Warning: Spoilers ahead.
In tonight’s episode, “Home,” unsettled remnants of the past collide with the present, bearing catastrophic results. In the opening scene, Rick’s continuing hallucinations of Lori set the theme for the rest of the episode. Symbolically, his past has come back to haunt him, his unresolved issues with Lori being what truly has sent him over the edge. The writers solidify this notion in his dialog with Hershel: “There’s got to be a reason … it’s gotta mean something.” Although still considered the group’s leader, he has abandoned all that is important in the present in his inability to let go of the past. His decision to chase what even he knows to be a figment of his imagination leaves the prison vurnerable, as he leaves the tower unmanned when the Governor wages his attack.
Daryl and Merle suffer severe repercussions as a result of their breaking off on their own, their dialog suggesting they haven’t eaten in days. Additionally, the two fall into a disagreement over an unknown group they come upon, which is surrounded by zombies and too shorthanded to fend off the swarm. Daryl rushes in to help, while Merle joins him only to attempt to raid the group’s car. Daryl represents the present, while Merle in his bigotry (calling the people “beaners”) represents an outdated attitude of the past. They turn on one another, prompting Daryl to head back toward the prison for food and shelter. Surprisingly, Merle follows peacefully.
The encounter Glenn and Maggie survived has lasting consequences on both of them, although each reacts in a dramatically different way. Glenn finds himself filled with too much rage to keep to himself, becoming short-tempered and volatile, while Maggie shrinks back, suffering severe depression and post-traumatic stress. Glenn’s decision to leave the prison with plans of vengeance leaves the group with yet another missing person to defend them when the Governor strikes.
Although the attack on Woodbury was for noble reasons, it has left Rick’s group open to retaliation. Andrea’s past with the group prompts the Governor to lie to her about his intentions and sets her suddenly into the community’s periphery. He displaces his sense of betrayal over Merle’s departure onto her, deeming her guilty by affiliation despite all she has done for him.
Daryl’s return to the prison, with Merle following, proves to be the only returning piece of the group’s past that is at all positive. They save Rick from what would have been certain death. However, Merle’s return to the group foreshadows more internal turmoil to come, his bigotry and self-serving attitude toxic to their well-being.
The group’s past mistakes laid the foundation for the dynamics presented in tonight’s episode, and there is no doubt that even more repercussions are to come.
Leigh M. Lane is a speculative fiction author whose works span from sci-fi to horror. Her most recent full-length works are The Hidden Valley Horror, Finding Poe, World-Mart, and Myths of Gods. For more about her work, go to her website at http://www.cerebralwriter.com.