The Walking Dead: “This Sorrowful Life” Review

twd-merleSpoilers! And potentially triggering content!

This week’s episode was just as exciting as last week’s, and it brought us a lot of great character moments. As a whole, this season is shaping up very nicely, despite a few iffy things here and there, like killing off every black character thus far besides Tyreese and Sasha. And though I was disappointed that Andrea didn’t feature in this episode at all, considering what happened last week, “This Sorrowful Life” managed to be thrilling just the same.

When first watching this episode, I honestly thought it was going to be about Rick moping around because he planned on handing Michonne over to the Governor, which makes little sense now that I think about it. In “Arrow on the Doorpost” I thought Rick could tell that the Governor was BSing him about the deal. I mean, the Governor allowed Merle to almost kill Glenn, he sexually assaulted Maggie, lied about everything involving the Atlanta survivors to Andrea, and attacked the prison with walkers. Clearly, he’s a man of his word.

But all that aside, I could certainly see why the temptation to hand Michonne over to the Governor was there. And looking back on the whole Randall incident of last season, I sincerely worried that Rick would go through with the plan. I was pleasantly surprised when he didn’t.

To start off, for those of you who didn’t read my post dealing with it, the Randall incident involved Rick and co. saving the life of a boy, Randall, who had once tried to kill them, because it was the humane thing to do, only to turn around and start torturing Randall for no reason. Then they wanted to kill him anyway. Eventually, Shane murders Randall in a scheme to get at Rick, and Randall is never mentioned again. Dale was the only member of the group who had a problem with this. Even T-Dog, our resident Christian I-love-everyone kind of guy apparently, didn’t speak out against what was happening. Carl wanted Randall dead, Daryl tortured Randall, Lori went along with whatever Rick wanted because why the fuck not? And basically no one in the group outside Dale remembered to act like a human being.

Now, Michonne isn’t Randall. She’s a main character. So as a display of shoddy writing, she’ll be treated more like a person, even though she and Randall were both in nearly the same exact position in terms of their relationship to Rick. So while I worried about Michonne’s fate, ultimately, there’s no need to be concerned. Rick cannot go through with the plan.

One of the things affecting Rick’s decision to do the right thing is his hallucination of Lori. Lori has been a constant plague on the show. Even in death, she won’t go away. But for this episode, I’m glad she was there. And I’m honestly not sure what to make of her appearance here. The way she appeared to Rick this time is very interesting, even if the reason is contradictory. When it came to Randall, she couldn’t form an opinion outside what Rick wanted, and even said as much. So her watching Rick and, dare I say, judging him over whether or not he would make the right choice concerning Michonne, seems a little out of character for her. And I know Lori’s dead and that Rick’s hallucinating her. So it’s entirely possible that it’s just Rick assuming what she’d have wanted. But that might not be true either. All of Rick’s hallucinations of her have been just that: how he views her as a person, dressed in white and angelic. What he saw this episode was Lori. Just Lori, in her regular clothes and still pregnant, like she was when she died.

However, though Rick makes the noble choice, it is Merle who is the strongest character this episode. He kidnaps Michonne and tries to take her to the Governor himself, only to let her go in the end. Merle’s redemption before his untimely death is well done. We don’t actually hear about his backstory, or what happened for him to go from simply being a racist/sexist/[insert just about anything here]ist human being to a full-fledged murderer under the Governor’s orders. But we can see him thinking about those events, worrying about what his brother will think of him, and contemplating his place in the world. And we also see him try to redeem himself.

Granted, he tries to redeem himself by murdering more people, including the teenage boy from Tyreese’s group, in an attempt to take down the Governor on a suicide mission. I hold that murder is murder and that the people of Woodbury, though some have very questionable actions, are not the Governor, and some of them are more or less innocent, like the teenage boy. But the sentiment was still there on Merle’s part. Trying to take out the Governor on his own to save his brother and the other Atlanta survivors was certainly noble, even if a little misguided. And story’s attempts to humanize Merle before the Governor killed him didn’t seem half-assed, like they did with T-Dog and, well… just about everyone else.

And fingers being bitten off aside, Merle’s death was also a bit more realistic than some of the other deaths.

Watching Daryl break down when he saw Merle as a walker eating someone was heartbreaking. Earlier in the episode, Michonne had told Merle that if he keeps going to way he is, no one will mourn him, not even his brother. But Merle tries to do the right thing, and Daryl does mourn him. He’s just gotten his brother back, and despite their issues, this was not something Daryl wanted. And it’s Daryl who puts Merle down.

All this is a shame, because though he is a terrible person, Merle was one of the better characters.

As for the other goings-on this episode, Glenn proposes to Maggie, and it’s a pretty touching scene. Carol’s one moment this episode consisted of her telling Merle to be a better person and asking if he was loyal to the group and Merle responding by telling her that she’s not as afraid of her own shadow like she used to be. Beth continues to do nothing. Throughout this season, she has been relegated to the role of babysitter for Judith, though Carol takes over that job this episode, and occasionally she’s burst into song a few times. Other than that, I’ve been a bit disappointed in her character. I would like to see more of her, and I’d hate for them to kill her off anytime soon, since we had an episode of her attempting suicide last season and discovering she wants to live.

And the only other thing worth mentioning is that Rick has decided that he doesn’t want to be a dictator over the group anymore. He wants everyone to be involved in the decision making process. Though in perhaps another display of shoddy writing, after Rick gives a speech about how he made decisions without the group’s knowledge—like handing over Michonne and then backing out, which they’re just hearing about now—and how he wants to hear other people’s opinions, he walks away before he can hear their opinions, or their questions about the Michonne incident. I mean, they certainly must have some questions about that.

I hope they care about Michonne more than they cared about Randall. Glenn didn’t take too well to being tortured this season, so maybe he at least can be with Hershel in agreeing to not hand over Michonne.

Yeah, like I said, Merle gets most of the credit this episode.

2 thoughts on “The Walking Dead: “This Sorrowful Life” Review

  1. After doing a random Google search on a Walking Dead topic, I came across your blog. I like to read other POC opinions on this show, so I settled down to read all your reviews thus far and I must say that I have found that you’ve either not properly understood or remembered or interpretted many things about each character/episode. By the time I got to this entry, I just couldn’t stay quiet any longer. Your comparison of Randall to Michonne was so far off base that it had me screwing up my face asking “what?!” every time you said his name. You should have been comparing Daryl and Merle.
    1. Rick’s group didn’t “turn around and start torturing [Randall] for no reason”. If you recall, they found out he was a part of a larger group of all men that consisted of murderers and rapists. Daryl tortured him to find out info about his group, like where their camp was located & the total number of people in the group. The problem was that Randall posed a threat to the group’s safety. He knew Maggie from high school and therefore could easily lead his group back to the farm.
    2. Michonne was part of their group and was no threat to them. Merle told Rick that The Governor was going to torture her (in many graphic details) before he killed her and said he was “cold as ice” for turning her over anyway. Merle had to “do their dirty work” because he figured Rick would chicken out on handing her over and he wanted to keep his brother (and the group by extension) safe. Even after he let Michonne go he still went to try to kill The Governor in an effort to keep Daryl safe. And he didn’t intend to kill that teenage boy. The boy unintentionally walked in the way of Merle’s shot at The Governor, which saved The Governor’s life.
    I applaud the fact that you are writing, use proper grammar and have a very captivating way of drawing in your reader(s). We need more reviews, scripts, etc. written with POC in mind and from our POV. My only critique is for you to be more careful with your facts and how you draw conclusions. Actually go back & review your supporting facts & use direct quotes because they help. Most importantly, keep watching & writing!!!! Much love to you sister!

    • Hello, and thanks for commenting. Though I am not a POC myself, a lot of people on this blog are, and it’s always nice to have new readers. I’m sorry that we disagree about different topics on The Walking Dead, but I do remember the episodes, and I still believe that the characters tortured Randall for no reason. And if they were concerned that Randall would lead his group back to the farm, they either could have A) dropped him off at the safest location they could find before he woke up after being treated, or B) not saved his life at all to begin with. They started mistreating him long before they found out he knew Maggie, and that very same episode Randall also helped Rick save Shane’s life when he was trapped on the bus. So I still say they tortured him for no reason. And regardless of who Randall was—a rapist or a murderer—I don’t believe torture is ever justified. I thought the characters were completely out of line.

      When it comes to Michonne, I do believe they were in similar situations. At the time, Michonne was just as much of an outsider to the group and they certainly didn’t trust her. Though she’s not a horrible person like Randall, Rick and the others couldn’t know that. Even the latest episode this past Sunday showcased Rick mistreating Aaron, a guy they had just met who had left them water and gave them food. I think it’s entirely within Rick’s personality to have handed Michonne over to the Governor.

      I’m sorry that I didn’t compare Daryl and Merle more, but when I write these reviews, I talk about the parts that stick out to me the most, and I was concerned for Michonne’s safety, because of how the group treated Randall.
      Anyway, thank you so much for commenting!

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