It's a small world after all. With the third season of the Walking Dead hopping back between the twin settings of Woodbury and the prison, it was only a matter of time before the two worlds collide. Michonne finds herself hunted by The Governor's goons and seeks sanctuary at the prison, swapping places with Glenn and Maggie, who are taken captive by Merle back to the town.
Like two tectonic plates that eventually crash into one another, this week's episode showed the violent repercussions of the isolated groups of people finally coming into contact.
Call from the grave
Whilst there was a lot of interaction between the different characters, the finest bits were arguably just with Rick speaking down the phone to his deceased wife. We knew he'd gone loco last week from the way he mercilessly slaughtered the zombies in the prison single-handedly. I thought the surprise phone call to the prison would awaken him to his senses, but it turns out to be just another manifestation of his traumatised mind.
Saying they are from a location that "is safe" the mysterious caller begins to probe Rick about his group, and his wife. A mute Rick isn't prepared to talk about the tragedy, quietly saying, "I don't want to talk about that". But he needs to open up and express his feelings. Hershel's reassuring words, "You carried us, you never let us give up, you got us here," remind Rick of his importance to the group, before he is called once more, this time by Lori.
In a beautifully acted moment from Andrew Lincoln, Rick confides with his chimerical wife down the other end, saying, "I love you. I couldn't put it back together. I should have said it".
This acceptance of her death rehabilitates Rick, as he finally expresses the pent up feelings for Lori that he had longed to say, but struggled to convey face to face. Creating a chance to say goodbye, his redemption could not come at a more important time for the group, with the many dangers close at hand.
These dangers are drawn to the group from Michonne. Venturing away from the town, The Governor sends out his men to eradicate what he sees as a threat to his community. She dispatches three with a flurry of her katana, before a thrilling moment where she locks blades with Merle.
The commotion unsurprisingly catches the undead's attention, and soon the restless horde swarm over the two of them. Seemingly full of endless inventiveness when it comes to ramping up the gore, a trapped Michonne slashes at a zombie above her, only to cut its stomach and become coated with the monster's entrails.
Merle realises there's not point in pursuing Michonne after she escapes the pandemonium. Wounded after being shot by him, he figures its only matter of time before the undead devour her. Fellow baddie Gargulio (or Neill) insists they maintain their chase, and when threatened about how The Governor will react to the news, Merle ruthlessly kills him.
He knows how to get by in this world, and that is by making sure you look out for yourself first. When finding Glenn and Maggie, he immediately recognises an opportunity to reunite with his brother, and is not prepared to let them out of his sight before then. A sibling reunion can't be far off, and it will be fascinating to see if the two brothers can reconcile after so much has changed and they have spent so long apart.
Andrea is reconciling a fair bit with The Governor at the moment. First Shane, now 'Philip', she's blighted by a recurring attraction to vindictive and evil men. But Andrea's also developed a taste for violence, and seems to like her men to be similarly brutal. She tells Telling thee Governor, "I want to contribute, everyone else does," when put on the wall she literally jumps at the chance to kill the walker when she dives off the fortification to stab a zombie in the brain.
As she confesses to The Governor later, the gladiatorial combat last week didn't make her sick. She admits, "I liked the fights: I didn't like that I liked them". Little does she know that whilst cuddling Philip is his bed, her old friends Glenn and Maggie are being held captive below. Let's hope that unlike with Shane, the veil is soon lifted from his eyes.
It's not all doom and gloom, as we discover that Carol somehow survived the onslaught at the prison. Daryl recounts to Carl how he similarly lost his mother at a young age, saying that, "It seemed like it wasn't real", though Carl grimly responds, "I shot my mum, she was out, hadn't turned yet. I ended it, it was real".
The loss of T-Dog and Lori that has hung like a dark cloud over the group and as Daryl lies waiting outside the door, he appears hesitant to confront the death of a person he had grown increasingly close to. But when the door opens to reveal a frightened Carol crouching in the corner, the dark cloud that has hung over the groups since the death of Lori and T-Dog is finally lifted.
Though their numbers are depleted, they must band together to face the threat on the horizon. Michonne's appearance at the prison gates appears an immediate chance for Rick to redeem himself, and an alliance between the two will probably prove vital if Merle decides to meet up with his long lost brother.