Dec 3 2012 11:20am

The Walking Dead, S3 E8: “Made to Suffer”

The Walking Dead recap and review of season 3, episode 8: Made to Suffer

“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.

Final Thoughts

  • “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.

1. rewaters
I thought the episode was pretty good. Certainly a good mid-season stopping point. I didn't have a problem with Michonne's over the top attack. Cut her some slack, man! No one's thinking clearly here; they're in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. If everyone was thinking rationally, it'd be kind of boring. Besides, she would also be angry with him (or his minions) for having to sacrifice her pets, in order to keep quiet. It didn't work, of course, but nevertheless, her killing the girl was for me her payback for having to kill her pets/family members/whatever. So, her motivations seemed reasonable to me.
treebee72 _
2. treebee72
It's awesome* that the show has continued the comic's fine tradition of every black male character having a life expectancy of zero.

*Where awesome equals rage making, Hulk SMASH!
3. Lalo
First I'm so glad I'm not the only one who notices that they seem intent on keeping only one black guy in the group at any given time. It kind of irked me because it was so OBVIOUS. As soon as we saw Tyreese on the screen my family and I started taking bets on how quick it would be before Oscar died (and he didn't even get a heroic death like T-Dawg, despite getting just as worked up over Michonne running off as everyone else in the group).

I knew somehow that the Governor would pit Merle against Darryl at some point, but I didn't figure it would be after tossing Merle under the bus. Tho why did he just sort of take it? No fuss or anything he just handed over all his weapons calmly. That was kind of weird.

and poor freaking Carl. I thought it was a little...not patronizing exactly but off kilter for Tyreese to be like 'Listen to the man'. While no one can doubt Carl is hella lot more useful then some folk in that group (headshots for the win), it was doing it up a bit much to say that. Especially if they saw another adult in the wings.
Bill Capossere
4. Billcap
I'm beginning to wonder if the writers are taking the whole "He sacrificed so we could have a clear path" concept a little too literally--each black guy doesn't actually have to die off so another can step forward. They really could do it simultaneously. It isn't a relay race. Really.

The scene when Glen makes the zombie-weapon and Maggie just takes it was simply great (and they didn't even ruin it with dialogue!)--a perfect show don't tell moment. The same with Carl swinging the door shut on the new group. And the fight scene with the gov.

Michonne, though, is turning out to such a waste--she reminds me of those Doonesbury symbols he uses for characters--make her a glaring sword just floating in space in the scenes and it would carry about the same emotional weight. I really hope there's a change, any change, any change at all, in her portrayal.

There actually was some good dialogue in this one: "this is getting interesting." "No. It isn't." Is it really that hard to have more scenes like that?

Rick's hallucination was just a bit too much of an arbitrary plot driver--Oscar deserved better if he was gonna go (and we all knew, he was gonna go)

A moment of silence for Oscar--we hardly knew ya. Of course.
Mark Krug
5. Zapho
I thought the episode was good but I have to agree with you on the Michonne stuff. She gave me the impression of being one of the most logical people on the show to date and then she just does something irrational and frankly stupid. I just don't understand why, I feel like the writers should have made it more clear. Also, if she really wanted to kill the Governor she could have! Instead of choking him with the handle of your sword, maybe you should stab him, Michonne. That being said, it was necessary for that encounter for the continuation of the storyline. With his daughter being put down, the Governor has now gone full revenge mode and the attack on the prison seems imminent (using Merle as a scapegoat, which was obviously going to happen sooner of later).

Merles decision to give up his weapons shows a lot about his character development. Realistically, there's no way he could do anything against the armed guards surrounding him and his best option is to wait it out. If he started fighting he would have been killed. In contrast, I have a hard time believing that the Merle from season 1 (although we only saw a little bit of him) would have given up in that way. I might just be reading to much into it but it seems to me that Merle has a different attitude and that was what the writers were attempting to convey with his actions.

The development of Carl is sad, he was the most effected by all of this. Even though he is a full fledged badass now, I can't help but feel sorry for him.
nicole rich
6. nrich
Oh man, the moment that Michonne sat down with that sword over her lap, I knew where the plot was headed. Totally agree that Michonne's reaction was pretty much baseless. Maybe if they had stuck more closely to the plot of the comic (Spoilers: I'd have a vendetta against the man who raped me too ), it would have made more sense for her to feel all murdery towards the Governer, but as it is; she just seems a little wackadoo. Still yelled out loud when glass met eye though. Rolling around in a pile of biting heads was also pretty nifty.

Fuck Andrea. That's all.

Also, how is it that Norman Reedus is over 40 years old and can still pull off the look of a terrified five year old after that hood was pulled off and he was face to face with his brother and surrounded by a bunch of people who want to kill him? Brilliant.
7. mwells
I think the governor turned on Merle the way he did because a few episodes ago, Merle told the governor that Michonne was dead, and then there she was tonight putting her sword through zombie-daughter's head and spoiling all his fishtanks full of zombie heads. It seems to me he wasn't planning ahead anymore because he wanted revenge on the liar in his midst who's loyalty he's been concerned over anyway.
John Ginsberg-Stevens
8. eruditeogre
This was certainly one of the better episodes of the show overall. Still some stuff to grumble about, but there was action and some intensity and TYREESE!

I am so pissed off about the Black Male Exchange Progam. Poor Oscar got capped as an afterthought of Rick's unnecessary delusion. What a pointless way to go. I liked the actor and wanted to see more of his grumpy nobility around the prison. But, OTOH, we now have two black female characters with a lot of potential, if the writers would just give them more to do than glower or look concerned.

Michonne's actions make much less sense without the terrible things that happened to her in the comics. I am glad that the show skipped that crap, but it gives her little motivation besides insanity to want to off the Governor. The fight scene was well done but the reasons for it were too contrived.

I feel bad for Carl, but at the same time I am happy to see changes in him that create more tension and momentum in the show. Glenn is just being very pragmatic in a world gone mad. I don't see the coldness in him that is growing in Carl. I thought the sequences with him and Maggie were also good, and seeing Maggie step up to protect others was great.

Oh Andrea, really? I wish I knew what was going through your head most of the time.

For me, the Merle betrayal made no sense at all. You could argue that it is a sign of the Governor snapping, but still. . . . Norman Reedus was just great throughout this episode; he holds his character and animates the action better than anyone else in the show.

Now I wonder who will die next. We have some redshirts, er, supporting characters in the mix now. It's hard to see the two beige dudes being much more than zombie bait. I have a feeling that the second half of the season will be pretty bloody. Can't wait.
Alex Brown
9. AlexBrown
@Lalo, Bill, Zapho, nrich, and erudite: I know the South has a lot of white people, but there are other people of color (and orientations) living there, too. Would it kill them to throw in a Latina or a gay Native American or someone in there who isn't a white cis het? They're already making up characters, why not make one of them anything other than the status quo? I'm also taking bets to see how soon they kill off Tyrese's second in command. If they follow through with Tyrese's comic arc (and given Carol's sass this ep, it's likely) they're going to have to axe the black chick sooner rather than later.

Daryl is easily my favorite character on the show, with Glenn and Maggie coming in tied at second. At this point I've lost all interest I ever had for Rick. He's the lead, sure, but I couldn't care less about his personal saga. Killing him off and making Daryl the new leader would be the best thing the show could do...not that they'll ever do that.
Bill Capossere
10. Billcap
Heck, how about killling off Rick (I agree with you that I actually care very little about what happens with him) and having Tyrese become the leader--I already like him (obviously, I'm not familiar with the comics so I don't know where his storyline goes). And we can have Daryl—also my favorite character by far—as his second (he just doesn't seem the take-charge type to me) and forcing his brother to deal with the black guy being in charge. And have Tyrese "adopt" Carl and Little Ass-kicker, teaching Carl to survive and find his way back to how to do so humanly.
12. Kambot
I agree with most of the comments here, but I'm going to have to speak up for my girl Michonne, for just a second...
Disreguarding the comic (and I know that's hard for those of us who've read it to do sometimes), there really wasn't a reason for her to be all revengy, murdery on the Govenor because he didn't do all the same things to her he did in the comic. So maybe she didn't. I'm not convinced just because she sneaked into his place and had her sword that it means she went there just planning on murdering him.
In the context of the show, she not being sick when she and Andrea were brought into the town and in full control of her faculties has always appeared to smell something wrong with the Govenor. Sure she was angry because of everything that went down, but I think she went into his place because she had to find out why he was setting off her 'spidey sense'. And she always carries her sword. It's that same compulsion that makes go check out the noise we hear, even when we know it's stupid to do.
Of course, once she found the heads and his daughter, she was able to confirm for herself that he was as bat crazy as she always suspected, and that she was not for suspecting. It's just unfortunate that the Govenor walked in while she was still processing the whole thing, or we might have had a different ending.
13. tigeraid
Every rare while, I find myself in agreement with Alex. While this was a solid episode, Michonne's motivation was left wanting. Those who've read the comic know what the Governor did to her, and THAT makes for violent, hack-and-slash revenge on the guy. But here, other than sending Merle after her (meh), she has no reason to lie in wait and coldly assassinate him. Unless this is leading to Rick realizing she's completely off her nut and killing her--which isn't good, because she's supposed to be an important hero figure in the story, eventually.

I suppose I'll give benefit of the doubt that she was going to try and convince the Governer to let Andrea go at the tip of her sword? I dunno. It would've been nice if they fleshed that out a bit.
David Goldfarb
14. David_Goldfarb
You're being a little unfair to Carl -- he helped Tyreese & Company by rescuing them from attacking walkers and bringing them to a place of safety. That's a bit more than just "not killing them".

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