Review: The Walking Dead - "This Sorrowful Life"

 Warning: The following contains SPOILERS!

 By: Heather Seebach

This penultimate season 3 episode brought us the powerhouse collaboration of writer Scott M. Gimple and FX-god-turned-director Greg Nicotero. It features a lot of the Dixon brothers and a bunch of awesome zombie kills. There are also many talking scenes but they are poignant and well-balanced with the action and gore. 

The episode opens with Rick, Hershel, and Daryl discussing the plan to hand over Michonne to the Governor. When Rick fills Merle in on the plan, we get the first of the good conversation scenes. Well, it's moreso Merle giving a monologue and Rick eye-fucking him, but it's good stuff. 

The next one occurs shortly thereafter between Carol and Merle, where she asks if he is really with them. I like when Carol says she wasn't scared of her own shadow but her husband's, much like Merle clearly lived in the shadow of the Governor though he'd never admit it. And Carol saying perhaps he too is a "late bloomer" clearly foreshadows Merle's sacrifice at the end of the episode

Meanwhile, Rick goes looking for wire with which to tie up Michonne and sees Lori again. Only this time she is not wearing the ghostly white gown. She is wearing her old flannel and appears to be pregnant!? Nicotero said on The Talking Dead that this is how she looked when she once told Rick he is no killer, and seeing her like this is what changes his mind about Michonne. Funny enough, hallucination Lori wasn't the only one who changed clothes this episode - I noticed Hershel and Michonne had new outfits, as well. 

When Merle decides Rick doesn't have the stomach to hand over Michonne, he takes matters into his own hands. I really love these two outsiders' scenes together, and her telling him he is not a truly evil man because what he has done burdens him. Also, their conversation in the car directly parallel's Merle's earlier conversation with his brother. He told Daryl he has no balls and follows Rick's commands, but Michonne accuses Merle of doing the very same with the Governor. No doubt this is what changes his mind when he decides to let her go and kill the Governor instead.

How great were all zombies and gore this week? From the prison hallway to the motel parking lot to the mill, "This Sorrowful Life" is packed with great-looking walkers! MVP's include the one with his torso all torn up who comes at Merle and the awesome cameo by Dawn of the Dead's plaid shirt zombie!

On The Walking Dead
The original plaid shirt zombie

The awesome zombie kills included Merle slicing said zombie's face off, Michonne decapitating a lady walker with a wire and boot-stomping another's head. Also, that lonely head in the field was a nice touch. The FX, even when digitally enhanced, looked great this week.

Great as the zombies and gore are, Michael Rooker owned this episode. Aside from all those great dialogue scenes with Daryl, Rick, Carol, and Michonne, he goes out like a total badass. The scene in the car where's he chilling out to Motorhead and offers the zombie a drink through the window - classic Merle!

Then he stages a really clever, badass way of taking out the Governor's men by luring walkers to distract them as he takes them out one-by-one. Nobody can say he was a simple-minded redneck, that's for sure. He came SO close to getting the Governor! But I'm glad Ben got the bullet, he was a little prick. And how about this squirm-worthy scene?

Those were prosthetic fingers with a blood tube, and David Morrissey actually bit them off. Love it! It was nice to see Gov getting real brutal, I just wish it wasn't so late in the game.

Finally, with the Governor's gun pointed at him, Merle shouts, "I ain't begging!" If you didn't recall, he actually said those same words in season 1 on the rooftop when he was praying. That was a nice litte callback.

Then came the scene that broke a million Reedus fangirls' hearts. Daryl finds his brother, now zombified and eating Ben's corpse. This is another awesomely gory scene, with brains and guts all over the place. The fact that Merle is a walker now means the Governor deliberately did not shoot him in the head so he'd turn. What a devious bastard! 

 It's a sad, tender moment, though admittedly I could not contain my giddiness at how good that face-stabbing looks. Evidently a combination of Rooker dummy and digital compositing, it is unflinching and fantastic.

In other news, Glenn proposes marriage to Maggie, blah blah, blah. The best part of that was him cutting off that zombie's fingers to get the ring, ha! Then Rick gives yet another speech that essentially reverses his Ricktatoship speech from the season 2 finale. He has seen how the Governor rules with terror and does not want that. I fully expected him to gather them up and once again say, "We're going to war." We know, Rick, get on with it!

Here is a peek at next week's season finale:

As much as it pains me to say it, I see no way that the Governor can survive this finale. If he does die, I truly hope Kirkman & co. will consider a spin-off show or mini-series about the Governor. It could star David Morrissey and be based on the books "Rise of the Governor" and "The Road to Woodbury." It could even have cameos from some Walking Dead characters who may have crossed paths with "Philip" before he was the Governor. It would also give us a chance to see the zombie take-over as it happened in more detail. The more I think about this the more I love it and need it! What do you think - would you watch that?

**All gifs courtesy of reddit user iamacannibal**

Finally, as a goodbye to Merle, I must share this awesome fan-video of The Rooker:

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