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Monday, December 3, 2012

The Walking Dead: Season 3, Episode 8 – ‘Made To Suffer’ Review



Thanks to the encouragement of The Walking Dead TV Podcast, I will be writing weekly episode recaps for this season of The Walking Dead.  Anyone continuing on should expect spoilers.

This is what the first half of The Walking Dead’s third season was building up to; an explosive mid-season finale, which pit Rick’s ragtag group of survivors against the Governor’s goons, and man, was it good.  I could put away almost every nitpick there is in this episode, because it was incredibly exciting, had plenty of great moments, and set the stage for what will be a crazy second half of the season as well.  It even had time to introduce one of my favorite characters from the comics, Tyrese!  Yeah, this was one hell of an episode of The Walking Dead, so now it’s time to dig into it.


‘Made To Suffer’ begins in one of the most unexpected of places – with another group entirely.  We hear the screams of a woman, only to find that it is another group of survivors fighting off walkers and managing to stumble upon the prison in the process.  The best thing about this is that it turns out that the group is being led by Tyrese (The Wire’s Chad Coleman), a character straight out of the comics, even equipped with his weapon of choice – a hammer.  I am not going to go too deep into the comic side of this character, but from what we are shown here, Tyrese is very similar to Rick in that he is certainly a strong leader, but also conflicted, as we see him choose to hang onto a bitten member of his party.  There’s more Tyrese in this episode later, but I’m excited to see what he and Rick together will bring to the series.

This is followed up by Andrea having some words with the Governor about last week’s experiment gone wrong, Mr. Coleman, whom Andrea will help cremate with the good doctor.  The Governor notes that Woodbury seems to be growing on her, which is interesting in relation to how Andrea behaves during the rest of the episode and what I think has been done in a somewhat sneaky manner throughout the season.  While I still think Andrea is the most problematic character, I like that I can now recognize Andrea as a person who probably will be aligning herself with the Governor and his people for the better part of this season.  She may have to go through a Darth Vader-like realization that staying by the Emperor’s side is not the best course of action, but at least her arc has become clearer to me.


As we finally get to Rick, he and the group are still outside the walls of Woodbury, with Michonne sneaking off for a second, only to come back and lead the group (which also includes Daryl and Oscar) inside, where they try to find a building to hid in.  At the same time, Glenn and Maggie are still in a holding cell, where Maggie assures Glenn that no ‘forced bad times’ happened.  Glenn, beaten but confident, rips the arm off the walker he killed, takes out the bone and hands his new walker shiv to Maggie.  We are building up to a crazy battle at this point and the episode is doing a good job of rotating around between the different groups.

Moving forward, after the Governor gives the go ahead to Merle to execute Glenn and Maggie, the two attempt to escape, only to be caught again.  However, while they are put on their knees and on the verge of being executed, Rick and his group drop some smoke grenades and snatch up the two lovebirds just in the nick of time.  This leads into the third-person shooter portion of the episode, as it’s an all-out firefight on the streets of Woodbury, with vision being obscured by smoke grenades, preventing anyone from recognizing anyone else (basically Andrea).  This sequence may have gone on a little long, but it was tense and exciting, even if it led to the obvious death of Oscar (restoring black guy equilibrium on The Walking Dead).  Still, the fact that vision was obscured made for an interesting way to stage this sequence, along with getting across the fact that Rick still has some demons to work out via Shane hallucination (bearded version).


And now we get to the craziest part of this whole episode:  Michonne versus the Governor.  This whole scenario was awesome.  Michonne sneaks into the Governor’s room and waits for his arrival, but soon discovers his secret ‘water tanks full of heads’ room and of course Penny, the Governor’s zombie daughter.  Right before Michonne puts a sword in her, the Governor manages to stop her for a brief second, before we get to a graphic death of Penny anyway.  And then we get into the whole fight scene, which is this knockdown, drag out brawl that was just a ton of fun to watch, despite the brutality.  I was personally moving all over my room while watching this, because it was just such a brutal fight.  This led to a lot of blows to both people involved, the aquarium being ruined, and the Governor getting a piece of glass in the eye.  This whole scenario was followed by the ultimate stare down between Michonne and Andrea, as the two have apparently chosen their sides at this point, despite neither one really wanting to actually stop and talk for a second.  The scene ends with Michonne getting out of there, while Andrea cradles the severely injured Governor.

Jumping back to what was happening at the prison, Carl, Beth, and Hershel hear noises from inside the area, leading to Carl putting on his big boy pants, grabbing his silencer, and going to check things out (Carol and Axel were on ‘guard tower duty’).  Turns out Tyrese and his group were fighting off walkers.  Carl arrives in time to help and has them follow him, but locks the others just outside of where the rest of the group is staying.  Carl assures them that they will be safe where they are, but Tyrese’s sister Sasha (I looked this up) protests.  This leads to me already loving how Tyrese is being handled, because he calm’s Sasha down and accepts the position they are in.  He understands the situation and acts reasonable, despite being an authority figure and being in the situation where a child is giving orders.  It’s a scene that works well to establish this character.


Back to Woodbury, Rick and his group were able to get outside the walls.  Daryl stayed back to fend off anyone following them, while Michonne suddenly arrives, causing Rick to wonder where the hell she went.  Of course, Michonne does not quite reveal all the details, but she did do what she promised, which was lead him to get Glenn and Maggie, which was accomplished.  Trust continues to be an issue that has to be worked out, but for now, the group better start worrying about getting home (Glenn needs a break) or worrying about where Daryl is.

The end of this episode is all about what the next half of the season will focus on.  The Governor, now with one less eye, gathers the residents of Woodbury in the arena and makes them aware that ‘terrorists’ have come and taken from them, attacked them, and need to be dealt with.  Then, in somewhat of a twist, the Governor tells his people that Merle is responsible for the betrayal, which holds water, given that Merle lied about Michonne being dead.  At the same time though, I started to think about something else.  What if he wants people to think Merle is a traitor, so he and Daryl (who was also captured) can escape and get back to the prison?  Earlier in the episode, the Governor told Merle that he should find Daryl and get him to be a mole on the inside of the prison.  What if this is all just an elaborate ruse?  Regardless, the brothers are reunited at this point and Andrea has a look on her face suggesting that she may now have some doubts about things.


A lot went down in this episode and it was all very exciting.  The fight between the Governor and Michonne made me love this episode, but I was on board the whole way through.  It echoes a lot of what I have thought about season 3 in general.  It is not stalling; it is constantly on the move.  While I do think it is moving almost too fast for the sake of making up for regards towards the slow moving second season, I do like that the plot is constantly evolving.  Rather than sit around the prison, which was thought to be a safe haven, we have constantly seen Rick and the group deal with more and more problems.  At the same time, Woodbury has been setup well enough that knowing this town and the prison will be at odds with each other in the second half of the season seems like something very significant to anticipate, which could possibly lead to even more bloodshed in a season already filled with a lot of significant deaths.  Even the addition of another group was welcome, as I enjoyed the way they factored in, let alone the fact that it was freaking Tyrese at the head of it.  The stage is set in many ways, so a lot of things can happen in the remaining eight episodes of this season.  I hope it stays as consistent as this first half, which has provided plenty of cutthroat entertainment.  In the meantime though, I have plenty to chew on in terms of where I think things will go from here.  Hopefully a walker doesn’t chew on me during that time.

5 out of 5 Busters

Zombie Kill of the Week:  It’s Hammer Time for Tyrese and he knocks some walkers down effectively, which includes a face smash that knocked out a walker’s eye.

Falling To Pieces:  Hershel lost a foot, Merle lost a hand, The Governor lost an eye, who’s going to lose something next?

RIP Oscar:  Predictable arc, but he went out trying to help, just like T-Dog.

Guard Tower Duty:  Carol (not a lesbian) and Axel (possible parolee) were on guard duty, while everything Tyrese happened. Hmm…

Shotgun Blast From The Past:  Shane hallucinations abound, plus Rick chose the ‘Wolverine’ version of him.

What’s Next?:  The second half of the season could probably be subtitled: ‘Shifting Alliances’

Get The Game:  I wrote a review for The Walking Dead Game, which can be found HERE

That’s it until February.  Thanks to everyone that has been reading along!

Aaron is a writer/reviewer for WhySoBlu.com.  Follow him on Twitter @AaronsPS3.
He also co-hosts a podcast,
Out Now with Aaron and Abe, available via iTunes or at HHWLOD.com.

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