TV Talk: THE WALKING DEAD 3.08 “Made To Suffer”

Devin, Meredith and Henri all chime in for the mid-season finale of THE WALKING DEAD.

It's the last episode of the year for The Walking Dead, which will return in February. For the mid-season finale, we all chimed in - and you should join the conversation in the comments! Read all of our The Walking Dead TV Talk posts here

DEVIN: 

And The Walking Dead once again achieves black guy equilibrium. There cannot be more than one black guy with lines on this show at one time, a lesson T-Dog learned very harshly earlier in the season. And now the guy who replaced him, Surviving Black Prisoner, has felt the sting of the show’s racial quotas, getting senselessly cut down just as Chad Coleman (The Wire’s Cutty) joins the cast as fan-favorite character Tyreese.

That was the only major death in the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead, but the episode left us on a killer cliffhanger, a one-eyed Governor and a sense that the second half of the season will really up the ante.

How cool is that? How cool is it that The Walking Dead is finally a show where the ante gets upped, and where stuff happens and where there are cool scenes and where maybe we’re worried about a character getting killed (there’s no way Daryl is getting offed, but the show left him in a wonderfully precarious position)? It’s cool. It’s cool enough that I’m still willing to ignore the show’s otherwise massive deficiencies and just go with the ride.

In that spirit, I’ll skip the minor complaints (how dumb is it that Michonne is THAT mad at the Governor? Why is everybody letting Carl be the man of the house? Could Rick be any less interesting?) and dwell on this idea:

In a few years will we look back on The Walking Dead as the show where the villains were the best part? Because so far that’s the case; each of the characters who have been ‘bad guys’ have been, unfailingly, the most interesting characters. And The Governor might well be the one who takes the cake: watching him cradle his dead zombie daughter while having a piece of glass stick out of his eye was pretty amazing.

While the show has gone out of its way to make The Governor ‘bad,’ this episode continues the trend of making me side with him more than Rick - or anyone else for that matter. Especially at the end. Setting aside the horrible, overwrought, heavy handed post-9/11 stuff (when you have this guy yapping about terrorists is it even subtext?), The Governor’s suspicions about Merle are completely reasonable. Merle told him he killed Michonne, and then Michonne shows up out of nowhere... with Merle’s brother in tow! Of course Merle looks like a traitor and a half.

Even his explanation to Andrea about the tanks of heads - that he forces himself to look at them every day to remind himself of the horrors outside of Woodbury - feels pretty reasonable. Over the top, maybe, and kind of dramatic, but hey, it’s the apocalypse. This is when you have free reign to be dramatic.

Until now I’ve thought the fact that the ‘bad guys’ - Shane, Merle, The Governor - were the most interesting characters was just a symptom of a problem in the writer’s room, that it was a sign that the writers couldn’t get a handle on the main characters (and that maybe casting had been off). But now I’m starting to wonder if this is all on purpose, if the show isn’t about how the world is filled with tedious, unimaginative, underwritten idiots who will continuously fuck up the lives of richer, more intriguing, fascinatingly flawed people.

What do you think, Henri and Meredith? Since this is the mid-season finale maybe this is a good point to take stock and look back at the show’s progression. Are you as willing to look past the bad as I am? Do you find yourself rooting for The Governor all the time? Are you hoping that Cutty from The Wire becomes the new hero of the show?

MEREDITH:

I am fully, entirely, 100% rooting for The Governor now. I don’t mean that in a funny, offhand way - I mean I actively want him to win. This guy is just so interesting to me! And yes, part of that is because David Morrissey is one tall drink of water,  but I think the lion’s share of my interest is due to how complex and murky his motivations are compared to Rick’s laboriously obvious goals of keeping his friends and family safe. Those are noble plans, to be sure, but boring.

Yeah, The Governor wants power, but I believe he also truly wants to keep the citizens of Woodbury safe and happy. I was moved by both scenes with his daughter this week. I felt crushed for him when he realized (erroneously, but that’s not his fault) that he’d been betrayed by his right-hand man Merle. And at first I thought he was just using Andrea, but then I remembered that Andrea is useless, which means he must actually like her.

I never liked Shane as much as you did, Devin, but I certainly always preferred him to Rick and found him infinitely more interesting. I’m pretty much in love with the Dixon brothers - if either one of them dies at the hands of the Woodbury mob mentality, I will be so pissed. So yeah, I guess you could say that the villains provide the crux of my enthusiasm for this show, particularly because I actually might hope that Rick dies. I can’t even feel ambivalent toward that guy - I dislike him. I find him tremendously boring. I want him gone. This week, watching Carl huff around, offering to put himself in danger and unilaterally imprisoning Tyreese (!) and his group, I realized that Rick has poisoned him into becoming the sort of pompous, self-sacrificing, self-righteous dick of a hero that his daddy is. I wish Shane had raised that kid. Or Daryl.

But no, I don’t believe that the writers are asking us to root for the bad guys on purpose. I believe we’re supposed to be rooting for Rick. We just aren’t. I mean, is anyone? Please speak up in the comments if you give two shits about this guy, because I’d like to hear your take.

I was a fan of Michonne until this week, when she makes a series of idiotic decisions. Why did she kill The Governor’s daughter? I mean, think about it. Even if that weren’t sort of needlessly cruel, and even if it made sense that she hates The Governor without actually knowing anything about him, why would she kill her own hostage? How stupid is that? The Governor was totally compliant until she murdered his little girl. Sure, it led to one hell of a fight (what a fight!), but it doesn’t make any actual sense. And when she and Andrea had their little stand-off, why didn’t Michonne break the tension by, I don’t know, telling Andrea what’s going on? Telling her that The Governor had Maggie and Glenn hidden in a torture chamber and she was there to help Andrea’s old friends rescue them? Why did she just run off? Stupid!

But yeah, these are minor complaints. Or rather, they're real complaints overshadowed by how much fun I have watching this show these days. Things are happening! And I care! That’s a pretty big deal. I’m completely into The Walking Dead this season, and (other than the improved writing and action), I think we have The Governor to thank for that.

HENRI:

I just don’t know. Maybe it’s because I’ve been playing the Telltale game now, but it’s getting more and more difficult for me to look past the past and just go with the show now. Yes, things are finally happening, but I still don’t really know why. Things just happen, and NO characters have any clear motivation.

Why does Michonne hate the Governor so much? Just because!

Why does the Governor like Andrea so much? Or does he even like her at all? Because she’s there!

And speaking of the Governor, I have to say I totally disagree with you guys. He’s no more interesting than any of the characters in Rick’s group, because we still haven’t seen anything that makes his motivations clear. He just seems to like power because that’s what bad guys do and so he’s a bad guy and he does whatever he can to hold onto that power. But why does he care about the people of Woodbury? How many of them does he even know? There are like 75 people in that town, and then he has this soldier force of maybe 15 that he actually talks to and orders to go kill other soldiers all the time.

If he’s actually evil he should be going around fucking all the young ladies in town, and he should be demanding offerings from his people and actually be a dick to them. Then his lust for power would be clear and we’d see why power for power’s sake is bad. Then we could wonder how much the townspeople would put up with in exchange for safety. That’s an interesting question, and something I would enjoy watching played out in a zombie apocalypse drama.

So yeah, it was cool that Glenn ripped a zombie’s bone out of his arm to make a weapon. I’m glad the Governor got his eye poked out. But I keep being haunted by something Devin said last week - since AMC owns this show outright and it’s such a massive success, it’s safe to say that the show is going to be around forever and ever and ever. And so at some point we’re going to have to make a decision. Are we on board until the bitter end? At what point do we just give up?

The last time I felt this way about unclear character motivation it was honestly the first Twilight movie. Why does Bella like Edward so much? She just does! And as much as I liked making fun of that pop culture phenomenon, at least it ended this year. Those fans are free now.

The Walking Dead will go on and on and on forever until we’re all screaming out that We Are the Walking Dead, and eventually only Chris Hardwick will be left to give a shit.

-- 

So what did you guys think? Do you prefer The Governor to Rick, or do you even care about either of them? Does the prospect of a never-ending The Walking Dead make you cheer or cower? And hey, why does Michonne hate The Governor so much?

Comments