“You’re the town drunk who knocked over my fence and ripped up my yard, nothing more.” — Rick Grimes
Well that was fast. Despite my frustration with Andrea in “I Ain’t a Judas,” it seems like she made good on her promise and brought Rick and the Governor together to talk terms. Of course, their discussion doesn’t end up being much more than a pissing contest, but after 13 episodes it was exciting to finally see the two come face to face.
This is the episode we’ve been waiting for all season. It was teased in promos for the back half of Season 3, and it feels as if everything had been leading up to Rick and the Governor facing off. The opening sequence involves Rick, Daryl and Hershel scoping out the area where they’re supposed to meet the Governor, and Rick finally going inside. “We have a lot to talk about,” the Governor says.
And so they do talk. A lot. There’s tension that builds up to nothing during their exchange — the Governor looking up at a hole in the ceiling as though someone were going to come through, he has a hidden gun taped to the back of the table — but still, seeing the two of them discuss their leadership roles is very intriguing. After all, they are two of the most similar characters we’ve seen on the show.
Although the goal is to negotiate a truce, it becomes clear that’s not going to happen. The Governor has his plan for the meeting, which is why he arrived earlier than Andrea, who was supposed to be their moderator. Rick presents his proposal — the Prison gets everything on one side of the river, Woodbury gets everything on the other, and they never talk or trade — but the Governor immediately dismisses him. “I’m here for one thing only: your surrender,” he says.
At this point, the Governor sends Andrea outside while they continue their negotiations. “I thought you were a cop, not a lawyer,” the Governor says. “Either way, I don’t pretend to be a governor,” Rick responds. He really gets on the Governor’s nerves by later telling him, “You’re the town drunk who knocked over my fence and ripped up my yard, nothing more,” but the Governor plays it cool. He gets back at Rick by sharing that he knows baby Judith might be Shane’s, and threatens that Rick may be “failing to see the devil beside you.” Foreshadowing? Seems like it.
The Governor does end up presenting Rick with a solution to their problem: Saying it’s silly to destroy what they both fought so hard to achieve in the past year, he offers to let Rick go if he just gives up Michonne. “Turn her over and this all goes away,” he says, asking if Rick is willing to risk the lives of those closest to him over someone he barely knows. The Governor also reveals he knows about the guns Rick got from Morgan, and even opens up a bit about how his wife died before the apocalypse.
Rick tells the Governor it seems out of character for him to be wasting time on vendettas, but the Governor reiterates his previous offer, reminding Rick that killing Michonne will allow him to save everyone he loves. He gives Rick two days to make his decision and says to return to where they are by noon.
Ultimately, their interaction was anti-climactic. Considering the Governor’s two-day deadline, this all feels like a prelude to a much bigger battle. Neither Andrew Lincoln nor David Morrissey really popped in “Arrow on the Doorpost” which, while not a problem, is a little disappointing.
After an episode like “Clear,” “Arrow on the Doorpost” feels as if it was meant as set-up for the final three episodes of the season. Again, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, and at least that set-up allowed us to see Rick and the Governor match wills. These two just better have a more fiery interaction further down the road.
While Rick and the Governor are having their chat, tensions were high outside their meeting place. Hershel and Daryl are on edge with Milton and Martinez. Both Milton and Hershel try to act as the voices of reason, but it’s not until walkers attack that they finally relax. Martinez tells Daryl that he hates walkers because they killed his wife, adding humanity to a character who previously had been just one of the Governor’s minions. He and Daryl acknowledge there will be no peace between the Governor and Rick, but they seem to enjoy the peace for the time being.
Milton strikes up a conversation with Hershel and asks him about his leg. When he tells Hershel he wants to see the stump, Hershel quips, “I’m not showing you my leg. I just met you. At least buy me a drink first,” causing them both to laugh. Hershel also talks to Andrea, who has finally come to terms with the Governor’s nature. “What am I going to do now? I can’t go back there,” she tells him. However, Hershel suggests she stay by the Governor’s side as their person on the inside even though she’s a part of the Prison “family.”
Back at the Prison, Glenn is in control and prepping everyone for war. Merle tries to convince them to attack the Governor while they have the chance, but can’t get anyone to his side. He and Glenn end up coming to blows over it, and even Michonne won’t go with him. Glenn and Maggie finally make up, having sex once he apologizes for being selfish after the Woodbury fiasco. They were supposed be on watch, and I doubt I was alone in thinking something awful was going to happen while they were getting it on in a surprisingly explicit scene. After all, nothing good ever happens in The Walking Dead without consequences.
Rick and the Governor return to their respective communities, and the Governor orders an attack on the meeting site almost as soon as they arrive at Woodbury. He wants Michonne kept alive but everyone else at the Prison dead in order to prevent a “slaughter.” Milton, a look of horror on his face, notes what he’s describing is a slaughter, but the Governor counters that it won’t be their group that dies.
At the Prison, Rick tells his group the Governor wants to kill them and that they’re “going to war.” He only tells the Governor’s Michonne proposition to Hershel, who initially comes to her defense before Rick asks if he is willing to give up the lives of his daughters for Michonne’s sake. That makes Hershel pause, and he asks Rick why he’s telling him this. “I’m hoping you can talk me out of it,” Rick says. Hershel says nothing. Somehow I doubt Michonne is going to be happy if she hears about this conversation.