SPOILER ALERT: This recap for the "Arrow on the Doorpost" episode of "The Walking Dead" contains storyline and character spoilers.
After last week's incredibly emotional "Clear," with the return of Rick's friend Morgan, "Arrow on the Doorpost" might seem a bit underwhelming. But it is a key episode for many reasons.
Rick finally got an up close and personal gander at the Governor, and essentially summed him up as nothing more than a nuisance.
Andrea saw just how little she means, and what a pawn she has been, to the Governor.
And the Governor may have made his biggest tactical error ever: He allowed his people to bond with Rick's people, perhaps putting a dent in the frenzy he's trying to whip up to get Woodbury's citizenry to go to war against Rick and the citizens of Camp Lockdown.
Oh, yeah, and the Governor laid his cards on the table: He doesn't want a truce, he doesn't want the prison, he doesn't really care about Rick and Merle and the rest of the prison pals. He just wants Rick to deliver up Michonne, on a platter, for him to carry out -- if the "WD" comics are any hint -- what would be one sick, twisted plot for retribution for his eye and his Penny.
Silent but deadly
The first several minutes of the episode were silent, as Rick, Daryl, and Hershel arrived at a rundown farm facility and began to scope out the area. Hershel, in the car, had a gun strapped to his leg, Rick had his gun in his hand, and Daryl was armed with his bow and arrow as Rick approached a barnlike building with a platform holding a table and chairs.
As he slowly walked to the platform, a figure emerged out of the shadows … the patch-sporting Governor, smiling, holding his hands up in front of him, and telling Rick, "We have a lot to talk about."
"You attacked us," Rick said. "Makes things pretty clear."
Governor: "I was trying to make things clear. I could have killed you all. I didn't."
Of course, if anyone was fooled by that weak case that he's a fair man, a quick shot of his side of the table revealed the truth: Even though he'd taken off his weapon and asked Rick to do the same, the Governor had a gun taped under the top of the table.
Outside, as Daryl and Hershel continued to keep watch, a truck arrived with Martinez, Milton, and Andrea, who rushed inside the barn, surprised that the meeting had already begun. She told Rick and the Governor that they needed to end their squabble now, before more people get hurt.
Rick told his foe, "I know about you, the raids, the heads, Maggie."
That was Merle, the Gov lamely defended, but Rick wasn't buying his cheesy grin and faux charm. "You know what I'm talking about."
Yes, everyone knows exactly what Rick is talking about. Well, everyone but Andrea, who is still trying to pretend she doesn't know how rotten to the core her lovah is.
But no matter, because she will prove to be the one thing the men agreed on at their meeting: her dismissal. They both told her to kick rocks, and she was none too happy that this meeting she thought was happening because of her was going to continue without her.
Outside the meeting, the boys got testy with each other, with Daryl referring to Milton as the Governor's butler, and Milton referring to Daryl as Rick's henchman. Martinez told Daryl to shut his mouth, and only a call for civility from Hershel calmed the situation.
A prison break
At the prison, everyone was preparing for a second attack by the Governor -- stashing ammo and weaponry around the facility -- when Merle started trying to convince them they should head off for a sneak attack on the Governor. They knew exactly where he was, because of the meeting, Merle reasoned. Besides, he was worried for his brother's safety. Which was almost certainly true, though ol' Merle's almost certainly got self-preservation on the brain, too … as long as the Governor is alive, after all, the traitorous Merle is not safe.
Merle was a topic of conversation at that meeting between the leaders, in fact, with Rick taunting the Governor about trusting Merle and then allowing himself to be betrayed by the older Dixon brother. The Governor, after rejecting Rick's offer to have the prison group and the Woodbury citizens agree to split up the nearby land, offered up a weak defense, which Rick shot down.
The Governor: "I thought you were a cop, not a lawyer."
Rick: "Either way, I don't pretend to be a Governor."
The Governor: "I told you, I'm their leader."
Rick: "You're the town drunk, who knocked over my fence or ripped up my yard. Nothing more."
It was Rick's greatest line ever, and it landed with the force of a sledgehammer. Unfortunately, Andrea's loose lips had provided the Governor with a brutal return shot of his own.
"Didn't you ever misjudge someone?" the Governor asked Rick. "Andrea told me about your baby, that it might be your partner's."
Andrea, this is why gallons of haterade have been consumed in your honor this season. It's revelations like this. Not only did you choose this psycho over your best friend, you continued to defend him even if the face of his wackadoodleness, failed to take him out when you had the perfect opportunity, and you gossiped about your friends to him. We're drinking a Big Gulp-sized cup of haterade and toasting you with it right now.
The Governor continued that it was big of Rick to decide to raise Lil' Asskicker, as a "restitution for your own lack of insight … for failing to see the Devil beside you."
"Oh, I see him alright," Rick pointedly assured him.
And then the Governor remembered he'd brought whiskey to the party! Um, OK …
Outside the meeting, Milton shared with the group that he'd been recording events since the apocalypse began, along with interviews. Good idea, Hershel said, though their discussion about documenting history was interrupted by the sound of approaching walkers.
While Daryl and Martinez tried to show off, Andrea stepped in and stabbed the closest one in the braaains, and then shook her head and stepped aside as the two dudes engaged in a game of who has the bigger, uh, weapon? They proved to each other that they were both reliably capable of landing a weapon on or in a walker head, and a new, if tenuous, friendship was born. Daryl was so impressed with Martinez's skills that he wondered if he was former military.
The cast and crew talk about how they created "Arrow on the Doorstop," including this face off with the walkers:
"I just hate these things after what they did," Martinez said. "Wife … kids …"
"Sucks," Daryl agreed, as the two shared Daryl's cigarettes. See, it's not just us ladies who cannot resist the charms of one Daryl Dixon.
Seriously though, it was an important moment, as these two enemies were reminded that they're really just a couple of guys fighting for survival against the same threat. The same thing happened between Hershel and Milton, as the scientist asked the doctor about his MIA leg.
"May I see it? Your stump," Milton asked.
"I'm not showing you my leg," Hershel said. "I just met you. At least buy me a drink first."
Hershel made a funny! He laughed, as did Milton, though we're not entirely convinced Milton understood why it was funny.
Point is, there was lots of bonding happening there, while the Governor was inside stirring his insanity stew with Rick. And though Martinez snapped back to reality and told Daryl the meeting was "a joke," that the Governor would order an attack no matter what happened, we can't help but think this is going to be a key in what must -- Must! Please!-- be the Governor's eventual downfall …
At the prison, Glenn and Merle scrapped when Glenn blocked Merle from taking off to kill the Governor, while outside the Rick/Governor meeting, Andrea finally faced up to everything everyone had been saying about her man.
"What happened to Maggie?" she asked Hershel. "He's a sick man," he replied.
Andrea told Hershel she couldn't go back to Woodbury, and he agreed, telling her she belonged with her family at the prison. He also told her if she did return to the group, it would be settled … meaning, make up your mind once and for all, woman?
Inside the barn, the Governor tried to tell Rick he hadn't even wanted to be Woodbury's leader, but there had been no one else who could do it. He also strapped his holster and gun back on, telling Rick he knew about the cache of weapons Rick had secured from Morgan. His people aren't fighters like Rick's, the Governor acknowledged, but he was willing to fight to the "last man."
"So let's end it, today," the Governor said. "You have something that I want. One thing that makes this all right."
Not giving up the prison, Rick said. Not moving on, either.
"Best you stay where I can keep my one good eye on you," Gov replied, slipping off his patch and showing Rick Michonne's handiwork. And speaking of …
"I want Michonne," he continued. "Turn her over and this all goes away. Is she worth it? One woman worth all those lives at your prison?"
Having been thwarted by Glenn, Merle tried to convince Michonne to join him in going after the Governor, and it was a smart play on Merle's part. As Rick just found out, and as Merle already predicted, Michonne is at the top of the Governor's hit list, meaning no one needs him to be gone more than she does. Despite Merle's pleas to have her use her katana to "Shogun the Governor's ass," she declined.
But while Merle was getting shot down inside the prison, Glenn was faring much better while he was on watch outside. Maggie joined him, he apologized for being a butthead when they returned from Woodbury, and they made up in what was one of the sexiest scenes of the series (after their making-up session had to be moved into a private little storage locker, because Glenn couldn't get his swerve on with the walkers watching).
Back to the meeting, Rick continued to sarcastically taunt the Governor, asking him if he was really risking everything, the chance to have a statue of himself in the town square, on a "two-bit vendetta" against Michonne … killing Michonne, sort of beneath you, don't you think?"
"You could save your son, your daughter, everyone you know," the Governor replied. "It's your choice."
The Governor told Rick he had two days to decide, and they headed outside where everyone got into their vehicles and left, including Andrea … with the Governor.
The war efforts
Back in Woodbury, the Governor immediately started issuing orders to Martinez, with the most important one being to tell everyone to kill all of Rick's people, except Michonne … he wanted to handle that one himself.
Milton, overhearing the orders, said that would be a slaughter. That's what's necessary, the Governor told him. Rick had to go, for their own safety. But Milton, having just met and connected with some of the enemy, did not look pleased.
At the prison, Rick also briefed his people, telling them the Governor wanted to take over the prison and he wanted them all dead. "We're going to war," he declared.
Outside, Rick was joined by Hershel, whom he told the truth, that the Governor's only demand was Michonne. But Rick knows, he said, if he gave her up, the Governor would probably kill them all anyway.
Besides, she's earned her place with us, Hershel reminded him.
"She has," Rick said. But, "are you willing to sacrifice your daughters' lives for hers?"
"Why are you telling me?" Hershel asked.
"'Cuz," Rick said, "I'm hoping you can talk me out of it."
The cast and crew dissect the episode "Arrow on the Doorstep":
- There are just three episodes remaining in Season 3: "Prey," "This Sorrowful Life," and "Welcome to the Tombs."
- The song at the end of the episode: "Warm Shadow," by Fink. The video:
Now, what did our fellow "Dead"-heads on Twitter think about "Arrow on the Doorpost"?
We second "Buffy" and "Beverly Hills 90210" alum @emmacaulfield's thoughts:
In a preemptive answering of your question, Yes, yes it would have been, @@LadyMillieRock:
And, yeah, we've been wondering this ourselves, @ohheyjesssager:
Watch a preview of the next episode of "The Walking Dead":
"The Walking Dead" airs Sundays at 9 PM on AMC.
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