Welp. That wasn’t what I expected for a next to last episode of the season. Last week I assumed we’d spend “This Sorrowful Life” watching Andrea having the screws put to her, but the Woodbury baddies barely had any screentime. Instead, the ep focused on the oddest couple forged by the zombie apocalypse: Merle and Michonne. Rick decided he wanted to be president instead of tyrannical ruler. And Daryl cried like a baby.
Jesus H. Particular Christ, Rick. I get needing a distraction to rout the Governor, but handing over Michonne so he can have a possible chance at getting close enough to possibly shoot him dead is ridiculous. A much better plan would be to have Michonne in on it from the start and have Daryl and company hide around the neutral zone and take out the group while using Michonne as willing bait. More importantly, I thought he’d already decided handing her over was a bad idea. So, what, he slept on it and had a change of heart and now thinks maybe the Governor isn’t an untrustworthy jerkface? This was another one of The Walking Dead’s trademark random plot twists with no basis in any story logic other than the writers needing something to do for 42 minutes. They needed to get Merle and Michonne to travel to the Governor together and for whatever reason decided a double fake out plot twist was the best way to go about that.
Merle wasn’t dumb enough to believe the Governor would be willing to let bygones be bygones, but he was dumb enough to think he might have a chance to redeem himself in the eyes of his former boss. And then his character took a sudden right turn and became tolerable. I don’t know if it was Carole’s snarky retorts, Michonne’s out of the blue chattiness, or Lil’ Asskicker being adorable, but Merle’s heart grew three sizes too big and he decided to go for the Governor himself. He set Michonne free and headed out to the seed farm to blitz the Governor—Why was he out there with his full crew anyway? Were they setting up for their sudden yet inevitable betrayal or was he just taking a break from torturing Andrea? Can a writer for once just tell me what the frak is going on instead of making me throw out wild and unsubstantiated speculations?—and made a good dent in his army before going down. I never wanted to hug a fictional character more than I did when Daryl cried over his undead brother. I wanted to make him tea and feed him cookies and pat him on the head until he cried himself to sleep.
Michael Rooker is a vastly better actor than Andrew Lincoln, and in the cold open it really showed. Norman Reedus held his ground and the two played off each other well. But Lincoln can’t quite compete. The aspects Rooker brought to his character were pretty much the only consistent thing about Merle. Like everyone else on this blasted show, no one remains consistent episode to episode, and Merle fluctuated with the best of them. The Merle we ended with was vastly superior to the one we abandoned on that Atlanta rooftop. This Merle willingly undertook a suicide mission because he knew it was the right thing to do, not just for him but for his brother. He gave the prison crew a chance. (Granted, it was a chance he really didn’t need to take. He could have gone back to the prison with his mea culpas and all would’ve been swell, but whatever.)
Other characters did stuff, too. Hershel shot grumpy, constipated looks at Rick and busted out the Bible for a little religious moralizing. Carole stood up for herself because she’s all kinds of awesome (speaking of fluctuating characters, Carole’s done the biggest 180 of anyone). Glenn proposed to Maggie, and as sugary sweet as it was, it can only mean bad things in the offing. Wonder whose contract isn’t getting renewed after next week? Rick stepped down from the throne of his Ricktatorship with a grand speech about being good, honest people in a bad, deceptive world. He said it was time to be a democracy again and that from then on everyone would get a vote in the future of the group...and then he turned and walked away. Probably not the best way to foster group discussions, buddy.
- “Do you even know why you do the things you do? Choices you make?”
- “You’re gonna need wire, not rope. Wire. Nuthin’ she could chew through.”
- There has to be a reason why Merle and Michonne were assling around the way they were. You’d think a man who was desperate to get somewhere would move more quickly than someone out for a summer evening stroll.
- The look Michonne gave Daryl when he asked her about his brother was priceless. It was the perfect combination of “look at all the fucks I do not give” and “you dumbass white boys.”
- Of course Michonne gets actual lines now that the season is almost over. She said more lines in “Sorrowful” than she did in every other episode combined. If we’re following TWD’s usual course of action, this means she’s going to die very soon (plus, there are still two other black characters just aching to get a chance to be the show’s token black character).
- Can someone explain to me how everyone in that prison manages to stay clean shaven and laundered? I haven’t seen a mirror in that whole place, yet they all look immaculate.
Programming Note: Next weekend I’ll be engulfed in the joie de vivre that is WonderCon, meaning I’m going to miss the finale of The Walking Dead and the premiere of Game of Thrones (but hopefully not the premiere of Doctor Who...). What that means for you is I’ll have a recap of the con Monday morning, but I won’t get a review of TWD up until the next day. That gives you a whole extra day to formulate your excited/enraged comments. Yay you.
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.