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The Walking Dead: 315 “This Sorrowful Life” Review

walking-dead-315-merle-walker

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

The penultimate episode of The Walking Dead had some fantastic moments, which once again reminded us of the extremities that the group are facing. Although it was very Merle-centric, there were developments across the group that show the value of their individual bonds as we head into the finale & what’s expected to be an all out brawl.

Merle & Daryl have been a difficult duo to balance into the mix of things since the first season. As both characters were designed simply for the TV show, they’ve been under a lot of scrutiny from comic book fans as well as the rest of the TV audience. Daryl has proven to be one of the series’ most likeable characters with his tough, no-nonsense take on situations and his rise to second in command.

Opposing Merle has been a conundrum from the very beginning. Ever since we saw him shooting off his mouth and rifle in the second episode, showing his all-too-stereotypical, sexist and 101 hick personality, he’s been a tough character to like or care about. Thankfully the writers for season 3 have been able to bring him back in such a way that has made him acceptable yet despicable. However, the behaviour with Glen & Maggie was beyond any redemption & it’s actually quite convenient that he’s no longer an issue when it comes to re-integration with the group.

Letting Michonne go was a little too unusual for this racist but given the conversation with Daryl & the somewhat suicidal last stand against the Governor, then this can be believed. Merle’s final fight was brilliant; the car trailing walkers and the sniping of the Governor’s men was a genius tactic that’s evened out the numbers a little when it comes to next week’s showdown.

The fact that Merle was killed off-screen was a little annoying but made it slightly more surprising when Daryl found his older brother tucking into a former resident of Woodbury. This was a great opportunity for Norman Reedus to show us what he’s capable of with Daryl and he didn’t disappoint. Stabbing Merle in the face showed both his pain & strength and made for an incredibly powerful moment in the episode.

Outside of the Dixons, we finally saw Glen propose to Maggie in a touching scene that didn’t go too over the top or cheesy. The two characters have made the transition from book to screen perfectly and it’s fitting that they’re coming together like this for the final episode.

Other than Rick’s initially poor decision about Michonne there wasn’t too much happening for the rest of the group with the exception of Rick’s speech. This was a nice opposing bookend to the end of season 2 that illustrated the difference in Rick & his opposite number in Woodbury. With that the talking is over and there’s only a week to go before the battle that’s long overdue.

We still don’t know the fate of Andrea but I’m sure Milton will have something to do with that. There’s a lot of question marks above characters like Tyreese, Martinez & even Morgan, they could all join the group in some form or another but it’s difficult to see how until the Governor has fallen. It’s a lot of action to pack into just one episode so we should be in for an Easter treat.

8/10

Scene of the Episode: Mighty Merle – His final stand was a great piece of action that showed the true grit of his character and redeemed him somewhat from the countless things he’s done. Daryl finishing him off was a bittersweet moment that allows the group to carry on without any more internal conflict.

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