‘The Walking Dead:’ ‘This Sorrowful Life’ Review
Genre: Fantasy, Horror, Sci-Fi
Everything we love about The Walking Dead: gore, suspense and the Dixon brothers.
I don’t think I’ve ever not looked forward to an episode of “The Walking Dead,” but unfortunately, I did feel that way throughout this past week. I thought “This Sorrowful Life” would be yet another space-filler before the season finale, but I don’t think I have ever been more wrong in my life. “This Sorrowful Life” was an impressive episode of “The Walking Dead” all around. It had a beginning full of conflict, a lot of emotion throughout and a great ending–the stuff that “The Walking Dead” is really made of.
The episode also had a lot of mixed emotions, a few of which I felt the average viewer would not relate to well. The interesting part is that I actually enjoyed that mix. Merle is the epitome of confusion and violence. He also happens to fuel the actions of another favorite of ours: Daryl. So we may not exactly like Merle, but you have to give the guy credit for moving the story forward. Not knowing what characters like Merle or the Governor will do makes their actions suspenseful and almost ominous. That feeling of not knowing is what really pushed this episode forward.
Rick and Merle finally have some sort of confrontation in “This Sorrowful Life.” Has anybody else been waiting for this besides me? It seems like both characters have kept their distance, despite the fact that they’re pretty much meant to clash and get in each others’ faces. Here’s what I didn’t appreciate about this confrontation: Rick has–literally–seen Merle less than a handful of times, so why do they act like they know each other? It seems like Merle has actually done his homework. Considering he’s been the odd-man-out for a few episodes, I’m sure he’s had some time to observe. Rick, on the other hand, not so much. While it was good to see these two characters challenge each other, it felt a little unbalanced.
There was a lot to fit into this episode considering the way it concluded, but I am truly glad that the writers gave us a bit more of Michonne and Merle together. Michonne might not be as much as an outcast as Merle, but they somehow relate. I was glad to see Merle come to his senses. It seemed a little unreasonable of him to challenge Rick in the beginning and then have him end up doing the dirty deed himself. Now, I’m not entirely sure why he tried to take it into his own hands, but I’m really glad Michonne ended up back with the group and Merle did his portion of the “greater good.”
That takes me to my next point. I was beginning to lose interest in Rick’s character. He needed to regain his position in the group, which wasn’t exactly to lead. Back in Hershel’s farm, Rick seemed to be more of a guide than a leader. He pushed people to help him make decisions, and while he took some matters into his own hands, he also took the opinions of others into consideration. I’m glad he’s going back to his roots.
I’ve postponed talking about Merle’s death because the episode had so much great material that was left behind. I have to be honest, I didn’t expect Merle to die, but I wasn’t entirely disappointed by it. He had a great final stand, and I’m glad that it didn’t conclude with some slow-motion “Boromir” kind of death. (Throwing out a LOTR reference for all my fellow Geeks!) In fact, Merle’s death was quick and simple. That’s how the world is in “The Walking Dead,” right? His death wasn’t supposed to be glorious. I believe part of the reason it wasn’t was because the episode ended on such a great note.
We didn’t need him to die dramatically. We needed a dramatic reaction, which we got. The idea itself was pretty emotional, and the close-up on Merle’s eyes was a big hit to the heart, but Norman Reedus didn’t play it as well as he should. Whenever I think of tragedy and death in “The Walking Dead,” I think of Rick’s reaction when coming home and finding his house empty or Carol crying over Sophia. Merle Dixon demanded more out of Norman Reedus.
Now I feel pretty excited about next week’s episode. It’s sort of a bittersweet feeling. Not only is the season coming to an end, but I’ve really enjoyed debating and writing about “The Walking Dead.” So even though we are one episode away from the finale, let’s keep the spirit alive and discuss “The Walking Dead” in the comments below!