"All this time running from walkers, you forget what people do, and always did." -- Maggie
The Walking Dead might be gone until February, but it certainly won't be forgotten. The midseason finale, "Made to Suffer," neatly wraps up many of the storylines set up during these past eight episodes, and also steers us toward what looks to be an epic course for the back half of Season 3.
Rick & Co. have rescued Glenn and Maggie. Andrea now knows about The Governor's dark side and his daughter Penny. Tyreese has been introduced. Daryl and Merle have come face to face, and Andrea now knows members of her former group are still alive. But at what cost? We’ve lost, Michonne has lost Andrea, and Rick has lost his sanity (hey there, Shane), and that's only eight episodes into the season.
The cold opening of "Made to Suffer" introduced us to Tyreese and his small band of survivors, and set him up as being the level-headed, just man Rick used to be. What better way to jumpstart the dynamic at the Prison than by adding a potential new leader, despite how great a job Daryl and Carl have done in Rick's stead.
It becomes clear early on that The Governor's attachment to Andrea is somewhat sincere, and he'll do whatever he can to keep her to himself. Michonne leads Rick, Oscar and Daryl into Woodbury to rescue Glenn and Maggie, and once The Governor realizes what's happening, he does everything to keep Andrea away from them. We once would have assumed there was an ulterior motive to his actions, but it's become clear he actually has a legitimate soft spot for her.
Not so for Michonne, whom The Governor ends up facing off against in one of the most badass showdowns of the season. It starts with her finding -- and quickly killing – his zombie daughter Penny and ends with Michonne jamming a piece of glass through his eye, meaning we'll finally be seeing The Governor decked out in the eye patch we've become so accustomed to in the comics. The most heartbreaking moment of "Made to Suffer" comes when Andrea walks in on Michonne about to kill The Governor, and Michonne realizes she's lost her BFF. That mentality becomes clearer when, later in the episode, Michonne practically begs Rick to let her stick around.
As for Andrea: The Governor's newest booty call has finally seen his darkest self. Following the confrontation with Michonne, she witnesses him holding his dead (again) daughter among the half-destroyed fish tanks filled with zombie heads. Whether this changes her opinion of the man is yet to be seen, but for goodness sake it should.
At least things look up for Maggie and Glenn this week, as they use bone shards from a dead walker to sort of escape Merle's clutches before being rescued by Rick and the others. Unfortunately, Oscar dies in the escape over the walls of Woodbury, and Daryl is left behind to cover their flight. It would’ve been too heartbreaking to lose Glenn and Maggie with Lori's death still fresh in our minds.
During the escape, we get a surprise cameo from one character we never thought we'd see again: Shane in a shocking, albeit short, return as a hallucination as Rick exchanges gunfire with The Governor’s men. It's clear Rick still doesn't entirely have his sanity back, despite no longer receiving phone calls from his dead wife and the other allies they've lost.
Back at the Prison, Carl has made his complete transformation into Resident Walking Dead Badass. He hears some strange noises down the corridor and insists on going to check them out, only to find Tyreese and his group being set upon by walkers. He saves them and brings them to safety, but locks them in the outer area of the cell block. The one female survivor is livid, but Tyreese recognizes that this is "his (Carl's) house" and acknowledges this is the safest they've been in a long time. We'll see if that changes once Rick, Michonne, Maggie and Glenn return.
It should also be noted that the funniest moment of the episode comes after Axel begins hitting on Beth. Carol calls him out on it, and he complains about how there aren't any eligible women around, as Maggie is with Glenn and Carol is a lesbian. The look on Carol's face when he says this is priceless, as is his after she corrects him. "My, my, this is interesting," he says at the revelation, although we doubt Daryl would be too happy about Axel’s interest.
The episode wraps up with The Governor clearly unhinged, and furious that Merle lied about Michonne’s death. As punishment, he labels Merle a traitor in front of all of Woodbury, and claims he had been aiding the captured Daryl and the other “terrorists,” leading the citizens of Woodbury to call for their deaths. When The Governor's men bring Daryl out, it's the first Merle has seen of his brother in two seasons (and as many years), and Andrea also seems shocked to find one of her former allies alive. "Made to Suffer" ends with several big cliffhangers: Will Daryl and Merle live? Will Andrea stick up for them, and will she end up realizing what a crazy pants The Governor is? Hopefully the answers for all of those end up being "yes."
We already know that the back half of Season 3 will focus on The Governor coming to the Prison like the first half focused on the Prison coming to Woodbury, but it will be interesting to see what remains of The Governor's community. With Daryl and Merle only minutes away from being killed (or saved, because what is wrong with you Andrea?) and The Governor yet to truly test Andrea's loyalty, it seems safe to assume we haven't seen the end of that location yet.
But if Season 3 will be based largely around a conflict at the Prison, that site couldn't be better off. Although Glenn is injured, Oscar is dead and Daryl is gone, having Michonne and Tyreese and his group as allies should only be a boon for Rick & Co. Michonne is clearly on board with all anti-The Governor activities; however, Tyreese's group might not want to join in a battle against such a well-established enemy. We doubt they'll need more than a nice push in the right direction, though, judging by what a short fuse Tyreese's female sidekick has.
A lot has happened from "Seed" to "Made to Suffer," and hopefully events in Season 3 will remain just as fast-paced from Episode 9 to Episode 16. At this rate, we'll barely even remember that tediously long search for Sophia by the time Season 3 is over, and that's definitely good for The Walking Dead's legacy.