THE WALKING DEAD Episode Recap: “This Sorrowful Life”

     March 24, 2013


The penultimate episode of season three of AMC’s The Walking Dead is now behind us.  Along the way we’ve had to say goodbye to some near and dear characters and tonight’s episode was no different.  While it was still just a precursor to the all out war that is expected on next week’s finale, it still packed an emotional punch that managed to carry the story forward ever so slightly.  Blood has been spilt on both sides of the conflict; no one is safe, no one is certain to survive.

Starring Andrew Lincoln, David Morrissey, Chandler Riggs, Melissa McBride, Laurie Holden, Danai Gurira, Michael Rooker, Norman Reedus, Steven Yeun, Lauren Cohan, Scott Wilson, Dallas Roberts, Emily KinneyChad Coleman and Lew Temple, AMC’s The Walking Dead airs Sunday nights at 9.  Hit the jump for my review of “This Sorrowful Life.”

walking-dead-season-3-michael-rooker[Spoiler Alert: All reviews and recaps come with a general spoiler warning from this point onward.]

Tonight’s episode was all about the Dixon brothers, with a bit of Michonne thrown in for good measure.  Rick, Daryl and Hershel have all signed off on handing Michonne over to the Governor for the chance that Woodbury will leave the prison alone, but Rick recruits Merle to do the dirty work.  Merle knows that Rick and the others lack the spine to do what’s necessary so he takes matters into his own hand(s) and takes Michonne on an ill-fated road trip.  Meanwhile, Rick second guesses his decision too late and Daryl goes off in search of his brother to prevent the exchange.  Michonne manages to get through to Merle, who lets her go before he goes off on a one-way mission to redeem himself.  As Michonne makes her way back to the prison and Rick reveals his error in judgement to the rest of the group, Daryl finds Merle in the most unfortunate of reveals.

I love Merle and any episode that features him.  Rooker gets the best one-liners from the writing staff and plays such a creep that fans just love to hate him.  For what it’s worth, Merle might be the most truthful member of the group and he’s not afraid to throw it in anybody’s face.  I absolutely loved the conversation between Merle and Michonne, who’s just as tough and honest as Merle and appears to be the only one with the stones to stand up to him.  More importantly than that, she managed to get through to him and to show him the many errors of his ways.  For a character that was as racist and sexist and hateful as Merle was, to gain enlightenment from a black woman whom he held prisoner was honestly the only way for him to achieve redemption.  That and taking out a few of Woodbury’s would-be assassins on his way out.  R.I.P., Merle. You will be missed!

the-walking-dead-michael-rooker-season-3-episode-15-this-sorrowful-lifeWhat won’t be missed as much in this episode was the side-story of Glenn deciding that now would be the best time to propose to Maggie.  It was sweet of him to ask for Hershel’s blessing and everything, but to steal an engagement ring off a Walker’s finger (by breaking the damn fingers off to boot)?  Call me old fashioned but that’s not exactly my idea of romantic.  At least take a knee and propose properly, Glenn!

Special attention must, of course, be given to Daryl in this episode.  He had to deal with the worst possible scenario in any zombie drama: putting down a loved one that has turned.  Rooker’s performance was fantastic in this episode and Reedus was equal to the task.  It was a great end to the arc of the second half of season three which started with a fight to the death between the Dixons.  It’s unfortunate that we won’t see the Dixon boys banter in the future, though I’m worried about what the psychological effects on Daryl will be.  Stay tuned to find out, since there’s only one episode left!

Rating: 8/10

Zombie Kills: At least 26

Casualties: 1 – Merle

Human/Enemy Deaths: 8

Best Kill:

Has to go to Daryl putting an end to a zombified Merle in a cathartic fashion.

Best Effect:

Michonne’s garrote beheading/kill of a Walker.

the-walking-dead-norman-reedus-season-3-episode-15-this-sorrowful-lifeMusings and Quotes:

  • Merle: “The Inner Circle. I’m honored.”
  • Merle: “You’re cold as ice, Officer Friendly.”
  • Merle: “I’m a damn mystery to me.  But I know you, Rick. Yeah, I thought a lot about you. You ain’t got the spine for it.”
  • Merle: “You got any whiskey? Hell, I’d even drink vodka.” Carol: “Go to Hell, Merle.”
  • Merle: “Lookin’ for a little crystal meth.”
  • Merle: “Do you even possess a pair of balls, little brother? Are they even attached?”
  • I still have no idea why Merle took the phone from the prison and put it in his bag.
  • Hershel to Maggie and Beth: “What I wouldn’t do to keep you two safe…” Foreshadowing?
  • Merle: “You gotta play the hands you’re dealt. I only got one.”
  • Michonne: “No one’s gonna mourn you, not even Daryl.  He’s got a new family.”
  • Merle to The Gov: “I ain’t beggin’!”
  • Rick to the group: “I’m not your Governor.  We choose to go, We choose to stay. We vote. We can stay and we can fight or we can go.”

Be sure to tune in next week for our season finale recap of AMC’s The Walking Dead.  If you missed any of the episodes so far, AMC will be hosting a marathon of every episode leading up to the finale starting at 8/7c on Monday March 25th.


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  • Bb

    8/10… Another poorly written episode, developing a character to kill off? Come on. I was fine with the past 4 slow and lazy episodes but enough is enough

    • Travis

      You are upset because they developed the character they killed off? What would you have liked them to do? Have Merle go take a leak in a corner only to have his throat chomped on. If anything this has me totally bummed that I will hear no more great Merle one liners.

      To me this was a great setup for the finale and has me really wondering how this thing will end next week. I’m sure many things will not be resolved and a massive cliff hanger is waiting for me, but to say this was a lazy episode is a pretty tool thing to do when you didn’t give any insight as to how it could have been improved and the only thing you stated a dislike toward was the fact they made us care about Merle before having him die a gruesome emotional death at the hands of his own brother.

      • Bb

        Alright Travis, you approached your response in an ALMOST non-douchbag way. But you had to call me a tool just because I didn’t fluff up my complaint for you. I can tell your not intelligent so I’ll make this simple. Inner city education probably took its toll on you. I appreciate when any character is developed on a show… But, it seems to be a complete cop out to wait until the episode someone dies, to peel back beyond the surface later. It’s their trend and I know the next time they force me to care about someone less developed, it’s just for the shock of killing them off. The episode was lazy because they have a huge event they’ve been building up to, yet they need to focus on more and more side stories instead of making the result worth it. They can’t possibly cram in a head to head showdown into an hour long episode next week(45 mins) so they will half ass it and it will be rushed. Count on it.

    • thatguy

      Bb to Travis: “I can tell YOUR not intelligent…” LOL you can’t make this stuff up folks. Only on the internet…

  • MB

    “I still have no idea why Merle took the phone from the prison and put it in his bag.”

    The prison phone is what Merle used to knock out Michonne. He also used the phone cord to tie her hands.

    • Morgan Taylor

      he also used the number dial as finger cuffs for Michonne’s hands.

  • Sloan

    The only good thing about this episode aside from Merle drinking is that I’m this much closer to Game of Thrones

    • Cryder55

      That’s a bingo.

  • LEM

    I enjoyed the episode mainly because of Rooker. I could have done without the Glenn side story and yes cutting a ring off an undead woman to lazily propose seemed really wrong. It looks like they decide to run in the preview so we may still have the Governor in season 4.

    • Chris

      How else would you get a ring in the f*cking ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE. I thought it was creative, not lazy. Man, you guys complain way too much.

      • LEM

        Hmmm maybe a jewelry store in an abandoned town or a pawn shop or maybe one of the houses they ransack while going on supply runs. There are many options rather than grave robbing the remains of some undead woman. There is a difference between complaining and criticism.

    • k

      Glenn takes a ring from a walker’s hand in the comic book – it was just a shout out to that…..

      • LEM

        I guess it’s cool for the die hard comic book fans but to me it just didn’t come across as the tender moment they seemed to be going for.

  • James

    This show is not what it use to be, all they do is cower in the prison. All the good characters are gone and the absolute worst character “The Gov” lives on! the show is a shell of itself now. AMC has been using the popularity and the MONEY from The Walking Dead to fund Mad Men and the budget of The Walking Dead has suffered, you can see it in the lack of scenery changes and the writing. Mad Men is winning awards but is way down in the rating but AMC is more interested in awards then QUALITY tv, story matter lol? I think not!

    • Anonymous

      really? what as apposed to being at the farm the entirety of season 2? you idiot!

  • Travis

    Love how people make comments regarding the episode/show about how much it sucked, or how lazy the script writing was but give absolutely nothing in regards to how they would improve it. Bashing something is the easiest thing in the world to do, try and improve upon it and maybe you won’t look like such a clown.

    To me this episode was a solid 8. I have long felt like someone major was due to die and unfortunately it was Merle. I truly hope Daryl gets to put an arrow through the Governor’s skull but I doubt it happens.

    The one thing I didn’t care for was the proposal. I get the idea behind it, but it just seemed like it was super rushed in the episode and was very anticlimactic. If they really wanted to make it seem like a big deal it should have been a major piece to the episode and had a little more suspense/build up to it.

    It will be interesting to see how the finale plays out. I hope there isn’t a major cliff hanger at the end of it, but I’m sure there will be. I am fairly certain the Governor will survive and last into next season, but we will see.

    • Cryder55

      Awesome, glad you love it!

  • Leo Spaceman

    Well the Rictatatorship is over.

    Agreed with the Proposal thing not being very important.

    Again, it was a build-up towards the characters demise, that seems to be the thing for this show. I must admit its going to be a shame to lose Meryl, considering he was made a cast member I really expected him to stick around. Kind of glad that they did it, up until half way through this episode, I never even considered them killing him off. Its a little heart breaking to think about the Dixon Brothers last conversation, and the fact that Daryl might never know that this was a suicide mission for his brother, as far as he is concerned things just went bad and his brother didn’t make it.

    On a side note, Walkers with knives for hands could have been a new threat.

    As far as Hershel saying what he wouldn’t do to keep his girls safe, I think that wasn’t a foreshadow so much as a reflection upon what he thought he was about to do.

    I know the comics and I have to wonder how closely they are going to follow the comics, I won’t say anything about it as I don’t want to give anything away for some who might not know. I have randomly come across little snippets on the internet that seem to indicate what happens in the next episode(thanks assholes), and I could see it being similar to the comics unfortunately.

    One thing that has been driving me crazy though; These guys at the prison have nothing but time on their hands most of the time and are just sitting around the prison for a lot of it. Why aren’t any of them on Walker extermination. They showed this episode that they are capable of drawing the Walker’s to the fence, and in the first episode of the season, they showed you can kill the Walker’s through the fence. Completely safe, except for the Woodbury Snipers. But they just walk up to the Walkers and let them live. Those Walkers are a threat to them, I don’t see why they don’t just kill them off, they could probably kill more in a day than would fill up the yard, they could easily buy time to barricade the fence that got crashed through.

    Also, I rewatched season two, and it appears that the Walker’s Skulls have gotten significantly weaker over the course of the Winter. I just wanted to point out that Walker’s seem to be decaying, instead of them just having retooled the show for more Walker kills.

    I could go on for awhile, and it appears I already have. For that I am sorry about my long winded musings. I don’t want to talk about next episode because its too easy to infer what will happen, and there is to much of that going around right now on the internet. So I will just end it by saying, I hope Carol was wrong. Don’t be in Hell Meryl, you were too much fun to have around for such a fate. I really hope this was the plan from the start, and it would be a shame if Rooker just wanted out of the show the same way Dale did last season.

    Again, sorry for rambling on.

    • LEM

      If the walkers can’t really get in then I guess they could see them as a defense system rather than a threat though I would feel uneasy having them right outside never knowing if there’s a breach. I’m sorry you had the finale spoiled and I hate that people do that. They make it difficult to even discuss the episodes on forums or message boards.

  • Leo Spaceman

    To the prick in the Facebook comments, why would say something about next episode like that. We don’t realize its possibly a spoiler until after we read it. You are a terrible person, just like the rest of the people talking about it. From those little snippets, I have now pretty much entirely pieced together the finale.

    But I would like to just say, rest in peace Merle (sorry about the spelling I don’t know whats right), leading the Walkers to the ambush was a fitting way for a Dixon to go out, my next Whiskey will be to you.

  • Leo Spaceman

    Musings: The Gov, bit a man’s fingers clean off. I’m surprised that wasn’t mentioned in the review.

    What the frick was Maggie wearing?

    The Rictatorship is over.

    I didn’t notice on the first viewing, but the person that walked in front of the Gov right before Merle shot him looked like the boy with Tyrese that made it into the prison. I’m surprised he went out with such little fanfare.

    • Leo Spaceman

      Why didn’t the Gov’s men that Merle put down not get up and start walking around? There were no head shots. That is one of the main flaws of a Zombie apocalypse, especially in this Universe; if a zombie gets you, they are gonna eat you. Therefore, there shouldn’t be many zombies walking around, they all got eaten when they were dead, before they could even become undead. The only ones that could become undead are the ones that got a single bite but got away from the herd and died in “peace.”

      • Steven

        The guys that were shot down were eaten by the zombies. They showed a few shots of them eating the guys.

      • Leo Spaceman

        That is exactly my point, the guys are dead, it has been very clearly established that the dead come back to walk the earth, regardless of the manner of death. As long as their heads are intact, they live. In season 1, Dr. Jenner established that the resurrection time varies from minutes to a few hours. Its possible that they just haven’t resurrected yet, but I tend to believe that its a fairly quick resurrection time. They have been distancing the show from season 1, and the only resurrections we have seen on the show would be the copter pilots that crashed in episode 3 of this season, and Shane of last season. The copter pilot was biting by the time Michonne and Andrea reached the crash, and Shane came back before Rick even managed to reach his son Carl only a few yards away. It is reasonable to believe that the dead corpses should have began walking by the time Daryl came upon them, you saw them disemboweled, and missing some big chunks of meat, but not their heads.

        Though if we really want to debate this though we would have to bring up the dead bodies in the highway traffic jam in the season 2 opener. Lori herself called that site a graveyard, a lot of the cars had dead bodies in them, for instance there was a corpse that Carl pulled a bunch of weapons off of, like Rick’s Machete. Also after T-Dawg cut his arm, Daryl came up and killed some Walkers about to kill T-Dawg and then pulled a corpse out of a car and put it on top of T-Dawg and then put one on himself and used it to camouflage themselves among all the dead bodies and hide from the herd passing through. All of those corpses should have been out walking about. Just saying.

      • Spanky

        Because the gun shots didn’t kill them… seriously, this needs to be explained??

        Were you not watching what the rest of us were? Did you not see the people getting shot in non-fatal areas, and then squirming in pain on the ground?

      • Leo Spaceman

        I was watched the episode twice. It was clearly established that the guys that got shot were dead. When I ask why didn’t they get up and start walking around, that was just a little bit of a fancy way of asking why didn’t they become walkers. All dead people become Walkers regardless of the manner of death in this Universe. There was enough time for Merle to get up and start walking around after his death, the people who got shot in the non-fatal areas (as in not the head) were dead by the time Daryl found them, and they hadn’t been completely consumed by the other walkers, so they should have turned into walkers (probably more like crawlers with out their legs). The only explanation could be that the Gov went around and put all bullet in the head of each of his dead men, but the Gov doesn’t waste bullets, and the bodies were surrounded by the Walkers eating them at the time.

  • Danny

    A great episode, better than the last few. That last scene was hard to watch. I knew what was going to happen since some idiot let the image of walker Meryl leak out and more idiots spread it as much as they can. My only complaint for the episode is that I wish the writers wouldn’t make it so damn obvious someone is going to die. When characters all of a sudden start talking more than often and get some backstory you know what’s going to happen to them.

  • Lance

    I thought this was a very good episode. Strangely enough, I’m going to miss Merle. I always wanted to see him achieve some sort of greater rapprochement with the rest of the group, but the way he went out was probably truer to the kind of person he was.

    The Governor just has to die. Biting a guy’s fingers off like that and relishing the savagery of it all? He just has to go.

    Don’t know why some of the people commenting here are complaining. I suspect they just want to see a big Optimus Prime/Megatron style showdown between Rick and the Governor, with maybe a Highlander style sword battle thrown in. But I wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t get that at all! Actually, I wonder if Andrea’s going to do the Governor in, like she should have earlier.

  • k

    I do not see how Daryl can just go back to his prison “family” and not address some of the Merle issues – if they really care about Daryl as much as they say they do they would have made SOME effort to try to make thing work for his sake if nothing else – that scene where Glenn was basically ignoring Daryl as he spoke – seriously? THAT’S how Glenn wants to deal with Daryl. What Merle said about the hypocrisy of the group was spot on – they are completely oblivious to the morally objectionable things they have done, because they feel so strongly that they are the “good” people. The comics treat that subject very differently, there is little time in the comic book zombie apocalypse to sit around being self-righteous, the group does what it needs to do to survive – period.

    • Radiationman

      k, I think that you’re reading into this too much. The group does what it has to do to survive, but they’re still walking that fine line. The Gov has crossed that line, shot it up, and buried it; forgeting about it like it was never there. In the episode where Rick, Michonne and Carl take a trip, they ignore that guy walking down the road. Clearly this is one of the morally objectionable things you are talking about. But what if this guy decides he want’s to take from them? Sitting in the back seat is a great place to take advantage of trusting people. At the same time, they were on a mission, and to take on more than you can handle always ends up bad. The morally questionable is legit when you break down what is actually happening.

      Then you come to the Governor…This man intentionally goes out of his way to destroy and dismember other survivor groups to loot their supplies, and ensure his authority…not his survival.

      As far as the Merle issue, Darryl knew what Merle’s problems were well before he discovered his brother was still alive. he knew that Merle had a lot of hate in his heart, even though he also knew why he had that hate. He understands that Merle was a loose cannon, and is a risk to any group he joins, no matter how good he is to have around in a war.

      Unfortunately, the man Merle needed to be showed up too late…but at least he went out with a purpose, and without all that hate.

      • k

        Nothing you are saying is in contrast to what I said – i just think it’s tiresome that Rick’s group keep claiming to be the “good” people – there are no “good people” left at this point in the ZA in terms of how WE define goodness in our reality – you have to do what you need to do to survive – that does not mean that people need to be psychotic like the Governor, just realize that everyone, including your own people, has to be something other than what they were back in the old world and you have to do things you would never do back in the old world, that’s it plain and simple. So, you and I actually agree.

        The Daryl thing I am talking about really has very little to do with Merle – it’s more about how you want to handle a very difficult situation where someone you supposedly view as “your blood” is very much stuck in the middle – I think the group could think a bit about what this has done to Daryl and maybe state their cases a little more delicately than just presenting him with ultimatums or outright ignoring him when he is speaking like in last night’s episode.

  • Scott Baiowulfgang Amadeus

    Apparently Allen’s son Ben doesn’t count as a “Human/Enemy Death.”

  • Scott Baiowulfgang Amadeus

    Apparently Allen’s son Ben doesn’t count as a Human/Enemy Death.

  • FoonZeeS

    There is only one section of the article that I wanted to comment on since everyone else has already chimed in.

    The review says that Michonne got through to Merle and that’s why he let her go. I think it’s the opposite of that, I believe Merle intended to let Michonne gone the whole time. He took her the way he did to show her the light and then have her decide where to go from there. Merle was set in his quest to take out the Gov so that Daryl could be safe. He knew the Gov would double cross Rick and kill everyone at the prison. This was all Merle’s plan for redemption.

  • sohey

    the governor bites merle’s fingers off after merle is bitten by a walker…surely the governor should also turn…in time, or sooner…depending on his immunity to the virus?

    • LEM

      He wasn’t bit he was killed by the bullet through the chest and turned because the brain wasn’t destroyed.

    • Scott Baiowulfgang Amadeus

      Merle wasn’t bit by a zombie. He fought the zombie off before he could bite him. He was turned after death because the Governor shot him in the chest.

  • Joe

    Merle was a great character and Rooker was perfect for the role. Loved the way he went out.
    I think the only reason Glen had to get married is because someone from that family is gonna die. Maggie, Glen, Hershel or all are not making it back. Hershel for sure but the other two could go either way. Alot of people better be gone next episode to make up for this shitty half of the season we had to endure.

  • Bob

    The Glen/Maggie story is not a side story but an ongoing storyline existing concurrently with several other plot threads. People comment on how it seemed like inappropriate timing for that to occur. When would be a good time? To me, it was a perfectly logical time for it. Let’s face it. The folks at the prison are pretty much resigned to the fact that they are on the eve of being anihilated by the governor and his troops. Before that happens, Glen wanted to make his definitive statement of love for Maggie. Nothing out of sync there. Excellent episode. Kudos to Reedus and Rooker. Merle may not be missed but Rooker sure will be.