There's nothing happening with the main group in the prison this week. Instead, Andrea, Michonne, and Michonne's two walker pets come upon the wreckage of a recently crashed Army helicopter, with two fatalities and one survivor. While checking it out, they come face to face with another search party, which includes none other than Daryl's long-lost brother Merle, now outfitted with a metal forearm complete with bayonet attachment. This despite Michonne coldly destroying her pets to avoid being discovered.
Anyway, they're brought to a compound which is actually a proper small town called Woodbury, where everything is safe and clean and proper. Of course there's no such place any more, let alone one that would take in Merle, so Andrea and especially Michonne have their suspicions. Okay, actually, Michonne just wants her sword back. But the leader of this little colony, who calls himself simply the Governor, assures them that the secret to this little community is just that: people with lives, and really big walls around them. Andrea is curious about how all this works, and we're curious about exactly how the governor is going to turn out to be evil. Which we'll be finding out soon enough.
The Governor also has some kind of scientist on his payroll by the name of Milton, who privately explains to him how Michonne's jawless, armless pets served as both camouflage and protection, but he wants to find out more. Michonne just wants out of there, but Andrea also wants to find out more, and Michonne isn't ready to leave without her. Ultimately, the governor quizzes the helicopter pilot to find out where he left the rest of his friends, promising to go get them. But with a party that includes Merle, the governor instead goes out, finds them, and kills them all so he can loot their equipment. So at least now we know how he keeps his men armed. As for why he turns out to also have a secret room full of zombie heads in fish tanks, though, that's probably going to have to wait for a later episode.
Okay, this is weird; there's a helicopter. And it's in the air. And it's manned by three soldiers in fatigues. Admittedly it's clearly been a while since their last inspection, but a functioning aircraft isn't something you'd expect to see ten months into the zombie apocalypse. But then we won't be seeing this one much longer either, as the chopper runs into mechanical difficulties, vomits cataracts of black smoke, and crashes into the treetops.
Walking along the road, Andrea, her katana-toting traveling companion Michonne, and Michonne's zombie pets spot the column of smoke rising from the trees in the distance and head off in that direction across a field, unmindful of the walker or two shambling along in their wake. Or not caring. Michonne has a samurai sword, after all. And also those pets, which will finally be explained later, along with the apparent disinterest of the walkers wandering by.
In addition to the previouslies from way back in the first season, reminding us of how Rick handcuffed Merle to a roof and went back later to find only Merle's severed hand, the new opening credits now include Michael Rooker. This makes me nervous, and I can't tell if it's in a good way or a bad way.
It takes the credits and the first ad break for Michonne's little party to reach the clearing containing the wreckage, and Andrea promptly pukes. Michonne chains her pets (which I've just now realized she's using as pack animals, which almost makes sense if you discount their absence of arms limiting the utility of backpacks -- the straps would keep slipping off their nonexistent shoulders) to a tree and goes ahead to check it out. The first body Michonne sees is that of one of the soldiers, who was apparently thrown clear just in time to be bisected by a rotor blade, now lying on the ground in two messy halves. She's just about to peek into the helicopter's cabin when she spots a couple of Land Rovers approaching and jogs back to their hiding place. They watch as a party climbs out and spreads out, dealing efficiently and quietly with a few approaching walkers before finding the chopper's pilot alive. A zombie walks right past Andrea and Michonne's hiding place, more interested in the activity ahead of it than the quiet, still women practically underfoot, and catches an arrow in the eye for its trouble. Andrea whispers to Michonne that since the new people are working to save the crash victims, they should reveal themselves, but Michonne prefers to wait. And then the cut-in-half man starts making noise, so the leader of the party -- a tall man with a deep voice that belies his baby face -- stabs him in the top of the head. He then does the same to the dead soldier still inside the helicopter.