TV Review: The Walking Dead – 3.08 – Made To Suffer (SPOILERS)

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Many of us spent last season desperately waiting for something, anything to happen on AMC’s “The Walking Dead”. With the exception of last week’s episode, season three has done a fine job rectifying this situation. The mid-season finale, “Made to Suffer”, delivers more of the same.

Spoilers are waiting to tear into flesh, so tread lightly, lest you have your little mind blown.

Andrew Lincoln in THE WALKING DEAD - Made to Suffer

The wall-to-wall action of “Made to Suffer” is both a blessing and a curse. It makes the episode a blast to watch, but there’s also so much going on that after a while it’s all a blur, and everything winds up a jumble. You get a bunch of little threads, a bunch of bits and pieces, but you never go into any depth with any of them. The result is a fractured, though damn entertaining, slice of the world of “The Walking Dead”.

There are some badass moments, like when Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) fashion shanks out of zombie bone. The running shootout in the streets of Woodbury is also pretty damn sweet. As much as I love the zombie action, the people-on-people conflict has always been the most interesting and exciting part of “The Walking Dead”.

“Made to Suffer” tries to do two main things: bring story lines together, while introducing new elements to the narrative. The two groups of survivors—those led by Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), and the Governor’s (David Morrissey) posse at Woodbury—finally come together in a big, violent spectacle. We also got our first glimpse at a new addition to the show, comic book favorite Tyreese (Chad Coleman, Cutty from “The Wire”).

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: for all of the show’s faults, “The Walking Dead” certainly knows how to end an episode. Cliffhangers are nothing new, and moving forward, there are a ton of questions left hanging. How will Tryeese and his crew fit in at the prison? What will become of the brothers Dixon, Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Merle (Michael Rooker)? Now that the Governor is super pissed about what happened to him at the hands of Michonne (Danai Gurira), how brutal will his thirst for revenge get? Hopefully this pushes his character more towards what he’s like in Robert Kirkman’s comics. Thus far in the season, he’s been a watered-down version of his funny book namesake, and I want to see him get nasty.

Chandler Riggs in THE WALKING DEAD - Made to Suffer

Because “Made to Suffer” is a finale, of sorts (not a fan of this mid-season finale nonsense that’s so prevalent these days), it’s a good time to look back on season three of “The Walking Dead” and see where we’re at. There are still problems, but by and large, this season has fixed many of the large-scale structural issues that plagued the first two years. Week-to-week it is much more consistent, and is finally becoming the adaptation that fans of the comics hoped for.

Here are some of the things that have struck me so far:

I’m definitely digging how grim and grizzled Carl (Chandler Riggs) is becoming. From having to shoot his mom in the head to prevent her from becoming a zombie, to basically being abandoned by his father for extended periods, the kid’s had a rough go so far. Just the fact that he steps up and rescues Tyreese and company, shows how far he’s come from the whiney, obnoxious brat he used to be. Now he’s becoming a man, willing to do what needs to be done.

Similarly, Glenn is also coming along as tough-as-shit apocalypse survivor. Gone are his previous passive ways, and, especially over the last two episodes, he’s shown that he’s tough, resourceful, and brave.

My biggest gripe about season three is how they’ve screwed up two great characters from the comics. On the show neither Andrea (Laurie Holden) nor Michonne hold a candle to who they are in the source material. Instead of becoming a badass sniper who uses her skills to pick of enemies and keep the group safe, she’s an idiot, blinded by her desire to hump the Governor’s brains out. Seriously, an aquarium wall full of severed heads and a zombie daughter chained up in a closet don’t raise a single red flag? What the hell is wrong with her?

Laurie Holden in THE WALKING DEAD - Made to Suffer

And then there’s Michonne. The way the story for season three is set up has been like a mix-and-match bag from the comics. They’ve taken pieces that occur at drastically different times and stuck them together in ways that don’t always fit. For the most part, this collage approach works okay, and you can see why it was employed. Setting up Woodbury and the Prison simultaneously allows “The Walking Dead” to save time, and create a great deal of tension by positioning these two groups for an inevitable collision.

The primary casualty of this approach is the character of Michonne. I really want to like her, because having read the comics, I know how awesome she could be. But she sucks in this incarnation, and exists solely to be bullheaded and contrary in all situations. There’s nothing more to her personality than that. In the show she’s just thrown into the mix, and winds up at Woodbury, glossing over the parts of the narrative that provide all of her characterization. In the comic, by the time she encounters the Governor, you’ve already been through a couple of story arcs with the character, and you know her personality. There’s none of that in the show.

In the comics when she sits down to wait for the Governor, there’s a reason. She’s been repeatedly tortured, raped, and brutalized by him, and she has a score to settle. The way this scenario plays out in the show, there’s no deeper motivation for her ambush than she thinks he’s creepy and doesn’t like him. Other than a few minor transgressions and suspicions, she doesn’t know anything about him; she doesn’t know he’s a mass-murdering psychopath. Watching that scene, a friend who hasn’t read the comics was confused until I explained how what went down in the source material. Then it made much more sense. As it is, it makes Michonne the crazy one.

Like with Andrea, Michonne has been one of the major disappointments of the season. They’re both models of strong, badass survivors, willing to do whatever is necessary to survive, but so far, that hasn’t translated to the show. That’s one of my main hopes for the second half of season three, that those two become even a shadow of what they can be.

So that’s enough ranting from me for today. What about you guys? What did you think of “Made to Suffer”? What are your thoughts and opinions on season three of “The Walking Dead” so far? Let’s hear your voice in the comments section.

“The Walking Dead’s” second half returns in February 2013. Until then, here’s a preview and sneak peek clip for “The Suicide King”:

Author: Brent McKnight

Brent McKnight lives in Seattle with his dogs. He likes beards, movies where things explode, and overcast skies. His three favorite movies are "Rubin and Ed", "A Bittersweet Life", and "Out for Justice". He wishes his knees didn't hurt. On Twitter @BrentMMcKnight
  • BelmontHeir

    I agree,

    • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Nix

      I always assumed Michonne and Andrea had a “relationship” in that what, 7 months or so they were together? That she’s way into Andrea more than Andrea is into her, but it’s just never spoken on the show.

      I honestly don’t know how they’re going to keep the prison vs. Woodbury going past Season 3. That would just be really dragging it out.

      • BelmontHeir

        Yeah, I think you’re right. Michonne’s unrequited feelings for Andrea is one of the only ways her grudge against The Governor could really make sense as it’s presented in the TV show.

        Unfortunately, AMC seems to be imposing on the showrunners that they need to cut costs/save money at all turns…so I think they’re going to try and get as much mileage out of the prison and Woodbury sets as possible.

        • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Nix

          They have 8 more episodes to wrap up Season 3. I honestly hope they don’t drag the prison-Woodbury plot out past that. 8 episodes is more than enough for the Governor to get uber nasty (now that he doesn’t have Merle to fall back on with the bad stuff) and be done with him.

          • http://twitter.com/BrentMMcKnight Brent McKnight

            There is no reason to drag the whole prison/woodbury thing out into next season. That would tedious and painful to watch if they try. So much filller.

          • Lexavi80

            They might not. I honestly think they really rush a lot of things up on this first half.

      • Lexavi80

        Nobody really mention this, but I think it was BAD-ASS when Rick saw Shane (all Wolverined up) on Woodbury. A really great moment for me! Rick might be losing it little by little.

        Regarding Daryl and Merle… I think I know what’s going to happen. They’re going to scape at one point. Won’t be easy. Won’t be soon, but the will scape. A lot of bonding for the brothers.

        Merle as a double agent? You betcha!

        • http://twitter.com/BrentMMcKnight Brent McKnight

          That was pretty awesome. And Shane totally looked like Wolverine. Holy crap, I didn’t think of that.

          How weird would it be if Merle became a good guy.

    • Lexavi80

      There are two attacks to the prison. They can easily split that for next season.

      • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Nix

        God, I hope not…

  • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Nix

    Michonne is less a character and more of a plot device, setting things up and moving characters from place to place. That’s pretty much it.

  • TRD

    The writing is such a hit and miss this season. I usually don’t complain but I can’t believe the horrible writing for Andrea and Michonne. It is so terrible and doesn’t make sense at all. It bugs the hell out of me. I have never read the comics so I can’t compare. But how do you not tell Rick and the crew that Andrea is with the Governor and Merle is there too. Why doesn’t Michonne tell Andrea about Rick and the crew. I could go on and on.

    I still like the show, but I am not blinded by such crappy writing when it is present.

    • Aegon the Conqueror

      I might be wrong here, but I’m assuming they haven’t had time to sit down yet and go “so I know this girl Andrea, blonde hair.” “Wait I know someone like that, but the walkers got her.” See where I’m going? How the hell did she know this was the group Andrea was talking about.

    • Lexavi80

      At his point Michonne doesn’t know Andrea used to be with Rick and his pack, and viceversa.

      Man, I hope they Michonne have the same fate as Dale.

  • Aegon the Conqueror

    I enjoyed this. I really hope the governor loses it bad come February. I wonder if in the tv series Phillip is actually Brian like in the comic universe.

    • http://twitter.com/BrentMMcKnight Brent McKnight

      I’ve been wondering that, too. That feels like a whole other thing to get into, though.

  • Charlesrenepaul

    Where are my Left 4 Dead fans?
    Does anyone not realie Chad Coleman is the voice of “Coach” from Left 4 Dead 2 video game?

  • Lexavi80

    My brother and I were surprised of how much we begged Andrea to kill Michonne’s ass.

    I officially fucking hate the character now. There was NO REASON for her to go looking for the Governor. NO REASON AT ALL!!! I mean, for all she knows, Rick could also be a crazy mudafucka. Both The Governor and Rick took her into they’re layer on the same conditions (unarmed and jailed), so what gives?

    Now we can say that all the mass murdering that happens later in the show is all her fault. Michonne is beyond saving (as a character) for me. I want her and her only frown face expression dead!

    I honestly didn’t even though that about Andrea, but your right! She’s a better character in the book. Now she doesn’t do anything.

  • Jsutherland2

    Michonne has four reasons to wait for the governor and kill him, The four man hit squad that he sent to kill her after he told her she was free to go. Then she already know’s he is dirty, sick, twisted and up to something. Zombies in a pen, fresh blood and bullet holes in a truck with a story that does’nt add up, and then he referred to her as a “good soldier” and he can use someone like her. There have been other little suttlties that have bullt up tension and suspicions of how the Governor is a bad dude. Let’s just say Michonne has a 6th sense when it comes to that. She is a good judge of bad character and she knows he is a Jim Jones. Just like she knows(senses) when and where to sling her katana when she is under attack. Granted she is a complex character that hasn’t been fully explained or developed to explain all of her bad assness and Zombie knowledge, but maybe the one of the 8 remaining season 3 episodes will give us her backstory in a flashback. I have not read the comics and have tried not to look at the comic history so I don’t taint the story and plotting of the show. I made the mistake of trying to do that with “TrueBlood” and both the show and books are very good but not the same at all after the first season.

    • Richard B. Riddick

      THANK YOU! I was wondering when someone would have enough senses to explain why she was waiting there. Also if you think about it (unlike some of the other people wildly posting comments) the governor sent out a hit squad after her. Michonne probably thought that Andrea was either raped to death or fed to the walkers and they had like 8 months to bond, so she was probably pretty pissed about that too! Also, Daryl and Merle escaping is no big secret seeing as how it shows them in the trailer running through the forest they probably get fed to the walkers (freed) by the governor.

      • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Nix

        Those aren’t “sensible” explanations, my friend, those are “I’m psychic and I can tell you exactly what a fictional character is thinking even though the show hasn’t shown it one bit” bad attempt at explaining bad writing.

        • Lexavi80

          Completely agree with you, Nix!