The Walking Dead S3E15: This Sorrowful Life
Original Airdate: March 24, 2013
Recap by Sarabeth Pollock
Can you feel the tension in the air? We’re almost to the end of season three…and tonight’s episode didn’t disappoint!
Rick, Hershel and Daryl talk in a remote corner of the prison yard. Rick speaks vaguely of separating one member of the group from the rest of them, and it has to be done quickly. Of course, he’s talking about Michonne. Daryl doesn’t like the plan; it isn’t what they do. Hershel agrees, but Rick won’t hear any argument. He accepts the job of going to talk to Merle. Inside the cell block, Merle is searching mattresses for drugs. He needs a “vacation,” he tells Rick, and the best drugs he ever got were from a mattress. Rick wonders if Merle knows why he does the things he does. While Merle ponders this, Rick tells him of the plan to hand Michonne over to the Governor. It’s the only way to get Woodbury to stand down and give them a chance at survival. This catches Merle’s attention. It’s so unlike Rick to even consider a plan like this. Merle recalls going out on runs with the Governor, who would caution Merle against using bullets and opted instead for bashing skulls in. Merle knows that the Governor won’t back down after he has Michonne, and he tells Rick that he’ll probably take out one (or both) of her eyes, but he won’t kill her. That would be too easy, and Merle is almost shocked by Rick’s callousness. “You’re cold as ice, Officer Friendly,” he says.
Out in the field, Carl and Maggie try to round up the Walkers while Michonne, Daryl and Glen set traps up at the gates. Daryl tells Rick it was Michonne’s idea. He looks at her. “We don’t have to win, we just have to make their getting at us more trouble than it’s worth,” Michonne says. She looks different somehow. More…normal? I don’t know what it is, but she looks like she’s trying hard to fit in. Rick and Daryl exchange looks as she walks away.
Carol wants to know if Merle is on their side. He says he’s on his brother’s side, and she points out that Daryl is with them, so he should be as well. He recalls the frightened mouse of a woman she was at the camp in the beginning, and she reminds him that she was hiding in the shadow of her husband. Merle calls her a late bloomer. She says the same could be true of him.
Glen is working on one of the gates when Daryl approaches and asks if he’s seen Merle. Glen gives him a long look. Daryl immediately jumps into action to help him, and eventually he says that Merle will apologize for what happened back at Woodbury, even if Daryl has to make him do it. Glen tells Daryl that he’s missing the point. Yes, Merle tied Glen to a chair and put a Walker in the room with him, but it’s what he did to Maggie that upsets him. He handed her over to a monster who humiliated and degraded her. And Glen cares far more about Maggie than he does himself.
Daryl continues his search for his brother, and he finds him in the machine room. He asks if Rick talked to Merle yet, and Daryl says he has, but he doesn’t think that Rick will be able to go through with it. He reminds his brother that they used to make fun of people like Rick, people who don’t have the backbone to do the dirty work. Daryl tells his brother that it was wrong what Merle did to Glen and Maggie, and Merle counters that he’s done worse. It’s what you need to do to survive. And now they’re about to deliver Michonne to that very same monster. Merle knows that the rest of the group see him as the devil, but he argues that maybe they need someone like him around to do the dirty work.
Hershel, Beth and Maggie read scripture together. As they hold hands and Hershel reads, we see Rick making preparations outside. He’s testing wire rope to make sure it will bind Michonne’s hands. He hangs his head, struggling with the weight of his decision. He looks up to see Lori standing above him on the bridge. Is she an omen? He gets up and walks away, into the room where Hershel finishes reading. “What I wouldn’t do to keep you safe,” Hershel mutters as Rick approaches. But Rick has had a change of heart. He can’t go through with it.
However, down in the labyrinthine corridors of the prison, Merle leads Michonne on a mission to clear Walkers from the inner chambers. Looks like he has taken matters into his own hands. Maybe it’s even a self-fulfilling prophecy of doing the dirty work on his own, to remove guilt from everyone else. As Walkers come at them from the hallway, he knocks her out and then ties her up, wrapping her up securely.
But wait. Merle and Michonne walk through a neighborhood outside the prison. He has just finished telling her about the plan they had to hand her over to the Governor. He knew Rick wouldn’t be able to go through with it so he was finishing the job for him. Michonne doesn’t seem surprised or upset. She’s very calm. Across the field, a Walker approaches. Merle uses her sword to cut its head off, and when he turns he expresses surprise that she’s still standing there. She’s not going to leave without her sword, she tells him, smiling sweetly.
Rick delivers the news to Daryl, who is relieved that Rick changed his mind. The only problem is that Rick can’t find Merle or Michonne anywhere. They return to Merle’s prison hideout, and Daryl realizes that his brother has gone without them. He pledges to bring them back, and when Rick insists on going with him, Daryl reminds him that he can’t track for shit and he has a family to care for.
Back on the road, Merle continues his conversation with Michonne. He suggests that maybe their little journey will allow the prison to remain standing, and if he pulls it all off, maybe all will be forgiven. Michonne tells him that bad men carry a burden as light as a feather, because they can’t feel a thing that they do. Merle’s face betrays the emotion he feels, but he replies that he has killed sixteen men since the world fell apart. As they move on, it’s clear that he can feel the weight of what he has done.
Hershel is in his cell when Glen walks in. Hershel says that there will always be men like the Governor out there. Glen fingers the watch Hershel gave him, saying that he now understands what it means. He wants to marry Maggie, even if they only live through the week, just so that she knows what it’s like. Hershel gives him his blessing, smiling in pride at the man Glen has become.
Merle brings Michonne to an old motel. He ties her to a post while he hot wires a car. She stands there watching, even though I’m sure that she could easily get away. Once he gets the car running, the car alarm goes off, attracting Walkers from all over the place. Michonne calls out to him in warning. Bad Ass Michonne tackles several of them while being tied up, and after a while Merle realizes what is going on and takes out the rest of them. Have they just had a bonding moment?
They drive down the road. Michonne wonders if he’s the trash man. People need something done and he comes running. It isn’t like that with Daryl. Rick respects Daryl. Merle laughs. Michonne says this could have been his shot to get outside the box. “At least when the Governor is done with me, I won’t have to live with myself,” she says.
Back at the prison, Glen goes shopping for a ring for Maggie. “Shopping” entails cutting a ring off of a Walker.
Michonne talks to Merle about the sixteen people Merle killed. She reminds him that the Governor didn’t help him. They could both go back to the prison and pretend this never happened. Merle stops the car and cuts her bindings. He says she can go back to the prison, but he has something he has to do on his own. Merle returns her sword and then drives off, leaving her in the middle of the road.
Daryl finds Michonne killing the head of the headless Walker. She tells him that Merle let him go, so he tells her not to let anyone come after him.
Merle is in the car in the parking lot of a local bar. He’s getting drunk while Walkers surround the car. Slowly, he leads them on a merry chase to the meeting place. While the Governor’s men scout the place, Merle sets up shop inside. While the men take out the Walkers, Merle takes out the men. Through the chaos, no one can hear the sound of Merle’s gun as he takes out the men. Of course, it isn’t long before the Governor finds him. And Merle, the expert marksman, would have taken out the Governor if Ben (from Tyreese’s gang) hadn’t stepped in front of the bullet. As they struggle, the Governor manages to bite Merle’s fingers off. Merle won’t beg for anything, but the Governor isn’t in the mood for negotiation. He pulls out his gun and takes aim (presumably firing at Merle…but we don’t really know until we see Merle’s body…this is The Walking Dead, after all…).
At the prison, Glen approaches Maggie out in the yard as she looks out over the field of Walkers. Before they leave to find Rick, he puts the ring in her hand (not on her finger). She says yes.
Rick meets the gang in the courtyard for a little meeting. He tells them about his conversation with the Governor. He tells them about the deal. They’d leave them alone if they gave up Michonne. He was going to do it to keep the group safe, but he just can’t do it. Now Merle kidnapped Michonne to put the deal in motion, and they don’t know if they’re too late. He’s sorry. He references his famous “this is not a democracy” line from last season, saying that it can’t be that way. They have to be a group. He’s not like the Governor. They make decisions together. They stick together. They’re going to vote: stay and fight, or go.
Up on the tower, Rick sees Michonne out in the field. He knows something happened.
Daryl scouts the meeting spot. Walkers devour the remains of the Woodbury soldiers. And then he sees a Walker with a prosthetic arm. The Walker looks up with vapid eyes, expressionless as he licks the blood from his face. Daryl weeps to see his brother like that. Dead. Empty. Walker-Merle approaches Daryl, and Daryl launches at him and kills him, and then he lays in the field and weeps.
Who knew it would be so sad to see Merle die?
Well, fellow Walkers, what did you think about tonight’s penultimate episode? That’s right, only one episode left until the end of season three. What did you think? Are you sad to see Merle go? What do you think about Merle’s quest for redemption? Did he achieve it? Please leave your comments below. I’ll see you all next week. Grab your chocolate bunnies and get ready to watch the battle!