“Made to Suffer” marks the mid-season finale for The Walking Dead. While it didn’t work as well as some of the other eps this season, it rounds out a run exponentially better than anything the show has done before. They’ve abandoned solo locations and recycled plot lines for shocks, gore, and rapid fire action. The dialogue still leaves something to be desired, and I’ve seen characters with more complexity and description in a Spongebob Squarepants cartoon, but the writers have at least figured out how to make the show move. And in a good direction, no less.
The cold open introduced Tyrese and his motley crew on the run from roamers. I can’t remember if they got named or not. We saw so little of anyone except Tyrese (aka Cutty from The Wire) and his second in command that I honestly don’t even remember what the other three look like...there was a chick who got bit, a dude, and another dude who I think had a beard or something. Beige, beiger, and bitten beige. They snuck into the burned out backside of the prison—something that seems awfully coincidental and plot hole-ish to me—and were half-rescued half-imprisoned by BAMF Carl.
Carl and Glenn’s transformations have been the most dramatic on the show, and also the most heartbreaking. Beth has maintained enough of her innocence that she wants to help Tyrese’s people instead of locking them up. But Carl has seen so much, has suffered so much, has done so much that in his distorted view of the world, he has helped them simply by not killing them. Carl’s 12 going on 40. Neither he nor Judith will have a childhood. There’s a pretty good chance they won’t even get to have an adulthood. Their world is hardship and loss, and that’s just dealing with the zombie threat. They haven’t dealt with evil yet, but the Governor will fix that right quick. Glenn is the adult version of Carl. He was a regular guy thrust into hell. The sassy pizza delivery guy Rick met over the tank radio is long gone. Now all that’s left is a zombie MacGuyver guy who makes weapons out of arm bones. Glenn and Carl had the most humanity of anyone on the show, and they’ve lost the most.
In Woodbury, Rick’s offensive went about as well as expected. These guys are great at making plans and terrible at following through. They’ve gotten better over the long, hard winter at zombie defensive maneuvers, but when it comes to dealing with humans, they fall apart as spectacularly as they did in the season 2 finale. Daryl got cut off from the group, and Rick hallucinated Shane into existence so Oscar could get shot helping Maggie over the wall (though, of course Oscar had to die because Tyrese was moving in).
Michonne’s vendetta was where the show lost me. I get that she’d be pissed about the Governor cutting her out of Andrea’s life. I get that she’d hold a grudge over his minions trying to kill her. But that still doesn’t validate her risking her life and the lives of four other people on a blitzkrieg mission just so she could sword him to death. Without having any insight into her as a person, we can’t justify or understand her reasons. Which leaves her assault impulsively boneheaded. Not that it isn’t intense and exciting. Michonne discovering the Governor’s secret room and the ensuing fight was the first time we’ve seen genuine emotion from either of them. Broke her of her damn boring grimace, too. Watching her initial horror when she thought the Governor was keeping a girl locked in the closet melting into revulsion when she realized how sickeningly pathetic he really was, now that was good characterization. But all the stuff leading up to that moment fell flat. I get what the writers were going for, but they failed to follow through, meaning what should’ve been a punch to the gut came off as a papercut. A lot like Lori’s death, in fact.
Speaking of people with poorly defined motivations, Andrea. Look, when you discover your lover keeps a wall of zombie heads and his undead daughter, you don’t kneel beside him in solace. You run. As fast as you can. She walks in on the middle of a fight to the death between her lover and her best friend, but apparently the sex is so good she sides with her boyfriend. Uteruses before duderuses, Andrea. It’s the first rule of being a girl.
We all knew the Governor would betray Merle eventually. They didn’t do all that winking and nudging the last few eps with the Governor constantly questioning Merle’s loyalty for naught. But I wasn’t expecting him to turn on him the way he did. I’m not sure what he gets out of throwing shade at Merle in a public arena. Now Merle’s going to side with his brother and they’re going to escape and it’s all because the Governor lost his cool and his ability to plan ahead.
As someone who watches a depressing amount of Criminal Minds, I’m going to play profiler here and diagnose Philip as a psychopath. He has relationships and normal interactions with people, and is obsessive about control. He’s charming, manipulative, persuasive, self-centered, and remorseless. He gets what he wants, but when he’s denied he explodes in a frenzied rage. When he’s angry he loses the ability to think clearly, and he takes pleasure from the suffering of others. Specifically from causing others to suffer—remember how happy he was tormenting Maggie? He got to where he is with lies and murder, and if he had the chance to do it all again, he’d do it with more pain and death. Up to his battle with Michonne he’d been able to keep his rages to a minimum, but she’s his breaking point, his stressor. The re-deading of his undead kid pushed him over the edge and now he begins his real killing spree. Expect it to be bloody and merciless.
- “All this time, running from walkers, you forget what people do.”
- “Are you with me?”
- “You wanted your brother. Now you got him.”
- Where the hell have all these people been the last year? For two seasons Rick and co. are more or less alone, only stumbling upon one isolated family. And all of a sudden in half a season 100 people have magically appeared within a 10 mile radius. Coincidence is one thing, but this is so obviously heavy-handed plot contrivance.
- Come on, The Walking Dead. It is possible to have two black male characters on one show.
- See ya’ll in February!
Alex Brown is an archivist, writer, geeknerdloserweirdo, and all-around pop culture obsessive who watches entirely too much TV. Keep up with her every move on Twitter, or get lost in the rabbit warren of ships and fandoms on her Tumblr.