The powers that be take one of their biggest risks yet in this episode- making Andrea the crux of the narrative. She's been a divisive character since the show started-- her attitude and motivations feel very different from the comic, and they've aged her quite a bit. She is no longer the young woman who has her transition to adulthood interrupted by a zombie apocalypse, the TV version of Andrea is far more mature and world weary, but she also feels somewhat directionless. At one point she was more than content to ride off into the sunset with bad boy Shane, this season she is ready to put roots down in Woodbury for the "people". What she should know, and is apparently willing to look past, is the bad boy she's bedding down with now makes Shane look positively docile. Even with this episode mostly devoted to her, Andrea remains a conundrum. She has an opportunity to tell her old friends just what kind of man they are dealing with (the kind that keeps heads in vats), but doesn't. She also has an opportunity to put an end to the Governor, and the bloodshed that she knows is on the horizon, but doesn't (thanks to a wonderfully chilling suggestion by Carol). The question that needs to be answered by the end of this season, if we are to like or identify with Andrea at all, is what will she do (other than occasionally go all American History X on a walker)? She needs to take action, one way or the other, she can't just walk from camp to camp acting clueless. She's seen too much to stare blankly at the apocalypse.
When Andrea warns Rick that the Governor "has a whole town" did anyone else hope Rick replied "We have a Daryl."?
It's interesting that Tyreese and Co. have found their way to Woodbury. It's a twist that puts the prison dwellers at an even further disadvantage. Rick is gaining a reputation around the countryside as that crazy, gun flailing maniac you don't want to run into. Travelers along the back roads whisper "Steer clear of the prison, or the mad Sheriff will get you!" The Governor doesn't even need to spread anti-prison propaganda, Rick is doing that all by himself. Even if Lori's phantasm has retreated behind a tree (a well done little scene), Rick's reputation precedes him. Do the show runners mean to make Rick and Tyreese's friend ship take the long way around, or do they have something completely different in mind?
We've seen enough to know a tiger can't change its stripes, but for now let's all enjoy Merle "just business" Dixon. He has useful military training, he can close the gate with one arm, and he can whittle like the dickens. I'm not sure if it was in character for Michonne to just let Merle clear the air, I would not have been surprised to see hear tear out his throat with her teeth, but we're now getting a Michonne who seems a bit more willing to fall in line. She has more dialogue in this episode than maybe any other, or at the very least it's much deeper than her usual scowl. Her reaction to seeing Andrea says many things, and gives us a rare unguarded moment (and it's only a moment). "I didn't know the messiah complex was contagious" hints that she is more than just a sharp blade.
What this episode gets right is showing us our survivors from an outside perspective. We know that deep down they are the good people we've grown to love, but much like when Tyreese arrived, our imprisoned heroes feel positively miserable. They certainly haven't had an easy time of it, but the cinderblock walls have to take their toll eventually. Maybe it's fitting the episode ends with the rough and "seen it all" rumble of the great Tom Waits. Our characters are getting lifetimes worth of strife on a daily basis.