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'The Walking Dead' Season 3 Episode 13: “Arrow on the Doorpost” (Recap)

After last week’s amazing standalone episode, this week’s “Arrow on the Doorpost” had to throw The Walking Dead back into the business at hand, the coming war between Woodbury and the prison. If you haven’t seen tonight’s episode of The Walking Dead then go take a smoke break with Daryl, because there are spoilers ahead.

The episode opens with the much anticipated meeting between Rick and the Governor getting ready to begin. Rick has brought Daryl and Herschel along as his lieutenants. They pull up to some isolated, predetermined location–an old farm, where Daryl and Rick scout the area and Herschel stays in the car, keeping an eye out. Rick moves carefully into a certain building, pistol cocked, when the Governor steps out of the shadows in classic villain style. The whole open is totally dialogue free until the Governor says, “We have a lot to talk about.” Then the agitated strings of the intro music kick in, and we’re off to the races.

The Governor and Rick are alone, but we can see that Daryl is carefully watching from the window. The Governor tells Rick he could have killed everyone that day he came to the prison to make a show of strength, but that isn’t ultimately what he wants. He makes a big show of removing his weapons and inviting Rick to do the same so they can have a proper cease-fire for their conversation. Of course, when the Governor sits at the table we can see that he has still has a weapon concealed, so it bodes well for Rick that you can tell he still doesn’t trust this man at all.

While Daryl and Herschel are trying to figure out how the Governor is already inside when there’s no evidence of his people, they pull up in their truck–Milton, Andrea and Caesar. Andrea is surprised to learn the Governor is already there, and bursts in on his conversation with Rick to find out why they started without her. It seems she was largely the motivating factor for the two of them to try to “talk it out.” When Rick mentions some of the Governor’s past transgressions, like what he did to Maggie, the Governor rushes past that, and we can see on Andrea’s face she’s putting more pieces together, that there are still more terrible things about this man that she doesn’t know. While this is going on inside, Daryl is outside getting confrontational with Caesar and Milton, while Herschel urges them all to cool their heels. Why kill each other before they have to?

At the prison, the group is getting their additional fire power ready, putting together guns and distributing ammo to key parts of the prison. Merle watches them all with narrowed eyes, then tries to bully them into going to the meet and taking the Governor out right then and there. Nobody else agrees with him, and it is Glenn, as de facto leader in the absence of the others, who shuts Merle down.

Andrea is trying to orchestrate some kind of terms between Rick and the Governor–Rick’s suggestion is a geographical divide with no trading or trespassing. The Governor very amiably disagrees and announces all he wants is Rick’s surrender. He orders Andrea to leave, which she does, reluctantly, and then he and Rick get into a more detailed discussion of their predicament. It’s odd, seeing these two leaders face off. In some ways they are similar–only certain kinds of people can step into the power vacuum of a time like this. But Rick has followed the path of good, and the Governor has…well, NOT. The two of them discuss the nature of their responsibilities towards their people, and Rick closely questions the Governor about what was done to Glenn and Maggie, something he blames almost entirely on Merle. “I thought you’d take responsibility,” says Rick. “I thought you were a cop, not a lawyer,” replies the Governor.

The Governor knows all the right weak spots to hit, thanks to Andrea’s intelligence. He mentions Judith and her questionable paternity. He continually tries to manipulate and goad Rick, who continues to regard him like one would look at a dangerous animal that appears to be sleeping.

The others are still waiting outside when they hear the tell-tale noise of walkers nearby. Daryl and Caesar walk over and make a show of each offering to the other to take care of it. Andrea is practically rolling her eyes when she pushes through them to stab a walker in the head with her knife. This prompts the other two to go to work, and it becomes an exercising in showing off, Caesar gleefully brandishing a bat and Daryl using his crossbow and a knife to to try to show up his competition. This misplaced machismo is too much for Andrea, who leaves them to it. Oddly enough, the exercise bonds them in a way. They recognize strength and ability in each other, and take a smoke break to talk a little, both acknowledging that this meeting will undoubtedly go nowhere, and they will be forced to kill each other soon enough.

Herschel and Milton are chatting, and Milton’s creepy brain is naturally fascinated by Herschel’s injury–given the circumstances that caused it. He even asks to see it, to which Herschel replies, “I’m not showing you my leg. I just met you. At least buy me a drink first.” The two then share some uncomfortable laughter. You get the feeling that Milton is getting more human interaction after the apocalypse than he ever did before.

Rick and the Governor are still talking in circles. The Governor insists he can’t let Rick go because it’ll make him look weak as a leader. He then, in classic sociopath fashion, shares with Rick the story of how he lost his wife in an accident. Rick says nothing, but his face is clearly working with emotion as he sips his liquor.

Back at the prison, Glenn is mending fences in what will be a very direct analogy to something that comes later. When he goes back inside, Merle is attempting to pack some guns in order to go off and take out the Governor by himself. Glenn has to physically attack him to prevent him from leaving, and the skirmish between the two pulls in Maggie and Michonne as well. It’s sweet little Beth, firing a gun at the ceiling, who gets them all to stop fighting and collect themselves.

At the meeting, Herschel approaches Andrea, who is sitting by herself, looking understandably stressed. She asks him about Maggie, and all he can say is that the Governor is a sick man–confirming all of Andrea’s worst suspicions. She is practically crying as she says to Merle, “What am I gonna do now? I can’t go back there.” He tells her that she always has a place with them, but that once she’s in, she’s all in.

In still another display of his inside knowledge, the Governor tells Rick he knows about all the guns they have, but that they’re still outmanned, and it will come down to numbers in the end. He sits down, pulls off his eyepatch (ick) and announces that he only wants one thing: Michonne. If Rick will turn over Michonne, they can leave things be without further bloodshed.

The lady in question is at the prison, in a one-on-one conversation with Merle. He appeals to her because he knows her hatred of the Governor, and that she knows how dangerous he is. He wants her help to sneak out and go kill him. “You know I’m right.” Whether Michonne thinks that Merle’s strategy is smart or not, she’s just started to make real connections with the group, and she’s not sacrificing that by going against them on something like this, especially to back up an asshole like Merle.

Remember how Glenn was mending those fences? Well, Maggie goes out to see him where’s he’s standing guard, and they talk out a lot of the tension that has been floating around between them since their time at Woodbury, eventually apologizing and embracing. Get it? Mending fences on two levels, people. Powerful stuff. Still, it’s nice to see our favorite post-apocalyptic couple clear the air after all the shit they’ve been through. They consummate their make-up with some quick sex away from the voyeuristic walkers roaming the perimeter.

Not everybody is getting so lucky. Rick is trying to work out why the Governor would put so much on the line for a personal vendetta. The Governor offers no real explanation, but the tough thing is that we can see that Rick is seriously considering the deal. The two groups finally depart the meet, both with a lot on their minds before they reconvene in a couple of days. If Rick does not come with Michonne, then all is lost, and war begins.

At Woodbury, Milton realizes the Governor still plans to kill Rick and the others when/if they come back with Michonne. (Shocker.) Andrea only gets a vague description of the outcome of the meeting. “We set terms,” is all the Governor will say. Andrea, now knowing that she can’t trust him at all, doesn’t even press for more information.

Rick gathers his group to prepare them. The Governor is dangerous. He wants to kill them. They’re going to war. He does NOT tell them about Michonne. However, when Herschel comes outside later to talk to Rick, he does reveal this particular bargaining chip to him. Herschel points out that at this point Michonne has more than earned her place. But Rick still isn’t 100 percent convinced. He doesn’t want to turn her over, but if there’s even a chance it would avoid further bloodshed… But then he says he believes the Governor will kill them anyway, and of course, we know that he’s actually right. The Governor has no intention of sparing anyone.

It seems, then, that this means war.

Quote(s) of the Night:

“You’re caring for her, and I admire that. Restitution for your own lack of insight. For failing to see the devil beside you.” – The Governor

“Oh, I see him all right.” – Rick

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