Hey gang! It’s me, Brian, your host for the evening. I’ve been tasked with having to watch my favorite show early every week and walk you through it. Rough, right? But work is work, and I must soldier on. So let’s just jump right in.

When last we visited our survivors they’d just launched an assault on Woodbury to get Maggie and Glenn back, lost Daryl in the process, and picked up some new residents back at the prison. Oh, and the last thing we saw was a cage match about to begin between Daryl and long-lost brother Merle.

The Dixons Do Battle

Which is exactly where we pick up: Daryl vs Merle surrounded by walkers, fight to the death, winner goes free. Brutal. Merle yells out that he’s loyal to the town and then whales on Daryl. Daryl starts to put up a fight but Merle lets Daryl know he has a plan, “Just follow my lead little brother, we’re gettin’ out of this. RIGHT NOW.” Of course it’s Merle, so his plan is to just punch a lot of walkers while Andrea yells for someone to stop the fight. Luckily Maggie and Rick show up, open fire, and lob in a smoke grenade. Some bystanders get hit, including a young girl. Daryl grabs his crossbow back from one of The Governor’s men and they make a break for it with Rick and Maggie. Cue opening credits. Breathe.

We come back to the group making their escape. Merle leads them out, despite Rick wanting nothing to do with him. As they make their way back to their car, we see a walker heading into Woodbury through the gap they left in the fence. You know how your parents would always yell at you to not leave doors open? This is exactly why.

A Zombie at the Gates

Michonne and Glenn have been waiting and are most definitely not pleased to see Merle. Merle, bastion of good grace he is, antagonizes and mocks them. Don’t you change, Merle. Rick tells Daryl that he’s part of their family, but ultimately they’re unwilling to let Merle come back with them. Daryl, ever the family man, chooses big brother Merle, gets extra supplies, and heads off with Merle while Rick and company drive off.

Back at the prison, Hershel is patching up newcomer Allen’s leg while the two groups get a little more acquainted. When Tyreese hints at staying at the prison Hershel warns him not to get comfortable, and insinuates that Rick might not be very welcoming. The newcomers bring Donna’s (Allen’s deceased wife) body to the yard to bury her. Allen and his son Ben hatch a plan to take Carol and Carl’s guns, kick Rick’s group to the curb, and take the prison for themselves. Tyreese and Sasha are hesitant to go along with it. It’s a moot point however when Axel and Beth come out with tools and are super nice, defusing the situation.

While all this is happening, Rick, Maggie, Glenn, and Michonne are driving back to the prison. When they happen upon a truck stalled in the middle of the road, Glenn goes to pop the brakes only to find a hungry walker in the driver’s seat. Glenn doesn’t miss a beat, he grabs it, throws it down, and stomps its head into the ground repeatedly until he breaks down in tears. He’s pissed that The Governor is still alive and wondering what’s going to happen when he comes for them at the prison.

Meanwhile, Andrea is dealing with some very unhappy residents in Woodbury. While The Governor is holed up in his apartment, the soldiers are trying to stop everyone else from leaving (and doing a pretty crappy job of it). Just when things are about to get out of control, screaming erupts a block away. A couple of walkers have clearly found Rick’s exit hole. Andrea and one of The Governor’s men run to take care of them, but not before they get to a couple unfortunate residents. As one of the victims lies on the ground moaning, Andrea stands there asking someone to do something. The Governor walks out, shoots him in the head, and walks back inside. Pretty easy, Andrea.

Governor Shoots Walker in Head. Mic Drop.

We switch back to Carol and Carl having a little heart-to-heart about the world now and how Lori was proud of Carl. Carl remains skeptical. He’s becoming a teenager so fast. Rick and co. show up and break the news to Carol that Daryl has decided to head off with Merle. Carol kind of tearfully accepts it. They don’t care nearly as much about the fact that Oscar actually died.

As they regroup at the prison, Andrea confronts The Governor. He says that the people of Woodbury are too soft and it’s time to get tough. Then he tells Andrea that Daryl was there to get Maggie and Glenn and they killed 6 people escaping. Andrea is stunned. When the doc shows up to tell The Governor that the people are gathering again and might cause a scene, The Governor just goes about his business while Andrea looks on.

Rick comes back into the Prison to find some new guests. He walks right by them without a word so he can check on Lil Ass Kicker Judith. He holds her but instead of the happy, proud dad, he looks like he’s about to heave, so things are maybe not great in Rickville.

Andrea faces down a potential mob over in Woodbury. She talks to them about how they’re going to rebuild, how they’ll survive and go down in history as the cradle of civilization (I’m summarizing). Everyone kind of rallies around her. The Governor watches from the window. Happy that he has a little clone? Threatened by Andrea’s rising profile? Wondering why Andrea didn’t split when she found out her friends were still alive and secretly being held prisoner by a man that forces people to fight to the death?

The Governor Watches From Up Top

Before we get answers to those questions we check in on Carol and Beth talking about Daryl. Carol sympathizes with Daryl but also realizes that she’s stronger than she was when the outbreak hit. She says that “Daryl has his code.” Wire reference? While Beth and Carol tend to the baby, Hershel tends to Glenn. He tells Glenn that he thinks of him as a son. Is it just me or is it a little dusty in here? Hershel pops over to the cell next door and checks on Maggie. He can see she’s on the fringe and he begs her not to let go.

Hershel continues on his rounds and tells Rick that Michonne could be fit to leave in a couple days. Next item of business: the new people. Even though everyone agrees that they need more people in case The Governor shows up, Rick tells Tyreese and his group that they’ve got to go. It’s too risky. Hershel pulls Rick aside and just when it seems he’s convinced Rick to let them stay Rick sees a shadowed figure in a dress up on the balcony. I think it’s safe to assume that it’s Lori, graduating from phone calls to actual visits.

Who Ya Gonna Call?

Rick does not take this well. He starts yelling “GET OUT! YOU DON’T BELONG HERE! GET OUT!” and waving his giant gun everywhere. Needless to say, Tyreese and his people beat a hasty exit. Everyone looks at Rick like “what the fu-” and Rick looks down at his gun and we hit the credits.

So that’s it! The start of the second half of season 3. Sorry that was super long, but premieres are important and I wanted to get it all. What did everyone think of tonight’s episode? Is Rick going to relent and let Tyreese into the jail? How long before Daryl and Merle try to make moonshine? What the hell is Andrea thinking? Where is Rick on the crazy scale?

Comic fans, let’ s keep spoilers light in the comments for the people that haven’t had a chance to read the comic yet. Notice I said “yet,” TV show fans. GET ON IT.