The Walking Dead Midseason Finale Review/Recap – “Made To Suffer”… Until February [Spoilers]
Charlotte Chapin ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff
If you’ve been watching The Walking Dead this season you know that from the very first episode, the stakes have been higher than ever before. Rick’s acting like madman Shane, Hershel lost his leg, there’s a new sociopath in town with a room full of walker heads, and Carol almost died of dehydration (is it sexist that she almost died after two days without water and Rick could last two weeks?). This season the show is split between two sanctuaries: the Ricktatorship-claimed Prison and the Stepford-esque Woodbury. There’s also a new character, Michonne, who gets “favorite character” status for wielding a katana and having hypersensitive intuition. And if you saw Episode 307 (the one before the finale), you also know that Maggie and Glenn have been taken captive and tortured by Merle (yup, he’s back) and The Governor (he of the walker-head room). Do you feel caught up yet? You might have to read that paragraph a few times.
If you haven’t been watching The Walking Dead this season, you’ve been missing out. I thought that with a group bereft of sexy psychopath Shane, the new season would be less interesting. But I was wrong. Season Three has been all about the relationships between characters that are animalistic in their quest for survival. It’s like watching superheroes with less predictable back stories and no one-liners. Not to mention that if you did think you’d miss the eye-candy of Shane’s six pack, Rick seems to have been lifting weights all winter. He’s had a lot of time for himself now that he’s no longer with his deadbeat wife (who’s actually dead, praise the lord).
So whether you have or haven’t been watching, you’ve gotten this far. Here’s where we get into the real meat of the finale. This episode, rightly titled “Made to Suffer”, opens up with a new group running through the woods into a hole in the prison wall that was somehow overlooked for seven episodes. This group is less fit to survive (one woman gets bitten as she turns her back on a horde of walkers) but more diverse (a solid two black people makes me believe that maybe we are in fact on the outskirts of Atlanta and not secretly in Vermont). As they make their way into the prison, Rick, Michonne, Daryl, and Oscar make their way into heavily-guarded Woodbury to save Maggie and a now-shirtless Glenn.
I’d like to take some time to talk about Glenn. As Merle himself says, “maybe a winter in the sticks has put some hair on his balls”. In episode 307 he manages to kill a walker while duct-taped to a chair. That level of badass is only matched ever matched by Michonne, and this is the pizza delivery boy who seemed like no more than a punk kid when we first met him in Atlanta. In “Made to Suffer” he doesn’t disappoint as, bruised and bloodied, he pries the forearm-bones out of a walker and gives them to Maggie to use as a shank (a belated yet thoughtful Valentine’s Day gift). To give credit where credit is due, Maggie does shank a guard in the neck as they attempt to break free of their room, which gives them an uncontested “best couple” status that I’m pretty sure they’ll never lose.
On The Governor’s orders, that same best couple is to be executed (one of the sweetest moments in the show, interestingly enough, is when Glenn tells Maggie to just keep looking at him and not be scared, and she manages an “I love you” before a henchman puts a burlap sack over her head). Luckily enough, Rick, Michonne, Daryl, and Oscar swoop in with smoke grenades and save them, but from that moment on all hell breaks loose in Woodbury. It’s all suspense as they attempt to escape back to the safety of the prison, and all heartbreak as Daryl learns that his brother is alive and probably trying to blow his head off right now.
Back at the prison, possible serial killer/probable pedophile Axel learns that Carol isn’t a lesbian. Exciting, right? Not unless he’s a serial killer. Life in the prison isn’t too climactic until little Carl follows the sound of screaming to find our “it’s not Vermont” pack (headed by comic book favorite Tyreese). He saves them, then attempts to shoot the bitten woman in the head and locks them all in a jail cell, which just goes to show you that if you’re raised by an absentee father and have to shoot your own mother in the head you might grow a little cold over time. This new group doesn’t have any standout members with the exception of Tyreese, who granted seems like one of those guys you’d like to spend an apocalypse with. He’s friendly, rational, and has muscles the size of tree trunks. What’s not to love? (Oh, you read the comic books? Right.)
The scene that everyone will talk about regarding this episode happens in The Governor’s very home. As Rick and the gang fend off Woodbury’s oh-so-patriotic soldiers, Michonne slips away and sneaks into The Governor’s room to wait for him with her sword and a angry look on her face that would send any sane person running for the hills. While she waits, however, she hears a knocking and suspecting it to be her nemesis she kicks in the door of his secret room to find fishtanks of walker heads (including that of her boyfriend). A rattling emanates in the closet– who could that be. It’s Penny, the scariest thing anyone could love (for those who don’t know the whole story, Penny is The Governor’s walker-turned-daughter whom he keeps to hug and cradle and do all the things you should never do to a dead thing with). As Michonne poises to skewer her little undead skull, The Governor steps in, terrified. In a move that almost makes me feel bad for him, he pleads Michonne not to hurt her, to take him instead (those who read the comics also know Penny is the singular motivation for everything The Governor does and the only reason he sees to live). Michonne mulls this thought over for a moment and then promptly plunges her sword into the girl’s skull.
What follows is possibly the most intense fight scene of The Walking Dead to date (including the Season Two showdown between Rick and Shane in the parking lot). Despite Michonne’s formidable strength and drive, The Governor is bigger, stronger, taller, and grief-ridden. After he smashes her face-first into one of his fishtanks, he proceeds to strangle her until it looks like she’ll surely die. But in the nick of time she pries a glass shard off of the tank and stabs him in the eye with it, sending him sprawling. She’s about to lay a fatal blow with her katana when Andrea walks in and points a gun at her head, asking the hopefully-rhetorical question, “What have you done?”. With that, Michonne is forced to leave knowing her one friend in the world has turned after being with a man for all of three days.
Rick, Maggie, and Glenn manage to make it safely out of Woodbury (Oscar is shot and killed in the escape). As they wait for Daryl to return, they find Michonne, whom they immediately think to threaten. Why, you may ask? Let’s see… She saved Maggie and Glenn’s life after giving a month’s worth of formula to Rick’s baby. Yup. That seems like cause for taking someone’s sword. As she stares into Rick’s loaded gun, she tells him the truth: that if he wants to go back and find Daryl or if he wants to make it back to the prison, he’s going to need her.
In the final scene, The (one-eyed) Governor addresses the mob-like citizens of Woodbury in a fire-lit arena, giving the memorable speech:
“I should tell you it’s going to be okay, that it’ll be safe. But I won’t. ‘Cause I can’t. ‘Cause I’m afraid. I’m afraid of terrorists. I’m afraid of terrorists who want what we have. Who wanna destroy us… Worse, one of these terrorists is one of our own.”
Remember a few episodes ago when Merle told him he killed Michonne? Well now The Governor has a shard of glass in his eye and a fully-dead daughter who would beg to differ. But The Governor is a cruel man. Sure, he could punish Merle the way he would anyone: by physically harming them. But The Governor believes in the idea of an eye for an eye (emotionally, and pun intended). He thinks that if, because of Merle’s lie, he lost a family member, Merle should lose someone he cares about just as much. And this is when he brings out the one, the only, the sexy fan-favorite… Daryl Dixon.
So what does the future hold for our favorite apocalypse survivors? The promos seem to show that Daryl lives (praise the lord of biceps and crossbows), so that much is certain. But what will happen when The Governor goes looking for the prison? Will Axel turn out to be the killer the comics talked about? Lastly, why is Beth kissing Rick in the promo? I guess we’ll have to wait until February 10th at 9 PM Eastern Standard Time to find out.