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.
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!
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.]]