THE WALKING DEAD Post-Mortem: “This Sorrowful Life” Recap
Greetings zombie lovers and fans of the late, not so great, but sort of redeemed himself in the end, Merle Dixon. This week’s recap of The Walking Dead: “This Sorrowful Life” will be a bit shorter than my previous ones, but fear not, my season finale recap will be full-sized and full of content! (Maybe even a horror movie recommendation as well…)For now, here are some quick thoughts about last Sunday’s episode.
Let’s go ahead and talk about the dead elephant in the room shall we? While Merle’s death was well-executed and allowed that fantastic Norman Reedus scene at the end of the episode where Daryl confronts zombie-Merle…and proceeds to shove his dead brother away several times before stabbing him repeatedly in the head; I couldn’t help but think that maybe The Walking Dead shouldn’t be so hasty to kill off good characters like Merle. Now listen up Walking Dead apologists, I get it, the fact ‘anyone can die at any moment on the show’ is part of the show’s appeal, but it’s also become somewhat of a hindrance as well. Really, death can only matter in fictional terms if viewers have felt something strongly about a character, either good or bad, and that’s why Merle’s death worked, dramatically speaking. I loathed his character, but Merle was fun to loath, and over time he’s become one of the more interesting villains/characters on the show.
Merle’s death affected me as a viewer. Unfortunately, his death also speaks to a systemic problem woven into the narrative of The Walking Dead. As I’ve argued before, as far as fictional characters go…these people are not that interesting. On one level, I suppose this works because if everyone is destined to become walker-chow at some point, then it’s easy to accept their loss and keep watching the show. Take ole T-Dog for instance, nobody gave a rat ass about T-dog, because we were never given a reason by the writers to give a rat’s ass about T-Dog, and when he died there was one big collective: “Oh well!’ Merle, on the other metal knife-wielding hand, was a compelling character to watch, and I left the episode wishing they hadn’t killed him off, and while I suppose Merle’s death mattered to this season’s story, I think his continued existence on the show would’ve mattered more in the long run.
Overall, the episode was well-structured and was paced like an episode from the first half of season 3. The characters and plot moved with purpose towards a thrilling and emotionally charged ending. It also echoed season two finale where Rick started up the Ricktatorship. Here though, we see Rick dissolving the Ricktatorship and confessing to his flock about The Governor’s offer to spare them in exchange for Michonne. Rick understands he’s very fallible person and sometimes isn’t the best leader, and he declares he doesn’t want to be they’re The Governor, thus completing his arc for this season. Now all that’s left to do is the kill The Governor. Personally, I’m ready for it, not because he’s some super big bad guy I really want to see taken out, but because he is all sound and fury…signifying nothing. David Morrissey’s performance has been fine, but the character was written very inconsistently during the second half of season, he’s run the gauntlet from apathetic, to rage-filled, to chess mater, to horror movie villain caricature in these past few episodes and because of this he’s never really had a chance to become a villain I took seriously, or one that I found interesting to watch.
So next week brings us to big finale, the final show down between The Prison and Woodbury. I’m sure there will be deaths on both sides of the conflict, and my money is still on Milton as the one who will end up taking out The Governor. It will be my final recap for season 3! No tears though as I’ll be covering Game of Thrones next for Screeninvasion, and look for both my Walking Dead finale and Game of Thrones season premiere recaps next week!