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The Walking Dead Recap/Review: “This Sorrowful Life”

SPOILERS, mates. Plain and simple. Thar she blows!

What happened this week? Well, Rick made a bad call, and Merle paid for it with his life in an effort to earn redemption. BAM! RECAP OVER!

No, not really. But, that’s really what happened! After the show was over, my husband looked at me and said, “Well, there goes one of my main reasons to watch this show!”

“This Sorrowful Life” opens with Rick confessing to Daryl that he plans to offer Michonne to The Governor (TG). See, TG told Rick that if they gave up Michonne, Woodbury would leave the prison folks alone. I thought Rick saw through TG and his plan. In fact, I was sure he did. But, the former lawman seems to do a bit of a flip flop and is now fine with offering Michonne up in an effort to escape the wrath of TG.

Daryl, along with the ever-present hover-bot that it Hershel, is uncomfortable with the plan, but Rick has made his mind up.

But, who will help Rick? How about the black sheep of the group, Merle? Brilliant! Rick approaches Merle with the plan as the elder Dixon brother is tearing apart mattresses in search of drugs. When Rick tells Merle TG’s deal, Merle doesn’t think Rick will go through with it. But, he  advises binding Michonne with wire, and it’s later as Rick is looking for wire, that he gets a flash of conscience in the form of pregnant-ghost Lori. When he sees her, it’s all over; he can’t give up Michonne! (But, that’s later.) Merle totally called that one!

The prison is making fortifications against further attacks from TG’s Woodbury douchbags. They put down some barbed wire in the road, so no one can just drive up to the prison, anymore. Nice, guys. When Rick compliments the move, Daryl gives him a look and tells him it was Michonne’s idea (This was before Lori appeared to Rick, so we got to see the guilt play out and Daryl’s disapproval of Rick’s plans.).

Michonne interjects that they don’t have to win in a fight, they just have to make it really difficult for Woodburyites to bug the prison people.

In the common area of the prison, Carol tells Merle to grow a pair and pick a side. Everyone knows Merle is just there for Daryl, and Merle is acutely aware of everyone’s feelings toward him. He looks like he feels bad about it but isn’t quite sure what to do about it. (What I loved about this scene is the rare Judith sighting. Can I just say again how shockingly quiet this baby is? Shockingly!)

Outside, Daryl approaches Glenn and asks him to forgive Merle, believing that’s all that is needed for Merle to finally assimilate into the prison group. But, Glenn won’t budge; the hurt is just too strong and fresh.

I had to wonder if Glenn (and Maggie) had actually forgiven Merle if things would have gone differently. Can we lay Merle’s death at Glenn’s feet? Would Glenn’s forgiveness have been the bridge to Merle’s redemption? Interesting.

Daryl goes and finds Merle, who is in the boiler room supposedly still looking for drugs. Daryl tells his brother that he must do something to make up for torturing Glenn and Maggie, but Merle doesn’t believe anything can make a difference. Merle tells Daryl that people like Rick and TG always need someone around to do their dirty work, and that he’ll (Merle) never truly fit in at the prison.

After Daryl leaves, Merle grabs a phone and shoves it into a bag. He was totally getting the wire ready to restrain Michonne! That was my guess, anyhow, and it proved to be spot on.

Perhaps it was dredging up what Merle did to Maggie and Glenn that makes Glenn consider his relationship with Maggie. He’s ready to take the next step and go steady! Glenn goes and speaks with Hershel and asks for Maggie’s hand in marriage. Awww!

Then, comes the most romantic moment of this ENTIRE show! Glenn goes ring shopping! He goes to a section of fence and pulls off the fingers (and ring) of a snarling walker. Nice. But, what else is he going to do? Gross. I hope he washed it REALLY well.

Merle decides to take matters into his own hands and doesn’t wait for Rick to tell him to go ahead and grab Michonne. He lures her into the tombs and cracks her over the head. We then see him pull her to the boiler room, where he puts a bag over her head! Next we see the pair, they are on the road, with Michonne’s hands bound with telephone wire and Merle following behind holding a length of her wire like a leash. Dun, Dun, DUN!

At the prison, Rick has just had his revelation from ghost Lori and rushes into the common area to find Hershel, Maggie, and Beth gathered around a Bible. Hershel comes over and starts to dissuade Rick again from going through with the plan to give Michonne to TG. Rick cuts him off and says that he’s definitely changed his mind; they can’t give Michonne to TG!

But, HE CAN’T FIND MERLE OR MICHONNE! Oh, no!

Rick and Daryl look for Merle and Michonne, but can’t (obviously) find them. So, Daryl takes off after them, intent on saving Michonne and his brother.

Nasty skinny walker wants a taste of Michonne...nom, nom! Image courtesy of AMC.

Nasty skinny walker wants a taste of Michonne…nom, nom! Image courtesy of AMC.

Back to Merle and Michonne, who have made their way to a motel. Merle hotwires a car, and they escape just in the nick of time! Of course, walkers were closing in because OF COURSE the car Merle chose has an alarm. Seriously? An alarm? Did you guys see this thing? I can’t imagine that car having an alarm!

So, down the road they roar, all the while Michonne is trying to convince Merle to let her go and return to the prison. She tells him that this is his chance, that he has an opportunity to finally redeem himself and become an asset in the prison group.

Michael Rooker is a phenomenal actor. The emotions played across his face, and you could see the pain and rejection he felt, that he had felt his entire life! He thought that he had found his niche: the guy who did the dirty work that others couldn’t do. But, now he’s not so sure. Does he want to be that guy, anymore? But, how can he change? Is it even possible?

Merle stops the car and lets Michonne out, telling her to go back to the prison. He says there’s something that he needs to do by himself.

On her way back to the prison, Michonne runs into Daryl. She tells him what Merle said, and Daryl takes off after him.

Meanwhile, it’s all about love at the prison! Glenn gives Maggie the ring and she says, “Yes.” Of course! Then, they meet up with the others for a session with our beloved leader, Mr. Crazypants. (It’s totally manageable, now, though! I mean, he told pregnant-ghost Lori that she wasn’t real! … He still listened to her, though.)

Rick confesses what he was going to do to Michonne. He says that he reconsidered, but it was too late; Merle has already taken her, and Daryl has gone after them. Rick tells the group that he can no longer lead as a dictator, that they would all have a say, a vote.

In Merletown, the elder Dixon parks in front of a store and starts blaring music to attract walkers. He’s got some liquid courage, and I knew right then what he planned to do. Moving at a slow pace, Merle leads the walkers to the meeting site where TG and his men await Rick and Michonne (they think).  Then, he jumps out of the car and lets it continue, bringing the walkers right to TG’s men! In the ensuing confusion, Merle ducks into an outbuilding and starts to shoot TG’s men. He almost gets TG, but Ben (Allen’s son –from Tyreese’s group), steps in the way at the last minute.

Darn! (But, it’s not like they would have let that happen! I mean, Rick has to have that showdown!)

Merle gets in some good shots before a walker wanders in (Why didn’t you close the door behind you?!), and Merle has to fight it off, revealing his position. Almost immediately, Martinez and some other TG guys jump on Merle. But, TG is the one who wants to finish him off!

They fight, but TG gains the upper hand. Merle tells TG that he won’t beg, but TG isn’t interested in even hearing that. With a look of manic glee, TG shoots Merle! Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

Oh, also, in the TG/Merle fight, did I mention that TG FREAKING BIT OFF TWO OF MERLE’S FINGERS? Gross!

Ben was young! Tender and tasty, right, Merle? Image courtesy of AMC.

Ben was young! Tender and tasty, right, Merle? Image courtesy of AMC.

When Daryl finally gets to the meeting scene, TG and his men have cleared out. Daryl picks his way through bodies and munching walkers before finding…WALKER MERLE! Merle is eating Ben, but pushes him aside when he sees Daryl…fresh meat!

Daryl, in tears, has to put down his own brother. It was sooooooo sad! And even in death, Daryl shrank back from his brother. For a different reason perhaps (Nom, nom), but it was a brutal depiction of what their relationship kinda was in reality.

“This Sorrowful Life” ended with Rick in the prison’s watch tower, peering through the scope of his rifle at Michonne as she made her way back.

I usually harp about the theme of you can’t survive alone, and I’m going to do it again! In this episode, Merle was faced with an impossible path to redemption. He realized that he doesn’t fit in this world of group living. He’s a loner, and he doesn’t think he can change like Daryl did.

But, still, he sought acceptance from his brother, from the prison group, and Merle did the only thing he knew how to do: he struck out on his own. And he died. Because you cannot survive alone in this world.

What did you think about “This Sorrowful Life?” Overall, I thought it was much better than last week’s episode, but I was really sad to see Merle go!

 

[[Featured image courtesy of AMC and found at http://blogs.amctv.com/photo-galleries/the-walking-dead-season-3-episode-photos/episode-15-merle.php.]]

 

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The Walking Dead Recap/Review: “Prey”

Pssst! Hey, you! Yeah, you. This article contains SPOILERS and lots of them!

The Walking Dead is trying to make me like Andrea. At least, that was my take-away from last night’s episode.

See, this entire season, Andrea has pretty much been a walking (teehee! “Walking!”) disaster, forcing me to hate her for decisions that could only lead to ruin. In her efforts to cling to a society that has clearly been destroyed, Andrea has knowingly (I believe) swallowed lie after lie from The Governor (TG) and turned her back on Michonne, the woman who saved her life and saw her through an undoubtedly perilous winter.

In “Prey,” Andrea finally sees the light and decides to leave Woodbury and TG behind.

The episode opens with a flashback, and I was excited to think that the whole show would be dedicated to what we didn’t see between season two and three. No such luck.

Michonne and Andrea warm themselves by a campfire, while the walker “pets” shamble at the ends of their chains. Andrea asks Michonne about the pets and who they were before they changed. Michonne doesn’t really want to talk about it, but tells Andrea that they weren’t people to begin with; they got what they deserved.

From there, the scene switches to present day and TG, who is readying chains between two poles in what looks like a basement or hidden room. (I assumed we were seeing his preparations for Michonne’s inevitable torturing after Rick hands her over…or at least when TG gets his hands on her.) It was an obvious allusion to the fact that TG, while not a walker, or biter as the people from Woodbury call them, is an inhuman member of the walking dead. He’s a monster.

In Woodbury, Martinez and other TG lackeys are stocking a truck with all manner of guns, ammunition, and heavy artillery. The plot requires Milton and Andrea to observe and Andrea to stupidly question Milton about it, referencing the supposed deal on the table with Rick. Mousy Milton tells her that it’s probably only a precaution (Ha!) and skitters away.

Milton finds TG in the secret torture room, where he observes the one-eyed man laying out an array of medical implements. Milton jumps to the correct conclusion that some torture is planned and tries to dissuade TG. TG pats Milton on the cheek and blows him off.

Pirates like to torture folks. That's just common knowledge, right? Image courtesy of AMC.

Pirates like to torture folks. That’s just common knowledge, right? Image courtesy of AMC.

Milton then experiences a rare burst of balls and goes and finds Andrea, telling her that TG is planning on killing Rick and the rest of the prison group. He leads her to a room that overlooks TG’s torture chamber (complete with scary dental chair and handcuffs), and Andrea is properly aghast. She determines that TG has to die (Oh, really? Shocking!), and while they are discussing it, TG wanders into the torture chamber with more tools of dooooooooooooooom. Andrea draws her gun and readies to shoot TG, but Milton stops her.

What? Why, Milton? GAH! Maybe it’s because Milton remembers who TG used to be. He told Andrea that he knew Phillip (TG’s real name) before he was TG. What were they to each other? Coworkers? Friends? Family? I want Milton to be TG’s brother-in-law. I think that would fit nicely!

They watch as TG records himself whistling, sits down in the dental chair, and listens to the recording with a smile. Creeptastic.

So, Andrea decides she has to leave and go warn Rick and the prison group. Brilliant! On her way out of town, she happens upon Martinez and a couple of TG lackeys who are collecting weapons and ammo from townspeople. It’s for the coming fight, he explains…Not that they want to kill people…They have to be ready for anything, of course!

Riiiiiiiiiight.

Andrea protests but ends up giving up her gun and extra clip. Then, TG stops her and asks her to be present at the meeting with Rick. It’s happening the next day, and he needs her to be there since the two groups distrust each other.

Riiiiiiiiiight.

She smiles and plays along, promising to be there. They part, and she makes a beeline for one of Woodbury’s entry/exit points guarded by none other than Tyreese and Sasha. Andrea tries to get them to leave, saying Martinez needs them, but they don’t buy it, and she comes right out and tells them that she has to leave Woodbury. She tells them that TG isn’t what he seems, and that Woodbury isn’t the place they think it is.

Tyreese and Sasha are confused and don’t think they should let her go, but they end up standing aside as she goes over the wall and jogs away. Later, they meet with Martinez and TG to tell them what happened. TG puts on a nice show of concern and then proceeds to lie to Tyreese and Sasha, telling them that Andrea was crazy. TG says Andrea spent the winter on her own before making her way to Woodbury, leaving Michonne out of the story and making it sound like Andrea went cuckoo while on her own.

Tyreese falls for the story after being assured that Woodbury isn’t a prison camp, and TG tells him that Martinez needs their help with a particular task. Tyreese and Sasha follow Martinez to one of the walls where a truck is waiting to take them and several others on a job. At the wall, they meet up with Allen and his son, who are also going on said job. There’s a tense moment as Allen yells at Tyreese for possibly jeopardizing their stay in Woodbury, and we find out that Allen’s dead wife was saved by Tyreese. Apparently, it’s a sore spot for Allen, because he felt emasculated in front of his family…or something? I mean, it didn’t make a whole lot of sense… “I hate you for saving my wife’s life!” Huh?

Things simmer down, and they all get in the truck and drive to…the biter pit! Remember this place? This is where Woodbury has a wind-powered noise contraption that attracts biters, who then fall into a pit and are used for nefarious purposes…like biter fighting in the arena, punishment, torture, etc.

It’s a nice place.

Tyreese and Sasha are taken aback by the pit and don’t understand why biters would be needful to Woodbury. Martinez is sketchy and says only that they have uses for everything these days. Tyreese surmises that the biters are going to be used in some way during the following day’s meeting with Rick and co. and is understandably uncool with the notion.

Allen and his kid seems fine with it, thank you very much, and tells Tyreese to go along with it. Another spat erupts between the two of them and ends with Tyreese holding Allen over the biter pit. But, he gets a hold of himself and doesn’t drop Allen in. What a shame! You know that guy’s going to be trouble later!

Tyreese tells Martinez that he doesn’t want any part of the biters, and Martinez says that they’ll have to explain themselves to TG. Dun, Dun, DUN!

In Woodbury, after telling Tyreese to help Martinez, TG heads out after Andrea. But before he leaves, he runs into Milton, who confesses to telling Andrea about the ambush plan against Rick and the prison group. TG loses his temper and slams Milton up against a pointy looking fence. He doesn’t kill him, though.

Cut to Andrea, who is running down the road toward the prison. (I wonder how far away it is…) Suddenly, she hears an engine and ducks off the road into the trees. Smart! We don’t see the driver, but it’s the big white truck we’ve seen TG in before, so you know it’s him. There’s a cheap scare, and she kills a handful of walkers before continuing through the woods. What a fine sense of direction she must have! Or maybe she just knows the way that well?

Oh, and about that cheap scare: Why didn’t she hear the walkers right before one dramatically grabbed her through a small grouping of trees? They are undead, and they don’t make noise? In dry, crackly leaves? Seriously? I don’t buy that.

As she’s crossing a field, the truck appears again and chases her into more woods. We see TG squinting after her and are supposed to feel an impending sense of doom, I think. But, honestly, I’m not sure who I was rooting for. Did I want Andrea to escape? I’m not so sure!

She comes to an old factory/warehouse and ducks inside just as the truck pulls up. Night is falling, of course. How about that for timing? Good job, TG, on READING HER FREAKING MIND AND KNOWING EXACTLY WHERE SHE IS. (As you can see, I have an issue with this, too. Did he just assume she was there? Was that the only cover available to her? Bah.)

They play a game of cat and mouse as he stalks around looking for her. He whistles the tune he recorded earlier, and I wondered if that was supposed to mean something. Did anyone else recognize the song? Or was it supposed to be foreshadowing? (More on that later.)

Andrea watches what she hopes to be the end of TG. SPOILER: It's not. Image courtesy of AMC.

Andrea watches what she hopes to be the end of TG. SPOILER: It’s not. Image courtesy of AMC.

Andrea kills some walkers and makes noise that eventually leads TG to her. He backs her up against a door, and she ducks behind it, letting out a mini-horde that goes after him. She dashes up some stairs and escapes the building, and we hear TG yelling and fighting. That’s the end of him! Riiiiiiiiiight.

So, at this point, I was yelling at Andrea to steal his truck. Why didn’t she steal his truck? I’m pretty sure he left the keys in it, because he left the lights on! WHY DIDN’T SHE TAKE THE TRUCK?!

The next time we see Andrea, she’s approaching the prison walls. She made it! Yay! Her relief is obvious as she starts to wave to get the guard on duty’s attention. The guard happens to be Rick, by the way.

BUT, TG JUMPS OUT AND GRABS HER!

First of all, there’s no way he could have made it out alive. Secondly, if he was following her, how could she not have heard him? Especially if he DROVE!

Rick, who is scanning milling walkers, thinks he sees something at the treeline (where Andrea is being held down by TG), but dismisses it when he goes back for another look through his gun scope. Aw, so close!

Soon, TG’s big white truck is approaching Woodbury again. TG pulls to a stop to speak to Martinez, who he tells Andrea is still on the loose. Martinez, who has no reason to believe otherwise, accepts the story and tells TG about Tyreese’s refusal to help out at the pits…and SOMEONE BURNED THE BITERS!

During the night, while TG was chasing Andrea around, someone in a black SUV went to the pit and poured gas all over the biters and lit them ablaze. The same person also set a horse trailer full of biters on fire. Was it Tyreese? Was it someone else?

TG assumes it was Tyreese. Uh-oh!

Tyreese, Sasha, Allen, and Ben (Allen’s son) gather to see TG and talk about the biter pit. It kinda had a waiting-to-see-the-principal feel to it. TG tells Tyreese that the biters are a scare tactic, and that they would never be used against people. Riiiiiiiiiight. Tyreese seems okay with the explanation, and apologizes for making trouble.

TG accepts his apology and asks where Tyreese got the gas (to burn the biters, of course.). But, TG doesn’t say anything about the fire at the pit, and Tyreese expresses his confusion. He doesn’t know what TG is talking about.

So, Tyreese didn’t do it? Hmmm. Who did, then? TG meets Milton on the street, and Milton asks if TG has found the person who set the fire. TG’s one eye narrows, he declares that he just has.

It was Milton! Go Milton!

“Prey” ended with Andrea in the dental chair of torture. They tried to make it extra dramatic, but you knew it was coming. Seriously. The camera winds down a dark hall, around a corner, and through a door…and there she is! Tied down with duct tape across her mouth!

SHOCKING!

Not really.

So, what about that song TG whistled and recorded. Was that for Andrea? Was she the “Prey” all along? Was that why he was whistling it in the abandoned factory/warehouse? Was the dental chair and torture items for her? Or was he prepping for Michonne, and Andrea just fell into a terrible situation?

Like I wrote earlier, I feel like this whole episode was tailored to make me like Andrea. She finally tried to do the right thing, but TG thwarted her. Did she fail because she struck out on her own? After all, one of the bigger themes of this season, as we’ve talked about before, is you can’t survive on your own. Andrea tried to get Milton to come with her, but he wouldn’t, saying he belonged in Woodbury. Would Andrea have made it if Milton went with her?

I don’t really think so. I mean, it’s Milton, and he’s pretty much worthless in a fight. But, her journey alone was unsuccessful, which emphasizes the theme of group survival.

If they were trying to get me to like Andrea, it didn’t really work. As TG stalked her, I found myself not so much rooting for her as interested in how the plot would move forward without her should she get caught. I assumed TG would kill her, and, really, he should have. But, she’s obviously a plot device, and she lived.

Overall, I thought “Prey” was one of the weaker episodes this season. While, we got plenty of cheap scares and forced dramatic tension, the writing was full of holes (Why didn’t she take the truck? Why didn’t Tyreese question TG further about the walker pit –TG said they didn’t share tactics with people they didn’t know, but they take people they don’t know to the pits in the first place?– How did TG get Andrea into his torture room unnoticed? Oh, the QUESTIONS!)

What did you think? Hit me up in the comments!

 

[[Featured image courtesy of AMC and found at http://blogs.amctv.com/photo-galleries/the-walking-dead-season-3-episode-photos/episode-14-andrea.php.]]

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