We’ve been waiting a long time for someone in the group to knock Rick’s ass out and we knew it was going to be either Michonne or Daryl who did the knocking. They’re the only members of the Grimes gang with heroic stature that approaches his own; under the crude dramatic rules of TWD, an “unworthy” character could never lay low the show’s Achilles. Even Michonne needed a cheap shot from behind to do the deed. And I’ve gotta tell you: It was everything I dreamed it would be.

Congrats to the writers, though, for an elegant, unexpected ending to the “Hero Rick heroically confronts Jessie’s unheroic husband” storyline. Pete as a character is the show at its worst, exactly the sort of Snidely Whiplash scumbag you’d write to make things morally easy for a horny, self-righteous Rick. A better show would have made Pete a warm, wonderful guy and then forced Rick to decide whether Jessie is enough of a prize, and he himself hardened enough by the Darwinian imperatives of the apocalypse, to murder Pete anyway. Instead Pete’s a caricature, a wife-beating drunk. Surprise, though — the writers did a nice job salvaging moral ambiguity from the big fight at the end anyway. Arguably that’s even harder to pull off than the scenario I just laid out in which Pete is a mensch: Somehow they took one of the least likable characters of the series, put him in a fistfight with the show’s supreme hero, and made Rick seem like the one who’s being unreasonable. Neat trick. And a nifty job on the FX too. “The Walking Dead” prefers over-the-top grossouts because, let’s face it, this is a zombie show and that comes with the territory, but that mask of blood on Rick’s face while he was ranting about doing what’s necessary to survive was a nice, (relatively) understated way to show how deranged his brutality is becoming. Rick Grimes, lord of the flies.

So, for the season finale, looks like Rick’s going to be booted out of Alexandria, maybe with a few allies, and Michonne’s going to stay behind and we’re going to have a civil war for the town between rival factions within the gang, no doubt with zombies and whoever’s responsible for those “W” mutilations joining the fray. Although the writers have been more daring lately, I’ll still be shocked if any prominent member of the family Grimes ends up killing another prominent member. Rick shooting a lesser figure like, say, Sasha? No problem. Rick shooting Michonne? No way, bro. And yet, it seems like a major character has to die now that the group’s ready to turn its guns on each other. Maybe they’ll compromise by, say, having Rick wound Daryl, with the zombies then overwhelming the poor guy while he fights for life. Wait, no — that won’t work. This show would never reduce a character as huge as Daryl to zombie chow. Maybe the coward Nicholas will ambush Glenn. That would avoid the problem of having one major character die by another’s hand … but it would also contradict the trend of the last few weeks in making Glenn’s character more prominent. They’ve built him up by showing him to be a far more effective, and cunning, scavenger than any of the Alexandrians. Now they’re going to dog him out by having him killed by the same twerp who killed Noah? No way, bro.

Someone important’s going to buy it next week. Who? And don’t tell me Sasha. She’s obviously a goner.