The Walking Dead: “This Sorrowful Life” ReviewMarch 31, 2013
“This Sorrowful Life” is an emotional, action packed episode of The Walking Dead.
Note: Full spoilers for the episode follow.
I’ve always loved Merle on AMC’s The Walking Dead. Sure he can be a douche, but Michael Rooker does a great job of fleshing him out and keeping him from becoming mustache-twirlingly evil just for evil’s sake. He’s done some bad things, but as he rationalizes in “This Sorrowful Life”, who hasn’t in the zombie apocalypse? In fact, Rick personally asks him to do one more terrible thing in service of the group, before he has a change of heart. But good ol’ Merle finally gets some redemption in this episode. Unfortunately he ends up sacrificing his life taking down as many of The Governor’s henchmen as he can, but he finally gets in one selfless act.
It’s difficult to tell if Merle finally softened up to the group or whether his actions were all for his brother Daryl, but the latter is more likely. Rick sends Merle out with Michonne, asking him to deliver her to The Governor as part of a peace agreement. The fact that Rick believes that this will actually stop The Governor from coming and killing all his people seemed really naive to me. Rick is usually much smarter than this, even if he is going completely insane. But him and Hershel seem to think it will save the group from his retribution, and so the plan is set in motion.
Of course, nothing ever goes to plan on The Walking Dead. The scene in which Merle attempts to (one-handedly!) hotwire a car and sets off the alarm was a fantastic tension-builder. There were some great zombie kills here, like Michonne curb stomping and wire-decapitating a pair of walkers, followed by Merle slicing the face right off one with Michonne’s sword. These two are definitely a badass tag team, so it’s a shame we only got to see them together for this one episode.
Merle’s final heroic act was quite an incredible set up. It seemed as though he might be suicidal, luring all those zombies to the car with his radio while drinking all alone. But it was soon revealed that he was luring them all to The Governor. And for a time, it seemed like it almost might work- if it was the season finale, perhaps. The way he utilized sound to attract the zombies, creating a diversion, and used The Governor’s men’s gunfire to cover his own was quite a spectacle. unfortunately, before long The Governor finds his position, and viciously puts him down – without shooting him in the head. And man, The Governor biting off two of Merle’s fingers was pretty damn gruesome.
Since he wasn’t shot in the head, most would be able to see what was coming. Before long, Daryl discovers what’s become of his brother, as he’s chomping away at a corpse’s entrails. The reveal shot of Merle’s infected eyes and Daryl’s reaction to seeing his brother turned was definitely emotional. The “badass” veil fell instantly and Daryl was reduced to essentially a frightened, despondent child. After shoving him back a few times, he finally lets out all his frustration, stabbing zombie Merle in the head what seemed like ten or more times.
Will Daryl be the one to finally take down the Governor in the next episode of The Walking Dead? Only time will tell.