THE WALKING DEAD Mid-Season Finale Recap: “Made to Suffer,” Plus a Sneak Peek of the Next Episode

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The good news is that AMC’s The Walking Dead closed out 2012 with another fantastic episode; the bad news is that they won’t return until February 10, 2013. The mid-season finale didn’t leave us with a bombshell of a cliffhanger exactly (ie it was no hatch in the middle of the island), but rather an anticipatory ending which will give fans plenty to talk about and argue over for the next month or so. The episode also happened to feature the introduction of a fan-favorite character from the comics and a brief cameo from the show’s former cast member.

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 and Emily Kinney, AMC’s The Walking Dead airs Sunday nights at 9.  Hit the jump for my review of “Made to Suffer.”

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

The two groups finally collided together in an epic clash of smoke grenades, automatic weapons and blood. But before we get to that, the mid-season finale introduced us to yet another group of survivors, led by comics fan-favorite, Tyreese (Chad Coleman). After (mostly) surviving an attack by Walkers, the group heads into the prison and makes their way to a Walker-infested boiler room. Carl helps them out and leads them to a safe place within the prison. Meanwhile, Rick and the crew storm Woodbury and rescue Glenn and Maggie, but lose Oscar to a gunshot, as well as Darryl, who is taken prisoner. Michonne ditches the group for a time to handle her own business with the Governor, exacts her revenge and comes to a stand-off with Andrea.

Crazy.

Props to the writers for this episode because there are a lot of plot lines to handle, yet they do it exceedingly well. It would have been easy to just focus on the big action piece for the entirety of the episode and leave it at that, but they manage to up the stakes for our major characters while including the minor characters in a bit of development of their own. We’ll start small (Axel) and work our way up (Merle and Darryl).

Axel (Lew Temple) had the only bit of levity in the entire episode, though it was certainly done in a creepy fashion. While hitting on Beth and asking how old she was like a chat-room pedophile, Carol pulled him away and chastised him. At this point, we learn that Axel is all about helping to repopulate the planet…we also learn that he thinks Carol is a lesbian due to her short hair. While Carol finds this funny (and seems to forget about Axel’s advances on Beth for the moment), she’s not interested. If Axel isn’t careful, he’ll have Carl and Darryl to contend with.

Speaking of Carl, I’ve been impressed with Riggs’ maturity this season, as I’ve mentioned before. He’s done quite well with the material he’s been given and, in tonight’s episode, finally got some proper respect within the framework of the show itself. After leading the survivors to a secure area and giving them food and water (and even offering to put down their injured/infected comrade), Carl locked them up to keep his own people safe. While one of the group protested, Tyreese said to “let the man go.” Let the man go! Much respect for Tyreese. Oh, but don’t let him put you out of your misery (a hammer, man? really?).

walking-dead-season-3-steven-yeun-lauren-cohanWell it looks like Glenn and Maggie are more or less safe and sound. This episode featured one of those great transitions for The Walking Dead where Glenn is all “Love ya, Maggs!” one second and then all, “Now let me go make a shiv out of this dead Walker’s forearm,” the next. Ingenuity! Of course the plan was doomed but it gave Rick and the crew time to flashbang the room, fill it with smoke and get their people out of there, minus poor Oscar and Daryl.

In a great cameo, Shane (Jon Bernthal) walks out of the smoke and is about to put Rick down. Rick manages to shoot his former best friend once again, but realizes that the man is just another Woodbury guard. Rick may be over his wife Lori’s death thanks to a creepy call from beyond the grave, but apparently he’s still got issues with Shane’s death at his hands, no matter how much he tries to rationalize it.

Let’s talk about Michonne for a bit. I knew she was going to go rogue and do her own thing as soon as they got within the compound! What I didn’t know was that she would kill the Gov’s daughter, smash his head-tanks and give him a shard right in the old eyeball! She had a great samurai moment of sitting and waiting for the Gov to return with a naked blade across her lap. Good stuff! And the stand-off between Andrea and Michonne? Pretty intense. I’m assuming we’ll see that conflict resolve itself in the coming episodes.

And now, the minor interest that has turned into a major debate: Merle vs Darryl. Many have wondered where Darryl’s loyalties lie when it comes to Darryl and the group. Darryl sure wanted to go talk to Merle once Glenn told him he was the Governor’s lieutenant. And now, he’ll get the chance. Sort of. Did not see this coming, but the Gov put Merle up as a scapegoat and is now pitting him against Darryl in the “screaming pits” to further test his loyalties. Or to just kill the both of them outright. Another great realization on the part of the writers to recognize that the dramatic conflict between Merle and Darryl needed to be resolve in a satisfying way. I think they’ve managed to do just that!

Rating: 9/10

Want a sneak peek at February’s episode nine, “The Suicide King,” that teases an answer to this contest? Check out the video below:

Musings & Quotes:

  • I don’t know much about this Tyreese character at all, but I like how he treats his group and I especially respect how he treats Carl.
  • Gov to Andrea: “Woodbury’s starting to grow on you?”
  • Gov to Penny: “Look at me!”
  • Apparently Woodbury does not have very competitive vision insurance because these guards are the worst lookouts/shots ever!
  • Gov:  “I failed you. I promised to keep you safe. Hell, look at me … I’m afraid! I’m afraid of terrorists who want what we have! Worse, one of those terrorists is one of our own.” The Governor points at Merle. “He led them here! He let them in! You betrayed us all!” Merle is escorted to the center of the arena along with a hooded figure. The man is unmasked, revealing Daryl. “Merle’s own brother!”
  • Oh hi, Shane!
  • Gov to Merle: “Take ‘em to the screaming pit.”
  • Gov: “There’s no need to panic.” Screaming woman: “Someone help!”
  • Gov to Guards: “Shoot to kill.”
  • Glenn: “Darryl, this was Merle.” Darryl: “So my brother’s this Governor?” – Great bit of fan service here, whether intentional or not, because many had suspected Merle of becoming the Governor character.
  • walking-dead-season-3-david-morrisseyGov to Andrea: “Just do as I ask.”
  • Did I miss something, or did Maggie not put Oscar down completely when she had the chance?
  • Carl to Hershel: “Right now, Judith is the only family I got.”
  • I was mortally terrified for Michonne when she  let Penny off the chain…
  • Andrea to Michonne: “What have you done?”
  • Tyreese to Carl: “We take care of our own.” ::raises  hammer::
  • Tyreese to his second in command: “Back away from that door and let the man go!”
  • Gov to Andrea, in regards to the heads in the tanks: “I make myself look at them…prepares me for the horrors outside.”

Zombie Kills:

9

Human/Enemy Deaths:

6

Casualties:

2 – The woman from the newly introduced group of survivors who is bitten and probably Oscar, who was shot by a Woodbury guard and left behind.

Best Kill:

Gotta be Michonne’s katana through the mouth of Penny, the Governor’s daughter.

Best Zombie Effect:

Has to go to Glenn “disarming” the dead Walker to make a shiv from the wrist bone. However, one wonder’s why he didn’t go for the humerus attached to the scapula (which makes a nifty hand-ax) or the femur, which is the largest/longest bone in the body and would make for a nice, dense club. #science

Check back with us next year when we review the next of AMC’s The Walking Dead. Don’t forget to check out AMC on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day as they’ll be hosting a marathon of every episode of The Walking Dead up to and including the mid-season finale!

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  • k

    There’s a reason why this episode was strong – two words – Robert Kirkman! If only he had the time to write every episode!

  • Leo

    Not gonna waste time trying to make this pretty because Collider probably won’t publish it anyways. Seriously this commmenting system sucks, so I’m just gonna put out bullet points.

    First and foremost, again its out with the old, in with the new for the Black guy this season (not trying to hate, just funny how it happened last time with T and Oscar)

    Glenn took the small bone cuz it made a nice stabbing thingy, which is more effective then a clubbing thingy.

    Hershel mentioned that Carol and Axel were in the guard tower, considering the guard tower is the designated love nest (see Glenn and Maggie episode 4) what the heck, is she just trying to be a release valve for to protect Beth? Who would ever want Axel, especially over Daryl.

    Really been impressed with Riggs this season. Everything has been improved there.

    Very cool that they brought in Tyrese. Not sure how long he will be around considering the comics and all).

    We deal with our own. A free bullet to the head is better than a hammer, that was poor reasoning to be so cruel.

    Why didn’t Michonne realize it was her walkers (Donkeys) in the Tanks and put them out of their misery.

    That was surprising how Governor reacted for his daughter. it was genuine fear, he is going loco now.

    Merle said he killed Michonne, that nasty surprise the Governor got was why Merle is in hot water.

    I’m surprised Andrea didn’t jump in to defend Daryl. Michonne causes a lot of damage by keeping secrets, she should have said she was with Rick’s group.

    Daryl obviously lives based on the scenes from next time, and same with (cast member) Merle when Glenn says why is he here, it could only be one person and mean that Merle got brought to the prison.

    Axel is realistic, but I hope he gets it made clear that if he tries something he is gonna go walking through the woods.

    The Shane thing was perfect. But to correct you, Rick didn’t shoot him again, first time he stabbed him. Then Carl shot him (so glad he is a better actor now, that scene from season 2 was rough).

    I enjoyed a lot of the fight scenes, but the tension is lost because its too early for a lot of the characters. Love the new eye patch though.

    Carl was very reasonable with the outsiders. Really becoming a man.

    Terrorists? does that word really fit with this show?

    Welcome Tyrese!

  • bacta70517

    Maggie did shoot Oscar in the head after he got shot by the guard…it was kinda a blink and you miss it moment!

  • Leo

    I seriously hate your commenting system. I did this whole giant thing, and of course it didn’t go through, made a lot of points, and you just screwed it all up.

    I do want to bring up the out with the old in with the new thing that keeps happening with the black guys on the show this season. T becomes Oscar, Oscar becomes Tyrese. Not hating on black people, it just seems kind of funny that this is like a trend. Also you have to feel bad for Oscar going out like that, he only tried to do right by people he didn’t know and he died without really getting to experience anything outside of the prison life.

    Also Shane! Loved that he is back, but it made no sense for him to have a beard or hair really, but i understand Jon Bernthal not shaving his head for two seconds of being a BAMF. Also, that was only the first time Rick ever shot him. First time, Rick stabbed him, then Carl shot him (So glad Riggs is improving his acting. That scene in season 2 was brutal).

    Also Carol and Axel in the watch tower? Glenn and Maggie pretty much designated that to be the love nest in episode 4. I understand Axel might need a release valve, but how could Carol even consider him over Poncho Daryl. If I was one that gang, I would make it clear that Axel would be better to take a long stroll through the woods then to consider touching one of the ladies.

    Also if michonne learned to open up, there would be a lot less conflict. She seriously causes a lot of problems by not trusting and sharing. These secrets that everyone has is what causes all the conflicts. They need to just be like Tyrese and be straight forward with one another.

    Not gonna bother trying to add the rest. Collider won’t even bother posting this.

    • Leo

      Glenn too the small bone out of the walker cuz a stabbing thing is more effective than a clubbing thingy. Also shouldn’t he have turned after dying? No one seemed too concerned. Governor was mad at Merle for telling him that he killed Michonne, which I suppose could have led to the Gov thinking that Merle teamed up with his brother, but why wouldn’t Merle just escort Glenn and maggie out the front gate then? Very happy with Chandler Riggs, everything stepped up in that department. A free bullet is a better option than a hammer, even it is one of your own. And why haven’t people been using pitch forks. That is the ideal Walker killing non gun device. I understand it would be hard to film though. Why didn’t Michonne react to her Walker buddies (Mules) in the fish tanks. And I am pretty sure she should have known that Peggy? was a Walker. I liked the Gov’s reaction of genuine fear for his daughter, time to lose his sanity now i guess. If Andrea just jumps in and tells Daryl to explain, everything would seem much more justifiable and maybe they could just go on their way. The don’t trust anyone attitude that everybody takes in this world is what causes all the problems. Look at Carl and Tyrese, they were just straight forward with each other and things went smoothly. Come on Collider don’t fail me now.

    • Mr Kippling

      good, your boring

    • BobLoblaw

      Yeah, maybe there’s a reason your comments are being deleted, windbag.

  • bacta70517

    in the comic Axel was slightly perverted, ‘accidentally’ walking in on Lori and Carol while they were showering and would make sexual comments about the female members of the group. He and Patricia hooked up in the comic so maybe since Patricia died on the show they will replace her with Carol….

  • nico

    Leo,
    Rick hallucinated Shane with a beard because the real zombie had one. It made sense to me. The bearded guy reminded him of Shane. That’s all. Had no problem with that.

    I like that the story and characters aren’t boring and predictable. Really enjoying this season.

    • Mr Kippling

      he wasn’t a zombie, it was a woodbury guard with a shotgun. But yes, he had a beard so thats why shane had one in Rick’s trip out moment.

    • jim

      He did`nt shoot a walker he shot an armed guard, Jay has a beard and hair for a movie he is working on now and was not allowed to shave. So, they used the idea of having Shane look like a bearded guard.

  • LEM

    I was kind of surprised how much they gave away in the preview for February but overall this was a satisfying finale.

  • Grimcicle

    Well we know by the teaser for the mid-season premier that both Daryl and Merrle survive the situation we’ve left them in. There’s a shot of Daryl with his crossbow, and there’s another brief clip of Glenn shouting to someone “WHAT THE HELL IS HE DOING HERE!?” Taking recent events into consideration, he’s almost certainly talking about Merrle.

  • Felipe AC

    F YEAH Tyreese!! this is getting interesting…now, what is up with the -only one token character- policy this series have XD

  • JimmyMackey

    I agree that it was noble of the writers to include the minor characters for their sake and they wrote well for them too. This mid-season finale felt more like a season finale to me; it was so big. Michonne must resent Andrea for staying and it seems she doesn’t care if she stays. I wonder if the writers will have Michonne go back for her. Since I’m a huge fan, when my DISH coworker found out how much I paid for the DVDs every season, he convinced me to just get a DISH Hopper so I can record all of the seasons on its massive hard drive that stores up to 500 hours of HD shows. Now I watch them again to see what things I missed before the next episode comes out. The hiatus doesn’t seem so bad either with the first half of the season to watch again.

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