by Sherry Lipp
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Last week I asked “who was on the phone?” about last week’s episode of The Walking Dead. This week in “Hounded,” we find out. We also learn more about Daryl’s (Norman Reedus) past and the fate of Carol (Melissa McBride). This episode is one of my favorites of the season so far. It wasn’t a reach-out and-grab-you kind of episode, but it was great storytelling. So much was going on, but it was all woven together so cleverly. They are doing a great job this season of keeping the tension high while creating human drama at the same time.
Clearly they’re leading up to a confrontation between Rick’s (Andrew Lincoln) group and Woodbury, which is of course run by the duplicitous Governor (David Morrissey). While this is a classic good vs. evil (and reminds me a little of Stephen King’s The Stand) scenario, there will be some conflicted characters. Andrea (Laurie Holden) has now shared The Governor’s bed, but she doesn’t know his true nature. How will she feel when she sees her friends again? Is she angry she was abandoned by them? What will she think when she sees Michonne (Danai Gurira) with them (assuming she stays with them)? In turn, Daryl may be conflicted when he sees his brother Merle (Michael Rooker). However, they are painting a clear picture of Daryl doing the right thing for the group. I don’t know that he will easily be swayed by his brother like he was in the past.
We learn that Daryl suffered the tragedy of his mother’s death when he was a child. He shares the story with Carl (Chandler Riggs), and it was cool to see them relating on a mature level. Daryl had pretty much left Carl alone in the past. Daryl is forming attachments that he probably never really had in his life. He is not likely to give that up easily. He had already been forming a friendship with Carol and was privately mourning her loss. However, it was not too big of a surprise as a viewer to learn she had not been killed in the prison rampage when Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies and T-Dog) were killed. In fact her name appeared in the opening credits, so I knew she would be found this episode. I kind of wished they had kept her name out – just for this week – so there would be at least a little doubt as to when they would find her.
The lingering question from last week was the mysterious phone call received by Rick in the boiler room of the prison. Could it be real? They fairly convincingly made it seem like it was a possibility. The caller was a young girl claiming to be in a safe place. Rick begs her to let him and the others find them. After she hangs up, a man calls and starts asking strange questions. Rick even tells a doubting Hershel about the calls. It was not a surprise that it turned out the calls were in Rick’s mind, but I don’t think suspense was the key factor in the scenes. They were about Rick dealing with his grief and his guilt over his wife’s death. It was about him finding a new purpose after feeling like he had failed. It was all well played on Lincoln’s part.
As Rick is coming to terms with his grief, and everyone in the prison is dealing with the aftermath of the deaths, Glenn and Maggie head out to find baby supplies. At the same time the Governor is wooing Andrea, he sends Merle and some lackeys out to hunt down and kill her friend Michonne. This is where everything starts to intertwine. While I knew the groups would have to meet up at some point, the events of this episode still came as a surprise. We learn about what kinds of people a lot of the characters are. This gives us a hint of what kind of direction they will go in as the story progresses. We learn that Merle is not as tough as he thinks, but he is ruthless. He is afraid of the Governor, and unlike his brother he only cares about himself. We learn that Michonne is a great fighter, but has her vulnerabilities as well. And we discover that Andrea is pretty weak-minded at this point, but she still has some fight left in her.
I was not expecting that Glenn and Maggie would cross paths with Merle in this episode. I was especially not expecting Merle to take them to Woodbury. This proves he’s not as interested in a brotherly reunion as he claims. Glenn and Maggie also proved to be quick thinking when they refused to tell Merle where they came from. The final scenes are my favorites from the episode. Rick finally holding his daughter was so touching. He seemed like himself again. He assumed his leader role again when he spots Michonne outside the prison. It was just a cool scene to see her walking up to the fence, covered in zombie guts (and ignored by nearby walkers), carrying that basket of baby supplies left by Glenn and Maggie. She looked scared, but hopeful at the same time. She had to trust her instincts that Rick was the right person to find.
I’m anxious to see what will happen to Glenn and Maggie in Woodbury. Will one of their heads end up in one of the Governor’s fish tanks? Will Andrea start to come to her senses? I’m also looking forward to seeing how Michonne will interact with this new group. So many possibilities await in the coming episodes.
Photos: Gene Page/Blake Tyers/AMC