AMC is calling this episode of The Walking Dead a “mid-season finale,” with the show returning in February with new episodes. Like any respectable finale, there was plenty of action, some reunions, and even a few new characters. If you haven’t seen “Made To Suffer,” then you may want to toss a few smoke bombs and hide from the spoilers ahead…
We open on an unknown group of survivors, fighting off a herd in the woods and pushing towards a distant tower. They are led by a familiar looking African-American character actor. I couldn’t place him at first, but on Talking Dead they revealed him to be Chad Coleman, from “The Wire.” He’s playing a character named Tyreese, who apparently figures large in the comics. But to the rest of us, he’s still just a newbie. Tyreese leads his people through a broken down wall on the back side of a building that, as we pan out, we see is the prison. There are four of them, five counting the young woman who has been bitten.
In Woodbury, Andrea is still starry-eyed about the Governor, looking at pictures of his family, and cuddling with him in front of the mirror. Blech. She leaves, and he goes in his secret murder room with his head aquariums and plays music for Penny, his walker daughter. For a moment, she seems to calm down a little, and he’s so desperate for her to not be a monster that he shouts, “Look at me!” She may not be human, but when he’s around her it’s the only time he seems more pathetic than frightening.
Glenn and Maggie are trying to keep it together after their torture ordeal. Glenn still looks awful, and Maggie is still an emotional wreck. She is able to reassure Glenn, however, that the Governor did not physically hurt her. “All this time, running from walkers…you forget what people do,” she murmurs. Glenn, who has now truly turned into an epic bad-ass, walks over to the dead walker, rips its arm off, pulls the bone from the flesh, and breaks it to give them weapons of a sort. They aren’t dead yet, after all.
The rescue team is outside the Woodbury walls, trying to figure out how to get inside. Michonne beckons them to follow her, and they’re are able to sneak in and find a place to hide out with her guidance. Unfortunately there is some frustration, because of course she doesn’t know EXACTLY where they’re keeping Glenn and Maggie. Right as the team is trying to formulate their next step, one of the Woodbury residents walks in on them. He also doesn’t know about the prisoners, so they bind him, gag him, and knock him out.
The Governor is discussing the group at the prison with Merle, telling him that Daryl will be the perfect inside man, because of course Merle can talk him around, right? Merle feigns confidence in this task, and then asks that Daryl not be hurt, which the Governor agrees to…a little too readily. He then orders Glenn and Maggie to be killed, especially since he doesn’t want Andrea to find out they’re in Woodbury.
Back at the prison, the remaining group is absorbed in taking care of Judith. The one humorous bit of the whole episode happens here. Axel, the prisoner, is a bit TOO interested in Beth. “You’re 17? That’s interesting…” he says in a somewhat skeevy manner, while Carl frowns. Carol also takes note, and says coolly, “May I speak with you?” When she orders him to leave poor Beth alone, he complains that having been in prison, he’s feeling a bit hard up, and Maggie is with Glenn, and she, Carol, is a lesbian–“I’m not a lesbian,” Carol interrupts with a slightly amused expression. “That’s interesting,” he says, shifting gears immediately to start hitting on her. “No, it’s not,” she replies, walking away.
When Merle and one other fellow come to get Glenn and Maggie, they attack them. They very briefly get the upper hand, as Glenn distracts Merle while Maggie kills the other guy with an arm bone through the throat. She’s able to turn the gun on Merle, but before they can do anything else reinforcements arrive and take them to be executed. Their scuffle wasn’t for nothing though–Rick and company hear the commotion, so now they know where to go to find their friends.
Glenn and Maggie are on their knees, old-school execution style, when suddenly there are flash bangs and smoke bombs going off, and in the confusion Rick, Daryl, Oscar, and Michonne sweep in and grab them. They don’t even shoot at anybody, really. But they’re going to make up for that in a little while, trust me. The people in Woodbury have heard all the noises and the Governor is circulating, trying to quell the panic and get people to go back to their homes. Andrea is with him, also wondering what exactly is going down. When the Governor talks to his soldiers, however, he orders them to try to take prisoners.
Rick and the others, including Glenn and Maggie, are now hidden, and trying to figure out their next move. They realize they lost Michonne–she broke away to do her own thing, and Rick writes her off. “She’s on her own now.” Maggie and Glenn tell them everything that’s happened, including the information they revealed to the Governor under torture, and that Merle is alive and is the one that took them prisoner. Daryl tries to process this information, and wants to find his brother, but Rick quashes that idea. “I need you,” he tells Daryl, and Daryl, the big sweetheart, forgoes the family reunion to help the group. (LOVE Daryl so much…)
The Governor is organizing his men to find the interlopers, and even though Andrea wants to mix it up, he orders her to go door to door to make sure people are inside and safe. She chafes under this but agrees, although when Rick and the gang throw out more smoke bombs and make a run for it, she pulls her gun and heads for the action. The Governor sees her shooting, and orders her to get off the street, which she does, albeit reluctantly. NOW we are getting to the real shooting. Under the cover of the smoke bombs, both sides are just kind of going crazy on each other with the gunfire. It’s a little hard to tell what’s happening, actually. A few moments are plain, though. Rick is still partly out to lunch, imagining a bearded Shane coming up on him. When he shoots the guy he realizes he was seeing things, and has to shake it off. Poor Oscar, the valiant prisoner, is shot, and Maggie finishes him off with a bullet to the head so he won’t turn. Daryl is providing cover fire, spraying the Woodbury combatants with bullets while his people make a break for it.
At the prison, Herschel, Beth, and Carl hear the screams of our new survivors from the beginning of the episode. Carl goes to investigate (Carl: toughest kid still alive?) and finds them fighting off walkers in the lower level of the prison. He gets them to follow him upstairs, and once they’re safe, he locks them in. Smart move. The woman in their group is angry, but Tyreese calms her down, pointing out that the prison is the best they’ve had it in weeks.
Michonne’s agenda is one single item…she has a score to settle with the Governor. As she lies in wait for him, she hears noises…noises we know are coming from Penny. As she investigates, she stumbles on the Governor’s secret murder room, the heads, and the cage with his walker daughter inside. It’s a lot to process, and the look on Michonne’s face kind of says it all. She’s been pretty broody and expressionless this whole season. She mostly glowers all the time. Watching her eyes widen with that WTF look in them was pretty amazing. She’s about to kill Penny when the Governor walks in and shouts for her to stop. He is truly desperate, pleading and dropping his weapon. Michonne looks stunned at his behavior…then drives her sword through Penny’s head. The Governor screams in agony and throws himself at her, and thus begins one insane knock-down drag-out fight. Michonne is quite a bit smaller than the Governor, but the girl is scrappy, and they end up pretty evenly matched. She can’t quite reach her sword as they tussle, but they’ve broken a few of the head aquariums in the fight, and she manages to break a shard of glass off one of them and stab him…right in the eye!
Of course, THAT is the moment Andrea walks in…she is shocked and keeps her gun on Michonne, who raises her sword while the Governor writhes on the floor, moaning in pain. Andrea and Michonne eye each other, weapons raised–former friends now on opposite sides. “What have you done?” Andrea says softly. Michonne cannot answer. She just lowers her sword and walks away. Andrea then takes in everything around her…the dead walker child that the Governor has clutched to his chest (glass still sticking out of his eye), the aquariums, and the heads. This is the first moment where she is realizing there is more to this man than she knows, and these other parts of him might be really screwed up. She has questions for him now, but all he’ll say about the heads is that it was a way to “prepare himself for the horrors outside.” He says nothing about Penny. When we see the close-up of his face, with the newly applied eye-patch, he looks completely deranged.
Rick’s team has made it over the wall, but still needs to dodge the searchlights and the men on the walls to truly be out of harm’s way. They are also down two men. Oscar is dead, and Daryl has not come back. So when Michonne reappears, bloody from her fight, but basically unharmed, Rick is cautious. He orders her hands up and takes her sword, but she pleads with him (the Michonne equivalent of pleading, at least) to let her help them. “You need me,” she says.
Inside the walls, the Governor has gathered the Woodbury residents in the fighting pits. He is somber. He tells them they were attacked by terrorists, that their safety is threatened. Then he plays his final card, turning on Merle, saying Merle led the intruders here, because his brother was one of them. Daryl is brought out, bound, with a bag over his head. Merle is forced into the middle of the ring, and the two brothers finally face each other, while the crowd screams for their blood. Daryl and Andrea briefly lock eyes, and she looks horrified as she realizes who it was that came to Woodbury that night.
What will happen to the Dixon brothers? What drama will these new survivors bring to the prison? How long will it take Andrea to figure out the Governor is a psychotic a**hole? I guess we’ll find out in February.
Quote of the Night:
“I failed you. I promised to keep you safe.” – The Governor