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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Walking Dead fans are "Made to Suffer" a long hiatus

Wow.

So much happens in The Walking Dead episode "Made to Suffer" this week that is important. People die, a true villain is born, allegiances are tested and shift, a new major character makes his introduction... The list goes on and on. The hard part is knowing where to start. I'll just jump in.

The opening of "Made to Suffer" unveils a new group of survivors. There isn't a clear leader among them, but one name will jump out to fans of The Walking Dead comic book: Tyreese (Chad Coleman, The Wire). In the books, Tyreese joins the group very early on, before they even get to Hershel's (Scott Wilson) farm. On the page, Tyreese serves as the muscle and pretty loyal best friend to Rick (Andrew Lincoln). Given the decision to keep Shane (Jon Bernthal) alive on TV longer, and the inclusion of non-comic character Daryl (Norman Reedus), Tyreese seemed unnecessary. But, with how things play out in this episode, now seems the perfect time to bring him in.

I'm not saying that Tyreese will be instantly part of the core crew. He's off to a good start, though. He respects Carl (Chandler Riggs), and calls him "the man." He holds back those in his group who would like to threaten the balance of power in the jail. He is kind, and seems to sense kindness in the main characters. If you watched the spoiler scene presented in Talking Dead this week, it looks pretty clear that Tyreese will have an in early on.

This is fortuitous because Rick needs a friend. Hershel is the voice of reason, but he's just not from the same generation as Rick, and no one else in the group connects with Rick that well, as he stands apart as a leader to them. And Rick is starting to lose his marbles a bit, talking to his deceased wife on the phone, and even hallucinating Shane in Woodbury! (Awesome surprise cameo, by the way!) Tyreese could serve as that balance to Rick, allowing him to blow off steam with a buddy, rather than bottling it up in front of everyone to appear in charge.

This occurs as Rick and company attack Woodbury to rescue Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan). Their mission is not easy, many bullets are fired, and Oscar (Vincent M. Ward), who is not a very important character, but seems to be the only "good" former prisoner, bites the dust. The main contingent of the group gets away, thankfully.

The tragic leave behind is Daryl. Hanging back to cover the rear (and probably hoping to get a glimpse of his brother, Merle (Michael Rooker)), Daryl is captured by the Governor's (David Morrissey) men and held responsible for the attack as a "terrorist."

We know that Rick and the others are not terrorists. They would never attack people just for the sake of attacking people. They know their friends are being held hostage, and so they go in, guns blazing, and get them out. If anything, the mistake here is treating the whole town like the enemy. Rick doesn't know it, of course, but most of the residents are blind to the Governor's true activities and brutality. Given this, it is only too easy for the Governor to spin the rescue attempt as something more sinister.

What might be Daryl's salvation is that Merle is also paraded out as a criminal, even though he has nothing to do with what happened. Daryl isn't alone, and the brothers are tough. Complain all you want about Merle, because he's not really a very nice guy. He threw a zombie at Glenn! But he does love his brother. They can try to fight their way out together, and they might stand a slim chance.

Things will go even better for them if Andrea (Laurie Holden) takes their side. She now sees some of what the Governor is up to, and what he keeps in his own house. Desperate to find that safe, stable place, it will be hard for her to let go of the Governor, who has given her a home and a bed. But she is smart, and I think that, in the end. she will make the right decision.

This exposure occurs because Michonne (Danai Gurira) attacks the Governor. She goes to his apartment to settle the score for him sending men to kill her. While there, she slays the Governor's zombie daughter, Penny, breaks some of his fish tanks full of Walker heads, and takes out one of the Governor's eyes. Visuals speak louder than words, and seeing all this, Andrea is starting to have doubts about the man she is sleeping with.

Quick note about this sequence, it illustrates just how damaged Michonne is. We've seen her tortured soul in pieces. She is definitely scarred badly by something. The tenderness she shows towards Penny, and the sheer determination in taking sharp glass in her hand to stab the Governor, are different sides of a complicated woman. Seeing her look pleadingly at Rick when she tells him that he needs her is the final piece of the puzzle. Michonne needs him more. She has been through a lot, and it's time for her to become part of a bigger group, contributing and loving, not just being a lone wolf.

Because of Michonne's attack, the Governor is turning into the huge nemesis that comic fans love to hate. Soon he will be sporting an eye patch, and he is definitely out to destroy the prison group. While the television version of the character has been more layered, which is nice, giving us a better understanding of him, it would be folly to assume that this incarnation will be less dangerous. Look for the back eight episodes this winter to feature a full on war between the Governor and Rick. Rick may win, being the lead of the show, but when the Governor comes at them, there will be severe casualties.

First, though, there may already be a danger in the prison. The way that Axel (Lew Temple) acts towards Carol (Melissa McBride) and Beth (Emily Kinney) while the tough members of the group are away is creepy. I'm a little surprised he didn't rape and / or murder either girl in "Made to Suffer." I do worry that it's coming, though, and we may soon lose another member of our little group, long before the Governor arrives at the gate.

Part of the price of great television is long breaks where the creative minds behind such projects can wind down, or recharge, or just think of more great ideas. AMC seems to make this doubly difficult in the case of The Walking Dead because we just get two short waves of new episodes every year. Given just how big "Made to Suffer" ended, and that the series is breaking all kinds of viewing records, I know I am not alone in being anxious for February to arrive, when the series will return.

Want to read some of my fiction? It's on my website, JeromeWetzel.com! Also, for the latest updates and article links, as well as commentary on episodes I don't fully review, please follow me on Twitter!

Article first posted on TheTVKing

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