The mid-season finale of ‘The Walking Dead’ turned out to be one of the best episodes the show has ever had.
Ending with the inevitable Daryl versus Merle face-to-face showdown, the eighth episode of this season had me glued to my television. I don’t think I’ve felt this way about the show since its series premiere. It was a taut, thrilling hour.
Daryl and Merle have taken center stage. It was easy to see that this whole season was setting us up for the last few minutes of this episode, when the brothers finally come face to face with each other. I thought that Merle would bite the dust at the very end of this episode. I have to admit, I never saw the Governor betraying Merle and throwing him under the bus in front of the whole bloodthirsty community of Woodbury. Does this mean when the others rescue Daryl in the first moments of the next episode, that Merle will somehow be integrated back into the group? At some point, the brotherly love between the two will hit a boiling point. My guess is that Merle doesn’t survive the season.
Back at the prison, a bunch of newbie characters find their way into the prison. ‘Lost’ used to introduce brand-new characters in the cold opens of random episodes. The beginning of this episode reminds me a lot of how ‘Lost’ functioned and the storytelling devices it used. Prediction: The newcomers don’t last long. Either new shoot-first-and-ask-questions-never Rick takes them out, or a horde of zombies munch down on them as the rest of the group watches safely from the other side of the bars.
Carl has morphed into a zombie-killing crack-shot with one facial expression: concentrated grimace. To his credit, he’s much less insufferable this season. He wanders the halls of the prison eliminating Walkers with sniper-like precision. Let’s just forget that successfully making the kind of head shot he does in this episode (capping a zombie over the shoulder of a woman smacking said zombie with a shovel) is one that most trained professionals couldn’t pull off.
Speaking of trained professionals, since when did Rick and company become such skilled infiltration experts? The way they’re able to get into Woodbury and escape, only losing one guy (let’s face it, the prison uniforms might as well be red shirts), is commendable. However, one does have to wonder where this kind of expertise came from. They’ve been fighting Walkers for a good while now, but Walkers don’t shoot back. Their surgical strike felt military-esque. Seal Team Zombie, everyone!
The best part of ‘Made to Suffer’? The quick succession of things that happen as Michonne waits for the Governor to return to his apartment: Finding the Governor’s zombie daughter and odd collection of floating heads, Governor walking in on the scene, Michonne’s sword straight through the poor child’s mouth, and then, to top it all off, a nice sharp piece of glass to the Governor’s eye. Too bad it didn’t go in a little further.
Sadly, now we have to wait until February to see how it all plays out. One thing’s for sure, though. This season is leaps and bounds better than the drool happenings of Season 2.