Last weeks episode left me on the edge of my seat, desperate to know what was going to happen to Andrea, but in a somewhat cruel move This Sorrowful Life instead focuses on the prison. Rather than letting us see Andrea, the episode centred around one big problem: what to do with Michonne as Rick, Daryl and Herschel are still under the impression that sacrificing her will save their people, idiots.
After some time spent discussing the betrayal of Michonne, the three come to the conclusion that is for the best, but that they’ll need help. In this case help obviously means Merle, while the rest of the prison busies themselves preparing for war Merle is found stripping mattresses hunting for drugs, what a guy. Rick hasn’t spent much time with Merle since handcuffing him to the department store roof so their exchange was long-awaited. Merle agree’s to help, but not before giving a grizzly description of what the Governor would have planned for Michonne. He speculated that he’d take her eyes, but after last weeks episode we know that in the torture room awaits a much more unpleasant fate. Although Merle remains as callous as ever, the writers make it impossible not to sympathise with the vicious redneck, he tells Rick “I don’t know why I do the thing I do, never did, I’m a damn mystery to me” This one line is the most remorse Merle has ever shown and made it clear that Merle was not going to be around for much longer.
Deep down we all knew that Rick would never be able to sacrifice Michonne, but it is only when he sets about looking for wire (something she won’t be able to chew through) that the severity of his plan sinks in. After a quick visit from Laurie’s ghost he changes his mind, providing us with the first good decision he’s made all series.
It’s a shame that things between Merle and Michonne had to end so badly, with them both being outsiders, vicious warriors and fans of sarcasm they might have actually got on. If, that is, Merle had been able to calm it with the racist remarks. But alas, it was not meant to be and after a surprisingly easy ambush Merle was parading Michonne down the street on makeshift wire dog lead. Michonne remains remarkably calm throughout this ordeal, the only time she looks anything other than serene is when a heard of walkers turn up when she is bound and defenceless. After a few impressive kills her and Merle hightail if out of there and get the chance to have a proper one to one chat. I hope after this episode Michonne gets to talk more, because she’s one of the few character who makes genuinely insightful and interesting comments. She tells Merle that with his skills he could really make something of himself in this post-apocalyptic world and that it is not to late for him to go back. She know exactly how to push his buttons using Daryl as her main method of persuasion. I think Merle kidnapped Michonne because at time he thought it would be the best way to keep both himself and his brother safe. But as it becomes clear that his self destructive tendencies will always make him an outsider he is able to see sense and let her go.
Merle cheers up considerably once he finds some whiskey, and plans a one man assault which puts the governors attempts on the prison to shame. It was blatantly obvious that he would not survive the episode, but as he rolled his car into the Governors path with rock musice blaring from it I was glad to see he had no intention of going out quietly. He even managed to pick off a number of Woodbury residents before the Governor ran in and bit two of his fingers off.
Merles death was surprisingly heartbreaking. Although he was a right nasty bastard, he was an excellent character and one who will be sorely missed. Not least of all by Daryl whose reaction to his brothers new walker status practically wrenched the tears out of me. The confusion Daryl had always experienced in his and Merles relationship was demonstrated beautifully as he pummelled his elder brothers head in. There seemed to be love,hate, relief and all other kinds of emotion rolled up into this beating. Now that’s he’s sufficiently angry I just hope he makes the Governor pay.