When we left the Dixon brothers they had been thrown into a thunder dome type of situation. As the premiere episode begins, we are right where we left off. Andrea tries to come to their defense, but the Governor tells her that it’s out of his hands; the people have spoken. He proclaims that despite Merle’s sycophantic-like loyalty, the psychotic hillbilly will have to prove it be fighting and killing his own brother. The winner of the death match goes free. Merle takes the first swing. At first, Daryl doesn’t fight back. However, soon the two have their hands around each other’s necks. Biters are brought out whose teeth have not been pulled and soon the two are surrounded. Have no fear because it seems Merle has a plan to get them both out alive. They turn their attention to the walkers. The brothers have no weapons except their fists which are pretty futile when trying to take down a walker. Andrea continues to plead for the whole spectacle to stop. Suddenly, shots ring out. Maggie, hidden nearby, takes out a few walkers, and Rick throws a smoke bomb. The crowd starts to panic. Shot are fired on both sides, and Merle and Daryl are able to escape amidst the chaos.
The streets of Woodbury are empty as Maggie, Rick, Daryl and Merle look for a quick way out. No sign of Glenn or Michonne. Rick tells Merle he’s not coming with them, and Merle asks him if he really wants to argue about that right now. Even I know there’s no way he can leave the guy behind and screw him a second time. Merle finds a weak spot in the fence, and the group leaves the town in a very different condition than how they found it. All the guards have abandoned their posts, and we see walkers start to enter the tiny hamlet.
Glenn and Michonne are waiting at the car, and all hell breaks loose when Rick returns with Merle. Never one to ingratiate himself, Merle pours fuel on the fire by antagonizing Michonne by telling her that the Governor is, excuse the expression, slipping Andrea the high hard one. Everyone is surprised to hear that Andrea is alive, much less in Woodbury. Merle tells the group that Michonne and Andrea had been traveling together for months. He also spills the beans about her two pet biters. Michonne refuses to respond to anything he has to say or any questions that she is asked. Rick finally tires of Merle’s mouth and knocks him out.
At the prison, the new group has been allowed to join the rest. Beth enters with Judith, and the newcomers are taken aback. The woman, Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), admits that she never thought she’d see a baby again. She mistakes Beth for the mother and gets no response when, after finding out that Judith doesn’t belong to Beth, Sasha asks the whereabouts of the mother. The man, Tyreese (Chad Coleman) tells them things are only getting worse in terms of the walker population and the woman says human behavior is deteriorating as well. Despite the gratitude and swapping of war stories, Hershel tells them they have a tight-knit group, and that Tyreese and company shouldn’t get too comfortable.
Daryl, Rick, Maggie and Glenn discuss the fates of Merle and Michonne. Rick sees no way for Merle to co-exist peacefully with what’s left of the group, and his entanglement with the Governor isn’t working in his favor. Nobody wants Michonne to return to the prison except for Maggie, who thinks they ought to at least let Hershel tend to her wounds. Daryl finally decides that he and Merle will fend for themselves. This upsets everyone and sends Rick into a panic. He points out the Daryl that they started something last night meaning Rick expects repercussions and needs Daryl. Unfortunately, they are at an impasse. If the group won’t take Merle; they lose Daryl. Apparently, Daryl’s worth does not outweigh the liability of his brother, and the two head off into the woods. Rick agrees to let Michonne come along for medical care and then she must leave. It’s always a good idea to kick the awesome fighter with the huge sword to the curb when you’ve just picked a fight with the local bully.
Tyreese ‘Ty,’ Sasha, Allen (Daniel Thomas May) and Ben (Tyler Chase) prepare to bury Allen’s deceased wife Donna. The next part was a bit unclear to me. It seems that Allen wants to kill Carl, Carol, Beth and Hershel and take over the prison. He might have just wanted to imprison or evict them; I couldn’t tell for sure. However, judging from Ty and Sasha’s reactions, I believe his plan was a nefarious one. Allen argues it is about survival of the fittest. He sees everything the prison has to offer just as Rick did. Ty and Sasha argue against the plan. Beth and Axel bring them a pick and shovel. Ty and Sasha step between them and Allen and Ben. They quickly dismiss their offers to help. Allen’s plan appears to be squashed, at least temporarily.
The people of Woodbury, who have been living in a bit of a fantasy world, are finally forced to deal with the ugliness beyond their barriers. They aren’t handling the events of the previous evening very well. Many are packing up and trying to leave. The Governor’s men won’t allow anyone to leave. They threaten them with guns and even resort to brutality to keep the crowd inside the town’s walls. Andrea intervenes, trying to keep people calm. She assures one woman that things are much worse outside. Suddenly everyone hears screaming and Andrea and one of the Governor’s men come across two walkers eating a resident. The man is injured but not dead. The townspeople gather around and tell Andrea to help the man. She seems hesitant to further alarm them by shooting him. Soon the Governor appears, puts a bullet in the victim’s brain and leaves again. It is the first time we have seen him since the raid.
Andrea confronts the Governor about his behavior. She tells him that people are scared and want to leave. His only response is “let them.” He goes on saying how easy they’ve had it, but that things have changed and now they are at war. He confesses to having held Maggie and Glenn captive. Andrea is incredulous to find out that her friends are alive and everyone is shooting at one another. She also can’t believe the secrets he kept from her while they were “intimate.”
Rick, Glenn, Maggie and Michonne return. Rick breaks the news to Carol that Daryl would not be returning. He and Hershel briefly discuss new threat the Governor poses, and Hershel tells him about their visitors. Rick passes by them without greeting and immediately goes to hold his daughter. She starts to cry and his demeanor changes. Will he be able to forge a bond with the baby that resulted in the death of his wife; a baby that may not be his? Or, is the gravity of their new situation just starting to register? How can he protect his children under the current circumstances? All that is left of his original group are the weaklings and runts with the exception of Maggie and Glenn. Neither of whom are doing very well emotionally since their time in Woodbury.
Rick finally turns his attention to the newcomers. Tyreese tells Rick that they’ll find their own food and pull their weight. He also offers to help if another group poses a threat. Rick refuses. He reminds his people about Tomas and Andrew. Hershel pulls Rick aside and tells him he’s not doing the right thing, “You’ve got to start giving people a chance,” Hershel states. Rick is silent but the inner turmoil is evident on his face. He gives a deep sigh of what seems like resignation when all of a sudden, he spots a female figure in the shadows. She stands on the upper level. It doesn’t appear to be Lori, at least not a physical version of Lori we’ve seen so far. He comes undone and starts asking the woman what she wants from him. He starts screaming “You don’t belong here. Get out.” He is speaking simultaneously to the woman and Tyreese’s group. No one is able to calm or comfort him. The other group quickly scurries off, and the woman disappears.