This week Rick was hounded by phone calls from beyond the grave, and Michonne was hounded by Merle; in other words, both of them were trying to escape from their pasts. But ultimately they both had to turn and fight, Rick with words and Michonne with her katana.
Although the episode was divided, this was Andrew Lincoln’s Emmy reel. This is doubtless the episode he will submit in the academy. Rick went bye-bye, and Lincoln said hello to a meaty script that gave him a chance to demonstrate that he can play more than the stoic leader burdened by command.
In the comics, the phone conversations were how Rick worked through his grief over the death of Lori and their baby, and while the circumstances are quite different on the TV show, the calls served the same purpose here: Rick has a conversation with his conscience, and tries to figure out how to carry on in the face of his failure to protect everyone all the time.