Reviewing the Dead: ‘This Sorrowful Life’

luke kalamar looks back at merle …

reviewingthedead

Plot: After careful consideration, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) decides to go through with the deal with The Governor (David Morrissey) and give up Michonne (Danai Gurira). Hershel (Scott Greene) is against the idea, while Daryl (Norman Reedus) hesitantly agrees. Rick asks Merle (Michael Rooker) to help him out, but Merle doesn’t believe Rick has what it takes to follow through.

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Man, what an emotional rollercoaster.

There were so many combating emotions in “This Sorrowful Life” that it’s insane. On one hand, this week’s episode saw two characters who have been in love for so long decide to take the ultimate step in their relationship. It’s difficult not to be happy to see two people, who have literally seen the worst things in the world, find that extra bit of happiness that everyone so desperately needs. On the other hand, we also saw a character meet his fate on his path to redemption, leading to one of the most tragic moments of the entire series. It is this uncanny ability of The Walking Dead to juggle these emotions, amongst other things, that made tonight’s episode spectacular.

Why did Merle have to die so soon?

We only just got him back, and now he’s gone forever. I never really agreed with Merle’s methods or the things he did — because a racist drug addict is never someone you should support. However, I loved his character and that extra element he brought. His long absence was upsetting to many fans and his eventual return was hotly-anticipated. He’s the most important person in the world for Daryl and we all love Daryl, so why can’t he have his brother back? Merle’s return was a massive highlight for Season 3 and he alone contributed to some of the most amazing scenes of this show to date. It was a lot of fun watching him and Daryl reunite plus, he was finally starting to redeem himself! His actions saved many people from dying in Rick’s group, including probably Rick himself. It also helps that Rooker is a phenomenal actor. To have him gone now is such a massive loss for the show and I already wish he was around for much longer.

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The real emotion with Merle’s death definitely came from Daryl who added that extra little bit to make the scene go into a whole new level of tragic. We’ve all seen people die on this show, and yes, it’s been sad to watch a much beloved character go away, but we’ve never had to watch someone have to kill his own brother after looking for him for so long. I mean, imagine yourself in Daryl’s position. You’ve been separated from your brother for over a year. You finally found him and brought him into your new family, but then after you get him back, he goes away forever. To top it off, you have to be the one to put him away. Are you crying yet? Yeah, it’s really upsetting. Reedus did an incredible job showing the true tragedy of Daryl’s loss, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t shed a tear myself.

Glenn’s (Steven Yeun) side-story of proposing to Maggie (Lauren Cohan) was a nice antithesis to this otherwise very tragic episode. Like I said before, how amazing is it to watch these two people find happiness in the nightmarish hellscape they now call home? It was pretty fun watching Glenn go through the basic proposal steps with a zombie twist, including getting a ring and asking for the blessing of his soon to be father-in-law. Nothing says I love you like proposing with a ring you took from a zombie right? I will say that the proposal itself was a bit lacking though. The music was there, the emotional undertone was there, but it did not feel like the excitement was where it needed to be. All Maggie did was say yes, and then the scene ended. Does the fact that they live in hell take away from the joy of love? There should have been a little more.

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Also, what about Andrea’s (Laurie Holden) situation? “Prey” ended with her locked up in The Governor’s torture chamber and I’ve been waiting to see what befalls her. How can you just leave such a huge cliffhanger like that untouched for over a week? It’s like when Daryl left with Merle earlier in this second half and we had to wait two weeks to find out what happens to them. I’m sure this will get the full attention it deserves next week, but I really wish something was done with Andrea in “This Sorrowful Life.”

Lastly, I did enjoy watching Rick turn the group back into a Democracy and move away from the Dictatorship he adopted last season. Rick taking full charge obviously worked for some time, but it’s clear that it’s no longer a stable concept. I really look forward to watching characters like Hershel, Daryl, and Glenn take up much more prominent leadership positions.

Next week is the season finale of the best season of The Walking Dead. I can’t believe it’s almost over and I’m already upset that it’s ending. I really don’t know how they can top the emotional cyclone that was Merle’s death, but I’m sure something will happen that will make “Welcome to the Tombs” one for the books. I do want Daryl to take some sweet revenge out on The Governor, so hopefully we can get some of that next week.

Rating: 9.5/10

All Photos Credit: AMC

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