Summary: Rick and the group return to the camp at the quarry. Rick reunites with Lori and Carl. Lori is mad at Shane for lying about Rick being dead. Merle's brother Daryl is mad that Merle was left behind. Rick goes with him, along with Glenn and T-Dog to get Merle and the guns in Rick's bag he left behind. They go to the rooftop but find that Merle has escaped by severing his own hand with a buzzsaw.
The Good: This was more solid stuff. I appreciate that the show slowed down the pacing a bit, which helps preserve the walker drama for use later on. This also allows for the show to start developing its characters to help us appreciate them a little more. It's good to get an instalment where all the characters just get a chance to breathe without the threat of walkers lurking around every corner.
Surprisingly, the best part about this episode was the existence of a bit of a love triangle, though thankfully the focus of the storyline doesn't appear to actually be on the love triangle part of it. The drama between Rick, Shane and Lori was very good and I am interested to see where it goes (see: The Unknown). I think it could make for some good conflict between Rick and Shane, and Rick and Lori which can be really enjoyable content if handled in a smart, non-melodramatic way. Before the love conflict though, was the reunion which I thought was well done and provided a good moment of emotion for the characters.
I was very happy with the opening scene of Merle trying to escape his handcuffs. Michael Rooker was just brilliant in that scene and brought real life and conflict to Merle in that brief scene as he struggles to deal with his fate, slowly going crazy through everything that's happening. It was very well done.
Rick going back for Merle was a very welcome development. Not only did it give this episode some drive later on, but it has also given us a chance to help understand some of our main characters (Glenn, Daryl & T-Dog) presumably in the next episode. I loved that Rick had deeper motivations to going back than just to save Merle. That would have been the clichéd "good guy" thing to do, but instead with the added depth of Rick wanting to get the walkies to help Morgan who he feels he owes a debt to, Rick feels like a deeper and more realistic character. It just so happens that Merle is also in the place where he left the bag.
I enjoyed the ending scene too. Shane destroying Ed was nice as it allowed him to take out some frustration, hinting at how he may be a little bit of a danger to the group, which is a good continuation of how he seemingly got far too caught up in playing leader in the previous episode and this one. In contrast to that though was the fantastic twist when we see that Merle has severed his own hand to escape the handcuffs. That was a great cliff-hanger to end off on and it promises a much better tension-based episode coming up as a follow-up to this one.
The Bad: This was a slower episode with limited plot movement, but it didn't do anything to make any characters not named Rick, Merle or Shane stand out. Everyone just kept to their single character trait they were given which didn't make me care for anybody any more than I did last episode. All the new characters were bland as well with very little to them. Ed is just a generic asshole, which is made especially worse since we already have Merle and Daryl playing that role. It gets annoying when like 33% of the male characters are assholes. And while on the topic of sexism, the whole women doing laundry thing did bother me a little bit, though not as much as it probably bothered some others. And of course I thought Daryl was a pretty lazy character as a younger and slightly more tolerable version of Merle.
There were a couple of weirdly written moments too. T-Dog mentioning the lock only when the group finally got back to their campsite was ridiculous in my eyes. He must have been horribly conflicted about what happened to Merle, so why not at least tell the others that he may have saved Merle's life. But perplexingly, T-Dog keeps it to himself, prolonging the amount of time Merle would be suffering alone on the rooftop. There was also Lori's decision-making process when it came to Rick leaving. She is mildly against it at first, but then suggests Rick going to save Merle anyways as if she has accepted it, but then walks away upset as if Rick said this without consulting her and then confronts him later, this time very upset. It all felt very sloppily written and just makes Lori out to be even more annoying than she already was. Also did Rick and Lori seriously have sex like 3 feet away from a sleeping Car? Seriously?
The Unknown: How will Shane deal with the Lori situation? What will that conflict come to? How will Rick get involved? Did Shane just say Rick died to start getting it on with Lori? Or was it just to get them out of the hospital? Or did Shane really think Rick died?
Where has Merle gone now? I expect he is heading back to camp to extract some vengeance.
Best Moment: I'll pick the opening scene, as it stood out more than anything else this episode.
Character of the Episode: Rick.
Conclusion: This was a solid episode, but the poor character work and occasionally weak writing does hurt the score quite a bit.
Just a university student who loves to watch TV. And criticize it like hell.