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The Walking Dead: 308 “Made to Suffer” Review

Reviewed by Rich Jepson, cult TV enthusiast and author of 24: Terrorism Through Television.

WARNING – FULL SPOILERS

This may be the last we’ll see of The Walking Dead until 2013 but we sure as hell won’t be forgetting about it anytime soon. In what was yet another great episode from the shows third run out, we were treated to a John Carpenter inspired assault on Woodbury, the reunion of the Dixon brothers and Michonne did the un-blink-able to the Governor with a shard of glass. All this plus Maggie stabbing some guy in the throat, Axel chatting up Carol and of course the introduction of one of the most-popular comic book characters, Tyreese.

There’s been a lot of speculation surrounding the introduction of Tyreese to the series, many were waiting for him to surface in Woodbury or possibly from within the prison.  What was great about his eventual arrival was the fact that he brought two things with him – some friends and that hammer. What wasn’t great about it however, was the fact that as soon as he turned up the shows only other black male character, Oscar bought it. In a similar exchange to T-Dogg’s demise and Oscar’s entrance, it seems that only one black character can exist in the group at a time. This is a little embarrassing for a show that’s been so successful, especially when you consider that Robert Kirkman’s comics actively stay away from a ‘Hollywood’ demographic, letting a mixture of people come and go throughout the story.

Nonetheless, Tyreese has officially arrived and played by the very capable Chad Coleman (formerly ‘Cutty’ in The Wire). Although we’ve only seen a glimpse, he, like Michonne, looks to have made the transition from paperback to screen with relative ease. Coleman is a fit for his size and strength and the way he took out the bitten survivor shows he’s got the grit that makes him so enjoyable in the comics.

Elsewhere in the prison things were relatively quiet, Carol seems to have fully recovered, so much so that Axel is now hitting her on, after he cleared up the slight issue of her sexuality of course. Carl has certainly proved that even though he’s a small man; he’s in charge of the big house. Rescuing Tyreese and co before locking them into the cafeteria shows he’s his father’s son and wise enough to make sure the rest of his group don’t get put in any danger.

Aside for this, the real action in this episode was over in Woodbury where we finally got to see the group attack the bordered off town. The adrenaline-fuelled exchange of gunfire was enjoyable to watch and it was satisfying to see Glenn and Maggie escape. Rick illustrated just how violent he has become when it comes to protecting the others, “kill anything that moves” was a bold statement from a man who’s lost both his best friend and his wife within the space of 9 months.

True to her ways Michonne ditched the group almost immediately on entry into Woodbury and went to settle a score with The Governor. Before the two went toe to toe and eye to…err…socket, there was a bit of an awkward moment when Michonne freed Penny from her harness. This was pretty ridiculous for a woman as cautious as Michonne, I mean was there not enough hints in the room to cause a tiny bit of suspicion? The fact that she was in a cage, that there was a pyramid of zombie heads in fish tanks, that she was cloaked, chained to the wall and moaning incoherently. No chance she might be a walker? Nope. Well I guess it’s an easy mistake to make…

Despite this clumsy horror movie-esque mistake, it did spark a very edgy fight between the two after Michonne’s sword shot through the back of Penny’s head. This was a bitter exchange that ended with the Governor losing an eye and Andrea losing a friend.

What I didn’t get about all of this was Andrea’s stupidity. You could excuse the dead daughter because what parent would want to be responsible for killing their own child, whether they were alive or un-dead? But for her not to run out of the room at the sight of a dozen decapitated heads lying around and in fish tanks was pretty astonishing. The Governor’s excuse – he keeps them there to remind him of the outside world- pull the other one. Surely an alarm must have gone off in her head if not then at least later in the arena.

Merle’s decision not to tell the Governor the truth about Michonne’s escape came back to bite him, big time. Now he’s implicated himself as a mole within the Governor’s organisation and the capture of his baby brother only added weight to this scenario. This is the first time we’ve seen the two onscreen together so hopefully we’ll get a better understanding of their relationship in the next episode. Andrea will play a pivotal role in what ever happens next, another assault by Rick’s group seems unlikely.

Overall, this has been the most entertaining season so far and with the addition of Tyreese to the show it looks set to continue. The Walking Dead has found the perfect mix of new and transitioned characters and is doing well to blend them in to altered storylines. The Dixon brothers are back together and will make good viewing when the show returns in February.

There was no stand off between Rick and the Governor here so the tension looks set to build for another half dozen episodes before we see these two fully interact. A teasing shot of the two exchanging a brief look would have been a nice thread to the story but we can’t expect everything at once, it’s been a fantastic season so far and looks set to continue in the New Year.

9/10

Scene of the Episode: Socket To Him – Round one goes to Michonne, but will we see another battle between these two bitter comic book rivals?

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