The Walking Dead Roundtable 3.15: “This Sorrowful Life”

Hosted by Joseph Lamour

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Jeannie: Random thought that came to me as I was staring at Daryl’s beautiful face and noticed how nicely his long locks were falling into his eyes–how long have they been living like this? Have we ever been given an account of how much time has passed since this all started happening?

Joe: He now has 30 Seconds to Mars hair. I love it.

Jeannie: Would it be easier for Rick to hand Michonne over to the Governor if he knew her death was going to be quick? Does it give him more pause to consider all the sick and twisted things that the Governor would actually do to her? I hate that these are the only sides of this equation. I don’t like that Lori has essentially become whatever’s left of Rick’s conscience. I don’t like that Merle is the one leading Michonne to the Governor and thereby technically absolves Rick of his guilt. I just do not like any of this.

Carly: I’m not enjoying this theme of proving oneself as a man. How did this dilemma get translated into a competition of who has the bigger balls to “do what needs to be done.” First with Merle questioning Rick’s manliness, and then questioning Daryl’s?

Jeannie: Here’s another question I really need an answer to: if this whole set-up is to give them a chance to take down the Governor, why not include Michonne in this stupid plan? Why hasn’t anyone said, “Hey, so the Governor wants to lure you into his torture chamber and it might get a little intense, but here’s what we’re actually going to do: Not send you to your death, because that would be wrong and selfish, and particularly sad since Carl totally loves you now.”

Nikki: Agreed, homegirl went it alone with a samurai sword and is the only character we’ve seen actively preparing her body for battle/defense. I kind of feel like Plan C–pretend to hand you over and then we all spring an attack, or something like that. Would’ve been an option. She’s arguably your best/toughest ally.

Jeannie: Ahhhh Glenn!!!! His moments do so much to make up for my frustrations with this show. Jenn and I have talked about this before (she more eloquently than I) but it definitely is worth repeating: Glenn’s storyline isn’t perfect. But if you’re going to develop an Asian American character, this is a fairly decent way to do it without making a mockery of it. Go Glenn!

Jeannie: Slow wire decapitation is my vote for grossout of the week.

Jeannie: Oh, wow. Did Merle just one-up Rick in the act of human decency department? Rick, you need to check yo’self. (Crap, this means that Merle’s not going to live to see the end of this episode, doesn’t it?)

Nikki: Yes, how fitting that after everyone trying to convince Merle that “it’s not too late to redeem thyself” that he does it just in time to die. Le sniffle.

Jeannie: Ugghfdjasdhi!! I stand corrected. The Governor biting Merle’s fingers off = grossout of the week.

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Jeannie: Eeeeeeeee!!! Glenn! (And Maggie!!)

Jeannie: It’s the small things that get me: I love that the camera focused on Carl as Rick was owning up to what he had done. You tried so hard to teach him right, and preserve his childhood innocence, and you even distorted your reality so that you can believe that everything you did was for the family you have left, but your son can’t even look at you right now. Guh. The feels! (An obvious direction to take, but still. I’ll take it!)

Carly: See, that’s funny, I took the camera focusing on Carl to mean something else, like, trying to remind us of how it was Carl that said, hey, Dad, I think you should not be the leader anymore. That maybe Carl’s input is starting to matter a bit more.

Jeannie: Okay, we’ve all called Rick’s judgment into question and talked about his need to step down. This speech is one of the better ones I’ve heard on the show, but I’m not too hopeful about how much things will change after this. Rick’s calling for a vote but it still sounds like he’s calling the shots here.

Carly: I have to point out that as much as we get on Rick for seeming like he’s always leading the charge, he is so because of group consent at this point. It was a little different when he would bend wills when Shane was around, or Dale even. Plus, ever since his mental unraveling he’s much less prone to halting the others attempts at secondary leadership roles.

Jeannie: Honestly, I never imagined that any scene in which we see Merle as a walker would make me cry, but…it’s all in Norman Reedus’s acting skills, man. The way his face just crumpled up, the sobbing, (was he also whimpering? I’m whimpering!), the overkill. He’s little Daryl getting abandoned by his big brother Merle all over again! Ohmywahhh! My heart hurts. :(

Nikki: How terrible that we should wish for that during the entire series (I don’t know about you guys but I was!), and then to see it after his final deed and the pain on Daryl’s face’?! To see Daryl in pain is to feel my gut wreeeench! So tough to see, :(

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Carly: Criminy, the performance from both of them. This whole episode with Merle was incredible. I’m absolutely tipping my hat to the writers for producing the most redemptive way possible for him to leave. However, I’m just gonna throw my opinion in with Michael Rooker himself and say this was a character cut down way too soon. It’s easy to forget, but we didn’t get much Merle over the entire course of the show, and to have such a “come to Jesus” moment for him all in one episode and then he’s out? That’s just a shame. And not to mention a really strained message–is it that we can be awful, cruel, and racist but as long as we do something generous on our way out it’s ok? Or that this is the only fate left to someone like that? That people can’t learn or change?

Carly: Is anyone else hoping The Governor just completely comes apart at the seams next week? Biting Merle’s fingers off was definitely a surprise for me, and I’m hoping it is a sign of things to come.

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Racialicious is a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture. Check out our daily updates on the latest celebrity gaffes, our no-holds-barred critique of questionable media representations, and of course, the inevitable Keanu Reeves John Cho newsflashes.

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  • Keith Creech

    Michonne seems to have the mentality of a domesticated dog and nothing else. Well that’s progress for you.

  • Raina Satija

    can we talk about how carl is constantly being put into a leadership position and more valued as a leader over actual adult women like andrea or michonne?!

  • Shona

    Well I came to the site looking for your recount of the season finale; but this will have to do ;-).

    I love Darryl on this show. However, I do ask myself “why”? Isn’t this the same Darryl who started off in season one as a hothead with authority issues and racist tendencies (he wasn’t as outspoken as Merle in this regard, but he didn’t seem to disagree with his brother either)? Did he change? Or perhaps it is just that even in the zombie apocalypse, Darryl is the most reliable…in terms of knowing what to expect and keeping it together. Yeah, that’s probably it.

    Also I think Michonne’s mentality through this all has been superb. She knows how to be loyal and a friend, but still never totally let your guard down. Sure, Merle knocked her in the back of the head. But eventually, she had his number and got him the thinking. She is the most courageous character on this show…hands down. SHE should be the group’s leader. Now wouldn’t that be something to talk about?!

    • Miles_Ellison

      Michonne being the leader would be something to talk about, and with better writers it would be great television, but 12 million (mostly white) people are watching this show. There’s no way AMC derails a ratings juggernaut in the name of 3 dimensional black characterization.