The Walking Dead: “Made to Suffer” Midseason Review

The Walking Dead continues to be one of the best—if not the best—story set during a zombie apocalypse. And the midseason finale went to every length to leave us wanting more. And like most midseason episodes, it also ended on a cliffhanger, so unfortunately we’re just going have to wait until February to find out what happens.

Before we go on, there is one tiny issue with the show that I need to address. Although it has introduced other black characters outside T-Dog, like Michonne, and this last episode also introduced a few more, black people as a whole aren’t doing too well this season. I mentioned previously that T-Dog did nothing last season, and that I was hoping for more from him outside being a background character. And yes, he does do more, and I thought he had a good death earlier this season. I liked his relationship to religion, and I liked that after he got bitten, he still didn’t give up and sacrificed himself to save Carol, all the while claiming that God had never abandoned him, and that in his final act God was going to help him led her to safety. And even after his death, the way Glenn spoke about him gave some more insight into his character—too bad that happened after he died.

Anyway, one of the two prisoners to survive thus far also perishes during the midseason finale, and his death doesn’t seem to be that big a deal. I’d say that makes two black people to die this season, but if you want to get technical and remember the other prisoners, he makes the fourth black death. And I suppose if you really want to get picky, the helicopter pilot that got cut in half was also black—but he has about three seconds of screen time, so let’s not count him.

Arguably, there are more white people on the show, and more white people die, but when you only have a limited number of non-Caucasians, it’s a little noticeable. Especially because this last character—the prisoner—did have some personality, and I liked that as an inmate who survived the horrors of jail, he was someone who had to now struggle with the horrors of this new world, and he obviously found the zombie apocalypse much more brutal.

The show made a point that our heroes had been living in such a harsh environment that the inmates had trouble keeping up. So I found it upsetting that this character died so quickly for more than the race issue. Hell, we don’t even know why he was in jail in the first place.

Of course, that still leaves our other living inmate, Axel, and between the two, I don’t like him nearly as much. I keep wondering why he’s in jail, because he comes across as gentle, shall we say, compared to the other criminals. He might have been arrested for drugs, if we take into account his line about pharmaceuticals—I just hope it’s not pedophilia, since Rick left him alone with Beth, both his kids, Carol, and a legless Hershel.

Glen Mazzara has this to say about him:

“Axel is a great character. He’s someone who was probably a two-bit criminal who finds himself in a bigger mess. He’s probably happy to be freed by Rick because he realizes he’s not as cutthroat and insane as Tomas and Andrew.”

So hopefully Axel will grow more as a character in episodes to come. I did love his exchange with Carol, though. Carol tells him off for trying to get too close to Beth, and he says that Maggie was taken by Glenn and then very flippantly calls Carol a lesbian because of her haircut. That whole scene and Carol’s reaction was pretty funny. But it does make a point about physical appearances and perceptions. Hell, there have been times when the people watching The Walking Dead with me comment about her haircut and question why it’s so butch. As if during a zombie apocalypse that’s a big deal or something. I mean, the reason couldn’t possibly be that she likes her hair like that, now could it?

The relationship between Carol and Daryl really grows this season too. Last season, their biggest drama was whether or not Daryl was going to find Sophia alive, and he dedicated a lot of time to finding her and didn’t give up, so watching Sophia walk out of that barn had to be one of the worst things Daryl saw. Carol couldn’t even bring herself to go to her daughter’s funeral, and all she had to blame was Daryl’s failure, maybe because she didn’t want to address the fact that she slows people down and was incapable of helping Sophia herself.

Sophia’s rescue attempt and unfortunate death has weighed heavily on both Daryl and Carol, so when Carol goes missing the same episode T-Dog and Lori die—and I was shocked that they killed two regulars and implied a third death in one episode—we see how that effected Daryl in the following episodes.

Maybe Carol’s death was something Daryl had been trying to deal with, but when he sees Carol’s knife stuck inside that Walker, he does lose it for a bit. But then he opens that door and finds Carol alive and manages to rescue her and save her. I felt that that was a defining moment for the two of them.

Yes, we could talk about how this is a woman being rescued by a man, but the show built up to that scene. For those two characters, it meant a lot. It meant a lot that Daryl could save Carol when he failed to save Sophia. Daryl might be strong physically, but in some ways I feel as though they save each other. When we have characters like Michonne, I’m not about to complain about weak females, and I think Carol is strong in her own right.

While as a whole this season is really well done, it has also been one of the more uncomfortable seasons yet. Mainly because of Woodbury and the Gov. He creeps me right out, and I did not enjoy the sexual assault scene between him and Maggie. While I’m glad that he didn’t rape her, he still violated her mentally. He made her remove her shirt and bra, and then didn’t give them back before dragging her off to Glenn, and then in front of Glenn, he hugged and kissed her the same way he hugs and kisses his zombie daughter.

Penny is possibly the Gov’s only redeeming trait. Because, despite her zombification, he still loves her and tries to be a good dad—in an albeit creepy way. And her death at Michonne’s hands really does upset him. And despite what the characters learn about the reanimation of the dead at the end of season one, the show does imply that on some level the Walkers can remember their past lives.

But speaking of creepy, and warning bells, and common sense, it is my theory that the writers have taken the stereotype of “dumb blonde” with Andrea to new extremes. I thought Lori was bad, and in some ways she at least redeemed herself to me before she died, but Andrea is just so upsetting at times. And I swear the Governor only likes her because she looks like his late wife. But I’m completely flabbergasted that Andrea doesn’t notice what’s going on around her. Or why she didn’t listen to Michonne, who looked over her and kept her safe for months. As if Merle—who finally made a reappearance outside Daryl’s hallucinations—being the Gov’s lieutenant wasn’t enough of a giveaway, or seeing the fish-tanks filled with heads, or watching the fighting ring with Walkers, or every second she’s with Michonne didn’t spell it out for her, the look on Andrea’s face when she sees Daryl at the end might indicate that maybe she’s figured it all out. Just maybe.

Maybe she figured out that she betrayed Michonne and fired on her friends. And that Woodbury might not be the best place to be.

I guess we could forgive her for not realizing what was going on because maybe she didn’t want to realize it. Maybe she wanted to tell herself that Woodbury was a great place so she could be safe. But when the signs are practically slapping her repeatedly in the face, combined with the way she acts, it’s a little hard to find forgiveness. So I guess we’ll see how she takes everything next episode.

I could tell the Gov was going to be pissed at Merle the moment he found out Michonne was still alive, and having Michonne gouge out his eye with broken glass and kill Penny surely pissed him off a lot more than realizing that Merle had lied to him. His betrayal of Merle at the end, and the presentation of Daryl to the angry citizens of Woodbury is what has really got me giddy with excitement for the rest of the season. Outside the time Daryl hallucinated, this is also the first time we’ve seen both brothers together on screen. I have been waiting for this all season.

So here’s me wallowing in my impatience for the nest episode.