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Episode Three: Tell It to the Frogs

November 30, 2010

This episode opens where the previous one left off, with Merle Dixon handcuffed to a pipe on the roof, left behind by the other campers as they high-tailed it out of Atlanta. Delirious, panic sets in as he tries to free himself and escape from the group of zombies straining at the door that T-Dog chained shut. Just before the credits, we see him reach for a hacksaw.

Next we catch up with the survivors en route to camp. Morales tries to make Rick feel better about leaving Merle behind, but cautions him that Darryl, Merle’s brother, is likely to be upset. Back at camp, it becomes clear that Shane has adopted the role of father figure to Carl as the two chat about catching frogs.

The tension has been building to the moment of Rick’s arrival at camp. First Glenn rolls up in the stolen Challenger, then Morales is greeted by his wife and kids, then Amy and Andrea share a tearful reunion. Finally Rick is presented as the new guy in a very tense moment. The look of terror and disbelief on Lori’s face says it all.

Shane acts pleased to see Rick, but is clearly experiencing some inner turmoil. At the campfire that night, Lori explains that she was certain that Rick was dead. The topic of Merle arises and the campers discuss how to break the news to Darryl when he returns from hunting. T-Dog is adamant that Merle is still alive up on the roof.

Post-campfire, Rick and Lori have some time alone. Well, almost – Shane lurks outside like a creeper, watching their tent and presumably wishing he was still banging his comatose partner’s wife. The following morning Rick awakes to find daily camp life in full swing. A scream disrupts the calm as Carl encounters a zombie – the first one that’s made it to the camp – feasting on a deer in the woods.

The dead deer comes courtesy of Daryl, who is now back from his hunting expedition. Explanations about Merle’s whereabouts lead to a physical entanglement. Rick enlists Glenn to accompany him to Atlanta to save Merle, despite Shane’s protests. Rick and Glenn try to spin the mission as an opportunity to bolster their dwindling ammunition supply; Rick also wants the walkie-talkie left behind in his bag so that he can warn Morgan and Duane to avoid Atlanta. In the end, Rick, Glenn, T-Dog and Daryl form the rescue party and head back to the ATL.

Meanwhile, Shane and Carl horse around in the creek trying to catch frogs while Jacqui, Andrea, Amy and Carol do the laundry and reminisce about the good old days when they weren’t fighting off the living dead. Lori sends Carl back to camp and tells Shane that her family is off limits; their conversation reveals that Shane was the one who told her that Rick was dead. She is pissed.

Ed approaches the laundering ladies and apparently Andrea must have taken some women’s studies classes in college or something because she has the nerve to get up in his grill when he expresses displeasure with the quality of her work. Their argument prompts Ed to drag Carol away from the group; when she resists, he slaps her.

Shane, in turn, knocks Ed on his ass and proceeds to pummel him pretty brutally. Either domestic abuse is one of his turn-offs, or dude needs to learn to compartmentalize. In Atlanta, the rescue crew busts onto the rooftop to discover that Merle has left – mostly. All that remains are the hacksaw, bloody handcuffs and a bloodier hand.

So where is Merle? The comic series highlighted again and again the fact that humans were more of a threat to the survivors than zombies. Will Merle become a Governor-like figure? Readers of the series might draw connections between the loss of Merle’s hand and a similar incident in the series. Either way, we can be sure that he’ll be back – and probably not too happy.

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