Walking Dead Finale

Spoiler Warning: If you haven’t seen Season 3 Episode 8 “Made to Suffer” of the Walking Dead yet, turn away now! We’ll be discussing major plot points and twists featured in this week’s episode.

Made to Suffer

This episode of The Walking Dead is a mid-season finale, marking the last episode of the series in 2012, much like AMC’s Breaking Bad was split and took a mid-season hiatus. In last week’s episode, Rick and his scouting party are led by the badass sword-wielding Michonne in an effort to get back Maggie and Glen from the clutches of the nefarious Governor in Woodbury.

Unbeknownst to Rick, Glen was forced to tell Merle of their hideout at the prison, leading the Gov’s henchmen to send a counter-attack party to the rest of the survivors–Herschel, Carol, Beth and Carl–who have been left behind to watch over their homestead.

The mid-season finale brings an explosive conclusion to the events that have built up to the final confrontation between Woodbury’s henchmen and Rick’s band of survivors, making for one of the best episodes so far that’s infused with gunslinging action and The Walking Dead‘s distinct brand of terror.

A Few New Faces

Made to Suffer” opens with a whole new band of five survivors who are making their way through walker-infested woods, introducing new characters right off the bat. It’s interesting to see any new characters in The Walking Dead, let alone a whole new group of people who are struggling to survive in this nightmarish world.

The newcomers seem pretty tough: the group’s leader, a the burly Tyreese–who slices through two walkers with brutish style–seems quite formidable, as does his female counterpart, Sasha,who wields a shovel in a deadly arc.

Walking Dead Finale

While traversing the woods in search of shelter, one of their number is bitten–the only other woman in the group–and instead of leaving her behind, the burly leader decides to bring her along, showing that he is kind and hasn’t been robbed of his humanity.

The survivors struggle into a nearby disheveled building for shelter, hoping to keep out the walkers and finally rest within the sanctuary of the building…however they’re left with an impossible decision as the girl will eventually die and turn…

The Attack

Meanwhile, back at your friendly neighborhood town of Woodbury, Glen and Maggie are still held captive…but thanks to Glen’s grim ingenuity, now they are “armed”: Glen literally rips off the arm of a nearby dead walker, breaking it at the elbow, and ripping away rotted muscle and tissue to get at the bones within. The splintered bone mixed with the infectious and caustic blood of the walker, provides quite a lethal if rudimentary weapon.

Now Maggie and Glen are armed and can attack Woodbury from the inside.

Walking Dead Finale

From the outside, Rick and Daryl and the others have reached Woodbury’s gates and prepare a sneak attack with Michonne at the helm. They watch the perimeter guards who stand sentinel at the gates, plotting for the best chance to infiltrate the town.

Michonne breaks away from the group–she’s pretty much a lone wolf anyway, unless she’s with Andrea–and her superior stealthiness will provide an excellent tactical distraction should she be found…but most likely she’ll wreak silent havoc, slicing and dicing her way through the Governor’s henchmen.

A few seconds later, however, Michonne returns, having found a way in and leads the others to the location.

The scene then breaks away to Merle and the Gov discussing their plans to take over the prison where our band of survivors have made camp. While discussing the potential takeover, Merle flashes a brief air of rebelliousness against the Gov, stating flat out that he’s not interesting in hurting Daryl. Merle and Daryl have been through a lot together, and they were on their own for quite some time, surviving day to day and formed an inseparable bond with one another.

The Governor flashes a smile and assures Merle that nothing will happen to his brother, but Merle seems quite dubious and the seeds of doubt seem to have been planted, making our psychopathic redneck into a potential enemy for Woodbury’s commander in chief.

Also, the Gov orders Merle to dispose of Maggie and Glen by means of a quite aptly named area known as the “Screaming Pit”. One can only assume that there’s better ways to die rather than being torn apart by a pit full of “biters”…and considering the Gov has no idea that Rick and the others are actually already there, he wants to get rid of Maggie and Glen as soon as possible in order to lower the risk of an attack to get them back.

The team infiltrates a building on the outskirts of Woodbury, slowly making their way through the shadowy storage unit…until suddenly someone enters the room. The others freeze, blending in with the shadows to become unseen, and then Rick jumps one of the Gov’s henchmen, pointing a gun to his head and demanding to know where Glen and Maggie are.

Daryl knocks the man out after they don’t get anything from him, and they bind him up and hide the henchman away so he won’t be found, and continue on their quest.

A Way In

Armed with their improvised bone-knives, Maggie and Glen ambush Merle and a nameless henchmen when they open the door. Maggie stabs the nameless miscreant in the neck, but Glen, who’s been beaten and is in a considerably weakened state, pales in comparison when faced against the savage Merle.

Walking Dead Finale

As the man slowly dies ,choking on his own blood, he pulls the trigger of his SMG and fires half a dozen rounds that instantly alert all of Woodbury. Now Rick and the others have a great distraction as most of the Gov’s guards run over to investigate.

Michonne and Rick and the others now enter Woodbury proper, following the gunfire. Everyone is armed with guns, making for an explosive gunfight, but instead of going in guns-a-blazin’, our team utilizes stealthiness and carefully makes their way to where they think Glen and Maggie are.

After their brief tussle with Merle, Glen and Maggie are subdued once again as backup guards rush to the scene and the two are taken into custody. Right as Merle is about to execute the two lovers,  Rick and his squad throw flashbangs and smoke grenades (which they liberated from the prison’s armory) and snag Glen and Maggie.

A Way Out

Now that the shit has hit the fan, the survivors have to make their exit from Woodbury the old-fashioned way: in a hail of bullets. The Gov’s henchmen are now searching all of Woodbury for the infiltrators, and now our band of good guys are being hunted. After regaining their bearings in a nearby building, Glen reveals to Daryl that Merle is in Woodbury, and instantly Daryl feels that spark of kinship for his brother.

Daryl wants to find Merle and catch up with him, but Rick disagrees saying that they are in hostile territory and that they will be killed if they try to approach any of the Governor’s minions.

Walking Dead Finale

Meanwhile, at Woodbury HQ, the Governor is trying formulate a plan with Andrea in tow. Andrea, who has been purposefully kept in the dark about the identity of the infiltrators, has no idea about Glen and Maggie’s incarceration or their torture, and lying to someone like Andrea is dangerous indeed.

Viewers can guess how this is all going to end, and how the Gov’s plans in winning over Andrea with a relationship will totally backfire–Andrea has proven on many occasions that she’s quite a deadly femme fatale–she and Michonne survived an entire winter out in the hellish walker-infused wilderness.

Outside the gunfire explodes throughout the streets of Woodbury, leaving dead humans instead of walkers in its wake. It’s interesting to see an actual shootout with people on either side, rather than gunfire being directed on hordes of undead, showing that in The Walking Dead that sometimes the living are worse than the dead.

Rick and his team move throughout the streets, advancing toward a way out of Woodbury and leaving dead henchmen in their wake. Andrea follows the gunfire, but since they use smoke grenades, she doesn’t get a good look at the so-called “terrorists” who have infiltrated Woodbury. She goes after them, slinking into the shadows and following their advances.

Home Sweet Home

The scene then cuts to the prison where our survivors lay their heads to rest, displaying the everyday going-ons of those who were left behind. Herschel, Carol, Beth, Carl and the prison inmate carry on without the others, paying close attention to important day-to-day responsibilities like feeding Judith, Rick’s infant daughter as well as keeping watch around the perimeter.

Walking Dead Finale

Remember those new characters we saw at the very beginning? Well, they make an appearance here, having found their way to the sanctuary of the prison itself. After hearing a strange noise, Carl goes to investigate, only to find our new characters being ransacked by a horde of walkers.

Carl does what he can to lead them to safety, telling them to follow him as he leads them to the heart of the prison where it’s safe…

Waiting for the Kill

Michonne, having broken away from the others as they made their escape from Woodbury, has opted to stay for one last kill. She’s targeting the Governor, and lays in wait in the shadows of his home, poised to strike with her samurai sword upon her lap.

After hearing a noise, she thinks that the Gov is in the nearby room…but after she kicks open the door, she instead finds the Govenor’s grisly room of horrors: human and zombie heads lay suspended in fishtanks full of water, making for quite a creepy and eery scene.

Walking Dead Finale

Not only does she stumble upon his bizarre collection, she finds his daughter Penny, who has turned quite some time ago, chained and restrained in a metal harness. As Penny has her head covered with a pillowcase, Michonne thinks that she’s just a normal little girl who’s been chained in a cruel gesture by the Gov…but once she removes the case, Penny is revealed to be a zombie-girl.

Right as Michonne is about to deliver the killing blow, the Gov comes into the scene and screams at her to stop, aiming his pistol at her in an attempt to stop Michonne from taking Penny’s life–or what remains of her life. Michonne has the Gov right where she wants him: he’s completely helpless, and Penny represents the last tether to his sanity that he has left.

Now Michonne has the power. She can kill Penny and subsequently deliver a destructive blow to the Governor’s heart and mind, or she can let Penny go, and kill the Gov anyway. She vies for option one, slaying Penny in a harsh thrust that slams through the back of her head, the blade coming out of her mouth in a quite awesome and gory display.

The Governor freaks out, after literally thinking that Michonne has killed his sweet little girl who had died long ago, and the two tangle in a quite brutal struggle that escalates to an all-out violent duel. The Gov slams Michonne’s head through one of the fishtanks, she returns with a savage stab to his eye with a piece of broken glass (now we know how he got that infamous eye-patch from the comics!).

Walking Dead Finale

As Michonne is about to deliver the killing blow to the Governor, ending his tyranny for good, Andrea shows up, aiming her gun right at her former partner–who has just pretty much ruined the man who she had a hot and heavy relationship with.

Andrea is horrified to see Michonne’s handiwork, and after a particularly chilling staredown, Michonne backs out of the room and flees.

Now that the Governor has nothing to lose, he is changed, making him much more ruthless and cruel. Now there’s nothing that kindles his human side, and he slowly turns into the venomous villain we know and love from The Walking Dead comics.

At a town meeting, the Gov makes a surprising choice and pins the terrorist attacks on Merle, saying that he and his co-conspirators orchestrated the terrorist attack on Woodbury. This is a convenient lie, pinning everything on Merle, making him a scapegoat so that the Gov can get off scott-free.

Another twist is put into place as the Governor brings in Daryl, who had been caught after being overrun by Woodbury’s forces. Andrea instantly recognizes Daryl, and realizes that she has been lied to this whole time…

The Walking Dead returns in February of 2013 with all-new episodes. For more information and sneak peeks of episode 9, please visit AMC’s official website.