The Walking Dead: The Sorrowful Life
by Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)
Like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead is adapted from previous source material. This review is not meant to compare similarities and differences between the show and comic. It’s meant to be read purely as a take on the episode as it stands.
That being said, SPOILERS AHEAD.
“You’re cold as ice Officer Friendly.”
The feeling at the prison is a lot different than that of Woodbury. While Woodbury is battening down the hatches, the prison is making peace with their impending fate. That fate–to their belief–is a war that they’re not entirely sure they can win. Everyone is doing what he or she would as if it were the end. Even Glen is ready to ask Hershel for his blessing in marrying Maggie, something that’s a little bold in foreshadowing. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see either Glen or Maggie die, but that’s another discussion.
Set against the serenity of the prison, Rick and the inner circle (Hershel and Daryl) are conferring. Well, conferring is a little generous, as it’s more of Rick making a decision and informing the others of it. That decision is to give the Governor Michonne, something that seemed a little far-fetched a few episodes ago. Daryl is clearly against it, even stating that it’s not like their group to sacrifice something like that. Everyone seems to think that Rick won’t go through with it and he does have a change of heart about the entire situation. It’s a little unfortunate that the change of heart happens a little too late.
Merle is actually chock full of wisdom more often than not. When confronted by Rick, he mentions how cold it is of him to even consider giving over Michonne, bolstering his claim by promising that the Governor will do more than just kill her. When confronted by Daryl, he makes a great point that abducting Michonne for Rick is the same as abducting people for the Governor. It doesn’t really matter whom he’s with, as Merle is good at doing people’s dirty work. Sometimes, Merle takes it upon himself to do his own dirty work.
He’s the type of person who–once knowing Rick’s plan–would seek to capitalize on it for himself. His logic is that if he takes Michonne in to the Governor, then maybe that would get him back in his good graces and keep the prison safe. Merle does still care about his little brother (as brothers are wont to do) and it’s interesting to see his exchanges with Michonne on their little journey. Michonne posits that a truly bad person doesn’t feel anything, which actually gets Merle to think about things.
Merle is a troubled (sorrowful?) soul and has done his fair share of evil, but Daryl thinks that there’s still some good in him. Michonne does too apparently, continuing to talk to him as they share a commonality in that both are skilled killers who are also outsiders. Even though Michonne learns what it’s like to be led around by a leash (no irony lost there), she still thinks there’s something in Merle that’s worth redeeming. And Merle proves there is something redeeming about himself, taking the fight to the Governor as a last gift to his little brother.
Daryl has found another family in Rick and the others, something that seemed very outlandish in the first season. Daryl and Merle had much in common, right down to their close-minded, xenophobic family mindset. Since then, Daryl considers Rick especially to be family, someone he trusts implicitly and respects his decisions. Merle is still blood and Daryl wants to look out for him as best as possible, something that prompted Daryl to venture out alone to track Merle. Daryl has learned that there are others he can consider family and wants to do everything he can to reconcile his two families.
His final confrontation with Merle was actually the first time that Daryl showed any emotion…and that’s a good thing. To this point, Daryl has been extremely cool under pressure, handling everything that’s thrown at him. When faced with the prospect of killing his brother, he breaks down. The fact that Daryl goes through an explosion of emotion in such a tight timeframe is actually great humanizing him even more, making him one of the most likable characters on the show. Daryl exorcised a lot of pent up frustration with his brother in that one final encounter and clearly has a grudge against the Governor now.
With the Governor, his role was relatively diminished (a far cry from last week’s episode). His presence throughout the entire season has crystalized a belief of Rick’s that he’s been going about it all wrong. Rick realizes the “Ricktocracy” isn’t the way things should be done, as it’s too close to how the Governor runs things. Rick wants the survivors to rely on what’s gotten them this far: each other. It’s the type of speech that rallies the troops and will most likely encourage them to hold down the fort and attempt to repel the Governor’s assault.
“The Sorrowful Life” is the second to last episode and did a great job getting the last episode prepared to unfold. While “Prey” played out like a B-horror movie (with the Governor even dragging a shovel for the eerie noise effect), this episode was a lot more substantial and made Merle’s life worth something. Daryl showcased why he’s one of the best characters and Michonne “officially” became a survivor with the prison group. Merle threw a preemptive strike against the Governor and both sides are truly amped up to survive. Next week’s finale looks to be pretty bombastic and you never want to go up against both a motivated Michonne and vengeful Daryle.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars