He Said/She Said: The Walking Dead review – 3×08: ‘Made To Suffer’

Courtesy of AMC

It’s that time of year again: mid-season finale time for The Walking Dead. And with a title like ‘Made To Suffer’, it’s clear that the episode won’t be about rainbows and kittens. As always, we’re bringing back the ever popular ‘He Said/She Said’ format to hash out the deets.

Let’s bitch it out…She Said (TVAngie)

After subsequent buildup last week, the inevitable showdown between the prison folk and Woodbury comes to a head tonight, albeit amidst a helluva lot of tear gas. Still, the episode doesn’t disappoint on the action front as we barely have any time to catch our breath. Biggest triumph of the night: Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Co. managing to actually save Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan)! Huzzah! Even though it was unlikely they’d be separated long term, the moment the gang is reunited, I felt a flurry of excitement.

Unfortunately, we had to have another clunky death to accompany it: poor Oscar (Vincent Ward) who was just starting to grow on me. It looks as though we can’t ever get a win without paying some sort of price for it. But if a member of the Grimes gang has to die (which seems to happen on every mission) I suppose Oscar is the least offensive. Still, I find it unnecessary and honestly, I’m starting to get a little annoyed by it.

But to counteract the prison group dwindling in numbers, we get the introduction of much anticipated comic book character, Tyreese (Chad Coleman of The Wire fame). Since we don’t like to talk too much about the comic book here, I won’t get into it, but Coleman was one of my absolutely favourite characters on The Wire, so his acting chops are sure going to be appreciated here. We see shades of what’s to come in the brief screen time with Tyreese – he’s the voice of reason in his little group, and deeply protective of it (they look a lot like Rick in his better days). I especially appreciate how he refers to Carl (Chandler Riggs) as “the man”, seeing the value of staying in “his house” and opting not to make a fuss about being locked up. How Tyreese’s presence will affect the Grimes gang remains to be seen, but I think we can safely say Tyreese is one of the ‘good guys’. And speaking of Carl, although I appreciate how he’s manned up over the past few weeks, I still can’t stand that stupid hat.

But what transpires at the prison pales in comparison to the goings-on at Woodbury. Michonne (Danai Gurira) finally shows us an emotion besides scowly-growly when she discovers the Governor’s (David Morrissey) walker-daughter, chained-up with a sack on head. She softens significantly, perhaps hinting that she might have lost a daughter of her own? Once the sack is removed however, it’s a completely different story. The Governor barges-in pleading with Michonne to spare his zombie spawn. This is quite the interesting scene as the Governor also exhibits some seriously contrasting emotion from what we’ve seen in the past. No longer is he the smarmy, collected ruler; instead he’s a vulnerable father. Do I feel sympathy for him? Hell no. But it’s definitely another interesting layer to his character. He certainly can’t be pegged as the pure evil villain. But as Michonne jabs her katana into little Penny’s mouth, you can almost hear the crack in the Governor’s psyche. Methinks he’s gone completely to the dark side as the only thing that’s tethering him to his past life (which I’m assuming was a virtuous one) is now gone. This does not bode well for Michonne and whoever stands in his way.

And speaking of cracks, poor Rick proves that he’s still got one foot in Nutsville when he has a hallucination of Wolverine/Shane (Jon Bernthal in an amazingly effective cameo) in the middle of the Woodbury battle. It’s a brilliant move on the part of the producers, showing us that Rick isn’t going to be magically okay in a matter of episodes. First, the heartbreaking imagined phone conversations with Lori and now this – Rick clearly has a long way to go before getting a grasp on things. Rick has gone through the ringer, and unfortunately he can’t be the leader that we all want him to be. It’s slightly frustrating yet completely understandable and realistic. The Walking Dead is better for it. I find myself really rooting for Rick, hoping that he’ll find a way through all of this. Maybe Rick needs to be the stay-at-prison dad with baby Judith in order to get his healing on. It’ll be interesting to see both Rick and the Governor become increasingly unhinged in the second part of this season and see if there’s any symmetry to play off one another.

What did you think of the Shane cameo, cinephilactic? Were you as delightfully surprised as me? What about Andrea (Laurie Holden)? Big surprise, even with a room full of zombie heads and a chained up walker daughter, she still sides with the Governor! Or does she? What did you think of her confrontation with Michonne? What’s going through these two women’s heads? And I didn’t even touch on the reunion with the Dixon brothers, who haven’t shared a scene together since the show’s inception. What’s your take on that?

Courtesy of AMC

He Said (cinephilactic)

Well, TVAngie, I’ll admit that I felt very strongly about the opening and closing scenes and much of the middle scenes left me a little cold. Part of this has to be due to the continued ignorance of Andrea. I’ve defended her unwillingness to see the horrors right in front of her eyes before, but when you stumble across a wall of fish tank heads, it’s time to grab your bag and get the eff out of town. After so much build-up, I’m not surprised that they’ll hang on to this conflict as long as possible, however, particularly now that Andrea’s at an impasse thanks to the Dixon brothers.

Ah yes, the happiest of reunions should always occur in the middle of an angry, rioting crowd. I can definitely admit that I didn’t anticipate the first meeting between Merle (Michael Rooker) and Daryl (Norman Reedus) taking place in these conditions as I was certain that they would come face to face amidst the smoke bombs on the street. The fact that The Walking Dead waited until then to pull its big reveal shouldn’t surprise, but it did make the middle stretch a little more ridiculous. I love a good shoot-out as much as anyone else, but there was far too much suspension of disbelief as Rick & co somehow manage to dodge all those bullets despite being completely exposed in the middle of the street. I mean, come on!

It appears that I was more frustrated by Oscar’s death than you, TVAngie, but it’s because I’m beginning to think that the show has a problem with race. Almost immediately after introducing Oscar, T-Dog (IronE Sinleton) was killed. Now that Tyreese has been introduced, Oscar is killed. Certainly the laws of longevity at are play (Oscar is most dispensable character of the raid group), but there’s a strange pattern at work. Memo to The Walking Dead: You can have more than one black male character on this show at once!

Other Observations:

  • “Terrorists.” Interesting choice of words from both the Governor and Merle. To check out showrunner Glen Mazarra’s thoughts on the word, check out Vulture.com‘s post-mortem
  • The Carol (Melissa McBride) / Axel (Lew Temple) interlude: an effective tension reducer or a stupid, unnecessary scene? We’re clearly meant to read Axel’s interactions with Beth (Emily Kinney) in a creepy manner, but does this foreshadow a time when he’ll attack one of the women?
  • Regarding the Shane cameo: I agree, I thought it was masterfully done. Love that they managed to keep it quiet so that it wasn’t spoiled
  • The reason I enjoyed the opening so much is that I thought the show has broken from formula and were using the new group’s introduction to the prison as a bracketing device. I assumed based on the hole in the fence/ease of access that what we were seeing was taking place after the Governor inevitably attacks the prison.  Kinda makes you wonder why Rick & co went through so much trouble to go through the front door!
  • Small nitpick: I wish that the show would offer up a better rationale for the Governor’s   desire to attack the prison. Now that he’s lost an eye, that’s more than enough, but earlier in the hour, it seems as though he simply doesn’t want another group of survivors to thrive. Is he really that petty? I think we’re meant to believe that he’s so narcissistic that he only wants people to live under his rule (or not at all), but it would be nice to get some more insight in his thought process. I guess it doesn’t matter now, however, since revenge will be his driving force moving forward in the second half of the season

What do you think readers? Did the mid-season finale hit all the right buttons for you? Did you enjoy the escape from Woodbury scenes? Did you like the Rick still doesn’t fully trust Michonne? Were you surprised by the Shane cameo? What do you think Andrea and the Dixon brothers will do now? And any thoughts on the new recruits?

*A gentle reminder that we adhere to a spoiler free zone, so please leave out any references about upcoming plot points that you’ve seen online or in the comics.

The Walking Dead has finished its first run of episodes for S3. It returns in February 2013

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