This season has been full of aggressive moves with main characters on offense, pushing the story towards the edge of the cliff. I’m not talking about the fiscal cliff, I’m talking about central characters at the cliff of their breaking point. In “Made to Suffer,” Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Rick (Andrew Lincoln) continued their assault and rescue mission at Woodbury, while Carl (Chandler Riggs) manned the gates of the cellblock when newcomers come swinging their way into the back side of the prison. We got humor, confrontation, introductions, and reunions. One could say that “Made to Suffer” had it all.
Michonne told Rick that she led him and the others back to Woodbury to save Glenn (Steve Yeun) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan). She wasn’t lying… completely. It can be interpreted that she used Rick and the others to create a diversion while Michonne snuck into the Governor’s (David Morrissey) apartment to kill him. What she got instead was a shocking kiddie-sized surprise and the fuel she needed to get him to attack her at his most vulnerable moment. Give it to Michonne, she wasn’t waiting around for anyone, she wasn’t waiting for Rick to give her the “o.k.” and even though she put herself in harm’s way, what a thrilling way to get the Governor in a physical battle–and what a way to leave him with a gouged eye.
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What I find so fascinating is that a television character who is so laconic can do so much to change the chemistry of the group. The Governor and Merle (Michael Rooker) were clearly threatened by her. It was Carl’s decision (his first since shooting his mother) to step over his father and save her outside the prison gates. And she has been both a savior and loyal friend to Andrea (Laurie Holden) even as she stood in a standoff.
This brawl had everything, from Michonne finding the aquariums of severed heads (two of which, belonged to her “pets”), the Governor ramming her head through one of them, and Michonne spilling a few more onto the floor–that tried to bite her, while struggling for her life. The Governor had no problem inflicting pain on Michonne and she gave him the push he needed to really bring the villain out of him. Penny was probably the last thing tethering him to what remained of his humanity and for the second half of the season we’re going to see all of the ugly we know the Governor is capable of. But Michonne’s handiwork came with a cost and a lesson in consequence.
Rick to Michonne: You get what you came for?
Michonne left her post with Rick’s group and was nowhere to be found in the shootout that ended in Daryl’s (Norman Reedus) capture. The Governor, forever wounded by Michonne moves onto his new focus of hatred, pitting the angry mob of Woodbury against the Dixon brothers. Knowing that Merle lied about Michonne being dead, he found a story to manipulate the arena’s fury in his favor. He felt that Merle was more loyal to his brother than him, and that made him expendable, especially since he was unable to take care of Michonne. This twist caught me off guard as I had expected to see both Dixon brothers pitted against each other as they are both high “ranking officers” on opposing surviving groups. Now they’re seeing each other for the first time in nearly a year, back-to-back, fending off whatever the Governor has in store for them.
Governor to Merle: You wanted your brother, now you got him
In the eyes of the viewer, this switches Merle back to a guy to root for, which is pretty hard to do considering he beat the hell out of Glenn and let a walker loose on him. But in the hearts and eyes of the audience, Daryl trumps all. So with the life of one of the show’s most popular characters in the balance, any ally Daryl can find is a welcomed new friend. But what about old friends?
Andrea finally realized at the end of the episode that the “terrorists” were a party from her survivor camp. She’s probably realizing that Michonne was helping them or at least assisting them–we can hope, right? The Dixons’ fate may fall in the hands of Andrea whose questions are beginning to get on the Governor’s last nerve. In a season that’s been set up to compare and contrast the leadership skills of both Rick and the Governor, we’re also seeing them both unravel. One in anger, the other in sadness and regret. Rick’s most interesting moment was when he saw Shane (Jon Bernthal) in a vision. From this latest vision to the phone calls from Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies), he is still haunted by his decisions and venture into the dark side. For a guy like Shane, that trip might have been easier, but in our exploration of Rick, it’s clear he hasn’t gone down this path very often and the way he handled his marriage in this final year, in this intense crisis is breaking him.
Enter: Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman, The Wire).
One of the fan-favorite characters from the comics made his debut and offers an interesting third option to what a leader can be in this apocalypse. He certainly served that purpose in the comics and it should be interesting to see how that is changed and what he brings to the story. We know that he’s good with a hammer, not big on unneeded violence, and was smart enough to see that Carl was the man-of-the-house in the prison, respecting his decision to lock them out of the cell block. Unlike the comics, Tyreese has a sister with him, Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) and that is a significant change since there are so few survivors we have left that have someone close to them to lose.
So what else can we expect from the next eight episodes?
• I expect a big retaliation from the Governor at the prison.
• Rick’s leadership or mental state to come under question even more, especially by himself.
• Andrea to make some enemies and friends.
• A deeper step into darkness for Glenn.
• I hope that Andrea comes to her senses soon, and at least for Michonne’s sake, leaves Woodbury.
•I don’t expect Merle to be welcomed in Rick’s group and that is a bit worrisome for those that value the life of every character on television shows. I just don’t feel good about him.
• And I wouldn’t be surprised if we see many of these characters carry over into the inevitable fourth season because there is so much still left to tell.
Who’s willing to skip to February?
Other Rotting Pieces of Flesh
• Glenn continued to rise in the ranks of favor by ripping off the arm of the walker who nearly killed him and making a wish with its bones to create makeshift daggers, to which Maggie used with expertise. Dead, alive, walking, it don’t matter, it’s best not to get on Maggie’s bad side.
• Speaking of getting on the bad side of women, The Walking Dead continues to show the downsides of underestimating women for instance the Governor and Michonne, then there’s the Governor and Andrea who continues to plead her case, “I’m good with a gun.” Maggie shoved a bone into a dude’s jugular, and Carol put Axel (Lew Temple) in his place two times in one conversation.
• Can people please stop taking Michonne’s katana away from her? Girl is about to slice the next fool in half who separates her from her weapon.
• R.I.P. Oscar, we hardly knew you, but we knew you less than T-Dog. So you get the shortest memorial since Patricia.