The Walking Dead
“This Sorrowful Life”
March 24, 2013
Despite all his previous “WAR IT IS!” bravado, Rick has decided to abide by The Governor’s terms and hand over Michonne, a decision that he runs by Hershel and Daryl in the hopes that they will support it. “Nope!” says Hershel, while Daryl squints towards Rick disapprovingly. Rick suggests they need someone else’s help, and by “someone else” he means, “Merle.” Darryl offers to talk to his brother, but Rick’s like, “YOU KNOW WHAT, I’LL DO IT MYSELF.”
Rick finds Merle in the prison tearing a mattress apart in the search for drugs, and Rick asks him why he does the things he does, does Merle even know?
But then Rick gets to the point: so, the thing is Rick is going to hand Michonne over to The Governor, which seems like something that a moral-compassless redneck like Merle might just be able to help out with. Merle makes sure that Rick understands that The Governor isn’t going to just kill Michonne once he gets her, but that he might do some creative things to her eyeballs and other bits and pieces. When this appears to fail to change Rick’s mind, Merle calls him cold, advises Rick to use wire to bind Michonne, and then calls Rick’s bluff, announcing that Rick doesn’t have the stomach to carry it out. “DO SO,” sulks Rick before stomping off.
Rick heads outside where he watches Michonne help Glenn and the others bring a giant roll of barbed wire into the prison to help fortify it against The Governor and The State Legislature. Rick has a conflicted.
Inside the prison, Carol matter-of-factly tells Merle that he has to pick a side already. DO IT. Faced with her assertiveness, Merle calls Carol a “late bloomer,” and Carol is all “takes one to know one,” because foreshadowing.
Meanwhile, Daryl tries to convince Glenn to forgive Merle, but Glenn, he is not interested.
Daryl then finds Merle in the boiler room where Merle mocks his younger brother for following Rick’s orders so slavishly. Daryl asks Merle about what happened with Glenn and Maggie and Merle’s like, “What’s the big deal? I’m the bad guy, remember? And anyway, what’s the difference between The Governor having me do his dirty work and your Officer Goody Two Shoes doing his?” Daryl pouts that he just wants his bubba back.
Hershel reads a terrifying Psalm to his daughters (91, for those of you at home playing along):
Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. 4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. 5 You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, 6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. 7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. 8 You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.
Happyfamilyfuntimes! Meanwhile, Rick finds a phone cord that he intends to use on Michonne until Lori’s ghost appears and is like, “Really, Rick? Seriously though? Are you sure?” Rick, he is not sure, and he goes to Hershel to tell him that the plan, it is off.
However, Merle has taken matters into his own knifehand, and leads Michonne down into the tombs under the pretense that they need to do a little spring cleaning before the coming attack. Once down there, Merle is like, LOL, TRICKED YOU, and bonks Michonne on the head before dragging her unconscious body into the boiler room where he ties her hands with his own phone cord, and worse! steals her sword. OH NO YOU DID NOT, MERLE.
The two then make their way down the road, where Merle explains to Michonne what is going down, and how he knew Rick would never go through with the hand-over, so he had to take care of business. Michonne, she doesn’t care, she just wants her sword back.
To pass the time, I guess, Merle blabbers to Michonne about how he just wants to be with his little brother, who wants to be in the prison with a bunch of people who hate Merle. So he’s hoping that if he can pull this off — and by this, he means send one of Team Prison’s best defenders and Carl’s new BFF to her certain death — maybe all will be forgiven. Cool plan! Michonne wonders if he can handle the responsibility of it all, and Merle gets all puffed up about what a bad person he is, why, he’s killed 16 men since it all went bad. 16! A number! The numbers are bad, the numbers are bad! Oh wait, wrong show.
In some other part of the prison, Glenn asks Hershel for Maggie’s hand in marriage, and Hershel’s all “Yeah, sure, whatever.” So Glenn goes out to the prison yard, lures a female walker to the fence, and chops off a couple of her fingers, just cold stealing her engagement ring. And I get that she’s not really using it anymore, BUT THAT IS STILL UNCOOL. NO I DON’T WANT A ZOMBIE COOTIE RING, GLENN, GAH. But Maggie is less discerning than your trusty blogger, and when Glenn places the nasty ring in her hands (sans walker fingers, fortunately) without actually asking anything, she just says, “yes,” and that is that, now they are engaged. Good luck finding a venue and band, guys!
As for the Merle and Michonne show, they arrive at a motel where Merle decides to hotwire a car. To do so, he wraps Michonne’s wire around a post, and then busies himself under the steering column, successfully starting the engine — but also setting off the alarm in the process. Whoopsie-doodle! This of course brings out every walker within earshot, and Michonne, tied to the post, is left to kill one approaching walker with a well-placed kick and stomp to the face (walkers’ faces are awfully smooshy, aren’t they? like overripe tomatoes), and another by decapitating with her telephone wire. Plonk! And finally, FINALLY, Merle gets things settled, slices through Michonne’s bindings and the two drive away.
On the road, Michonne taunts Merle for being The Governor and Rick’s garbage man, noting that Rick respects and needs Daryl, and that he didn’t ask Daryl to do this nasty little job. Michonne adds that this could have been Merle’s big chance, that Team Prison would have eventually welcomed him into the fold, but that he chooses to be an outsider, and no one is going to mourn him, not even Daryl. “OH YEAH, YOUR FACE IS AN OUTSIDER,” retorts Merle. “AND THE GOVERNOR IS GOING TO KILL YOUR FACE, SO.” “At least I won’t have to live with myself once The Governor is done with me,” replies Michonne, adding, “Oh snap.”
Michonne then wonders if Merle killed anyone before those 16 men he bragged about earlier, and when Merle confesses that he hadn’t, she asks why he would continue working for The Governor after he had turned him into a killer? Listen, it’s cool! she adds. They can just turn the car around and go back, Kate, no harm, no foul! But Merle’s made up his mind, he can’t go back. But he can pull over the car, let Michonne out and return her sword so that she can help Team Prison prepare for what is coming next, and drive off in a suicidal huff. Oh, Merle.
At some point, Daryl and Michonne cross paths, because sure, and Michonne explains that no, she did not kill his brother, but he did release her. Daryl instructs her to not send help, and continues on his way to find Merle. Maybe you should have taken your motorcycle, Daryl!
As for Merle, he’s found himself a bottle of whisky which he enjoys in his car while listening to a little Ted Nugent. Blasting the music to attract walkers to the car, Merle then leads his new shuffle of walkers (thanks, Michael!) to the feed store, where he rolls out of the still moving vehicle and hides himself inside the building. The Governor and The State Legislature are all, “Hey, is that ‘Cat Scratch Fever’ I hear?” as the car rolls towards them, before being “AIIIEEEE!!!”
Shooting at the Nuge walkers, shooting at the Nuge walkers, shooting at the Nuge walkers, being eaten by the Nuge walkers, shooting at the Nuge walkers. Merle, meanwhile, takes up a sniper position in the feed store, and takes out a couple of State Senators before taking a bad shot at The Governor, killing That Allen Guy’s son instead. Whoops.
And then a walker attacks Merle, and the two tumble outside where The Governor finds him. Beating Merle, beating Merle, beating Merle and, I’m sorry, but did The Governor just bite off two of Merle’s remaining fingers? Because that just seems wholly unnecessary, The Governor. Merle replies that he “ain’t begging,” and so The Governor shoots him.
Quick walker note: someone noted a little Dawn of the Dead, Original Version love at the bar:
Meanwhile, back at the prison, Rick announces to the group that The Governor asked him for Michonne, and he was going to give her up, but then he decided not to give her up, but then Merle went and took Michonne to The Governor anyway, and long story short, “My bad.” Also, the Ricktatorship is hereby over. It’s a Prisonocracy now. Also, live together, die alone.
And then Rick watches as Michonne approaches the prison and he’s like, OH THANK GOD.
Back at the feed store, Daryl arrives and finds a walker noshing on a fresh kill who bears a certain resemblance to OHMYGOD IT’S MERLE! What Used to Be Merle shuffles towards his brother while Daryl cries and cries and cries and stabs him in the chest with his knife and then in the face a bunch of times for good measure and cries and cries and cries and it is horrible and sad for Daryl but not for Merle because even though he did this one good thing in his life, he was still a racist, sexist redneck who attacked people for no good reason and while I get that this was supposed to be redemptive, I remain unmoved. GOODBYE MERLE.
The Walking Dead airs Sunday nights at 8 p.m. on AMC.
This post originally appeared on the Hearst site Chron.com.