Tonight's Walking Dead, "Made to Suffer," was the eighth episode of the year, and therefore we're exactly halfway through the sixteen-episode arc of season 3. You know what that means: recess. Yes, just like last year, the show is now officially on break until February. Dammit, AMC.
A mid-season finale is a great time to introduce a flurry of action and leave us with some major cliffhangers, and I'd say tonight's episode didn't disappoint on this front. Let's get straight to the spoiler talk, shall we?
Things start off in the woods, with a walker stumbling in the direction of a woman's screams. Hey, it's another bunch of survivors, led by *drumroll* Tyreese! It's unclear how they made it this far, because their shit is seriously raggedy: one group member gets his weapon stuck in a walker's skull (which: finally! I mean, come on, it's been three seasons of people handily shoving things into and back out of human skulls like knives through butter), another gets savagely bitten. Sorry, random lady, but I'm disinclined towards sympathy based solely on your impractical Lori Hair.
Tyreese and his group make it to the ass-end of the prison, where Carl find them, thanks to his pro weaponry moves. Remember when Carl was a total pile of weaksauce and was always missing and stuff? Man, me neither. Now he's sweeping rooms with a suppressed pistol and channeling Rick's hardboiled leadership style: the new folks can stay in the prison, but they'll need to be locked in a cell for now. They should be safe, as long as they, you know, get back to that unpleasant business of hammering their infected group member into head-gazpacho.
Also, there's a creepy scene with Axel making the moves on teenage Beth which turns hilarious as he realizes Carol is not, despite her haircut, a lesbian. "My, this is interesting," he leers. "No it isn't," she says, before walking away. Burn. Post-apocalyptic rejection is the harshest rejection of all.
Over in Woodbury, the Governor is trying to have a moment with his daughter Penny. It might be sweet and tender, except for the part where Penny is a zombie, so it's actually just really awful and disturbing. As much of a verified bad guy as the Governor is, it's impossible to watch this without feeling empathy for what he's going through.
While Rick, Michonne, Daryl, and Oscar are sneaking into Woodbury, Glenn and Maggie are readying their escape. Glenn rips the arm off a dead walker like it's a turkey drumstick and he's at Ren Faire, then he breaks the forearm and peels back the flesh to --
(Do you ever just sort of sit back and marvel that this is a television show? Anyway.)
-- remove a pointy bone, which he gives to Maggie to use as a sort of walker-shiv. Damn, Glenn has leveled up in the last couple episodes. ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED: MUTILATE CORPSE TO FORM WEAPONRY. Just in time, too, because the Governor has sentenced Maggie and Glenn to the "scream pits," which is either 1) the battle arena, 2) something even worse, or 3) a poorly-chosen name for a nice hot bath and a cup of hot chocolate.
Merle heads in to carry out the Governor's orders, but he's briefly stopped when Maggie stabs a guard in the throat. More armed Woodbury goons burst in, but luckily, that's the exact moment Rick's calvary descends, armed with smoke bombs (which I guess they … found at the prison? Made out of half-remembered Pinterest instructions?).
Gunfire is erupting in Woodbury, but Michonne's got other priorities: she goes sneaking into the Governor's house to wait for him, then gets distracted by the HeadQuarium and a weird noise coming from the closet. There she finds Penny, and thanks to the bag over the little girl's head and the odd fact that she's moving somewhat normally instead of lunging to the end of her chain, Michonne thinks she's alive and unclamps her chain -- nooooooooo -- before she takes off the bag. Penny's like, surprise! Want to comb my hair? Forever … and ever …. and ever ….?
The Governor arrives on the scene and brokenly begs Michonne to spare his little girl. "There's no need for her to suffer," he says. Danai Gurira's face is a marvel of great acting in this scene: instead of that stony expression we always see, she cycles through horror, a dawning realization of the Governor's true madness, and maybe even something like sympathy before she says, "She doesn't have needs." And she puts her blade right through Penny's head.
The Governor attacks, and he and Michonne have a brutal battle next to the HeadQuarium. At one point, Michonne's head gets pushed into a tank where a severed head tries to bite her and that is some inspired creepiness, right there. Throw in a few spiders and some public speaking and you've pretty much covered all the nightmare territories.
Michonne manages to stab the Governor in the eye with a shard of glass, and she's just about to finish him off katana-style when Andrea shows up with a gun. God, Andrea, you ruin everything. Andrea takes in the scene -- heads on the floor, heads in the tanks, Governor cradling his zombie daughter, etc. -- as Michonne just walks away, because her days of warning Andrea about shit that should be super obvious are OVER.
An epic gunfight goes down in Woodbury's streets, Daryl gets separated from the group, and Oscar gets shot. Bummer, Oscar, but you were basically the Star Trek guy in the red shirt, it was really only a matter of time. However, here comes a blast from the past: it's Shane! Sporting a sweet-ass beard and coming right for Rick! Except no, it's really just a random Woodbury dude. Jesus, pull it together, Rick. Worst hallucination timing ever.
In the final moments of the show, the now one-eyed Governor calls the town together in order to give a rousing speech about how he's man enough to admit he's scared of the evil terrorists trying to take what's theirs. The crowd is worked into a frenzy as the Governor then points out Merle as the guy who's to blame for the night's attacks. Ooh, Merle, look who didn't forget how you lied about Michonne being dead. But then things get worse: Daryl is brought forward as Merle's "accomplice." There they stand, the Dixon brothers, finally reunited, as the crowd calls for their death.
As for what happens next, we're all going to have to wait until February to find out. I don't know about you, but I've got one thought first and foremost on my mind:
What did you think of tonight's midseason finale? Are you dying (heh) to see the rest of the season now?
Image via AMC