Sweet shambling corpses, it feels good to be back in the recapping saddle for The Walking Dead. That felt like a really long midseason break, didn't it? I can barely remember what was happening with Rick and the rest of the gang -- ohhhh, right. Everyone was gearing up for a big-ass battle, the Governor was missing an eyeball, Daryl and Merle were being pitted against each other in Woodbury's Thunderdome, and Andrea was doing a bang-up job at filling Lori's long-held position as Female Character We Are Most Hoping Will Be Eaten By a Zombie.

And now for your obligatory warning: this recap is chock-full of spoilers. Read no further if you haven't watched tonight's episode -- otherwise, let's get to it!

Things get started right where we left off before the break, with Merle and Daryl in the arena getting ready to carry out the Governor's command to "fight to the death." Things aren't looking so good for Daryl when Merle gets in a wicked sucker punch, but it turns out Merle's got a secret plan for them both to escape. Whew! But wait: how are they going to escape from an arena surrounded by an angry mob screaming for blood?

Oh, by Rick and the gang showing up so Maggie can pop off an immaculately-timed headshot, apparently. Flash-bangs go off, guns are fired, smoke swirls, and the Dixon brothers make their escape.

Outside of Woodbury, there's a big fight over Merle's unlikable presence. No one wants him around at all, much less joining the group back at the prison ... except, tragically, his little brother. "No him, no me," Daryl says, shrugging philosophically. "What about Carol?" Rick asks. "She'll understand," Daryl responds. Merle grins triumphantly (having magically come to after being satisfyingly pistol-whipped by Rick) and throws his arm around Daryl before they take off. Into the woods. And out of our hearts.

God damn it, Walking Dead writers. Not cool. NOT COOL AT ALL.

Back in Woodbury, the once-bucolic community is coming undone at the seams. People are doing some extremely passive-aggressive rioting where they drive up to the gate and halfheartedly shout to be allowed to leave. (Seriously: most uninspired extras ever.) The fence has been compromised and there's some biting going on. The Governor's mostly MIA, except when he storms out of his apartment to shoot an infected citizen. My god, who can the townspeople turn to? In this, their darkest hour?

And the answer is ... Andrea? Yes. She delivers one stupendously lame speech -- something about how someday in the future people will be singing songs about Woodbury because when the going got tough, the tough got going? -- and everyone puts down their pitchforks and starts hugging each other. Like, it's all okay now! We're still existing in a brutal apocalyptic world filled with flesh-eating undead, but darn it, Andrea reminded us to look on the sunny side of life. Unpack those cars!

I'm sorry, Woodbury, but your town is so stupid it deserves to die. Good luck with your new overlord and her mystifingly blowdried hair.

Meanwhile, at the prison there's all kinds of trouble brewing. Glenn's furious with Rick because the raid on Woodbury didn't result in the Governor's death, and he and Maggie are so PTSD that they can't look each other in the eye. Two members of Tyreese's group want to try and steal what they can from Rick's gang, while Tyreese and Sasha are hoping to be accepted by Rick. Beth is making weird girlcrush eyes at Rick while she cuddles his baby, which ... that's just wrong, Beth.

Oh, and Rick briefly holds lil' Asskicker and has a sort of freakout where her cries echo around in his brain, which is probably meaningful in some negative way but to me it seemed like the first NORMAL reaction to holding a baby in Walking Deadville. I mean, caring for a newborn in a world filled with zombies? Personally, I'd be shitting a continuous panic-stream down one pantleg in that scenario.

Finally, Rick meets with Tyreese's group, and although he's enormously reluctant to let them join, it seems like Hershel's about to convince him to do so. That's when Rick looks up and sees the incredibly creepy vision of LORI standing there, and he pretty much has a total mental breakdown. Crazy Phone-Answering Rick was bad enough, but Waving a Gun While Shrieking "WHY ARE YOU HERE? WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?" Rick is a whole different story. Tyreese's group gets the hell out of Dodge, because whoah, woods filled with zombies > insane man with ammunition.

So the Governor's plotting his revenge, the Dixons are on their own, Tyreese's group just ran off, Andrea is mayor of Woodbury on Foursquare, Glenn and Maggie aren't doing too hot, and Rick's completely lost his shit. The good news, I guess, is that Baby Asskicker "eats like a horse and sleeps like a rock." (But does she look like Shane?)

What did you think of tonight's episode? Why do you think it was titled "The Suicide King"?


Image via AMC