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How much is a life worth? The Walking Dead’s midseason finale answers this for both the Governor and Rick amid an action packed episode. “Made to Suffer” brought all out war to The Walking Dead while also introducing a new group of survivors to help or hurt the prison and Rick’s group.
Perhaps the more important of the two main events in “Made to Suffer” happened to Carl and those of the main group left at the prison. The opening scene featured another ragtag group of survivors, led by Tyrese (Cutty from The Wire has clearly used some of his boxing know how to survive), finding the back way into the prison. Later Carl, Hershel, and Beth (finally nice to know she is 17, making a romance with her and Carl not totally out of the question) hear some blood curdling screams coming from within the prison that lead Carl to investigate. He saves the group but locks them in the cell next to their living quarters, a very wise decision by young Carl. What these new survivors will mean to the group and how exactly Rick will deal with them is yet to be determined, but after the full on assault Rick will probably need every man he can get.
The all out war that broke loose in Woodbury was more exciting than anything the show has previously done. Due to the relative ease with which Rick and his group have learned to dispatch zombies the time had come for them to face a challenge that can actually fight back. Despite the off screen cop out of how the group actually got behind the Woodbury walls (apparently Michonne found a way out of her room her first time in Woodbury…), what transpired within the walls did not disappoint. The failed escape by Glenn and Maggie was a smart way for the writers to allow Rick and his group to find the two prisoners without dumb luck (aside from the timing of the event) and built up some believability to the almost too improbable and impending successful mission. Daryl’s capture was also a good touch as it allows for the Dixon brothers to reunite (under gladiatorial circumstances, which will be discussed later) and also comes as a big detriment to Rick’s group as Daryl was far and away the best soldier Rick had. Perhaps the recent additions of Michonne and Tyrese can help the hole Daryl’s capture created.
If Rick hopes Michonne will become a good group member, however, she will have to stop acting on her own accord. Even though she found the head aquarium room, including the fallen soldier’s head from her first meeting with the Governor, and his chained up zombie daughter it still doesn’t give Michonne the proof she so desperately needed for her doubts of the Governor to be justified to the viewers. In fact should be argued that her mistrust of the Governor and her resulting assassination attempt, which ended up only blinding him in one eye, actually created the monster Michonne always believed him to be. Sure he is kind of weird and clearly a good politician but his portrayed evil deeds were always justifiable and it was Michonne’s mistrust that wasn’t.
Now that has all changed, or at least the Governor’s evil side has finally come to light. Unfortunately it is very hard to tell whether or not the Governor is as smart as he seems. He clearly knew the affect the zombie gladiatorial games were having upon the residents of Woodbury but is it possible he implemented this form of entertainment to weaken their abhorrence of death and grow their need for vengeance and bloodlust to eventually turn on one of their own like they do with Merle? Could he also have allowed the interrogation of Glenn and Maggie to happen because he was afraid of where Merle’s loyalties lied? While the Governor clearly is good at politicking and seems he is capable of elaborate schemes it is hard to tell whether his actions always carried ulterior motives because the viewers are still left in the dark as to what his true character is. It does look like the Governor will be going down a much darker path in the second half of the season but that has more to do with Rick’s attack than anything (even though he originally was planning to take them out).
But this brings everything back to the original question, how much is a life worth? The contrast between Rick’s and the Governor’s sensibilities were clearly painted. Rick’s immediate decision to go after Maggie and Glenn without first considering the possible consequences shows that he is much more consumed by his emotions and that he is willing to protect any and all of his group no matter the costs. It is clear he had not thought things through and it should be interesting to see his reaction to losing Daryl. Meanwhile the Governor must take into account his entire town’s population. Clearly he does not let emotions cloud his judgments too much (keeping his zombie daughter locked up is probably the clouded judgment) and he seems to think more strategically. Using Merle as a scapegoat was the perfect example of this knowing that losing one (especially one as hot-headed as Merle) of his own would gain credibility (despite the fact it was a lie) with his frightened townspeople while also showing he has the capacity to effectively analyze what a person’s worth is, even when he is in an emotional state. It seems the second half of the season will be devoted to the Governor trying to exterminate Rick and his gang so it’ll be interesting to see which leader is more suited to survive.
Kill of the Week
This week’s prize goes to Maggie stabbing the Governor’s henchman in the throat with the bones Glenn just ripped out from a zombie’s arm. It had the added bonus of tipping the rescue party to Glenn’s and Maggie’s whereabouts.