After a somewhat disappointing midseason premiere of “The Walking Dead” last week, Sunday’s episode, “Home,” kicked it up a notch, adding the drama the show has been missing.
The show opens with Rick -- who we’ve been seeing go increasingly out of his mind --eagerly rushing down to the prison yard after he spots Lori, who is in the same white dress as the end of the previous episode.
Michonne looks on from a distance horrified as Rick leaves the prison watch post where he is supposed to be on the lookout and exits the front gate to see his dead wife (who is obviously not really there).
Rick is then essentially out of commission for a majority of the episode, as he continues to chase Lori’s fleeting image.
Meanwhile, back in Woodbury, the Governor praises Andrea for her encouraging speech to the townspeople and promises her that he will not retaliate on Rick’s gang if they leave their people alone. (Yeah, right.)
The Governor also announces that he is retiring, telling Andrea that he is not fit to lead the people, but she is. However, he is clearly doubting Andrea’s loyalty and asks Milton to keep tabs on her.
Inside the prison, Glenn is in a rage, realizing that the front of the prison is breached and it may mean bad news if the Governor tries to attack.
“It’s going to be cake,” he tells Carl.
He mulls going to Woodbury himself to shoot the Governor “when he least expects it.”
“It isn’t worth it anymore,” Hershel says, injecting his wisdom into the conversation and reminding Glenn of all of the people they have lost. The group decides that they are going to remain in the prison and defend it.
In one of the first scenes of Merle and Daryl together after their reunion, the two are walking in the woods when they hear a family in trouble with walkers. They decide to help out, but get into a disagreement when Merle wants to raid the family’s car for food and supplies as “a thank you.”
The brothers continue to argue, as Merle calls Daryl out for being buddy-buddy with Rick. He mentions how ironic the friendship is, because Merle and Daryl had intended to rob Rick’s camp way back in season one.
When the fight turns physical, Merle rips off part of Daryl’s shirt, revealing huge scars. It is obvious that Merle has a sobering moment here, realizing that the two both went through abuse when they were younger. We see a very different, compassionate Merle.
Meanwhile, Rick is still traipsing through the brush outside of the prison looking for Lori when Hershel hobbles all the way to the gate on his one leg.
“Are you coming back soon?” he asks Rick. “We need you now more than ever. Glenn is on a warpath now, he’s reckless.”
Rick is at first reluctant to reveal what he’s up to, but eventually admits to Hershel what he’s after.
“I know [Lori] is not really here,” he says desperately. “But there’s gotta be a reason. It’s gotta mean something.”
Carol is talking to Axel, the last of the living prison inmates, in the courtyard when Axel is suddenly shot dead in the head. In the episode’s climactic moment, we see that the Governor has driven to the prison with some of his men to attack the group.
A firefight ensues, as Rick and Hershel try to help from the outside perimeter. When it appears like the fighting could finally end, a truck pulls out of the woods and plows through the prison gates. The scene cuts to the Governor beaming, as the door to the back of the truck opens and a troupe of hungry walkers spills out.
Merle and Daryl emerge from the woods just in time to help Rick, who gets cornered by two of the walkers. The fight continues until the Governor drives away, but we know that it is definitely not over and he was clearly lying to Andrea.
The episode concludes with Rick, Merle and Daryl on the outside of the prison looking in with despair in their eyes at the field teeming with walkers.