest wedding ring he can find. He finds one, cuts her finger off, wipes the ring off a bit, then heads back to ask his true love for her hand in marriage. Swoon? Maggie says yes, but is it because she really loves Glenn or because she doesn’t really have many other options? My guess is that they’ll get hitched in the finale but who knows if this sub-plot will have a happy ending.

Merle and Michonne are still trucking along, but some point during their 4th game of ‘I spy’, Merle has a change of heart and decides that he doesn’t want to kill another person at the behest of another man. He killed 16 people when he got to Woodbury, all at the request of The Governor and he decides enough is enough. Not wanting to be the lapdog anymore, he sets Michonne free but still continues on his route to Woodbury. He give’s Michonne back her sword and they have a short yet meaningful goodbye.

Back at the prison, Rick tells Daryl that Merle and Michonne are missing and that he didn’t get the chance to tell Merle that he’s changed his mind and the deal is off. Well thanks for the heads up Rick, you really blew it on that one! His utter lack of manliness is really getting under my skin. True, the guy has been through a lot, but so has everyone else and you don’t see them falling to pieces like a little b**ch. Even Carl has bigger balls than Rick at this point. UGH. Any way, Daryl then takes off in search of his brother like a bat outta hell.

Now in the beginning of the episode, Merle was on quest to find drugs or alcohol, whatever he could get his hands on really. It might be surmised that he wanted a fix because maybe he realized it was going to be the last one he would ever have. He couldn’t really think he could go toe to toe with The Governor (alone!) and live to tell the tale, but he tries anyway. We later see Merle sipping on what appears to be whisky, listening to some hard core music in a parking lot. How very high school.

He turns up the music to gain the same effect as the car alarm had on the attention of the walkers. He then leads his growing gang of walkers towards Woodbury and The Governor’s pack of goons. Once he has the opportunity, Merle slinks out of the slow rolling car and takes shelter in a nearby shed. As the Woodbury men start to shoot off the zombie menace, Merle begins shooting all of them. No one realizes that this isn’t a ‘friendly fire’ situation where their men are accidentally getting shot, no one that is, except The Governor. He finds Merle and engages him in combat but quickly gets the upper hand (oh the irony) after he BITES OFF two of Merle’s fingers.  I always thought Merle would go down in a blaze of glory, but his ultimate ending was anything but. The Governor then shoots him and we fade to black.

Once the fighting has stopped and all of the living Woodbury members clear off, Daryl comes upon the battle scene. A few walkers linger on the bodies of the dead, so they don’t really notice Daryl as he tires to find his brother and Michonne. One walker does notice him, however, and its Merle!  The look on Daryl’s face when he finds his brother is now a zombie is earth shattering. His utter sadness and anger seethes through his tears. Merle tries to make a couple of lunges for Daryl but he pushes him away each time. Daryl then takes his knife and stabs his brother in the face with it more times than necessary, but we understand why.

So many truths came to light in this scene and it was one of the most emotional of the season in my opinion. The destroying of the hope that Daryl had for his brother to make amends, the hope of them living together at the prison in peace, the hope of Merle becoming a better man and the hope of a better life together all down the drain. True one could have easily guessed that Merle was not long for this world but seeing it all play out like that was brutal.

The close of the episode is Rick telling everyone (minus Daryl and Michonne) that he can’t be the sole decision maker anymore (oh did I mention we get a shot of Pregnant Ghost Lori in this episode? Yah. There’s that.) and that things are going to be different from now on. The weight of his decision flip-flopping must really be waning on him, but we’ll see who from the group will pick up the slack and act as the new leader. I always thought it would be Daryl, but now that he’s in this delicate state, who knows what’s in store for the final episode. I could see a lot of backlash upon Rick, first from Michonne as she’s worked super hard to prove that she’s part of the group only for him to throw her to the wolves once he’s gained her trust. Second, from Daryl, as if it weren’t for Rick’s horrible timing and decision making, Merle might not have never gone out to Woodbury, and felt the need to battle The Governor alone and in turn would probably still be alive, free to work on his merit badges.

Time will tell in next weeks finale, let us know in the comments section below what your predictions are for our Walking Dead group!