15 minutes in and we’ve already heard Merle (Michael Rooker) speak more than he has this entire season.
Frankly, we’re concerned for his well-being and we have every right to be. Most recently, we lost Axel (Lew Temple) after he started getting chatty, and the same thing happened to T-Dog, Dale, Amy….
We hear the death knell but we never guess how it’s going to happen and Merle’s demise at the hands of the Governor (David Morrissey) was pretty squirm-in-your-seat nasty. When he tore off a couple of Merle’s remaining fingers with his teeth and spat them out, blood running down his chin, we see the lines between the comic book creation and the TV show character are blurring. Along with the last meal we ate.
The most brutal part, however, was watching Daryl (Norman Reedus)’s reaction. By the time he’d tracked his brother’s whereabouts in a bid to stop him from handing over Michonne (Danai Gurira) to the Governor, Merle had transformed.
He found him with a bloody bullet wound in his chest and a former Woodbury citizen’s guts hanging from his mouth. The sobbing and angry face-stabbing that followed was beautifully played by Reedus, laying bare his conflicted feelings about his bullying older bro. It’ll be interesting to see where they take this character now that all his ties have been severed.
Daryl tried all episode to fully integrate his sibling into the prison camp, but the person who actually got through to him was Michonne. Perhaps because she’s just as brutally honest as he is, telling him no one will mourn his death. Not even his brother, “he’s got a new family now.”
We’re constantly reminded what a bad guy Merle is, he even tells us he’s done much worse than what he did to Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan), and he admits to killing 16 men to boot. And yet he lets Michonne leave with her katana and then tries to do the right thing and kill the Gov himself. This shot at redemption and the fact he had all the best one liners means he will be sorely missed.
This Sorrowful Life definitely feels like a penultimate episode. The calm before the machine gun fire. Hershel (Scott Wilson)’s reading the Bible to his daughters, Carol (Melissa McBride)’s “not afraid of anything”, and Glenn (sort of) proposed to Maggie. Writer (and Season 4 showrunner) Scott M Gimple has produced a carefully-crafted and intense episode before a finale that’s been billed as “unexpected and emotionally satisfying“. Place your bets on who will make it out alive…
The Walking Dead episode 16 ‘Welcome To The Tombs’ airs Friday 5 April 2013 at 10pm on FOX. Watch a sneak peek below…