The Walking Dead Midseason Finale 3.8: “Made To Suffer” (And How)

Hosted by Fashion and Entertainment Editor Joseph Lamour

I would like to take the opportunity to express my dismay that more and more shows are doing this midseason finale thing. It really is just the worst thing for my emotions, especially for fanboys and fangirls like me who find the week-long lull between episodes torture enough. However, one good side-effect to the dreaded midseason finale is having two cliffhangers intensify a show’s season, and this hour of Walking Dead in particular was all the more riveting for it.

This week, we see what happens when Rick, Michonne, and the rest of the Lil’ Asskickers infiltrate Woodbury. Considering the title of the episode is “Made to Suffer”, one can imagine the rescue mission proves…unpleasant. Particularly if you’re a supporting character of color. Watch out, everyone but Merle in Woodbury patrol…but, part of what makes The Walking Dead so great–in spite of the pitfalls–is the tense drama elevates the story. And, in spite of how much (constructive!) criticism I and the rest of the tablers impart, the fact that is that we here at the roundtable all are huge fans of TWD. That fact gets lost in the critique sometimes, so it never hurts to put some love out there. Plus, how can an awesome show get any more awesome if no one points out how?

Before the roundtable hibernates for the winter, Kenneth Hwynn, Carly Mitchell, and newcomer Nikki Urban (welcome, Nikki!) join me, as we witness Glenn do things to a corpse that we will never unsee. Or unhear.

* Spoilers make us all so sad.

Just Once I’d Like To See A Really Dapper Zombie. They’re Always…So Casual.

Ken: I’m going to preempt this episode and just take a guess that Andrea ruins everything.

Joe: Ken, it seems likely, since she clearly can’t see the truth through all those cartoon hearts floating around her head. I hope her character wakes up and smells the coffee before she becomes the new Lori.

Carly: I think it may be a little late for that. Right at the start I exclaimed, “Why are the writers making us dislike her so much?!”

Carly: Thank goodness for some fresh blood with this new group because I’m sensing we’re going to have some sacrificed characters this episode.

Ken: Fresh blood might just be right–not sure how long these new guys are gonna last.

Joe: I wrote in my notes: “Who are these black actors with lines, and how many minutes will it be before they die?” Then, I noticed the very ballet-like way that burly man is moving, and I realised who he was. I won’t spoil it for those who remain unaware.

Carly: So, I turned to my husband and said, “Is there ever a point where, during this, you learn to sacrifice your own when they’re lost? Is it really possible that this far into the apocalypse people aren’t able to let go of someone that will kill them in the next few minutes?

Joe: Honestly. Can’t people learn to take precautions? You have to be near your wife in her last moments–totes understandable. But, why don’t we do the rest of the group a favor and put a mask on near the end or, taking a page from The Governor, make use of a breathable fabric bag or t-shirt. Be resourceful. Finish it off with some fitted gloves, and you have yourself a perfect zombie-safe outfit.

Joe: That is a disgusting bowl of ew The Governor has for Penny there in his “trophy” room. When is someone going to notice this place or his daughter? The Governor has had two lady friends spend the night without either of them suspecting a thing, yet Michonne heard Penny right away the first time she was in his house.

Ken: Yeah, Joe. And also, I’m really confused, how is it after spending eight months with Andrea that Michonne doesn’t mention this key fact to Rick and crew. Maddening…

Joe: Or, Ken, Michonne doesn’t notice Rick and these other people are exactly like the people in all of Andrea’s stories. (They must have had some conversations outside of zombies and food in the past year.)

Carly: Someone mentioned that last week in the comments section how ridiculous and frustrating it is the depth of the withholding of information this season. I completely agree.

Glenn Gets Creative With Corpses

Nikki: I did not think it was possible after that nasty half-botched birth, buuuut I think Glenn just upped the gross factor! Clever? Yes. Disgusting. Yes, yes, yes. I also love how far Glenn has come, especially since Herschel gave him his “approval” gift. I even think he was flexing more muscles while ripping that arm apart.

Joe: Thank goodness for mute.

Carly: I had to stop eating my dinner, close my eyes and ears, and hum. Aside from that, I agree–I’m just head over heels with Glenn and what they are doing with him. Treating him like a full character instead of just a sidekick, with his own motivations and desires.

Joe: He’s had a riveting bunch of scenes. Steven Yeun is acting his pants off, too. Just chewing the scenery, that one.

Carly: What on earth does Hershel think he’s going to do stopping Carl? People, let’s just let this kid redeem himself.

Joe: The powers that be have definitely realized that ladies can dole out as much badassery as the boys. Carol had a great couple of lines shooting down Axel, and right after Maggie stabs a dude in the neck with a zombie bone? Sweet.

Carly: Carol. I love you.

Joe: If everyone died except Michonne, Daryl, Carol, Glenn and Maggie I’d prooooobably be okay with it.

Carly: How are we still allowing this bitten woman to be lugged along???

Joe: I know, right! Y’all: hammer your friend all about the forehead and scalp! How much you wanna bet this lovely Yaya DaCosta-esque girl (Sasha, played by Sonequa Martin-Green) in the new group is going to die because no one ever took care of it? Especially because she’s the one who expressly said, “Leave her outside.”

Joe: Uh, society doesn’t really exist anymore, Governor, the concept of “escaped convicts” no longer applies in a society without laws. What a great line though…the Governor came up with that political spin almost instantaneously. He was already thinking of how he was going to present it to the town, even while it was happening. Buzzwords and blind faith.

Carly: Right? ‘Escaped convicts’ and ‘terrorists’! You don’t need much more to get people riled up.

We Won’t Mix Up Two Black Actors, We Promise!

Only pic this episode of Oscar.

Carly: I cannot begin to express my disappointment about Oscar.

Joe: Hey there, Shane! Goodbye, T-Dog, #2 (Interesting…they introduced one black character at the beginning of this episode only to kill Oscar 20 minutes later?) Daryl, look for your brother after the shooting!  Maggie! stop drawing attention to yourself by screaming like that, but good call on shooting Oscar in the head. I totally would have forgotten!

Yeesh! This battle royale scene is chock full of activity isn’t it? I can’t take notes fast enough.

Ken: Do they have a quota on the number of black or Asian characters on the show? It’s getting pretty blatant.

Carly: I said the same thing, watching that, about the quota.

Joe: It’s almost like the black men on the show are running a really, really depressing relay race.

Carly: Why wouldn’t they show Michonne reacting to her pets being in the tanks?

Joe: I think Danai Gurira (Michonne) actually looked at the one in the tank and reacted, but the camerawork didn’t make a point of it. I mean, that’s basically the reason she killed his daughter because, thanks to him, she was forced to kill her zombie companions. Who, by the way, still haven’t been introduced officially.

Carly: This episode is a whole new level of horrifying for this season.

Joe: That was a great fight scene between the Governor and Michonne. I was convinced hoping Michonne was going to chuck a biting zombie head at him.

Carly: I completely forgot that Merle lied about Michonne being dead. We all knew it wasn’t gonna go over well, but when the lead-up involves The Governor losing his daughter and an eye? Hoo, boy.

Carly: Huge kudos to Danai Gurira showing the depth of Michonne while saying, “You need me,” and so clearly emoting how much she needs them in return. At least in this moment. This whole episode has been such a great range for her after so much stagnation.

Joe: I’d submit this episode for Emmy consideration if I were them. Emmys for everyone! Especially Michonne, Glenn, and the Governor. The chops on display!

Carly: Apparently brother-battles makes the Governor’s eye bleed profusely.

Joe: He’s also noticeably disheveled–I mean, he just lost an eye, so I give him a pass. But I don’t think he would usually let the townsfolk see him that way.

Ken: “Excuse me, do I have something in my eye?”

Well, looking closely at this picture ruins the effect of the glass-in-eye-socket thing. Womp womp.

Joe: Kind of great that the glass was only one of three pins to burst Andrea’s fantasy-boyfriend bubble. Oh, that awkward moment when you finally notice the chomping zombie heads all over your boyfriends floor after seeing the shard of glass jutting from his eye and not before you settle on his twice-dead daughter. Almost makes you regret doubting (and almost shooting) the friend that saved your life over and over again.

Ken: I’m loving this new look on Carl. He’s becoming pretty ruthless and badass. Like father, like son.

Joe: I love the way Beth and Carl interact like they’re in school and not a zombie apocalypse. His little “Yeah, I saved them” schtick was cute. And thank goodness he saved them, because this show needs a Black Highlander– “There can be only one!”

Post Un-Mortem

Ken: I have a feeling Tyreese (Chad Coleman) will be important.

Joe: They certainly can’t T-Dog him–there’s source material to work from! Sasha, however, is not in the novels. Let’s see how developed she becomes. Here’s hoping.

This week’s Michonne Beheading Count is 0. Stabbing a little girl in the head doesn’t count. Almost!

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  • Etherblade

    In my opinion, the writers assume that since most of the fans read the comic books they do not have to explain much about Michonne. She is way more of a dynamic character in the comic book than on the show. There are times when I want to yell out “for the love of Mike, speak Michonne speak.”
    What kills me the most is in the comic book everyone is fair game. However on the show its like lets kill T-Dog and leave room for Oscar. Here comes Tyreese, lets kill off Oscar.
    Here is a fun fact, Robert Kirkman( creator of TWD) writes most of the scripts for the show.

  • Shazza

    I’m still hoping the black father and son from the first season show up somewhere down the road.

  • QueLoQue

    Is it just me, or do they ugly up Michonne on the show? Granted, I understand this is the Zombie Apocalypse, but Maggie, Lori, Beth and Carol all still look really attractive. Seeing Danai Gurira in photos and interviews, she looks glorious, but not so much in the show. Same thing with Sasha this episode, the actress looks fantastic in photos, but not nearly as good in the show.

    • Pellinore

      They honestly gave Danai like the ugliest wig they could find. Locks don’t have to look like that. But Andrea definitely manages to look fresh as a mofo every episode, as do the other women. I find moments where Michonne looks really pretty but I think it’s unintentional as well.

  • Anon

    Yeah, I was the one that commented on the lack of communication between characters. When Glenn told Daryl that the person that beat them up was Merle I was like, “FINALLY!!! SHIT!!” My GOD, how LONG do you wait before telling a person that kind of essential information? I just don’t see how Michonne didn’t mention the fact that the person that grabbed Glenn and Maggie was called “Merle” by Glenn and knew him from before and kept blabbing on and on about his brother. Seems like it may be just a tad important. And I completely agree with the commentor below about how a little boy has more authority than a grown woman and adult man. Carol has the same shooting and zombie fighting chops and she is healthy and has life experience. How is it that she and Hershel can’t be a part of the decision whether to let these new people in–or at least have it appear to be open for discussion? What is this? I mean is Carl the next King?

    Also, while we were watching my husband paused to say that if Michonne is killed in this episode he is done with the show. He’s had enough. We began the episode just KNOWING that Two-Dogg/Oscar was done for and then when the two new black characters showed up we wondered if Michonne was going to make it as well. They had better make use of Tyreese. I loved him in The Wire as Cutty and if they don’t let him add to the show there is no f-ing excuse. None.

    • Pellinore

      Other than to maintain suspense it makes absolutely no sense that nobody is naming names. B/c the writers never allow Michonne to explain herself or talk about her past no one knows she was with Andrea for eight months. No one knows who the zombies were. No one knows where she came from. Frankly no one knows shit about her, including Andrea for some god-forsaken reason. If they would just offer a flashback I could understand. But they don’t ever explain anything about her. And compare this to Rick’s introduction, or Shane’s, etc. From day one those characters received characterization. Even when they weren’t the only characters on the show. We knew a lot more about Daryl from his first appearance compared to Michonne. We knew he had a brother. We knew he was salty about him being left behind. We understood he was a loner and a bit about where he came from. What does anyone concretely know about Michonne since her first appearance? And comic-book info doesn’t count.

      I really think writers can feed into the hatred fandoms have for black female characters. Especially when they do jack shit with said characters.

      • AndStuff

        Agreed and it’s really terrible because it feeds the public’s low opinion about black women. Michonne is a smart, a lawyer, a lover (in the comics) but in the show she’s just angry all the time and lonely and tough.

        • Pellinore

          Yeah. People like us expect this kind of treatment from fandoms but writers need to give a fuck and muscle up and make black female characters great. Haters gonna hate regardless but the writers make it too easy for them to hate.

  • Adrienne Gravish
  • Pellinore

    They also had another Latina character but killed her off immediately. I think she’s the first who has had any speaking lines whatsoever. At least her son is alive for the time being.

  • Grif

    I’m really impressed by how the Governor storyline has been done, even if its not perfect. I always thought that arc of the comic would make the whole thing unadaptable.

  • 7thangel

    i have to disagree. while i didn’t hate the episode, the amount of PISS nag the crap out of me. the writing is horrible imo

    like damn near everyone, i wasn’t surprised that Oscar died. they should just make the brothers battle it out for who will be ‘the one’

    they ruined Andrea, i don’t see them making Michonne a good fully realized character , and i highly doubt Tyreese will be as important as he was in the comics. they introduced Donna just to zombify her (and her annoying screams. that alone deserved the hammer)…. meh,

    hoping it gets better, because i can’t live on gross-out moments alone, i need more

  • Linda

    Why is Rick’s crew snatching up Michonne and pointing guns at her when she’s saved the baby AND Glenn & Maggie? And why is she just kind of taking it? It doesn’t seem to fit her character. I was so ticked when they treated her like a criminal. She clearly can survive on her own. She has for months. Why does she suddenly *need* this group. Doesn’t jive with me.

    • DCasp

      She is tired I think, of being on her own at this point. So she doesn’t “need” them to survive, but I think she liked having Andrea around, and now that she has had a companion, she isn’t as willing to go back to being a lone wolf. Sort of the same way that I see Daryl’s character. I think he could survive on his own, but doesn’t want to.

    • Denise Winters

      I thinks she wants people and that is one of the reason she waited so long for Andrea to wise-up. Yes, she can go it alone but she was probably miserable. I think she needs them emotionally. She might have wanted Woodbury to be safe emotionally, but knew it wasn’t. Now, there is a group that can provide safety and isn’t led by Guvvy McCreepy.

    • De’Liyuon

      You took the words out of my mouth. I was so disgusted with their interaction with Michonne. Saves Glenn & Maggie? Her fault they were caught in the first place because she was followed. Oscar dies? Her fault for abandoning them and not Rick having hallucinations :/…Something has got to give and I hate how they love to place all the blame or her without accepting their own shortcomings. If they don’t do Tyrese justice and treat Michonne better then I think I will have to completely give up on this show.

    • Pellinore

      I agree. It seems like black characters must always defer to the authority of white characters in this series. Michonne has been treated poorly from day one. And she was nearly killed by the Governor. Rick and his friends should be the least of her worries but they honestly act no differently from the Governor and his crew. From T-Dog to Oscar to Tyrese to Michonne even. I didn’t like Tyrese’s interaction with Carl in particular b/c I don’t see why he should have more authority than an adult woman and an adult disabled man.

      And they would kill Oscar but keep the pervy and homophobic white dude?

      I’d compare the group’s treatment of Michonne to how Molly in the video game was treated. Molly didn’t get much shit from anyone except for Kenny. And Kenny is problematic and becomes more unstable with the loss of his family. But otherwise Molly was treated just fine and even thanked for helping out. When the fuck are these people going to thank Michonne? Without her they would not known the whereabouts of Maggie and Glenn. Those two would have been dead without her.

    • elikit

      Yeah, I don’t buy why she’s all of a sudden supplicating to the Ricktatorship, when they’ve treated her so shittily. She suspected the Governor of sicking all along even when there were only tiny, vague hints. And yet Rick and Co. have acted like dicks all along. WTF?

    • TasteMyBitch’sBrew

      I was livid when Rick grabbed Michonne’s wound in the episode before the mid-season finale! Absolutely livid! It was so uncalled for, especially since she was already telling them where Glenn and Maggie were AND that she brought the food for Rick’s baby. I don’t understand why the writers would have him be so hostile toward her, but the parallels between Rick and the Governor in their treatment of Michonne screams white male patriarchy and racism. That they both feel the need to disarm her and treat her like a rabid dog is so insulting. I almost wanted her to behead them like zombies. But she needs them 1) because she’s wounded and 2) she’s still human and craves that closeness. This is why she helped Andrea’s dumb ass, and also why she was so compassionate with Penny, until she realized she was a zombie. I am definitely planning to blog about this show, particularly this season with the addition of Michonne, because none of the other characters, not even the prisoners, were treated in such a disrespectful and brutal manner, especially after she has proven herself resourceful.

  • MariselaTreviñoOrta

    When Oscar was shot I yelled at the TV. It’s really ridiculous that this show seems to have, as you all have pointed out, a quota on characters of color–especially Black men. I love this show, but man its Highlander Syndrome is the worst. Writers of TWD, please, you’re doing a great job this season, but this is becoming an albatross around your neck.

    • Carly Mitchell

      I agree, albatross indeed, and it’s ridiculous it just continues so far into the show. The writers surely must hear so many people voicing frustration at their refusal to address this.