In our recap of last week's Walking Dead, we complained that Steven Yeun's Glenn had been badly underused this season, essentially being relegated to the role of Maggie's chirpy boy-toy. Finally Yeun gets some material worthy of him in 'When the Dead Come Knocking' as his character - now a captive in Woodbury - is put through the wringer and then some...
The interrogation that both Glenn and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) are subjected to is part physical, part psychological - both must listen to the other's anguished cries - and these scenes are suitably chilling as a result.
Glenn takes a huge amount of punishment from a wrathful Merle (Michael Rooker), even being forced to defend himself - bare-handed and bound - from a ravenous zombie. The tense and visceral sequence that follows is one of the episode's clear highlights.
A brief side note - one of the downsides to the demise of T-Dog (IronE Singleton) a few weeks back was that it meant we'd never see him face Merle again, so it's nice to have their rivalry at least briefly addressed as the redneck takes sick pleasure in the news of his foe's gruesome death.
With Glenn keeping schtum, the Governor (David Morrissey) takes it upon himself to question Maggie, displaying in stark contrast the two sides of his character - at first, he's all charm and reason, but then the darkness within becomes evident, as he uses sexual intimidation to belittle and bully her.
The Governor's less wild, less obviously brutish than Merle, but he's just as sick, just as twisted, and Morrissey as ever gives a brilliantly unnerving performance.
The Woodbury plot's other key function this week is to develop The Walking Dead's zombie mythology - the biggest step we've made into that arena since season one's finale 'TS-19'...
The quietly creepy Milton (Dallas Roberts) is attempting to measure the level of human consciousness that remains once a person 'turns' and it's finally made clear beyond all reasonable doubt that nothing remains. Don't be fooled if your former loved one appears to be reaching out to you - they really just want to eat your face.
Now this latest run of Walking Dead episodes has been superior to season two in many ways, but the portrayal of Andrea is not one of them - Laurie Holden's character has transformed from tough, forthright warrior to clueless, lovestruck buffoon. So it's refreshing to see her rediscover a little of her former fire this week, away from The Governor's corrupting influence. More please.
Elsewhere this week, the wounded, bloodied Michonne (Danai Gurira) finally stumbled across the prison, though given Rick's recent breakdown and his response to the prison's inmates in previous episodes, you'd be forgiven for wondering if he'd even bother to save her from the zombie hordes...
Thankfully Rick's humanity wins out, though Michonne's initially as much of a captive as Glenn and Maggie - isolated and interrogated. This parallel again raises the issue of how different Rick's own outlook really is to the Governor's. The former lawman has remained more sympathetic than the psychotic dictator in recent weeks… but not by much.
Here though, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) undergoes some serious character rehabilitation, acting more like his old self and sharing a belated talk with Carl (Chandler Riggs) about what he did for / to Lori. It's becoming increasingly clear that Carl is mature beyond his years - he's had to grow up fast and is now light-years away from the irresponsible brat of season two.
Another satisfying moment comes when Rick acknowledges all that Daryl (Norman Reedus) did for the group during his brief absence. And speaking of Daryl, he returns the missing-presumed-dead Carol (Melissa McBride) to her friends in a brief but wonderful scene, almost entirely dialogue-free but packed with emotion. There's Rick's initial relief at finding her alive, then Carol's own wonder at the sight of his baby, followed by her sorrow as she realises what must have happened to Lori.
Soon, the prison gang head for Woodbury to rescue Glenn and Maggie but are waylaid by walkers, with Michonne displaying a kind of ruthlessness that's now become commonplace within the group - dispatching an innocent man who gets in their way.
When the prison gang and the Woodbury clan finally come face-to-face, it won't be a simple case of heroes vs villains. Instead, it'll simply be survival of the fittest. Next week is the big one - The Walking Dead's final episode for 2012. At last, it's Rick Grimes vs. The Governor - place your bets!