It's hard to believe there are only two more episodes of The Walking Dead before the first break, and it seems more and more likely that Rick and the Governor's groups are headed on a collision course to confrontation.
And we all know how Rick and the Governor handle anyone that gets in their way.
"Hounded" was more or less the calm before that inevitable storm, focusing on some quieter moments despite Merle's inability to ever keep his trap shut. Then again, that's what makes his character fun to watch: his spot-on comments about "biter-grams" and trying to remember people's names.
Rick was still obsessed with the telephone and the voices on the other end, who turned out to be dead members of his group. I guess you could say he got Rick Roll'd.
Kudos if you were able to recognize Amy, Jim and Jacqui, but the one that stuck out right away, and was probably the most important in sending Rick back to some semblance of a reality, was Lori. Hopefully, this version of telling Rick what to do in protecting Carl and the baby will all work out.
I do question Rick's sanity still, even though he did recognize who was on the line. As sad as it has been seeing Rick fall into the deep end, it's been a fantastic development for his character - and Andrew Lincoln continues to wow with his performances. I hope he's pulling it together for the right reasons obviously, but I also hope that those hanging strings of a broken mental state are still waiting to be pulled again.
And I'm glad that the whole telephone revelation wasn't dragged out, much like Carol being alive wasn't held out for even longer. I was starting to worry that Carol's situation would turn into an echo of Sophia leaving her discovery less impactful. Plus, I'm really enjoying her character this season.
Certainly, getting to see Daryl carry her out of the cell was a great moment. It had such a heroic vibe and it's been plain to see that he has come so far from when he was just the angry redneck brother of Merle. Beneath his quips, blunt observations, and quick kills, he has a heart.
Did he have to tell Carl his story about his mom's death? No, he could have easily ignored Carl and said "not my problem." Except, he tried to ease Carl's mind over the death, despite Carl's honest assessment that he was in fact the one who shot his mom and that it was real. Poor kid. Talk about growing up in a dark world.
As for Daryl's brother Merle, he's learned to reserve some of thoughts, but he's still the murderous sociopath that Rick had left up on the roof. He could have easily agreed to Glenn's terms and his brother would have been there in no time, but Merle would rather kidnap Glenn and Maggie for the Governor.
Does he really think that Rick and company won't retaliate, especially since Michonne was able to find her way to the prison?
I love that Michonne was able to utilize Rick and Glenn's strategy in "Guts," passing through the walkers unnoticed because of the bloody mess that covered her. And with that final shot of wrapping her fingers through the fence, carrying the baby formula back, and providing a sincere look in her eyes, I've got no doubt Rick will accept her into the group.
But man, oh man, was I hoping Andrea would be able to redeem herself.
She just seemed so relaxed and calm like nothing was the matter. And then she said she enjoyed the gruesome games the Governor put on (even though, if she really did, I couldn't sense her enthusiasm). Everything she talked about felt listless and then when she saw the walker on the other side of the wall, she became overly excited.
What is her character doing?
To make matters worse, she decides to have sex with the Governor, who - let's not forget - she barely knows and just met. At least when she was shacking up with Shane, they had been around each other for a better period of time.
Sure, maybe it had been a really long time and she just wanted to fool around, but I'm getting a vibe that she's more in love with the Governor than looking for a one night stand.
We all know that when she meets the group again, let alone learns that Maggie and Glenn are captured there, she's going to agree with it all without a care in the world. You're killing me, Andrea!
I guess the hour was a necessary breather from all of the shock and bloody surprises, but it was probably one of the weaker episodes of The Walking Dead Season 3. There were moments where I was waiting for things to pick up or even hoping to see more of the mystery behind Woodbury, but I guess that will all be coming soon enough.
That said, even with the misgivings, The Walking Dead hasn't failed to keep me interested, and with the way the season is progressing, I'm excited to see what happens when Rick and the Governor finally come face to face.
Sean McKenna is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.