Carol reached out to Daryl last season, and she tries again in this episode with Merle, suggesting that he too might be “a late bloomer.” Merle was looking for an escape through alcohol or drugs, and Carol asks him, “Are you with us?” Merle responds he’s there for Daryl, and Carol says, “It’s not time to do shots. It’s time to pick a damn side.” It’s clear Merle is not with the Governor anymore, so when Merle needs to pick a side it’s between truly opening himself up to the group or staying an outsider. In the end, he picks his side when he chooses death over a new start.
The really sad part of this story, aside from Daryl’s sobbing, was Merle’s assumption when Rick came to him to ask for help with the plan to hand Michonne over to the Governor, that Rick’s request equaled Rick needing him to do his dirty work. Merle had been part of the Governor’s inner circle, and Merle had known his role. He was only there to do the Governor’s dirty work. When Rick invited Merle into the secret plan of trading Michonne to the Governor in exchange for peace, Merle assumed that this was because Rick knew deep down inside that he would back down, and Merle believed that Rick wanted Merle to carry out the plan when Rick couldn’t – even if Rick himself didn’t realize it. When Merle decided to let Michonne go, and told her he couldn’t go back, was part of him still believing that if he didn’t fulfill his role in the group by doing the things that were too distasteful for the rest of them, that they wouldn’t keep him around? And a more troubling question – was Merle right about Rick?
Sorrowful LifeThis episode was heartbreaking, and that’s a credit to the acting skills of Michael Rooker, the powerful writing, and the contributions of everyone else involved. The successful transformation of Merle from a racist, reckless villain to sympathetic brother and tragic hero, in what amounted really to just a few episodes, was impressive. I knew something like this was coming, not that Merle would be killed in this episode – I didn’t read the spoilers – but I knew that he couldn’t last with the group for too long. He was too much of a loose cannon. And while I had hoped for his redemption, I’m not sure I would have believed it if it had happened. After The Suicide King, I dared to hope that we would see Merle interact with the group for at least half a season and that we’d get some quality scenes between Merle and Daryl. I mostly got my wish, so in a way, I’m OK with this.
In this episode, we got some memorable Merle moments to add to our collection, other great scenes, and some profound quotes from many sources:
Merle tearing up the prisoners’ mattresses, looking for dope, was classic.
Merle gets the chance to call Rick “Officer Friendly” one last time in a chilling scene where he tells Rick that the Governor will torture Michonne, and that Rick is “cold as ice.”
Merle: “You know something. You’re right. I don’t know why I do the things I do. I never did. I’m a damned mystery to me. But I know you Rick. Yeah, I thought a lot about you. You ain’t got the spine for it.”
Daryl: “You can't do things without people any more now, man.”
Michonne: “You talk about the weight of what you have to do. How you can handle it. A bad man, someone truly evil, they’re light as a feather. They don’t feel a thing.”
Michonne: “The truth is this could have been your shot. With your skills? A whole new beginning. But you choose to stay on the outside. No one’s going to mourn you. Not even Daryl. He’s got a new family.”
Merle: “You’re as much on the outside as I am, girl.”
Also from the episode:Did you catch Merle putting Rick’s phone in his backpack? It was probably for the wire to tie Michonne up, but I would like to think that it is a sign that it is time for Rick to move forward too.
Glenn and Maggie got engaged. While cutting the ring off a walker’s hand was a little creepy, the scene between the two of them, as well as the one between Glenn and Hershel, were sweet. This much happiness makes me worry for them in next week’s finale. It’s too bad Glenn and Maggie’s moment couldn’t help but be overshadowed by the Merle storyline.
So Rick is finally giving up his little dictatorship. Thank you. The speech at the end of last season never seemed right to me, and Rick has been bowed down under the weight of the responsibility for being in charge of everyone all season. He needs to share the load, and he can’t become like the Governor.
The voice-over effect of Hershel reading from the Bible as Rick saw a vision of Lori and reconsidered his decision to sacrifice Michonne was beautifully done.
It looks like the son of the annoying character with Tyreese and Sasha was killed by Merle. That will likely erupt in some drama next episode, and will probably play a role in Tyreese and Sasha joining Team Rick.
Nitpicks:One thing that didn’t ring quite true to me was Merle’s response that he hadn’t killed anyone before he teamed up with the governor. He’s ex-military, and he was very close to killing T-Dog in season 1 without provocation. It’s possible, but I doubt it.
Was that a radio playing the car? It could have been a tape or CD, but it looked like a radio, which begs the question what radio station is still broadcasting about a year after the zombie apocalypse. And why would this car’s battery still be good?
When Merle tied Michonne to the post while he was breaking into the car, why didn’t she even try to untie it when he wasn’t looking? She had about a minute there before the walkers started closing in.
So what are your thoughts? How do you think it next week’s finale will play out? Will you miss Merle?