Season 1, Episode 03
Tell It To The Frogs
- Reunited with his family, Rick takes a team back to Atlanta to rescue Merle, while Shane and Lori's relationship begins to suffer.
On the roof of the department store, Merle is still chained to the roof. He begins begging and screaming to God to help him, and is terrified when a group of walkers hear the noise and attempt to get through the nearby padlocked door. Regaining his composure, Merle says that he's not going to beg God anymore, and attempts to reach a handsaw T-Dog knocked down on his rush to escape...
At the camp outside Atlanta, Glenn arrives in the sports car. Shane chastizes him for letting the horn blare and potentially drawing walkers in with the noise. The mood becomes jubilant when the truck with the rest of the group arrives and everyone is reunited.
Rick exits the vehicle, and Morales encourages him to introduce himself. Rick is stunned and overjoyed to see Lori, Carl and Shane, and tearfully hugs his family and acknowledges his partner.
Later that night, Rick sits with his family and the rest of the group by the campfire. Rick and T-Dog both offer to break the news of Merle's situation to his brother, Daryl. T-Dog admits that he padlocked the door so that walkers couldn't get in, and says Merle is most likely still alive. Elsewhere, Shane reprimands another survivor, Ed, for using too large a fire. Ed's wife, Carol, puts out the fire and apologizes to Shane, but the tension is evident between her and her husband.
As everyone goes to sleep in their tents, Rick tells Lori that he knew she and Carl were still alive because the family albums were taken from their home, and they make love afterwards.
The next morning, the group dispatches a walker that has been feeding on a deer. Daryl comes out of the forest and tells the group about shooting walkers in the head, but is horrified when and angered when Rick breaks the news about Merle. Daryl attempts to attack him, only to be held back by him and Shane.
Rick agrees to go back with Daryl and find Merle over Lori and Shane's protests. Glenn (because of his knowledge of the city) and T-Dog (still feeling guilty) also accompany him. After they head out, Lori breaks off her affair with Shane and tells him to stay away from her and Carl now that Rick has returned.
In a nearby quarry, some of the other women, including Andrea, Jacqui and Carol, are doing laundry. They reminisce about things they miss from before the outbreak, but the happy mood is ruined when Ed comes over and yells at them for complaining about the division of labor. When Andrea intervenes and accuses him of beating Carol, Ed verbally abuses her and slaps Carol. Shane sees what is happening and, still in anger over Lori's treatment of him, brutally beats up Ed. Carol begs for him to stop, and Shane warns that he will kill Ed if he ever sees him mistreating his wife or child.
In Atlanta, the four men arrive at the department store. They make their way back up and cut open the padlock. Daryl runs onto the roof and starts crying and yelling, and as Rick, Glenn and T-Dog, they find that the handcuffs are still in place... along with a severed hand.
- Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Subverted. Merle initially starts pleading with God to save him, but then changes his mind and angrily declares that he isn't going to start begging now as he has never done so before.
- All Women Are Lustful: Andrea stated that the thing she misses the most since the Zombie Apocalypse began is her vibrator. Carol then states that she feels the same way.
- An Arm and a Leg: Merle cuts off his own hand in order to escape his handcuffs, leaving the severed limb on the roof for the others to find.
- An Ax To Grind: Dale decapitates a walker with an ax.
- Asshole Victim:
- It was established in the previous episode that Merle is violently racist and misogynistic, so it's difficult to feel too sorry for him.
- Shane beats the living hell out of Ed after the latter struck his wife and was implied to have abused both her and his daughter, Sophia.
- Big "NO!": Merle gets in a few while he's stuck on the roof. Daryl also does it upon finding the severed hand.
- Chekhov's Gun: T-Dog knocked over a bag of tools in the rush to escape the roof in the previous episode (in a blink-and-you-miss-it shot). In the opening of this episode, Merle uses his belt to reach a handsaw that had fallen out of the bag and cut off his hand.
- Domestic Abuse: Andrea accuses Ed of beating Carol, and is proven right only seconds later when he hits her in full view of everyone.
- Establishing Character Moment: Daryl stomping out of the woods with his crossbow and several dead squirrels, bitching about his deer being eaten before calmly shooting a severed head sets him up as the surly outsider who is nonetheless one of the more competent members of the group.
- Foreshadowing: Dale asks T-Dog to look for a radiator hose for his RV when he, Rick, Glenn and Daryl go on the rescue mission, foreshadowing the RV's overheating in the second season.
- Hot-Blooded: Daryl clearly shares his brother's temper, although it could be argued that his reaction is justified given the circumstances.
- Guilt Complex: The reason T-Dog goes back to Atlanta with the others is due to his guilt over dropping the key.
- Life-or-Limb Decision: With the walkers attempting to break through the door to the roof Merle decides to cut off his own hand as his only chance of escape. Subverted, however, in that when the others arrive it is revealed that the door did hold, so if he'd only held out a while longer he would have been rescued.
- Love Triangle: Type 4 between Lori, Rick and Shane, with Shane still having feelings for Lori despite her breaking off their affair now that it turns out Rick is still alive.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Shane administers one to Ed.
- Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain: It's established that only the latter works; after Dale decapitates a walker, the head remains animate until Daryl shoots it with a crossbow bolt, effectively destroying the brain.Daryl: What the hell, people? It's gotta be the brain. Don't y'all know nothing?
- Rescue Arc: Rick, Glenn, Daryl and T-Dog rushed back to Atlanta to save Merle. They failed.
- Scarily Competent Tracker: Daryl indicates that he is this, claiming to have tracked the deer for several hours.
- The Sneaky Guy: Glenn. The main reason Rick talks him into returning to Atlanta is because of his ability to slip through the streets undetected.
- The Straight and Arrow Path: Daryl uses a crossbow as his primary weapon.
- What an Idiot!: Merle chooses to escape his handcuffs by sawing off his hand... with a hacksaw. As in, "a saw that's specifically designed to cut through metal" hacksaw. Given the choice between sawing through a handcuff chain and sawing through one's hand, one would think it'd be easier and faster to cut through the chain than it would be to saw through much thicker flesh and bone. Not Merle, though.
- Granted, we find out in the next episode that the blade may have been too dull to cut through the cuffs, but since we never even see Merle try to cut through the cuffs, it comes across as this.
- Wife-Basher Basher: Shane, though it's implied that it had more to do with venting his own frustrations than defending Carol or punishing Ed.