Episode 3, “Tell It To the Frogs”
We find a sunburned Merle still shackled up top of the department store in the ATL where Rick & co. left his white supremacist behind last episode. He’s mumbling, and getting one hell of a crispy-looking sunburn, and eventually he starts begging the tiny baby Jesus for something — mercy presumably. The “geeks” are trying like holy heck to make it through the door to the roof, that T-Dog managed to chain shut before fleeing, but they don’t. Merle recants his begging — we’re not privy to baby Jesus’ take on the matter — and starts to swing his belt with the heavy buckle towards the scatter of tool placed jes‘ a little out of his reach.
Then we cut to that shiny red car, still shrieking an alarm, speeding along some highways, till it hits the camp. People are hollering at Glenn to turn that damn zombie dinner bell off, but he’s so enthralled with the car…and besides, he doesn’t know how. Someone finally does, and that’s when we get the big emotional pay-off for the episode — Rick gets out of the van and sees, of course, his son, Carl and wife Lori. Andrew Lincoln, who plays Rick, pulls off a realistic and emotional reunion with his wife and son, who have had no idea that Rick was alive. (If you recall, Lori and Rick’s BFF and partner, Shane, has been knockin’ boots for a while. Since Zompacalypse for sure, but it’s uncertain to this viewer if there’s been infidelity going on before that.) Carl is just tearfully glad to see his daddy; Lori is stunned, but seems genuinely happy, especially seeing as the audience knows from the first episode that there’s been significant tension in their marriage.
Camera pans over to Shane from the clump o’ reunion joy, and he’s managing to manfully smile and look sad at the same time. Awww.
It’s night at Camp Ain’t Dead Yet, and the Grimes’, Shane and Winnebago Old Dude are chatting quietly ’round the embers of the fire about how pissed ol’ Daryl, Merle’s brother, is gonna be when he gets back from his deer-hunting trip to find out that Merle is leashed to the roof of the Sear’s Building (or whatever it is) like the rabid dog he is. At some other camp circle, a good ol’ boy type tosses another log on his low fire, prompting Shane to go over and remind him that they “got rules about firewood.” Said rules being laid down so the zombies won’t see the light and come running to make some tasty hominid s’mores. “It’s cold,” grunts Good Ol’ Boy, while a beat-down lady and a little girl look on and hunker down. Shane’s metaphorical dick is bigger, though, so after they posture a while, GOB instructs the woman to take the log off. Do I sense conflict within this little group? I do, I do!
There’s some snorgling in the tent with Rick and Lori; Rick puts his wedding ring on, which Lori’s been wearing on a necklace. They make some sweet, sweet, “you ain’t dead after all” love. Shane broods on top of the Winnebago of Loneliness., keeping watch over the camp…and Lori’s tent, where he won’t be gettin’ any no more, uh huh. Sniff.
Rick wakes up to find that Beatdown Lady from the GOB’s fire has washed and pressed his uniform. Let me tell you, come the Zombie Apocalypse, any man who expects me to wash and iron his damn clothes in the frickin’ wilderness (using cold water, a scrub board and what, a flatiron they had time to liberate from some Ye Olde Colonial Times exhibit home?) is going to find himself hamstrung one night in the middle of some chase scene. I’m just sayin’. Anyway, Rick feels bad about leaving Merle to die a particularly gruesome death from exposure and starvation, and so does T-Dog. And anyway, Rick wants all that firepower and ammo he dropped at the intersection of Holy and Shit.
Some kids starts shrieking and all the men start running into the woods, where a zombie is chowing down on a deer with a couple of crossbow bolts sticking out of it. They beat the hell out of it, and Old Winnebago Dude chops it’s head off with an ax. Go, Gramps! Who can only be Daryl saunters in from the woods, grousing about how he chased that deer, and couldn’t they just kinda work around all the zombie-et bits? NO, DUMBASS is the consensus, and he wanders up to the camp, with his brace of squirrels, hollering for Merle. Shane tells him Merle didn’t make it back, and of course, Rick chimes in with his earnest do-right heart that it was his fault, and T-Dog joins the chorus of useless honesty.
Daryl, of course, pulls a knife and barrels towards Rick, and Shane puts him in some kind of choke hold. “Hold ain’t legal,” whines Daryl. Shane’s all “WhatEV. Write me up, dude.” Long and short of it, Rick, Daryl, T-Dog and Glenn decide to go back. Glenn is more TOLD he’s going back, since he knows’ the way. And hey, maybe he’ll be able to steal another cool car, since the one he brought back has been stripped. Poor Glenn. I hope you don’t get eaten.
Lori’s NOT happy about this, but all the guys head off to ATL, whilst the wimminfolks head down to the quarry to do some laundry. I guess that’s their chore, but the GOB from last night is just sitting on his ass, smoking and practicing looking surly and mean. The women joke about what they miss, and an autodrip coffeemake with a built in grinder is trumped by a vibrator. Cue the laughs, which become even louder when beatdown lady chimes in “Me, too.” GOB senses that they are MOCKING and not LAUNDERING, and moseys over to glare and ask “What’s so funny?” What’s so funny, of course, is that you are lousy in bed, sir. He tells the wimmins that there needs to be more working and less laughing, and feisty blonde lady sparks up all “And I don’t see you doin’ anything but sitting and smoking.” GOB doesn’t like this at all, and mutters something about “college educated bitch.” Feisty lady isn’t happy, and starts to get into it, and we think that some violence is going to happen, and sure enough, it does. GOB snarls, “Don’t think I won’t slap you,” and then when the beatdown looking lady with the grey buzzcut (whom I believe is his wife) tries to settle him down, he slaps her. Of course. That starts a hubbub a going.
Shane, who has been trying to gig frogs with Carl (and getting some pretty cute “RAWRR!” faces from the kid as a result), was just cut cold by Lori, who came and took Carl tout-de-suite away from Shane. She snippily informs Shane that he isn’t to have anything to do with Carl or her; in fact, stay the hell away from the whole damn family (which struck me as a little awkward and overwrought — sure, y’all were sleeping together, but it’s the ZOMPACOLYPSE, and you thought your husband was dead. No harm, no foul…until she hisses “And you told me he was dead!”
So Shane, who is a mite pissed off, strides over to GOB and pounds the ever-loving shit out of him. Not that he didn’t deserve a bit of ass-kicking, but Shane was dealing a little old-fashioned Freudian transference rage right into his schnozz. About 7 or 8 more punches than he needed to, and GOB wasn’t able to resist past the first punch. The women look appalled.
“You put your hands on your wife, your little girl, or anybody else in this camp one more time, I will not stop next time,” Shane tells him, and then kicks him for good measure.
In the ATL, the men make it to the department store, up to the roof, and cut the chain…to find Merle gone. Well, most of Merle. He left a hand behind, apparently having been able to finally snag a hacksaw with that belt.
I’m thinking Merle was just barely smart enough to tie a tourniquet, and will show up in camp with a bad attitude and start some shit — before he drops dead of gangrene, of course. I don’t think that hacksaw was very sterile. And if he doesn’t manage to drop unconscious from blood loss and pain.