Walking Dead Discussion Thread: S3 E15, “The Sorrowful Life”

Mike Dwyer

Mike Dwyer is a former writer and contributor at Ordinary Times.

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30 Responses

  1. North says:

    All I can say is that I fear for the group is Herschel bites it. He’s pretty much the sole repository of any male sanity, morals or brains in the group*.

    And of course *spoilers*
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    *Darryl, don’t get me wrong, is awesome but he’s very much a follower and a relatively non-introspective one.Report

  2. Glyph says:

    That…was terrible.

    As some of us had speculated previously, Rick WAS planning to give up Michonne. But told people about it. But changed his mind, after telling the worst person (Merle) that he could about it. But confessed it to everybody. How on earth is Michonne, or ANYBODY, ever going to trust Rick ever again? Am I supposed to put all this down to his mental imbalance and guilt? Because otherwise, Rick is a total idiot.

    Why did Merle take Michonne to begin with, if he was going to let her go free? Why did Michonne, the person with the least reason to trust MERLE of all people, accompany him to the tombs, and let him get behind her there? Why did she suddenly open up and start talking – more cumulative words than she’s said for the entire show’s run ’til now – to MERLE of all people?

    Props to Michael Rooker. He took what could have been a one-note character and acted the hell out of it. He deserved better than the writers ever gave him (although over at AVClub, someone pointed out that drinking whiskey while listening to Motorhead and pied-pipering zombies to a surprise kamikaze attack on a postapocalyptic compound was pretty much the manliest thing one could ever hope to do). Merle’s plan seemed pretty effective, and he seemed a really good shot even one-armed – was he ever in the military, or was that all just hunting know-how (bait/blind/ambush/good aim)?

    And what was up with Daryl’s hair? Did he join My Chemical Romance when I wasn’t looking?

    Predictions –
    Herschel – dead man hopping. Rick is mostly sane again, doesn’t need outside conscience anymore.

    Beth – alive, to take care of baby, possible Rick future hookup (damn, TWD writers, retrograde city – why don’t you remove her shoes too?). But possibly baby care could be provided by

    Carol – alive, to take care of Daryl

    Daryl – alive, fan favorite

    Glen/Maggie – Maggie is gonna die I think, so Glen can go rage-crazy. I hope he washed that ring.

    Rick – alive. He may be too stupid to live, but he’s also too dumb to die.

    Michonne – if she has any brains, will strike out on her own again. Rick somehow managed to make Andrea look loyal, consistent and sensible. Nice going, Rick.Report

    • Mike Dwyer in reply to Glyph says:

      Merle mentioned the ‘inner circle’ of the group. We’ve already seen it multiple times. It’s Rick, Hershel and Darryl. That could continue successfully, but yeah, it was time for Rick to give up the Ricktatorship. I think he was being pretty honest when he admitted he made a mistake with Michionne and citing it as a reason to give up power was probably better than admitting he was crazy.Report

    • Glyph in reply to Glyph says:

      Forgot to add:

      Carl – alive. Big hat confers invincibility.Report

    • MBunge in reply to Glyph says:

      “Why did Merle take Michonne to begin with, if he was going to let her go free?”

      Uhhh, he changed his mind. He was going to hand her over, then decided not to. That was pretty gosh darn clear.

      TWD isn’t a complete masterpiece and some of your criticisms are on the mark, but it sure seems as though you just don’t like the show and are often looking for something to rip.


      • Glyph in reply to MBunge says:

        I’m aware that he supposedly changed his mind, as did Rick. My criticism is more of the writers – they often seem to have characters make “surprising” decisions suddenly just for plot’s sake so as to move the pieces around, instead of having decisions flow organically from the character’s traits, or else have the characters “realistically” (as much as is possible in this type of story) evolve over time towards making new/surprising choices.

        They *tried* to do that here, with the whole “why do you do what you do?” dialogue with Rick, but IMO it was too little, too late, coming as it did in the very same episode (like Axel, if they start to deepen a character then look out, that character is getting offed). These changes of hearts rarely occur all at once (or maybe they do IRL; but in drama it’s unsatisfying).

        And I will admit to often watching this show in a “yelling at the TV” kind of way; part of the entertainment for me comes from some of the more ridiculous elements. Dexter is the same way. In both cases there are bits and pieces that make apparent how they could be much better shows. TWD does action/suspense scenes really well, and every once in a while shows some genuine insight into these characters, or hits on some real emotion. But it is *so very* inconsistent.

        Look, I obviously watch every week. It’s entertaining, I don’t hate it, or I’d find something else to do. I try to praise it when/where I think it’s praiseworthy, and mock it when/where it deserves mocking. It’s fun to do so.

        But if it means a lot to you & others here, I don’t need to comment, if y’all are finding it annoying. I mean no disrespect to those who find the show less problematic than I do.Report

        • MBunge in reply to Glyph says:

          “I don’t need to comment, if y’all are finding it annoying.”

          Keep commenting, but try and zero in on the real problems.

          For example, the biggest thing wrong with last night’s episode is that the writers didn’t seem to understand what kind of dilemma they were creating for Rick. Was he so desperate that he was going to do something immoral in turning Michonne over, or was he so desperate that he was going to do something stupid and turn Michonne over even though he knew that it was very likely not going to work. Those are two different things and while it was set up to be mostly the latter, last night’s episode treated it like the former.


          • Glyph in reply to MBunge says:

            Those don’t seem all that different to me (I think that Rick clearly knew it was a long shot, and was desperate; AND, this was also stupid; but he was desperate).

            The writers don’t seem to have any foresight or ability to plant seeds & plan ahead, so that the characters seem to be evolving organically. Character decisions and plot twists should ideally seem surprising, but inevitable in retrospect as you examine characters’ personalities or the clues you were given over the course of the story (not 10 minutes prior). TWD characters just randomly change, and do or say whatever is required for the current ep’s plot machinations.

            Merle plotted/perpetrated Michonne’s abduction and explained his logic (Rick won’t do what needs to be done). But Merle knows better than anybody how two-faced the Governor is, and so knows the Gov. won’t hold up his end of the bargain. Then he abruptly about-faces and lets her go. It makes no sense (unless he was originally planning to use her to get a shot at the Gov. maybe, and the zombie pied-piper Motorheading was “Governor Assassination Plan B”? If this is the case they should have made that clearer.)

            Michonne’s actions make no sense. She would never go somewhere alone with Merle and let him get behind her.

            Rick’s actions make no sense – while we can *maybe* explain his thought processes as “desperation”, as he debated what to do w/r/t the Gov’s supposed offer, *telling* people what he had done would absolutely decimate everyone’s trust in him, not just as the leader, but as a member of the group – they won’t trust him because he might sell them out too; they won’t trust him because he’s indecisive/wishy-washy; they won’t trust him because he trusted a loose cannon like Merle with the info/dirty work. Maybe I am supposed to buy it as mental instability, but…

            Everyone is going to have a different view of what the show’s real problems are, and your view is as valid as anyone’s; but ultimately, TWD is just a gorier, grimmer Gilligan’s Island. There’s nothing wrong with that. If the writers start to take it as seriously as the directors/technical folks and actors do (there’s usually at least one or two moments per episode where those guys knock it out of the park), then I will take it more seriously too. Until then, it’s fun B-fare, with some serious quality ups and downs, entertaining enough, OK-but-not-great.

            My comments are directed at the show and reflect my thoughts and feelings about it, along with some stupid jokes; feel free to skip them, if you feel they don’t add anything.Report

  3. Mike Dwyer says:

    Carl dying would really mess up my whole John Connors theory.Report

  4. Pub Editor says:

    Props to Norman Reedus on the final scene between Darryl and WalkerMerle. I especially liked Darryl pushing away Merle like he was a kid pushing away his older brother who’s bothering him. Strong stuff.Report

    • Glyph in reply to Pub Editor says:

      like he was a kid pushing away his older brother

      I didn’t even think of that – that is good. I just thought he was working up the nerve to do what had to be done. Reedus, like Rooker, has invested far more depth than these characters were probably written with.

      He also has good taste in tunes:


    • Mike Dwyer in reply to Pub Editor says:

      I have one minor complaint about the scene and the show in general. How many times have we seen someone using a knife/bladed weapon ‘overkill’ a walker? I know they do it to convey some kind of emotional outburst but repeatedly stabbing your zombie-fied brother’s face because you are upset about what happened to him? Kind of weird. I remember when Glenn saved Maggie from a walker at the pharmacy and he hacked it with a machete about 10 times. And when Rick found the zombie that ate Lori he stabbed it repeatedly. I’m certain we’ve also seen Andrea do it since she seems to prefer knives these days.

      It’s just a weird directoral decision that keeps repeating itself.Report

      • MBunge in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        I would think the complaint would be that no one making the show seems to have the slightest idea how hard the human skull actually is.


        • Mike Dwyer in reply to MBunge says:

          I think one of the writers mentioned it on a message board lately and their explanation was that these are bodies that have been decomposing for over a year now. Everything is degrading, hence the skulls explode when struck. Don’t know if that matches up with human biology, but it’s TWD.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        I have one minor complaint about the scene and the show in general.

        Agreed about the over-use of repeatedly smashing Zombie skulls, but I thought the Daryl scene made lots of sense: he didn’t over-smash Merle’s skull as a release for his Zombie-related anxiety, but his brother-related anxiety. He loved and hated Merle. Hated that he loved him. Something like that.Report

    • carr1on in reply to Pub Editor says:

      I completely agree. Very good acting by Rooker and Reedus in that episode. I will miss Merle.

      I think Team Grimes needed a Merle around. Every group needs a controllable dirtbag to take out other dirtbags that they will inevitably meet along the way.Report

  5. Pub Editor says:

    And I’m still voting for Tyreese to kill the Governor.Report

    • North in reply to Pub Editor says:

      Agreed there. I don’t see him transitioning groups without that kind of action.Report

      • Glyph in reply to North says:

        This is a good point, but Milton at least gets the assist.Report

        • North in reply to Glyph says:

          Maybe… but I suspect that Milton and Woodbury in general are destined for a bad end.
          My own prediction is that the throwdown happens, both sides fight and the Prison’s fences get torn the fish up. Then an absolute horde of walkers show up. I am anticipating that at some point the show will allude to the fact that the Governors destructive rampage so badly weakened Woodbury’s fighting capacity and drew so many walkers to the area that the “Red Zone” grew to engulf Woodbury and the town is overrun.Report

          • Glyph in reply to North says:

            an absolute horde of walkers show up

            The last couple eps have repeatedly used the “sound draws them in” trope. Are there any dangling plot threads or objects at either the prison or Woodbury that would generate a lot of sound (over and above a firefight, I mean)?

            Fuel tankers exploding or something?Report

            • North in reply to Glyph says:

              Well we know that the prisons diesel generators have some fuel. We know they have a PA system. But I think the big noise generator will be a huge firefight between the Prison Group and the Woodbury Militia. That many guns and automatic weapons should do the trick nicely, to say nothing of whatever other explosions are gonna happen. Geogia has become pretty quiet by this time in TWD and remember that walkers react a little to what they see other walkers doing so with enough sustained noise you could draw an utterly massive number of them.
              I submit that the prison battle will render the entire prison-Woodbury region unlivable due to walker concentration. The Governors mad vendetta will kill his community; and they’ll deserve it. Milton too.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to North says:

                I don’t know that we’ll see Woodbury directly affected by the battle. We know it’s going to take place at the prison but how far away is Woodbury? We’ve never really had a number quoted, have we? More than likely though they are going to lose a healthy amount of their population and the town may cease to be through attrition. Or Andrea could escape and throw the gates open to walkers as revenge.

                I definitely think we’ll see walkers flooding the prison grounds as the battle progresses because it’s TWD afterall. Hopefully the prison group has an escape route planned. Because the finale is titled ‘Welcome to the Tombs’ I am hoping they are going to be smart and draw the attackers into the tombs which are still full of walkers. They’ve had time to prepare. If that prisoner (name escapes me) could cause so much trouble when Lori and T-Dawg were killed surely they could coral some walkers into cells and rig the doors to open behind them as they retreated. Of course, that all assumes they are willing to surrender the prison. I think more accurately they want to stop them in the yard so they can keep what they have fought so hard for.Report

              • North in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Well, it’s been implied that Woodbury is roughly a day’s journey on foot away from the prison. Andrea left Woodbury sometime during the day, had some excellent adventures dodging the Governor during the night and showed up at the prison during the next day so somewhere between 18-30 hours on foot, probably less if you’re not hiding in warehouses and diverting through forests to dodge psychos in trucks.

                My point is that in absolute miles Woodbury and the Prison are pretty close neighbors. In terms of ambient walker density the two locations could be quite interrelated. If you have a huge noise fooferaw at the prison you’ll get walkers headed in that direction from everywhere. Keep in mind that, unless otherwise stimulated, walkers are supposed to shuffle in the direction of their last stimulus. So a large enough commotion at the prison could draw a lot of walkers.

                Assume that the Woodbury force suffers huge losses (a good assumption in my opinion, the prison crew is dug in, the Woodbury people are inexperienced and Meryl just blasted away eight of the Governors better fighters). Assume, further, that a horde of walkers show up and that the Woodbury force flees back towards Woodbury. That points this new herd right at the town, a town that has just suffered a huge loss of fighting people and equipment and is walled with tires and corrugated sheet metal. I could see Woodbury being overrun very easily when that herd shows up at the walls, especially since the people inside will likely panic since I think we can presume the Governor will be dead and Andrea likely gone.

                I assume Woodbury will perish as a side effect of this war.Report

      • Pub Editor in reply to North says:

        I don’t see him transitioning groups without that kind of action.

        Good point. Entrance fee.Report