The Walking Dead Season 3 Episode 15 “This Sorrowful Life” Review

Walking Dead Season 3x15

In Season 3, Episode 15 titled “This Sorrowful Life”, Rick asks for Merle’s help to deliver Michonne to the Governor.

Let’s dissect the episode! Continue reading for my initial reaction and spoiler filled thoughts.

Late Bloomer

This week is a Merle-centric episode that delivered a character driven story and all the zombie killing action we expect from the show.

It worked as a character piece because it gave insight into why Merle does the things he does. A devious loud-mouthed racist could easily have been a one-note character but thanks to the great acting of Michael Rooker and the writers, Merle became something more.

When Daryl says “I just want my brother back”, it implies that before the outbreak Merle was not the dirty scumbag murderer we know him as. He was still a racist and a pain in the ass back in the day, but not a killer as Michonne later finds out.

Take Out The Trash

Merle took matters into his own hands by kidnapping Michonne because he knows Rick wouldn’t go through with the deal. He wants to give his brother an opportunity for a peaceful life or at least one that doesn’t involve the sadistic Governor.

My runner-up for the kill of the week is the walker that got decapitated with a wire while Michonne was bound to a pole.

Michonne cuts right into Merle’s conscience with her pointed remarks. One of the differences from the Governor is that Merle does not shrug off all the killing as easily. Merle wants to prove he’s his own man, making his own decisions, not a henchman doing someone else’s dirty work.

The chemistry along with the dialogue between Michonne and Merle in the car ride was spot on. It was a good surprise when Merle stopped the car and released Michonne. Whatever direction, I thought the episode was headed became unpredictable at that moment.

The Walking Dead Season 3 Episode 15 Glenn and Maggie Proposal

Prison Proposal

Kind of peculiar Glenn didn’t fully figure out what the watch meant until now. Perhaps, he meant that over the least year he came to understand the responsibility of family and importance of people close to him.

Glenn is already part of the family but it was nice of him to get Hershel’s blessing, without actually asking for it. Because their lives could end at any minute, Glenn is compelled to show his love for Maggie by proposing.

Glenn doesn’t say much, he just pushes a ring into her hand. Actress Lauren Cohan does a good job in conveying she is totally into Glenn. As a young couple in love, these two should be the emotional heart of the show. I don’t dislike their relationship but I’m not quite sold on their love.

Not every character will be super articulate however the writers could have done a better job with Glenn’s dialogue in this episode.

You’re As Cold As Ice, Officer Friendly

The episode opens with Rick, Daryl and Hershel deciding to move forward with the plan to turn Michonne over to the Governor. I was disappointed in Rick’s decision especially knowing the Governor might not hold up his end of the bargain. A little while later, a vision of Lori reminds Rick to do the right thing.

One of the arcs of this season is Rick’s dictatorship. As he became darker (and crazier) the parallels between him and Governor are more apparent. The fact that he would deliver Michonne to Woodbury, knowing she would be tortured makes him practically as culpable as the Governor.

Rick comes 180 degrees from the end of last season by declaring the group must choose for themselves on how to live their lives. “I’m not your Governor” he declares. No more keeping the truth from the group and making unilateral decisions. Is this what’s best for the group?

End Is Near

Merle gathering a horde of walkers is a creative tactic. His plan is to kill as many Woodbury people as possible including the Governor to protect the Prison group, even if it might get himself killed. It’s interesting that killing more people can be viewed as an act of redemption, if you can consider it that. I guess in sacrificing his life, he was redeemed.

The Governor biting off two of Merle’s fingers then spitting it out is nasty. But since my threshold for grossness has gone up since watching this show it didn’t shock me.  Shooting Merle in the chest so that he will reanimate as a walker is a cruel move by the Governor.

After seeing Merle eat entrails, I felt bad for him and Daryl. I liked the dynamic and volatility Merle brought to the show even if some fans despise him.

Norman Reedus’ expression in discovering walker Merle was well done. At first, he’s just pushing Merle away like he’s rejecting the idea that his brother is a walker.

Daryl can’t leave Merle “living” like that so he has to stab him in the face, making it my the kill of the week. Why do you think Daryl needed to stab Merle not once, but multiple times? Just raw emotion or something more?

What did you like or didn’t like about this episode? The season finale is just one week away. Any bold predictions? Do you want the Governor to die? 

Watch cast and producers thoughts on Inside Walking Dead Episode 315.


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Posted on March 24, 2013, in Television, The Walking Dead and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 23 Comments.

  1. Lil' Ass Kicker

    First, thanks for adding related videos to your weekly review. Thumbs up.
    Shocker of the week is that next week is already the season finale.

    Can’t realise it has gone so fast. And what a better way to introduce it than the death of a major character ? Turned Merle’s eyes focus was emotional. Daryl pushing him again and again refusing to “get the job done”, like would have said Merle himself, was heartrending too.

    I think Daryl stabbed Merle’s face multiple times to make that “green mask” disappear and rather remember good ol’ Merle’s face. So sad he have to loose his brother one more time.

    Good thing is, Merle got 8 of the Governor’s henchmen before to die, including Ben from season 2 !! I was really surprised to see him there. The Nebraska episode makes sense now, guys in the bar came from Woodbury ! Waw… Shane might rest in peace now that Ben is dead !

    But, strange fact is that Andrea didn’t recognized him..
    My kill of the week goes to Merle’s “face off” with waddling zombie that tried to get into the car. But Michonne’s wire-shocked one was not bad !

    To conclude, I really hope Merle to come back like an hallucination for Daryl like previously. But he had a great death and a nearly five stars episode making him leave with class.

    • You’re very welcome. It’s fascinating to learn how the special effects are done on this show and hearing the actor’s perspective in the videos.

      It’s going to be a long wait for Season 4, especially if the finale ends on a big cliffhanger.

      Of the regular characters, I thought Merle would be the most likely to die first but it was still a surprise. I like that the whole episode was built around him rather than killing him off quickly in the finale. Me too, Merle’s dead zombie eyes made me feel sad for him. After eating Ben, is he still hungry enough to go after Daryl? … I guess fresh meat is too enticing to pass up. 🙂

      That’s a good explanation that Daryl couldn’t bare to see the face of walker Merle, it hurt him too much.

      Merle went out in style … haha Ben’s face got in the way. I’m pretty sure Ben is the son of Allen from Tyreese’s group. That’s my guess as well that Randall and company were from Woodbury.

      Merle’s kill outside of the car using the katana to slice off the walker’s face was great too. Walker’s head must be as soft as a watermelon.

      If Lori and Shane can return as hallucinations, then it is very probable that Merle can come back as well … maybe in a flashback or dream. Glad the episode before the finale wasn’t a letdown. I wonder if they saved a huge budget for the finale? Always great discussing Walking Dead with you!

  2. Gotta say, I’m not sold on the relationship between Glenn and Maggie. I think the proposal served almost to show how little we really care about these secondary prison characters. I mean, Glenn and Maggie were front and centre when they were trapped in Woodbury, but now their only action is getting engaged.

    And really, in a zombie apocalypse, how important is getting married anyway?

    • Some of the drama between them is forced like in Season 2 Triggerfinger, Glenn distances himself from Maggie because he thinks his love for her puts them at risk. Also, the “Governor assaulted me” issue could have been handled better. If their dilemmas felt genuine I would care more about them as a couple. As individual characters, I adore Maggie and Glenn has some great moments like killing a zombie while tied to a chair. Like you said, getting married is obviously not a priority in the zombie apocalypse, maybe the writers wanted to have a romantic, “ain’t that sweet moment”, unfortunately it didn’t work for me. If the proposal is to set up a “tragic” death next episode like if Maggie has to choose between Beth/Hershel or Glenn it could be interesting, but I think the couple will survive the finale. Thanks so much for commenting and visiting the blog.

  3. Great episode and I loved Merle’s redemption, it was a real surprise to see and very smartly done. Those damn behind the scenes videos are always blocked until Friday in the UK 😦

    • Oh, I didn’t know those videos were blocked in the UK until Friday, I guess TWD doesn’t officially air until then. 😦 It’s interesting that some fans are glad Merle is finally dead and others think a “changed” Merle would have be great to watch in Season 4.

      • I always enjoyed him and seeing him change and then sacrifice his life for the greater good seemed like a perfect out for the character. I don’t think he would have been right for continuing with season 4 so this is the best way for him to die a hero.

        A relevant death is something that separates great TV shows from good TV shows 😀

        • Even if some fans don’t care for Merle, they probably/hopefully care about Daryl’s reaction. Also, Merle did the prison group a favor by taking out as many Woodbury people as possible before dying. That’s a very good point, his death is relevant … in more than one way making it an example of great writing. 🙂

  4. I’ve been really down on this season’s second half (the two episodes previous to this one were quite bad in my opinion), but I rather enjoyed this one. I didn’t like Merle (and I sure wasn’t supposed to, so that is fine), but I think he was a good character for the show. And I liked his final ep here and how he went out. The scene with Daryl was tough but well-done. I am interested in where they go with the finale.

    • The first half of the season had a chaotic urgency, where the second half is character focused. I enjoy both halves, though I understand “I Ain’t A Judas” featuring Andrea was a tough one for some fans. I agree Merle’s function on the show was good even he was despicable. For a tough dude, Daryl’s reaction was believable and well acted. There are a lot of possibilities for where the show can go with the finale … I trust the writers won’t let me down. 🙂 Thanks so much for commenting!

  5. The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct video game starring Merle and Daryl came out March 19. That Sunday, Merle died not once but twice. A real shame but at least they waited for the game to hit store shelves…

    As for the episode:

    Some fantastic work by Michonne, Daryl, and (of course) Merle in the acting department. Michonne better watch it or she’ll turn into a little chatterbox. 🙂

    Glenn’s “proposal” if you can call it that was weak. You just put the ring in her hand? Come on Glenn. Did the Zombie Apocalypse kill all forms of romance? You ask for permission but don’t get down on one knee? Silly, silly Glenn.

    Merle’s farewell scenes were amazing including the zombie lure and him shooting up the Governor’s men. Happy to see Ben get killed but would be even happier to see his dad bite the bullet. Those two are so annoying.

    The whole Daryl killing his brother scene and the revelation Merle was a zombie was expertly done and a real heartbreaking scene. R.I.P. Merle. Just as I was getting to like you.

    “Do you want the Governor to die?”
    No. I think it’s too early and I’d like to see him back sometime in Season 4.

    • Like you said before, Merle would live until the game came out. Good call! Too bad the reviews weren’t great. I did play the Telltale Walking Dead game and the story was memorable. It even featured a couple of cameos from the TV show.

      Michonne is really clever in this episode, amazing what giving her some dialogue can accomplish. 🙂

      Maybe cutting the ring off a living dead corpse is sign it wasn’t going to be a traditional proposal haha. I was thinking ,”get down on one knee Glenn” as he proposed. I agree it was weak.

      Merle wasn’t shooting for an instant kill, he intentionally turned the Woodbury people into walker bait like you mentioned. Very smart. I want to see the Dad’s reaction to Ben’s death; he’s probably going to die a gruesome death in the finale … crosses fingers.

      I’m glad Daryl was the one that got to finish off walker Merle, not Michonne or Glenn, it’s so much more heartbreaking that way.

      I feel the same way, there’s more stories to be told about the Governor. I do feel that the dynamic between Woodbury and the Prison needs to be changed heading into Season 4 … just to keep the show fresh and avoid repeating the same story beats as Season 3. Perhaps the prison will get destroyed in the finale? Thanks so much for commenting!

      • “I did play the Telltale Walking Dead game and the story was memorable. It even featured a couple of cameos from the TV show.”
        I’m currently on Episode 5 (got it last week). Just a great game and so addicting. Can’t wait for Season 2 of it!

        • In the beginning of Episode 5, there’s a big bloody decision to make. Curious what you decided to do. I’m looking forward to season 2 as well!

          • Finished the game. What a great experience and what an emotional ending. As for the decision…hacked it off. If there was any possibility of a happy ending I was going to take it.

            • I made the same decision. I hoped it would save his life like Hershel’s amputation. Pretty gruesome eh.

              • Yeah, that’s for sure. I wonder how they are going to top themselves….and how Season 2 will carry on from the first one? More Clementine please!

                • Thinking the same thing about how they are going top it. If its possible I want my choices to have a major effect on the story. In Season 1, certain characters live or die by my decisions but it’s an illusion of choice since the ending is essentially the same for everyone though the journey may differ. Fans love Clementine, so I’m guessing she’ll be a primary character again.

  6. I think this might be my favorite episode of the show thus far.

    • A lot of fans really dig this episode too. A long with “Clear” this is one of my faves of the 2nd half of the season. Hopefully, the finale is going to top this episode in terms of OMG moments! Thanks for commenting.

  1. Pingback: The Walking Dead season 3 episode 15 review: This Sorrowful Life | Musings of a Mild Mannered Man

  2. Pingback: “The Walking Dead” Recap: Merle’s Murky Morals Muddle Michonne Mission | Musings of a Mild Mannered Man

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