In this, the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead, the Governor is proven beyond a shadow of a doubt to be completely out of his mind. â€œMade to Sufferâ€ marks the halfway point in a season that has compared two leaders of the living in this undead world: Rick and Philip. Even as Rick continues to show that his moral compass is still turning, his grip on reality keeps unraveling.
Just when you thought Philip didn’t have enough creepy collectibles, he busts out his walker daughter, along with a disturbing lullabye. The Governor’s reaction when she tries to bite him proves that he believes, in his paranoid and psychotic mind, that these people can â€œcome back.â€ Milton was nearly bitten trying to prove it, and if Penny were to bite her daddy in the throat, would anyone else in Woodbury be the wiser?
Robert Kirkman, Creator of The Walking Dead, steps in to write this episode. He finds the perfect resolution for the head aquarium, shattering it in an armed confrontation between Michonne and the Governor. The heads, still animate despite having been removed from their bodies, snap at the combatants as they wrestle with one another. A piece of glass from one of these tanks is one of many unlikely weapons used to astonishing effect under Kirkman’s pen.
Following an opening that introduced a crop of new characters, one who is doomed by what looks like the most careless walker bite since Amy, and the aforementioned father-daughter scene, Rick’s group makes it to Woodbury. At first, they show enough mercy to subdue a guard, bind and gag him, instead of a bloodier alternative. Nevertheless, a chaotic street battle ensues.
Shortly before meeting the new group of survivors, Carl is made witness to a extremely uncomfortable interaction between Beth and Axel. The bearded inmate expresses interest in the fact that Hershel’s younger daughter is seventeen. Carl has come of age in many ways, and Beth has hinted very strongly at having an interest in the young man. If Carl picks up on anything fishy with Axel, he keeps quiet about it.
A good laugh follows when Carol calls Axel on his concupiscence. Axel then discovers that Carol, despite her short hair, is not a lesbian. â€œThis is interesting.â€ The cool response: â€œNo, it’s not.â€ I like Carol’s role in the group as a mother figure to two kids who have both lost their own. Adulthood is upon both of them, but there is still innocence that needs to be protected.
Before being stumbled upon by Rick and the rescue team, Glenn and Maggie make a stand against their captors. Glenn gets another chance to show both his ingenuity and determination to save Maggie when he rips the bones out of a walker’s forearmsâ€”the same one he dispatched last episodeâ€”and improvises shivs. Maggie scores a kill before their saviors show up.
In the following exchange between Rick’s group and the Woodbury militia, Andrea manages to put herself into the perfect position to keep living in denial. Of all the members of the rescue team, she only saw Oscar, the one she had never met. Seeing any of her friends running for their lives might have given her the wake up call she so desperately needs.
Andrea’s discoveries about the Governor in the wake of his duel with Michonne turn her against the latter. Ignorance of Philip’s command to kill Michonne, combined with the terror of seeing a man she has grown close to being mutilated keeps Andrea compliant. Witnessing what happens next–Philip hugging the slain walker that used to be his daughter and weeping despite having a piece of glass puncturing his eyeball–raises questions that Andrea can’t ignore.
Rick stalls the group when he starts hallucinating again, and Oscar becomes the token fatality, shot in the belly. From a writer’s point of view, killing off a side character makes sense for the mid-season climax. If Rick’s group emerged from the rescue unscathed, it would make the good guys seem invincible, and would kill the suspension of disbelief. When Rick sees Shane coming at him through the smoke, we are reminded that the man’s growing instability will continue to endanger the group.
Daryl and Merle, though finally reunited, are to be executed by the one eyed Governor, and the writers will find a way for them to slip out of it, just as they have done with Glenn and Maggie. As viewers, we have always anticipated what bad things can happen to a happy couple in love. Having seen them emerge intact from the trial of Woodbury, we can now look forward to how much Daryl is willing to compromise on behalf of his brother and himself.
Carl runs into the group of survivors and aids them in fighting off the pursuing walkers. Presumably the leader, Tyreese acquiesces to the rules regarding newcomers to the prison. â€œYou heard the man,â€ he says, referring to Carl. It is astounding to see Carl’s complete transformation into a walker slaying badass this season. He has been a quick learner in the school of survival.
In Kirkman’s source material,Â Tyreese has a tragic and tortured evolution, one that will likely be thrown out in favor for a retelling. Shane came to an early end in the comicbook series, and Tyreese entered the stage shortly thereafter, becoming Rick’s number two in many respects. He proved to be a reliable friend to Rick, even after losing his daughter (not the victim of walkers but of a suicide pact with her boyfriend).
Just because we are unlikely to see events unfold for Tyreese in this manner, doesn’t mean that the writers won’t spring it on us. Perhaps some well-liked members of Rick’s group will decide that communal suicide would be better than going on living, waiting for the inevitable end.
Well, that’s it for part one of season three! For some reason, I get the feeling that the violence and brutality we have seen so far is but prelude to what the rest of the season has in store. The fight between Philip and Rick is anything but over, and I can’t wait to see how the Governor will escalate the conflict. He has one good eye left, and it’s his move.
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