SPOILER ALERT: The recap for the "Home" episode of "The Walking Dead" contains storyline and character spoilers.
Lessons to be learned from "Home": Don't go getting too invested in secondary characters during a zombie apocalypse, because they're likely to end up kicking the body count up a notch. And also, beware of speeding delivery trucks, especially when they're sent by the enemy. Chances are, they're not about to drop off a nice batch of freshly baked bread.
So, Rick. Sigh. He's on prison grounds patrol, looking through his binoculars, looking to see that everything is as it should be. Michonne on watch near the gates? Check. Prison yard free of walkers? Check. Rick's dead wife standing in the yard in a beautiful white gown? Check.
Yes, Rick's still seeing things, and this time he approaches his vision in white. She disappears. Then she reappears, outside the prison gates. Rick goes running after her, catching up with her on a small bridge, where she starts stroking his face. Michonne watches, as Rick appears to be interacting with someone who isn't there. It is official: Everyone now knows Rick and reality have parted company.
The other crazy guy
In Woodbury, the Governor knocks on Andrea's door, and immediately starts working her. Her impassioned speech to the townsfolk was just what they needed, he says. He was only keeping his daughter alive, because he thought Milton would eventually find a cure, he says. He's done some terrible things and is no longer fit to lead Woodbury, he says, but Andrea would make a great leader.
What about my prison pals? Andrea asks. He promises there will be no retaliation. He just needs some time to get himself together. He says he knows she may decide her loyalties are with her friends at the prison, but he hopes she'll stay in Woodbury and lead his people instead.
And in case there was any doubt that these admissions were anything but self-serving, and are just his way of trying to keep Andrea in Woodbury while he moves forward with his plots, the Governor meets with Milton and asks him to keep his eye on Andrea.
Into the woods
We catch up with the Dixon brothers as they're waiting for a furry little creature to scurry by so that they can nab some grub. Daryl makes a subtle pitch for the duo to forget living in the woods and head off for the prison, but Merle points out that the prison dwellers won't exactly throw a party to welcome him.
Besides, he says, the prison folk are already dead. He thinks the Governor has already made sure of that.
Meanwhile, the prison dwellers, though not dead, are also well aware that the Governor is on his way. Glenn and Michonne think that means they should strike pre-emptively. Glenn wants to head off to Woodbury with Michonne. "You and I could end this tonight," he says, itching to pull the trigger on the Governor himself.
Plus, the walkers have breached the tombs and are starting to overrun another section of the prison. That, along with the imminent arrival of the Governor and his forces, means it's time to flee the prison, Hershel argues. The group made it through months of travelling around in their cars, and they can do it again, he says.
Glenn points out that Hershel had two legs then, and that they didn't have a newborn whose constant cries would be a zombie siren. No, he says, they have a safe haven -- well, except for those walkers threatening to break through -- and they need to stay put.
Before Glenn takes off on his mission to find out the entry point of this new onslaught of the walking dead, he goes to see Maggie, and they finally -- finally! -- get into specifics on what exactly happened to her in Woodbury. She tells Glenn, in detail, what the Governor did to her. And she tells Glenn what he didn't do … he didn't rape her. Glenn is relieved, but she's still angry that he's been obsessing about how the attack made him feel so helpless, and she pushes him away.
Axel and Carol
With Daryl gone, Carol has bonded with Axel, who tells her how he really ended up in prison. It involved a toy gun, he says, as he doesn't even know how to use a real gun. Carol gives him a crash course in gun use, and she delights when he tells her, "You're quite a lady."
Back in the woods, Daryl and Merle are hunting for a body of water to do a little fishing, when they hear the sound of their fellow humans in trouble. Merle, of course, wants to ignore the situation. But Daryl hears the sound of a baby crying and runs toward the action and finds two men and a woman holding a baby, all being attacked by walkers. He and Merle help the men take care of the walkers.
After saving the woman and the baby trapped inside a car from a walker who's just inches from them, Merle thinks that gives him the right to loot their car as a thank you. But when he pulls a gun on one of them, Daryl pulls his bow and arrow on Merle, and Daryl yells at the men to get in their car and drive away.
As the Dixon brothers walk back into the woods, they finally have it out. Merle says Daryl and Rick are buddies now, but that's only because Rick and the others don't know that the Dixon duo were planning to rob the camp.
But Daryl has a newsflash for his older brother, the one he's always deferred to: You're a tool. And that's why you lost your hand. Not because of anyone else, but because you're a tool. You deserved it. "You lost your hand because you're a simple-minded piece of s---," Daryl says. He and Merle start to scrap, and when Daryl's shirt rips, his bare back is shown. Merle sees the scars, left from when Daryl was beaten as a kid by their father.
Merle didn't know. He tells Daryl why he left home, leaving Daryl there alone with their abusive dad: because he was afraid he would have killed Papa Dixon if he didn't leave.
Daryl heads off to the prison, but Merle says he can't follow him, because he nearly killed Michonne and Glenn in Woodbury. "I may be the one walking away, but you're the one leaving," Daryl says. "Again."
'This rage is going to get you killed'
That's what Hershel tells Glenn, who's about to leave the prison grounds. Hershel tells him not to go to Woodbury, and not to let his anger get the best of him, or it will get him killed. These kind of statements are always troubling, particularly when they're said to a beloved character like Glenn … foreshadowing, we worry.
Glenn says he's just going to check out the perimeters of the prison, but he won't be told what he can and cannot, should and should not do, even by Hershel. "With Daryl gone and Rick wandering Crazy Town, I'm the next in charge," he says.
Speaking of the new mayor of Crazy Town, Hershel hobbles down to the fence to talk to Rick, who admits that he's been seeing Lori and Shane, and that Lori is the person he was talking to on the phone. He knows it's not really Lori, he tells Hershel, but he also thinks it means something, that there's something he's supposed to figure out from the fact that he's seeing her pop up everywhere.
Hershel wonders how much time Rick thinks he'll need to find himself, but the answer comes from an outside source: the Governor. Rick's vacay from sanity ends when a shot rings out, hitting Axel square in the head while he and Carol are talking in the yard.
Pan to outside the gates, where a cheesy-grin-wearing Governor, along with a few of his minions, are shooting assault rifles into the prison. Rick is outside the gates, Hershel dives for the dirt, Glenn is still away from the action, and the Governor just unloads bullet after bullet at them.
Maggie, Beth, and Carl have grabbed weapons and are trying to defend the prison, while Carol uses Axel's dead body as a shield until she can run for cover. Michonne is also trying to avoid the gunshots, while the Governor grins as a delivery truck comes speeding through the gates. It stops in the prison yard, a gate drops in the back and out comes … scads of walkers!
They spot Hershel, who starts shooting at them. They head for Rick, who shoots at them until he runs out of bullets. The Governor, surveying and enjoying all the damage he's caused, gets back in his truck and speeds off just as Glenn returns. Maggie jumps in his truck and they drive down to the fence in the nick of time to save Hershel. But Rick, still on the outside of the fence, has run out of bullets and is fighting off two walkers with his hands, and is seconds away from a fatal bite when an arrow shoots through one of the biters' heads.
Daryl! And Merle! The Dixon brothers ride to the rescue, saving Rick and helping him kill the rest of the approaching walkers. The grin on Merle's face says he knows he's just bought himself an entry ticket to the prison.
Good news: Rick may have been forced back to reality. Maybe. And Hershel and Carol and Beth and Carl and Maggie and Glenn and the baby are safe inside the prison gates, and Rick and Daryl and Merle are safe outside.
Bad news: "Home" ends with Rick peering through the gates, as the walkers now roam the yard, which was once a safe haven.
- A new entry for the list of grossest walker kills: Daryl, while saving the woman and her baby from a biter, drags the zombie out the back of a car and slams the hatchback down on its head.
- More Dixon brother awesomeness, as we get more backstory on their childhood and why they both are the way they are: Daryl, always so deferential to Merle, has finally proved he can take care of himself and others, and lets Merle know it. And as is often the case, when Daryl stands up to him, the bullying Merle backs down, admitting the creepy stuff he did to Michonne and Glenn, and how those actions mean he can't seek refuge at the prison with Daryl. Daryl's newfound confidence in standing up to his brother is also a nice tie back to last week's episode, when Carol told Beth that she likes to believe that if her abusive husband Ed (who died in Season 1) came walking into the prison, she'd be strong enough to stand up to him. She hoped the same thing for Daryl in his relationship with his brother, and that's exactly what has happened -- one of the few ways in which the zombie apocalypse has actually improved life, in a small way, for Daryl.
Now, what did our fellow "Dead"-heads on Twitter think about "Home"?
-- From @TheWalkingFans, we totally feel your pain:
Gotta admit, we were thinking the same thing as @illMindOfAndrew on this one:
And we definitely agree with @TheCarlGrimes: