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Whenever I watch a show, I always wonder why they give a particular title to an episode. Sometimes it’s completely obvious and other times it’s painfully obscure. In this case, they chose the former with “Home,” but frankly, no other title would have sufficed as our cast of characters wrestles with where they belong.
Daryl chose his brother over the prison gang in the last episode, and things aren’t so peachy keen as they wander the woods. Merle takes every opportunity to assert the fact that he’s got the upper hand with every belittling “little bro” he utters, but we see a definitive shift in their dynamic as the episode progresses.
When the sound of a crying baby makes Daryl’s Spidey senses tingle, he sees a fight on a nearby bridge. Unlike most people, he runs toward the danger, but we should expect nothing less. He joins the brawl, with a particularly smashing (ba dum bum) way to kill a walker with a hatchback, and although Merle lends a hand (I’m on a roll with these bad puns), he reverts to his scumbag ways and tries to steal from the terrified family’s car. Merle operates under a policy that says if he does something for you, you have to do something for him in return.
It’s not a terrible way to live in a post-apocalyptic world, but as Tyreese mentioned in the last episode, there’s still room for human decency. The father approaches the car where his wife and baby are sitting, and when Merle draws a gun on him, Daryl huskily commands for him to let them go. You can practically see the gears turning in Daryl’s head, and when he ultimately turns the crossbow on Merle, I let out a little squeal of delight because it felt like he finally completed the transformation to Good Guy Daryl. Old Daryl wouldn’t have saved that family on the bridge. He would have killed the walkers and then looted the family just like Merle tried to do.
In a great callback to an earlier scene, they pan over the “Yellow Jacket Creek” sign as the Dixons leave the bridge. It turns out Daryl’s sense of direction wasn’t wrong after all, and not just in a Google Maps kind of way. Since he’s been with Rick and company, he has become part of a makeshift family, and despite squabbles and differences of opinion, his moral compass has shifted away from his former life – the one his brother exemplified when he tried to rob that helpless family – to yes, helping people out of the goodness of his heart. Norman Reedus (Daryl) and Michael Rooker (Merle) blew it out of the park when they finally laid their issues out on the table.
They go from talking about Daryl going back to the roof to try and save Merle to scrapping the original plan of robbing Rick’s camp to their difficult childhood. But just when I thought Merle was a lost cause, he rips Daryl’s shirt, exposing the scars on his back, and there’s a sense of shame and regret in Merle’s voice as he explains that he had to leave or he would have killed their dad. But did you really have to run away, Merle? Seems cowardly to leave your little bro to fend for himself. That’s the final push for Daryl to realize that he belongs with the prison group, and although I appreciate that Merle knows his place and can’t come after almost killing Michonne and Glenn, there’s a tinge of sadness as the brothers part ways. They have a contentious relationship, that’s for sure, but part of me hopes that Merle’s capable of change, too. The million dollar question: does he deserve a chance?
Welcome to Crazy Town, population Rick. Where’s Crazy Town, you ask? Just beyond the prison gates – a jarring visual representation of the mental instability that prevents Rick from being with the rest of the group. During the scene when Rick approaches Lori as she looks over the graves but disappears, we’re left with a profusely sweating Rick as the camera swings around wildly, mimicking the mindset of a man so desperate for answers that he continues to see visions of his dead wife.
It’s interesting to note that the person who’s watching Rick wander around the field is Michonne. For so long, she traveled around alone with only her two limbless walkers as company, but then she found Andrea and later the group. She’s certainly not surrendering her lone wolf status quite yet, but her curious expression at Rick’s struggles makes it seem like she wouldn’t totally reject an offer to join their group. Sure, she’s a seemingly loose cannon, but I can see her being an asset, especially with her fierce attitude and katana skills.
Although Rick finally comes face to face with Lori in a touching moment, he’s no closer to finding the answers he desperately seeks. Hershel hobbles to the outer fence and asks how much longer he needs, but Rick doesn’t know. It turns out all he needed was the wake up call of a Governor-led attack of the prison.
One minute, you’re laughing with Carol and enjoying her company. Then the next, your body turns into a human pincushion. Sorry, Axel. We hardly knew ye. The Governor’s sudden appearance isn’t entirely surprising, especially given Milton’s terrible lying skills, but he shoots the most expendable member of the group. And let’s be real, it’s hard to feel torn up about this death like when T-Dog died. To be honest, I had to look up the character’s name online because it completely slipped my mind.
More shots are fired, and a truck rams through the gates delivering a cavalcade of walkers into the prison yard. In the end, they do what they can to secure the inner gate, but Rick, who’s saved from a walker attack thanks to a timely appearance by Daryl and Merle, is stuck on the outside. Rick looks back at the prison and at the people who depend on his leadership. Their home has been threatened, and finally, the fire in Rick’s eyes is ignited. Welcome back, Sheriff Rick! Ultimately, as cheesy as it sounds, home is where the heart is – the survival of the group matters far more than where they decide to stay. Although they fought to overtake the prison once before, is it worth it to defend its walls or do they need to move on?
Notes and Quotes
— Daryl to Merle: “You lost your hand because you’re a simpleminded piece of shit.”
— Daryl, after correcting Merle, who called Glenn a Chinese kid: “He’s Korean.” Daryl Dixon, fighting racial stereotypes since 2013.
-- The situation between Glenn and Maggie plays out in a very real way. Glenn feels guilty that the Governor assaulted Maggie to save him, but being a typical guy, he makes it all about him by pounding his chest and plotting to kill the Governor. When they finally talk it out, Maggie asks Glenn a pointed question after tearfully recounting her traumatic experience: “Do you feel better?” It’s awful what the Governor did to her, but she did what she had to do because she loves Glenn. Ultimately, it’s her burden to bear. Glenn acting recklessly isn’t going to help any of them. Although she slaps him out of the cell, we see a show of solidarity after the massive fight with the walkers, and it seems like this couple is on their way to reconciliation.
— I desperately need a gif of the Governor shooting his gun in the air with style.
— An open letter to Andrea:
I know you and the Governor engaged in sexy time. And yes, I do think you have developed a maternal instinct toward the poor, naïve people of Woodbury. That was a very rousing speech you delivered to bolster their spirits. But you better recognize! The Governor is a lunatic, and it would behoove you to run, not walk, to the prison and reunite with your friends. Maybe Michonne will let you play with her katana.