Tomorrow we bury our dead and endure, but I won’t. I can’t. Because I’m afraid. That’s right. I’m afraid of terrorists who will want what we have. Want to detour us! Or worse, because one of these terrorist is our own…
Well gang, we won’t have any new episodes of The Walking Dead until February. This package of eight episodes has been unusually strong and coherent for the show. But for an episode as action-packed at this one, I found the midseason finale rather ho-hum. It had plenty of singularly great scenes — the Michonne/Gov fight, Carl rescuing the new survivors, and Glenn/Maggie’s continually fantastic development as a couple spring to mind — but as a whole, “Made to Suffer” just didn’t live up to the bar set this year.
Well, we all knew that poor Oscar was a red shirt. I don’t know how the show can explain away killing off Oscar in the same episode that Tyrese was introduced, after killing off T-Dog to let us have Oscar for a couple of days. How many coincidences can there be before it becomes a pattern?
Rick’s gang takes on Woodbury and acquits themselves fairly well considering that they were completely outnumbered. Maggie and Glenn prove, again, why they’re such vital members of the team by fashioning homemade weapons out of walker bones and showing no hesitation to strike down people in their way. (And let’s give a little shout for Glenn’s confession that “they” couldn’t hold out on giving up the prison’s location instead of blaming it on Maggie.) They lose Oscar, but we all knew his days were numbered. They lose Daryl (literally) but everyone loves Daryl, so they could totally just go hang back out at the prison and do nothing and Daryl would be fine. Even Rick’s mid-gun-fight hallucination of Shane, who inexplicably grew a beard* and dressed like Wolverine in his guilty conscience, didn’t slow them down too much. Rick totally reshot Shane’s ass!
Our main gang acts exactly how we expect them to. Michonne, on the other hand, randomly wanders away from the group to go wait in the Gov’s room to kill him for no ready reason. All he did was hold her sword against her will — yes, he also sent people to kill her, but why not go after Merle, who actually shot her? Is she supposed to be cutting the head off the snake by this move? For that matter, why would Michonne, who is obviously the most observant person in the whole group, think that the Governor had a real child chained up in his closet? This is the post-zombie world. If there’s someone chained up in a closet with a bag over their head and straightjacket on, go with “zombie” as your default assumption. Michonne got more opportunities in this episode to emote than in any other — her concern for the “child,” her desperation after Andrea rejected her — but the set up for the Gov fight just reads like more of the “angry black woman” trope the writers have been beating into the ground with her.
Carl has a fantastic series of scenes back at the prison, showcasing how he’s growing into this world. He rescues Tyrese’s group without hesitation, just because they’re other human beings who need saving (very Rick 1.0), but doesn’t put his own group in danger by letting the two mingle until the situation is sorted out. He even hangs around playing chaperone while Axel is creeping on Beth.
Speaking of, Carol has gotten her sass back. Her “I’m not a lesbian” scene with Axel was the right amount of levity to lighten up the creep factor Axel was giving off.
*Kirkman explained that Shane is in the middle of shooting a real movie and wasn’t allowed to shave for contractual reasons. LIKELY STORY.
God, Andrea, could you stop being a douchebag for just a second? I’ve mentioned her overwhelming sense of entitlement before — which, for the record, puts a hugely different spin on her argument with Lori over “women’s work” last season — so it only takes two scenes for her to prove it again:
Gov: You check on our people. Make sure they’re safe.
Andrea: You want me to make house calls? Make sure they’re all tucked in?
Gov: These guys could be holed up in one of our residences. They could be holding someone captive or worse.
Andrea: Can’t anyone else handle that? I’ve got a hell of a lot of experience.
Gov: Thank you.
The Governor is actually giving Andrea what she always wanted — a job of importance, a position of authority — and she’s bitching and moaning in a crisis situation because she wants to do something else. It’s her right to do whatever the hell she wants at any time she wants it. I’m going out on a limb here to say that she and Michonne only survived for so long together because Michonne didn’t put up with her spoiled baby act.
Because I’m so annoyed with her, I feel really smug in pointing out that for all her bragging, Andrea didn’t hit a single shot when she totally ignored the Gov’s orders and got into a firefight on the street.
And then, in a long string of questionable choices from Andrea, she stumbles into the fight between Michonne and the Gov. Despite having lived and fought next to Michonne for eight months and only having known the Gov for about a week, she decides that Michonne is totally in the wrong. Obviously! Siding with Michonne means she has to leave this little fantasyland and go back to hoofing it in the wild. If she sides with the Gov, all she has to do is rationalize away a wall full of decapitated heads, a chained up zombie daughter, some arena fights with tied-up walkers, Glenn and Maggie being abducted and tortured, and the Gov’s repeated lies to her. Easy choice, right?
No, I’m sorry, I mean, really stupid choice, Andrea.
Like Team Prison, nothing that happens with Woodbury this episode is particularly surprising. They have lots of guns and they are willing to shoot them. Merle is a jackass. The Gov is a domineering psychopath with a thin veneer of respectability layered on top. He lies at the drop of a hat (escaped prisoners are attacking us!) and manipulates ever situation to his own advantage. He pulls the wool over sad Andrea’s pretty eyes.
The end of the episode reveals that the guard has captured Daryl… somehow, in some way that isn’t specified and I have to expect was intentional. Daryl is a ghost who walks through this world. He’s not going to get caught by a bunch of yokels. The Gov’s speech after this reveal is very interesting, relying on a lot of post-9/11 rhetoric, about how terrorists want to steal our way of life. This line worked pretty well for Bush, why shouldn’t it work for the Gov? So friends, do we really think that Merle got thrown under the bus, or is this an elaborate long con to get Merle into the prison? Because thanks to AMC’s odd preview decisions, we all know that someone gas bombs the arena and the guys get out.