Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
“We’re not going to hurt you unless you try something stupid first.” — Rick
This week we definitively learned the people at Woodbury aren’t who we think they are. The Governor is as happy torturing someone as he is playing the charming leader of a group of survivors. Merle is just as pissed off at Rick, Glenn, T-Dog and the rest of their group as he is desperate to see his brother again. Milton is just as naïve as he is the most forward-thinking person around.
At the same time, the people at the Prison are growing and developing into better characters. Despite the many setbacks and deaths they’ve faced, it seems like Rick & Co. have come out the better for it, and just in time to face their biggest challenge yet.
Maggie and Glenn have been taken by Merle to a rundown holding cell either in or near Woodbury (its exact location isn’t quite clear), and our favorite couple looks a lot worse for wear this week than they did when we left them in “Hounded.” “When the Dead Come Knocking” starts off with Merle torturing Glenn as he tries to figure out where their camp is. Maggie is kept separate but can hear Merle beating Glenn as her boyfriend tries to fight back.
Back at the Prison, however, things pick up right where we left them in “Hounded.” As Rick gazes at Michonne with a stunned expression on his face, the zombies around her begin to notice she’s food as her leg wound continues to bleed. She fights back against them but ends up passing out, and Carl and Rick grab the food she brought with her and bring her inside. There Michonne finds herself in the same position she was in Woodbury — trapped against her will with someone taking away her weapon — but at least Rick is up-front about her situation.
At least she knows this group isn’t as terrible as the one at Woodbury. Everyone is happy to find Carol safe and sound, and she’s both overjoyed to find that the baby is alive and heartbroken that Lori is dead. Rick has the most open expression of sadness we’ve seen yet over Lori’s death (character development!), and Michonne seems to respond to seeing them all so close to one another.
That’s likely why Michonne tells Rick, Daryl and the rest of the group that Glenn and Maggie have been taken to Woodbury, and clues them in on the Governor. She’s playing her defensive “You’re all my enemies!” act, but at least Rick calls her out on it. She ends up getting fixed up by Hershel and agrees to lead a rescue party to try to get Glenn and Maggie back. As Rick is saying goodbye to Carl, Carl tells him he’s decided to name his little sister Judith instead of “Ass-Kicker” — and just when we were getting a soft spot for Daryl’s nickname for her.
Meanwhile, Andrea and The Governor are still banging by the time this episode picks up. They are forced to put an end to their seemingly endless tryst so that The Governor can have Andrea help Milton out with one of his “experiments.” He takes her to a home where Milton is observing a man named Mr. Coleman in bed and asking him to respond to a series of prompts. It turns out that Coleman is on the verge of death and Milton is trying to see whether he can remember anything of his human life after he turns. During this time we also learn that Milton has never seen a transformation and had no friends before the apocalypse hit. Who knew?
In another part of Woodbury, Merle still is beating Glenn, and that he hasn’t yet broken pisses off Merle. Glenn tries to break free so Merle sets a hungry walker on him, though Glenn ends up killing it epically. He and Maggie aren’t off the hook yet, however, as The Governor comes to observe Merle’s little torture chamber. When asked why he tried to kill Glenn, Merle responds simply, “He pissed me off.”
Instead of continuing the torture of Glenn, The Governor instead tries to break Maggie. After she won’t share the location of the Prison, The Governor makes her strip, and acts as if he’s going to rape her. Some fans had guessed he might — spoiler alert! — rape Maggie instead of Michonne, as he did in the comics — end spoiler alert! — but he doesn’t (yet). The Governor instead reunites Maggie and Glenn, and finally pushes them to their limit by threatening Glenn’s life. Maggie breaks and tells him where their camp is, and she and Glenn are left alone together.
As Rick, Daryl, Michonne and Oscar head to Woodbury, they decide to walk the rest of the way on foot so they can arrive undetected. But while Michonne was covered in zombie guts when she traveled through the “red zone,” this time the four of them aren’t camouflaged against the walkers. They find sanctuary in a random, seemingly abandoned house, but there turns out to be a man living inside. Michonne kills him after he pulls a gun, and they use the dead body as a distraction to allow them to get away.
They make it to Woodbury, where the episode cuts to The Governor telling Merle that he questions his loyalty, but Merle insists he is The Governor’s man. Meanwhile, Coleman doesn’t respond to any of the same prompts he did when he was alive, but Milton is naïve enough to think there’s some hope. Andrea has to kill the Coleman walker after Milton unties one of its bonds, and it’s clear that both of them are shaken by the experience. That doesn’t stop Andrea from returning to The Governor’s bedroom by the end of the episode, completely oblivious to the fact that he has two of her friends held captive and that he is totally and completely evil.