The Walking Dead: "When the Dead Come Knocking (Season 3, Episode 7), "Made to Suffer" (Season 3, Episode 8)


Today, for the season ending finale, we look for the positives in everyone. The Governor is a family man, if in a totally demented way. Merle may be a total jerk, but he is handy to have around if you want to torture someone. Michonne is a bad ass with a sword, but she actually cares about children in distress. Rick, is well, our everyman who still tries to sort of pretend he has a conscious. Darryl is pretty much the switch hitting utility infielder who’s also good with tools that everyone needs when catastrophe comes a knocking. Carl can grow up fast, Carol accepts lesbian jokes with good humor, and Hershel is one heck of a doctor for a veterinarian. Maggie is the perfect girl next door, and Glenn officially graduates to bad ass alongside Michelle this week. As for Andrea… Well, if wishy washy with a penchant for guns is what you’re looking for, she’s your lady. Personally, that strikes me as dangerous from a relationship perspective.

Anyway, by the end of all this, Woodbury versus the Prison is well under way. Next season should be a head banger.

“When the Dead Come Knocking”

Merle opens with his best monster routine. He’s running his little knife hand gadget along the table while ragging on Glen about being left behind in Atlanta. Oh, and Glen’s tied to a chair with duct tape, so he has to listen. Merle’s sadist of the week line? “You don’t scare easy. I like that.” Pretty soon he’s punching Glen’s lights out while Maggie, in the next room, can hear it all.

They’ve got all the critical elements of torture down pat in Woodbury. Andy Griffith would be ashamed.

At the prison, Rick rescues Michonne and brings her inside. That’s when he learns that Carol survived, which offers one of this show’s rare moments of grace. Hershel tends to Michonne’s wound, she spills the beans about Maggie, Glen and the Governor, and a rescue mission is in the works.

Back in Woodbury, Andrea is sleeping with the Governor. That seems to be how we’ve been introduced to her for several episodes in a row now. It’s not exactly flattering. Merle is still beating up on Glen. When he gets tired of that, he throws a walker into the room with him. And so help me God, Glen--nice polite Glen—-manages to crouch on to his feet while strapped to that chair, keep the walker at bay while ramming his chair back against a wall, then impale the walker on the chair’s shattered remains. All after having been beaten severely.

Maybe the wrong man’s been leading our prison cast. But that aside, Glenn just entered Michonne territory in terms of cool, bad ass, “don’t mess with me” heroics.

Elsewhere, we see Andrea is helping the nerd scientist conduct an experiment with a man who just died to see if walkers retain any residual memories. That ties into the Governor’s daughter fixation. Still, I think it’s just an excuse to give Andrea something to do other than sleep with the Governor. I’m grateful for that. Particularly after the Governor interrogates Maggie in a scene of escalating creepiness that stops just short of rape. That Andrea sure can pick ‘em, can’t she?

Rick, Darryl, Oscar and Michonne set out on a rescue mission. They get waylaid by a bunch of walkers, barely making their way inside an old shack where they are besieged. They also wake the old hermit inside. He freaks out, cuz’ that’s what old hermits on TV do, and makes for the door. Michonne takes him down before he can open it. And our grossness quotient is topped out for this week when they hurl the fresh body outside to distract walkers while they run out the back door.

The episode ends with the Governor putting a gun to Glen’s head. That finally makes Maggie talk, so the bad boys of Woodbury now know about the prison. Which I suppose is fair enough, since the prison folk are outside Woodbury’s walls about to make their move.

Tune in next week, same gross time, same gross channel.

“Made to Suffer”

Nice opening shot of the sun.

We meet an entirely new group of people. Their leader is a big, strong African American named Tyrese, which doesn’t bode well for Oscar based on the T Dog precedent. He’s got four other people with him, a woman and what looks like a father-mother-son unit. The mother gets bit. Too bad. They soldier on and find the prison, entering into an abandoned portion with walkers in pursuit.

The Governor’s just finished sleeping with Andrea yet again. Sigh. So now its back to his room filled with heads in aquariums. To add to its charms, he has Penny, his walker daughter, chained up in a cage there. He tries to interact with her. It doesn’t go well. That’s basically a setup for what comes later, when the last vestiges of humanity in our psycho Andy Griffith gets hollowed out.

Glenn is locked up with Maggie. He gets bad ass bonus points for using the walker he put down last week to make a knife from its bones. That pretty much cinches it for me—-to heck with Rick. If I’m adrift in the zombie Apocalypse, I want Glen on my team.

What follows is a sequence of our four-person prison rescue team working their way into Woodbury, alternating with Glen and Maggie’s attempt to escape. The escape attempt fails, and they’re about to be executed, when our storylines converge. A flash bang stuns the Woodbury execution squad long enough for Team Prison to go on the run with Glen and Maggie.

Elsewhere, young Carl hears screams in the abandoned parts of the prison. He takes a gun and finds Tyrese’s group of fugitives. He helpfully plugs a walker, then leads them to safe prison space where the bitten mother dies. He gives them food and water and locks them in until Rick returns to decide what to do. Tyrese is eminently reasonable about it all. So much so that I'm sure he’ll be sticking around. Watch your back, Oscar. Oh, and former prisoner Axel mistakes Carol for a lesbian because of her short hair. She takes it in good spirits.

Back at Woodbury, Michonne has broken off from the others to hunt the Governor. She must not have liked that whole “let me go and hunt me down” routine he played on her. Elsewhere, Team Prison is in a fire fight at the exits. And sure enough, Oscar is caught standing up when he shouldn’t be. Blam. So long, Oscar. Rick, meanwhile, is having hallucinations about seeing Shane. Give me Glen any day of the week.

Michonne is waiting in the Governor’s room when she hears a sound. It’s Penny. Michonne breaks into the head room and gets her out of her cage. Penny is wearing a mask to keep her from biting, so we finally get to see an honest outpouring of humanity from Michonne. She tells the child it’s all right, that she won’t hurt her. Then she removes the mask and… Presumably, she’s more disposed to kill the Governor now. He arrives just as she’s about to put Penny out of her misery.

The Governor pleads for Michonne to spare his daughter. Michonne is like, “wow, you really are crazy, aren’t you?” It’s a replay of Hershel and his barn in miniature. Since she’s there to kill the Governor anyway, Michonne runs her sword through Penny’s head. The fight that follows is graphic and brutal. It ends with the Governor trying to strangle Michonne until she breaks off a piece of shattered aquarium glass to jab in his eye. For good measure, there’s a decapitated head from one of the aquarium’s rolling around on the ground snapping its teeth.

Top that, Die Hard.

Andrea arrives just as Michonne is about to dispatch the Governor. They draw down on each other, kitanna against gun. Neither pushes it, and Michonne leaves. Andrea then gets her first look at the "head room” while the Governor weeps over his walker daughter. He later gives her a lame excuse about steeling himself to face the horrors outside. If Andrea buys that, she's an idiot.

Everyone on Team Prison makes it out of Woodbury but Darryl. Merle doesn’t realize it yet, but he’s in the hurt locker big time. He was the one who hunted Michonne, botched it, and lied to the Governor about the result. That look the Governor gives him with his good eye is one for the books. This is one bad guy who’s just lost his last connection to any decent memories. Trust me, there will be hell to pay.

At town center, the Governor fingers Merle as a traitor in front of everyone. He makes it sound like Team Prison attacked for no reason other than Merle’s sell out. Then he drags Darryl out for a decidedly nonoptimal family reunion.

See you in February folks. Good night, and don’t let the bed walkers bite.

Will Conservatives Like These Episodes?

A heaping helping of very solid action makes for a quite entertaining, if ever gross, two hours. But remember—-vote for Glenn. I don’t care what his position on the fiscal cliff is. He’s the man for life over any cliff.