First off, I should say, this episode was much better than the previous two. I’m inclined to think it was because my expectations have been lowered, but I think it’s really because they did more of what I think works, and less of what doesn’t. There was no Lori-and-Shane drama, which I appreciated because, based on the information we have (they both thought Rick was dead, they weren’t carrying on the affair before the outbreak) it’s just not very interesting.
Rick and his crew are in the city, and Merle’s brother Daryl is (understandably) upset about finding his brother’s sawed-off hand on the top of the department store. They go through the building, and find evidence that Merle used a belt as a tourniquet on his arm, and that he cauterized the wound. They find zombies that he killed, but no Merle. I liked this, a lot, because it makes Merle more interesting than he was on-screen as the unstable racist.
Trying to retrieve the bag of guns that Rick dropped in the first episode, the group runs into what appears to be a gang, Glenn gets kidnapped, and Rick’s group grabs one of the gang’s members. They go to where the gang is holed up, which seems to be some sort of prison facility, and hold the stupidest standoff ever, considering the circumstances — the gang wants guns and their guy, Rick wants Glenn. I say stupid, because neither of them can afford to lose a person. An older woman suddenly stumbles up, and interrupts the confrontation. Then we find out that the facility is an old folks home, and the gang is led by the custodian, and many of its members are relatives of the elderly people inside. It’s not the worst explanation, but it seems kind of silly to me because a place full of living people would be a zombie homing beacon. I find it hard to believe that they’ve managed to defend a place full of infirm older people (especially without many guns!) for so long.
I think the episode ends really strongly, though, with a major attack of walkers on the camp. It’s a sign of Merle getting his revenge, all off-screen. He steals Rick’s van, making it much more difficult for the group to get back to camp, then likely cuts all of the lines around the camp that were there to warn them of any approaching dead. The zombies kill a few non-essential characters, but also Andrea’s sister Amy — which means Andrea should be pretty interesting to watch over the final two episodes — before getting killed by Rick’s group.
Again, I think that despite a few things that don’t make sense (yet), this episode worked a lot better. It was scarier, it still had some interesting human drama, and it avoided doing things that bored me.