‘The Walking Dead’ Midseason Finale Review – The Haves and The Have-Nots

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Chandler Riggs in The Walking Dead Made to Suffer The Walking Dead Midseason Finale Review   The Haves and The Have Nots

When The Walking Dead first introduces the audience to Tyreese (Chad Coleman), we see a man who is forced to make a very difficult decision in a split second. Faced with the prospect of a group member who has been bitten, Tyreese chooses to keep her among the living, so that when the time comes, his people will be safe, and her loved ones are better prepared to deal with the woman’s impending, horrific and inevitable transformation.

It’s a decision that’s been made on this program many times before, but one that hasn’t been seen so much during the first half of season 3. It’s a difficult decision because it prolongs the suffering of the afflicted, but still manages to show compassion in a world seemingly devoid of the stuff. It is a decision that would have been made by the Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) of old.

And with that, a whole new group of characters are introduced to The Walking Dead just before it shuffles off for a brief hiatus. This could be troublesome for the series; more people means more opinions, which means more arguing – something that’s previously ground the plot to halt. But thankfully, ‘Made to Suffer’ isn’t looking to put the audience through that again. This is a tight, well-paced episode that manages to keep the primary focus of the season in its sights for the duration of the hour.

The group in question is small and capable, but clearly running on fumes by the time they reach the prison – entering what they believe to be something of a safe haven. By the time Carl (Chandler Riggs) stumbles upon the group battling a group of walkers, they look as if they might be overrun. It’s another split-second decision, but this time Carl, who has seen his father take a completely different route when it comes to strangers in his territory, is the one to make it.

Andrew Lincoln in The Walking Dead Made to Suffer The Walking Dead Midseason Finale Review   The Haves and The Have Nots

Both incidents provide a little insight into the change that’s occurred in Rick since the tumultuous end of season 2. Time has hardened him in a way that has seemingly not yet touched Tyreese, and has surprisingly not completely reached his son, who, moments before stumbling upon the gatecrashers, was steeling himself and Beth (Emily Kinney) for the likelihood that the party headed to Woodbury would not be heard from again. Carl is smart enough to keep the strangers at a safe distance, but still, he reacted with compassion in a moment that experience suggests should have gone another way. It’s an emotion that’s led Rick into territory so dangerous, he’s all but abandoned the notion of the needs of others. And considering the suffering the former lawman has gone through these first eight episodes, the fact that he’s even straying from the prison to help those who may already be dead is something of a revelation.

One would like to thing that the party Rick leads to Woodbury in search of Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) is based on compassion, that it shows the level of commitment Rick has to those who put their trust in him – but there’s something about Rick this season that suggests he’s headed to Woodbury to put the hurt on whoever took what’s his. Make no mistake about it: Glenn and Maggie are his people.

So now, we essentially have Rick’s two sides presented by wildly different characters. On one hand there is Tyreese, who is (for now, anyway) compassionate, intelligent and, most importantly, level headed – choosing to see temporary imprisonment as a welcome respite from the outside world, rather than waste his breath yelling at a kid in a sheriff’s hat. On the other hand, there’s the Governor (David Morrissey), who is so hell-bent on protecting what’s his, he’ll send a small platoon of men to wipe out any interlopers – even if they’re holed-up miles away in a prison thought to be overrun with the undead. Perhaps when Rick returns, Tyreese can offer him some kind of security and help to get the once-compassionate man back to a place where trusting strangers isn’t thought of as a possible death sentence.

Danai Gurira in The Walking Dead Made to Suffer The Walking Dead Midseason Finale Review   The Haves and The Have Nots

Rick, Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Oscar (Vincent Ward) find themselves on the edge of Woodbury’s walls having been led there by a stranger with little more than a sword and an attitude problem. Once again, Rick’s forced to trust an interloper, but there’s something he wants on the other end of that leap of faith that makes it worthwhile. And so, from a small, unassuming group with a lot of automatic weapons, Woodbury finds itself under attack for the first time in a long time. The citizens are rattled, and the Governor, faced with what may be a colossal failure, turns the fear his people have at being targeted for possessing what others do not to his advantage. Woodbury’s populace is given to craven madness, summarily calling for the execution of someone they know, without being presented any real evidence. Now the Governor doesn’t have to hide his true intentions for the group at the prison; his followers will practically beg him to send a hit squad to wipe them out. The people have seen what strangers are capable of, and as far as they’re concerned, there’s only one way to deal with such a threat.

In a way, Michonne (Danai Gurira) has more in common with the Governor and the people of Woodbury than she’d like to admit. Going out of her way to sneak into Phillip’s apartment and wait for him, only to wind up skewering his zombie-daughter and half-blinding him with a shard of glass, is not the decision of a sane person – but rather one fueled by fear, anger and a thirst for vengeance.

Which is something The Walking Dead fans will be if Daryl doesn’t make it through the impromptu reunion with his brother Merle (Michael Rooker). At any rate, after this action-packed midseason finale, we’ll have to wait until February to find out what fate awaits the Dixon brothers.

Laurie Holden in The Walking Dead Made to Suffer The Walking Dead Midseason Finale Review   The Haves and The Have Nots

Various other items:

  • Carol (Melissa McBride) telling Axel (Lew Temple) that now is not the time to be thinking about repopulating the earth was a nice way to broach the subject, considering how gross and inappropriate Axel was being.
  • Right now, Axel seems like a bit of (perverted) comic relief – which makes one wonder if the character will stay close to his comic book roots or deviate drastically.
  • Farewell, Oscar.
  • That was awfully cool of a bearded Jon Bernthal to make a hallucinatory appearance in the episode.

The Walking Dead will return in February. Check out a preview of the episode below:

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  1. I think Daryl will survive because he was in the trailer for the next episodes.

  2. Darn strait We’ll be like that if Daryl doesn’t make it through the end of the season. He’s one of the best/coolest characters in the whole show and such a stand out from the comics that he’s a sizable reason why some people keep watching.

    But it looks like from the preview of the next half of the season I’m guessing him and Merel will atleast make it out of Woodberry. But would they really ever let Merel hang around or be part of the group ever again? I mean other than what he just did to Glenn and Maggie the group already knows he’s a completely unstable d**k. Personally I lost all hope of him being able to join back with the group under any circumstance after he killed that guy in the woods for no reason when they were going after Michonne. Oh well…

    Oh yeah, and if I was Carl and I was standing in the same cell when Alex was being creepy towards Beth that guy woulda gotten pistol wipped or somethng. Just sayin.

    • Axel*

  3. Awesome episode!! Feb can’t come soon enough!!
    The promo reel at the end does kind of spoil it tho!
    Best show on tv!!

  4. I was an early “nay-sayer” and I can’t believe I’m saying this but ‘The Walking Dead’ has redeemed itself Big-Time! In one season they managed to do right where they went wrong in previous seasons. They pulled straight from the book and tied up the loose ends. In a way I take pride in seeing the show work out now that it’s a tighter show, the true fans were right all along and the proof is in the pudding.

    • they didn’t pull “straight from the book.” they changed a lot!

      • I was going to say that earlier. I guess making the Gov a cyclops? :D

  5. *I take pride now that the show is tighter, (here’s to over thinking ones’s comments and the lack of an edit feature, lol)

  6. Loved it! February is so far away now, i didnt think it would be that long till it came back! Your right about the promo reel, wish i hadnt seen it.

  7. *My own fault, i know.

  8. An entertaining night. Enjoyed it. Was wondering how they were going to deal with Daryl and Merle’s reunion. Never expected the way it happened.

    And a great way of bringing in Shane even as a brief halucination.


    They might be combining two characters for Axel. He could be you know who that does you know what to Hershel’s daughter(s).

  10. Methinks the Governor’s journey to the dark side is now complete.

  11. Ok. Just for one second lets look back at Michonne. Forget she heard Penny leading her to find the heads.

    Why was she there? What would she have done had she NOT heard Penny? Again her character is so messed up it is not even funny. In the books she HAD reason to return to Woodbury.

    Here in this show unless The Gov did something we are unawares of, she has no reason to be there.

    She risked life/limb/captivity to go back and???? Kil the man that may or may not have sent Merle after her? She was safe home free…. yet she went back. Makes no sense. Sorry she is still poorly written and im not impressed with her acting at all.

    Well we know Daryl and or Merle get free from the clip. No big surprise there. Merle will probably die at the Govs hands for the betrayal but not after he ammends with Darryl.

    I laughed (a pitiful laugh) when Oscar bit it. Its a shame really. Nuff said.

    Andrea… I just dont get her. While I understand she is looking for a place the heads would have just been the breaking point especially after all the dont go stay hidden from the Gov. She is smarter than that.

    Carl…. growing up taking charge. From the clip maybe we will get to see Carl and Rick strike out on their own for a bit. more phone calls and putting Carl (the actor) into a acting challenge.

    @Ben I was thinking the same thing. Herschel looses his young one they blame the new group until of course Carol gets attacked. Thats when they may bring Tyreese and his group into the fold.


    The flow is kind of flaky. Darryl and Merle were more or less shooting at ech other yet Merle got away and Darryl got caught w/o his knowledge, It appeared to be morning showing Andrea and the Gov yet Rick and them were outside at night after the expierment.

    It is a good show I just think they cram to much into one hour. For once I would like to see ONE group. Stop bouncing back and forth. The first 5 mins show Tyreese beign chased into the prison. Stay with Woodbury the rest of the show. The last 5 mins show Carl helping Tyreeses group and locing them up. Cut as the one lady was yelling and shaking the door. Next episode 5 mins on Woodbury rest with the prison.

    I think they can flesh out some of the other characters a little more (esp Michoone, Axel, etc) with this.

  12. The two prisoners were able to vouch for each other. Oscar proved himself a few times, but so far Axel has been sort of a weaselly character. With Oscar gone, i think it would be better they did away with Axel, he’s gonna become more unpredictable.

    obviously he’s gonna do something drastic that will get him “kicked off the island”. I just hope it doesnt do too much damage. I kinda like the core characters. They gotta keep Rick, Glen, Maggie, Karl, Beth, and Daryl. Michonne and Tyrese will stay for a bit because they were just added. So i’m guessing Axel will force himself on Beth, Hershel steps in to stop it and gets killed in the process, forcing to the group to deal out with Axel.

  13. This show is now 2/2 for killing off an existing black character once a new black character shows up. What the heck lol.

    • Im glad someone else noticed that. Why isnt the series allowed to have two living black men? Im surprised sword girl has made it this long.

    • Im glad someone else noticed that. Why isnt the series allowed to have two living black men? Im surprised the black girl has made it this long.

    • As for the last two who died while helping others. Beth were much bigger targets than the skinny white people around them. Slower and easier to bite or shoot. But both went out like heroes…. Not too many whites have bought it while helping someone else.

      Ok! I’ve read the books up to some of the prison stuff. The ratio in the books is about the same or probably less. The show starts after Rick wakes in the hospital. We really have just the most basic idea how these people got together. But let’s look at it logically….Even though we’re integrated in a lot of places in America…How would that work once the world is falling apart? Wouldn’t we all be getting with family and friends first? So wouldn’t surviving groups most likely be racially unbalanced? If this was a real situation I’m guessing there’d be some mostly Asian groups, African American groups, and so on.

  14. Honestly the best ep by far just keeps getting better every ep i cannot wait till feb to see were they will go with tyrese. Best line def goes to axel “are you a lesbian?” That scene was to funny haha

  15. I laughed when Oscar died. Not because death is funny, but because the creators had to get rid of him right away, apparently.

    • I said the same thing… my post is awaiting moderation for some strange reason….

      • it’s not strange… people don’t like to acknowledge the “subtle” racism in tv and film. Although here’s hoping we get these new black characters some actual development, unlike T-Dog who died saving a white woman. read into that how you like. Not trying to breed negativity but come on… we didn’t find out his real name until he died.

        • It is strange….well not as strange as your name. What is the ‘subtle’ racism in tv and movies? Is this ALL tv and ALL movies or just some that feel ripe for the picking?

    • I think the creators wanted Rick’s groups to suffer some casualties. Just to make it seem like the Governors troops aren’t outmatched.

      • It had to be Oscar. He is still in his prison outfit. Now the governor has the perfect excuse to go to the prison. He can say that’s how he knows where the outsiders are holed up. I also think it’s kinda wack that they keep killing off black men when a new one shows up, but the character of Oscar obviously had a limited life span. Should the writers/producers have made him white, knowing they were going to kill him? I don’t think so, and I hope it’s unintentional that they keep killing of black characters when a new one is introduced. But only time will tell.

  16. Andrea needs to die and Axel is way too creepy. Luckily for Merle, plot no jutsu kept him alive long enough to see his brother; Maggie stabs a random soldier in the neck, but couldn’t shoot the man that tortured her boyfriend.
    I love this show, but the walkers aren’t very intimidating. The people should be able to take them out.

  17. Loved the episode. Can’t wait for Feb.

  18. Check out this blog with a clip from February’s first episode, showing Andrea trying to save the Dixons from The Governor’s wrath: http://www.mlive.com/tv/index.ssf/2012/12/the_walking_dead_blog_daryl_ri.html

  19. Best oh s*** lol moment, When Michonne head smashes threw into a fish tank filled with severed zombie heads! lol

  20. Totally one of the best eps yet, really had my attention and the gov and michone fight was off the hook.

  21. This is what you get when you let the Creator of the source material write an episode: unadulterated awesomeness!!!

  22. Add two black folk,get one off..lol..Its almost getting funny now

  23. Goes from being awful to awesome on an almost scene for scene basis. Worst. Shootout. Ever to a genuinely all or nothing fight between the Governer and Michonne. It is essentially dumb TV with ABC plotting displaying no subtlety whatsoever, but no one can deny that it isn’t entertaining. Personally, it’s the strings leading into the title sequence segment I enjoy the most every week…

  24. all last season I was saying “hurry up, something needs to happen!! Now I’m saying “slow down, I want to enjoy this season a little longer”. I REALLY hate the split season though.

  25. Awesome???? More like Lame.

    This was a real farce of an episode.

    The shoot-out was way over the top. All of sudden the sleepy-eyed citizens all know how to use automatic weapons but cant actually aim to kill. & all this noise should of attracted a horde of walkers around the perimeter.

    & how convenient for Rick & his group to be in the right place to hear the cries of Glenn & Maggie even though they had no clue where they were.
    Woodbury is a big place.

    & what purpose for Michonne to go back to the Gov room? To seek revenge? That’s not her character. She should of just killed Penny then let the Gov discover her death instead of the cornball fight scene between the two. Lame.

    & after all these years that is how the Dixon brothers meet. No words spoken. Nothing. Just like no words spoken between Andrea & Michonne? Lame.

    & finally to use the word TERRORISTS completely did it. This is an apoclyptic world where every human is struggling to surive. There are no terrorists just survivalists & walkers.

    Kirkman who wrote this episode must be a Republican. He should just stick to the comics & leave the TV writing to Mazzara & company.

    Too much happened to soon.

    • JJ… that was the single worst review of any form of media in the history of time. Horrible job. Wow. Go away.

    • Wow… If you’re not into the show, then stop watching it. Spare us from having to read your sob story of how you would change things if you were in charge… (what do you do for a living??)

      • LOL….that review just mad me laugh. If people don’t like it why do they watch it, LOL. Don’t they know that the end result will always be about ratings? Soo sad

    • 1st Michonne is a boss. Thats why she stabbed Penny and the Gov.
      2nd terrorist is a term those people are familiar with and the Governor is using rhetoric to empower his people. This was not very difficult to figure out
      3rd It’s not like Darryl and Myrle had time to speak to each other and Michonne has nothing to say to Andrea. They are done for now. Andrea is speechless and in shock.

      • Michonne is a paper thin character written and acted poorly. She is nothig like her counterpart.

        How do you know they are familiar with terrorist? This is not ‘our’ world where that term is now used a dime a dozen.

        Darryl and Merle were shooting at each other. I dont recall one leaving before the other…. Also how did the Gov know it was Merles brother?

    • I think our first line turned off many from the rest, but you did bring up some point…Though maybe looking a bit too negatively at the episode.

      I agree that the shoot out really wasn’t done very well. Even though they had a couple smoke granades the other side had a lot of automatic fire power. All those weapons on full auto shooting their way and only one person got hit…They should have had it all single shot. Not as exciting, but more plausable that they could get away with fewer causalties.

      I think Michonne wanted him dead for sending a hit squad after her. I think she probably was thinking the old adage of “Cut of the head of the monster….” And she wouldn’t have to worry about someone coming after her because she knew he was the loony toons directing things. Without him nobody would care about her.

      I absolutely do agree that using the term “Terrorists” went over the top. But the guy who wrote and directed that episode wrote the books, and ompared to the books, they’ve improved hands down. The books really make the so called “Heros” appear like a bunch of whinning temper tanturms out of control to a point that in reality none of them would last.

      Lastly though….The best line of the night was when Maggie said something like: “All this time we’ve been worried about the dead so much that we forgot just how bad the living can be…And always has been.” I thought that was a pretty damn good reality check. Because at the end of civilization when you’d hope that people would try to work together, dirty old greed will pop up its head and you just know conflict will arise. Something they always need to keep aware of

  26. Michonne went from cool early in the season to just plain annoying now. They better improve her character or kill her off. Is it just me or does everybody in this series really suck at basic communication between peers? Granted if they just talked it would prob spoil the “cliffhangers” but hey that’s just lazy writing if that’s the case.

    • They aren’t killing off the coolest character from the comic…She isn’t very socialable she spent months alone.

  27. Its interesting reading the reactions of different people to this episode. Some are pleased; some are not. I think one thing that everyone should be pleased with is the level of tension, which is very high right now. Quite a bit of suspense as well, particularly since we already know that almost any character could die at any moment. But I do agree with those who note the awkwardness of the action. It’s clearly not the strong point of this show, and really never has been. Many of the action scenes are awkwardly choreographed and some are downright amateur stuff, on the level of an episode of Dr. Who. Question: do we really need to keep seeing every “surprise” zombie bite in close-up? Kind of old hat by now. But the show is generally doing the right things, albeit at an uneven pace. It would be great, though, to see the writers actually address things like limited ammo and food/water, instead of just giving them lip service just before they unload a thousand rounds.

    • I’ve already decided that firearms in zombie television shows are actually re-used Western Indian-guns. You know what I’m talking about: a six-shot revolver that can somehow discharge 33 rounds and kill 57 attacking Comanches. :)

  28. Michonne probably went back to show Andrea how corrupt the Governor was, or to convince her to come back to the prison.

    • I wanted Michonne to finish the Gover… off but then again if he dies it wouldn’t be interesting. I don’t follow the Comics by the way

    • He sent a hit-squad after her. She went back for revenge, plain and simple. She doesn’t appear to embark on complex strategies…

      • Yes because they would track her down til she was dead. She risked WAY to much for so little of a pay off.

        She had no reason to come back, unlike what happened in the books.

        • Michonne went back to the governor to kill him because she knew he would retaliate against rick’s group for retrieving glenn and maggie. Remember she knows that rick’s group includes an infant and that they are ill equipped to handle a full assault by the governor. It was less about revenge and more about he needed to be stopped before he caused more deaths

        • Michonne went back to the governor to kill him because she knew he would retaliate against rick’s group for retrieving glenn and maggie. Remember she knows that rick’s group includes an infant and that they are ill equipped to handle a full assault by the governor. It was less about revenge and more about he needed to be stopped before he caused more deaths.

  29. I thought Maggie shooting Oscar after he got shot to death was unnecessary, if he turned into a walker is not like he`s going back to the compound (prison) …funny

    • She liked him. Didn’t want him coming back as a walker. Id hope if I’m ever in a zombie apocalypse and get taken out, someone will shoot me in the head before I turn.