Take note every writing staff around town: The Walking Dead’s mid-season finale is exactly how it should be done. Show Creator Robert Kirkman and staff delivered the goods in “Made to Suffer”: the action we’ve expected, the showdowns we craved for, and a character introduction to keep us coming back for more.
Yes, Tyreese finally makes his appearance! A more prominent character in the comics, fans were beginning to wonder when the hammer-wielding giant would weave his way into the story, and I’m glad it happened sooner, rather than later. I was personally excited to see Chad Coleman, famous for his role in The Wire, latch onto another great series, but Tyreese’s arrival brought up something I know many have noticed.
It’s tough being black.
Apparently, in a post-apocalyptic world, two black guys can’t occupy the same space without some sort of cataclysmic event happening – at least that’s the only explanation I can give. First, we have T-Dog, who most people I spoke to hated until he actually died. As soon as the group found the prisoners in the cafeteria it was all over for him once Oscar was allowed to live. Which is why when Tyreese showed up sneaking into the prison with his group, (which was ironically simple considering Rick and company supposedly secured the perimeter) you just knew it was over for poor Oscar, who had just become a card-carrying member of the team. So note to Tyreese: kill any physically imposing black guy that comes knocking, don’t even bother to ask questions, it’s for your own good.
Come to think of it, Michonne might want to watch her back too, there might be a black girl rule…remember Jacqui?
Kuddos on the handling of Carl’s character. Bypassing the whiny adolescent teen stage and going straight for badass is the smart move. He’s transcended the role of obligatory child into being the “man of the house” with his rescue of Tyreese and his people, to then locking them up in isolation until things get sorted out. I think that scene in particular is a glimpse into Carl taking a more active role in the decision making around the prison in the future.
The award for creepiest inmate goes to…
Axel finally lived up to the ‘stache with possibly the best sequence of the episode when he first made the observation that Beth being 17 was “interesting” to then hilariously assuming Carol was a lesbian because of her short hair.
But let’s get to what everyone was waiting for: the shootout in Woodbury. It felt like an old western showdown or 80’s action film, but in a good way. Machine guns everywhere, a million bullets flying through the air only inches away from the good guys, hitting unknown baddies, and missing all the civilians. And of course, in the middle of it all Daryl takes off for his brother like we all knew he would.
As leader of the raid/rescue, Rick delves deeper into his new hardened persona with a “shoot first, ask questions later” attitude. And just as we thought the “telephone incident” was an apparition, his psychosis shows up again in a hallucination of Shane, so expect more of that in the second half of the season.
Meanwhile, Glenn found perhaps the best use for a zombie corpse by ripping off an arm and pulling out the radius and ulna (yes! high school anatomy finally pays off) with which to stab guards in the throat.
Zombies in The Governor’s closet
Unfortunately, the episode does have its one horror film trope when Michonne, under some not quite believable motivation, decides to wait for The Governor in his quarters, stumbles upon Penny in the closet, and then unchains her without checking to see if maybe she’s a zombie!
But I digress, because what would follow more than made up for it. After plunging her katana through the back of Penny’s head, Michonne and The Governor have an epic confrontation that starts with her being slammed into the wall of headless zombies, to then tussling on the wet floor with undead mouths chomping at the bit, to finally Michonne sticking a 6-inch piece of broken glass through The Governor’s right eye. Just as she’s about to put the finishing touches with her blade, Andrea barges into the room with a gun drawn at Michonne and decides to be well, Andrea, saving The Governor’s neck.
As far as to why I felt Michonne’s actions felt unmotivated is because she’s been such an underdeveloped character thus far to understand her inner motivations. There’s still plenty of time to explore her past though, assuming she has an extended future.
So as Rick and company escape with Oscar as the lone casualty, the dust clears and The Governor holds a town meeting to rally the troops and reaffirm the town’s undying faith in him. He calms their fears by pointing out a wolf amongst the sheep, placing blame for the attack on Merle by accusing him of leading the “terrorists” into Woodbury. But hey, at least he finally gets reunited with Daryl, although the two brothers share glances of being less than excited to see each other.
All in all, it was a great way to end a strong first half and although the show is deviating from the realism it presented in the first two seasons, I think they’re carving out a nice little niche in the genre. So here’s to waiting until February for the second half and to hoping Andrea can finally wake up and see beyond a man grieving for his zombie daughter for a man that keeps a wall of freaking zombie heads!