By Paola Crespo
“The Walking Dead” has been AMC’s most popular show since it first aired in October 2010. The series, based on a comic book series by the same name, has become the most-watched basic cable drama telecast in history, according to Entertainment Weekly, receiving 10.9 million viewers for its season three premiere on Oct. 14, 2012. Upon reaching its mid-season finale on Sunday Dec. 2, it can be confidently said that the show has lived up to its high ranking status.
The mid-season finale delivered drama, action and emotion and was appropriately titled “Made to Suffer” as now the fans must suffer through this temporary break and wait for the show’s return in February.
The episode starts off with a scream, literally, as a new group of survivors is introduced, running through a field, fending off zombies or, as they are referred to in the show, “walkers.” Here, one of the comic-book-followers’ favorite characters, Tyreese, makes his debut, played by Chad Coleman.
This introduction is interesting as it diverts tension from the current situation of Maggie and Glenn being held hostage in Woodbury which was the final scene of the previous episode.
The new group discovers the prison where Ricks’ team has been living in for the past few weeks and enters, a little too easily, through a broken wall in the back of the prison. Given that Rick and his team have worked so hard to clear out the prison from the walkers and keep it secure, this seems like a huge lack of judgment on Rick’s part. However, in light of recent events, (Rick’s wife Lori being bitten and dying while giving birth and Hershel’s lower leg having to be chopped off to prevent a walker’s bite from spreading) I will cut them some slack.
The entrance of these new characters allows for the development of Rick’s son Carl as he is shown taking charge and helping the strangers, but then locks them up just to be safe. We see that Carl is no longer a kid but a hardened teenager who is successful in temporarily filling his father’s shoes and keeping the prison secure as he was instructed.
We also have some comic, though creepy, relief from one of the newer members of the group, the ex-convict Axel. His observation that Beth being 17 was “interesting” and being pleased at his error of assuming Carol was a lesbian due to her short cropped hair, made for a funny and yet shuddering moment. I now have a good guess as to why Axel had been imprisoned. Can you say “pedophile?”
Meanwhile, in Woodbury, tensions rise and Glenn proves himself a badass once again as he rips open the arm of the walker he killed in the last episode and breaks off its bone, giving it to Maggie to use as a weapon. This she does, stabbing a man in the neck when they are attacked and is finally able to get some redemption for the torture they had put her and Glenn through.
Rick, Daryl, Michonne and the recently added Oscar, break into the town and rescue Glenn and Maggie in an intense, dramatic gunfight scene.
During the fire fight, as was expected for such a high impact scene, one of Rick’s group dies. I had to sigh and shake my head when it turned out to be Oscar. It seems the show is determined to only have one token black guy, as was seen when T-Dog died after Oscar joined the group. Therefore, I was not surprised that Oscar died right after Tyreese was introduced, yet I was still disappointed in “The Walking Dead” writers for continuing this silly pattern.
Michonne discovering the demented Governor’s (as he is only referred to as) secret room with the creepy walker heads in fish tanks was satisfying. What was even more satisfying was her mercilessly stabbing the Governor’s walker daughter when he finds her in his room.
The ensuing fight scene between them is one of the most intense and anticipated moments of the entire season. The gritty battle turns gruesome as the Governor smashes Michonne’s face into the tanks and she is almost bitten by the still moving and biting heads. But she is finally able to grab a shard of glass and gratifyingly shove it into his eye.
The dramatic moment when she stands up to finally finish him off with her katana turns even more intense when Andrea appears with a gun in her hand, ready to shoot Michonne to protect the Governor.
I never thought I could hate Andrea more than I have throughout the entire series, but at that moment I was furious. Andrea was about to shoot a woman who had saved her life and who she had traveled and survived with for eight months for a man she barely knew but didn’t waste any time sleeping with.
I was thankful when, after a moment of tense silence, Michonne turns away in disgust and Andrea lowers her gun, but I was not at all pleased by Andrea’s concern for the Governor. Did she not notice the room full of walker heads in tanks and the dead undead girl he was crying over? Let’s hope she wakes up soon and that she is not still love struck next February.
In the final scene, brothers Daryl and Merle finally have onscreen time together since the beginning of the show. However, the circumstances are grave as they are being displayed in front of the town as “terrorists” and are demanded to be executed.
The episode’s cliffhanger ending surely had fans on the edge of their seats and resolving with a groan to wait for the show’s return next year.
Overall, the mid-season finale was appropriately exciting, tense and emotional. The introduction of new characters was interesting and the development of the current characters was a pleasant sight. The fight and gun scenes also attributed to the intensity of the episode. It was the perfect ending to a great first half of the season and I am looking forward to its continuation in February.