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Walking Dead Weekly: Season 3, Episode 15 – ‘This Sorrowful Life’ by Derek Kraneveldt

Welcome to Walking Dead Weekly! As the title implies, each week (bearing a new episode of course), we’ll be taking a look at the latest episode of the AMC series. I’ll let you know how I felt about each weekly offering, and will also compare it to what Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard were doing with the comic at the same time.

Last weekThe Walking Dead‘s loyal audience was bored for the second week in a row with Season 3, Episode 14, Prey. After learning the Governor’s true intentions, Andrea decided to leave Woodbury for good and warn her old friends back at the prison of just what was coming for them. Not long after she leaves, Governor Phillip finds out, and goes to get her back. The rest of the episode is an uninspired game of hide and seek between the two, before Governor catches Andrea just moments before she arrives at the prison. The episode closes with Andrea captive in the Governor’s torture room, leaving all of us uncomfortable at the prospect of what may happen next.

So what does happen next? Are we about to get the war that we were promised,  do we need to talk about it for another hour first, or are we getting something else entirely? Read on and find out! As always, there are plenty of spoilers below, so don’t read further until you’ve seen the episode!

Episode Thoughts – ‘This Sorrowful Life’

Scott Gimple, you are a saint. After two weeks of terribly boring, completely unnecessary, predictable crapThe Walking Dead came back tonight in full force. Scott also wrote Clearwhich premiered a few weeks back and is considered (at least in my opinion) one of the best episodes in the entire series. It seems to me like the show’s fourth season is in pretty capable hands! What do you think?

This Sorrowful Life opens with Rick, Daryl, and Hershel discussing how to “quietly” remove Michonne in order to take her to the Governor. You’ll remember from Episode 13 the choice that the Governor gave to Rick; they can surrender Michonne and be left alone, or keep her and go to war. It appears that Rick has made his decision, and it’s not the one I would have expected at all.

Meanwhile, Merle looks to have a case of cabin fever, and is scouring the prison for drugs, alcohol, or anything else that may “take the edge off”. Rick reveals the Governor’s deal to this Dixon too, who immediately assumes that Rick will back out of the plan before it comes to fruition. Merle describes the things that the Governor is likely to do to Michonne when he gets a hold of her, and warns Rick to tie her with wire instead of rope, as it’s harder to chew through. This has to put second thoughts into Rick’s head; will he change his mind?

Hershel, Maggie, and Beth start to pray, because, hell... who knows what's coming next?

Hershel, Maggie, and Beth start to pray, because, hell… who knows what’s coming next?

Merle (being Merle), decides to take matters into his own hands. He recruits Michonne to help him take out some walkers near the prison’s back entrance, where he proceeds to knock her out and tie her up. The next time we see them, they’re far away from the prison, and bantering back and forth about what comes next. They eventually come across a parking lot, and Merle ties Michonne to a post before proceeding to hotwire a car. Somehow, after over a year, the car starts just fine, and for some reason the jalopy also has an alarm attached. The alarm, of course, goes off, and walkers being approaching from everywhere. Merle and Michonne eventually find their way into the car and out of the situation, but it’s certainly a close call; both of their lives could have easily ended had they lingered a few seconds more.

One of the many close calls in the scene.

One of the many near death moments in the scene.

Rick (of course) realizes that he made the wrong decision (after again going crazy and seeing ghost Lori), but much too late, as Michonne and Merle are long gone. Daryl runs after them while Rick thinks of what to tell the others; he needs to tell them the truth about what’s happening, and present a new choice. The group can either stay and fight, or leave and run, but no matter what, they’ll do it as a group. I wonder how that will turn out…

Michonne and Merle drive down the oddly clean roads on their way to give Michonne up, when suddenly, Merle stops the car and lets Michonne go free, stating that he “has something to take care of on his own”. What could he possibly be up to? It’s not long before we (unfortunately) find out.

Screen Shot 2013-03-24 at 9.49.50 PM

Merle begins to gather walkers with the music in his car. He rolls the windows down, turns the volume up, and drives slow enough for the zombies to keep up. He heads to the barn where Rick and the Governor were set to meet, and begins to watch the gruesome events unfold. The walkers lose interest in the vehicle once they see the Governor’s men, and soon after Merle begins taking out the soldiers too. Eventually, Merle is spotted and overpowered by the Governor’s bodyguards, beaten, and finally shot by the Governor himself. It seems as though Merle came full circle in the end; he went from the racist, bigoted asshole that he was in season one, to eventually sacrificing himself for the good of the group… maybe, or maybe he just couldn’t live with the things he had done, and decided to do some good on his way out. You be the judge!

After the shocking, unexpected moment at the barn, things at the prison are looking up (at least for two fan favourite characters). Equipped with a ring that he stole from a walker’s finger, Glenn finally (finally) asks Maggie to marry him. Maggie says yes, and the pair joins the rest of the group smiling. If only they knew what Daryl was about to discover.

Screen Shot 2013-03-24 at 10.01.10 PM

Not the most romantic proposal, but a proposal nonetheless!

This Sorrowful Life closes with the heartbreaking scene of Daryl discovering the body of his older brother. Despite what it looked like, the Governor apparently didn’t shoot Merle in the head, as Daryl learns of his brother’s passing by witnessing him eating the body of another person. Daryl breaks down immediately, and as much trouble as I’ve had with Merle in the past, I felt myself doing the same. He pushes Merle away over and over again, looking closely at his brother one last time before finally putting an end to him. The episode fades to black, and we’re all left there sitting in awe. This must have been a truly depressing ending for fans; as much as everyone dislikes Merle, they love Daryl, and seeing him break down like this was one of the toughest moments to watch this season.

Damnit Daryl... please stop crying.

Damnit Daryl… please stop crying.

As I mentioned above, Scott Gimple is the f***ing MAN. The Walking Dead has been in a terrible rut for the past two weeks, and who better to pull it out than the very same person who will be next year’s showrunner? This Sorrowful Life revolved entirely around the prison’s inhabitants (though mostly Daryl, Merle, and Michonne), and let us catch up with the ol’ gang one last time before everything goes to hell. A fantastic performance by Michael Rooker made us feel terribly sorry for the character we’ve loved to hate all this time, and Norman Reedus’ reaction to the death of Merle is among the saddest scenes we’ve seen from the show. A well written, well acted, well thought out penultimate episode. Now I can’t wait to see how it ends!

There’s just one more episode left of The Walking Dead‘s third season. Watch the preview for Season 3, Episode 16 – Welcome to the Tombs below, and let us know what you thought of this week’s episode!

Comic Comparison

There’s not really much of anything to compare in this penultimate episode! As I’ve mentioned before, Merle and Daryl have never existed in Robert Kirkman’s comic book version of The Walking Dead. This Sorrowful Life revolved largely around the Dixon brothers, and equivalent events have never happened in the comic, so what’s a guy to do!

Glenn’s proposal to Maggie however, was much more romantic (and hilarious) in issue 36 of the comic.

Screen Shot 2013-03-24 at 10.32.01 PM

That’s it for this week’s edition of Walking Dead Weekly! Now dry your eyes; maybe Daryl will see visions of his brother like Rick does of Lori! As always, thanks for reading, and we’ll see you next week!

PS – If you’re interested in more Scott Gimple, he was featured as a guest on Geekscape 255 in March of last year!

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