'The Walking Dead' recap, episode 315: 'This Sorrowful Life'

I'll never forget you Merle (Michael Rooker)

Oh my god no, no, no!!! It didn't have to be this way The Walking Dead. Dammit!

When I said the last few episodes were moving along slowly, I didn't mean that I wanted you to kill off my favorite character! Scratch that: my best friend.


This Sorrowful Life indeed...

If you're one of those people that doesn't watch The Walking Dead until like five days later, sorry, that's on you. When you make life decisions like that you're basically sacrificing your right to not have the shocking plot twists spoiled for you. And if you want to avoid those traps, it's your responsibility to stay off of the dang Internet!


Ahh, who am I kidding. I'm just rambling now because I'm such a distraught mess after watching one of my heroes die. I can hardly see this stupid keyboard cause of all these tears in my eyes...Why are these dumb keys all salty and wet? Keep it together, keep it together, keep it together.

OK, here we go.

This episode was honestly awesome, and one of the best I can remember in a long time (at least since Clear a few episodes back), which is no surprise considering that it was directed by special effects master and gore guru Greg Nicotero. (His other episodes were I Ain't A Judas, Say the Word and Judge, Jury, Executioner)

But Merle! My boy, my boy, my boy Merle...

What made Merle's departure all the more painful was that we got to see him at his absolute pinnacle in this episode.

He actually started to get along with Michonne. Nobody liked racist, sexist Merle, but I think this showed that he really was a redeemable character. Michonne even let him chop off a zombie's head with her Ninja Gaiden sword! Then again, that should have been a hint. Anytime a callous character starts to get along with others in this show, it means they're about to die. (See: Axel, Oscar, umm ... wasn't there a character named Don who did the same thing?)

I thought that they were going to kill off a character this week, but I assumed it was going to be some inconsequential moving piece of scenery like Carol or that guy Harold who is always saying catch phrases. Even when they went to commercial break after the Governor pulled the trigger I assumed he had just shot him in the shoulder or something.

If you're like me, and you like Merle for his hard livin', then you loved seeing him hot-wire an old beater, booze it up in front of a dive bar and listen to Motorhead. OMG if I had any wish it would be to be in the passenger seat of that demolition derby wreck of a car with Merle, sipping out of a plastic pint flask of Kentucky Gentleman as zombies groped at the filthy windows around us. I'd skip to "(We Are) The Road Crew" on the Motorhead's greatest hits disc and at first Merle would look over like 'Hey you trying to lose a hand?" and then the song would start with that awesome guitar riff and crashing cymbals and he'd just start nodding like "Yeah!!! I think we're gonna get along JUST fine!"


Oh Merle, I already miss you so very much...

OK, back on track.

I haven't even mentioned the proposal and engagement of Maggie and Glenn! I mean, it doesn't really bear mentioning because it's kind of a television cliche to just have a wedding or something and it feels like something major happened. But it was kind of sweet to see Glenn ask Hersh for Maggie's hand in marriage. I have a cold heart of stone but I was still like "Oh, if you two crazy kids can't find love in this world then who can!?"

And you know Hershel was just loving it because his pure white sniffer tickler started twitching all about like a d'ug's nose and little bits of fairy dust twinkled to the floor as his eyes sparkled and there were sound effects like a chime being sounded.

Oh, some other humans died too. Several randoms bought it when Merle attacked the Governor's stronghold, and Allen's son Ben. Uhh, sorry you got eaten by zombies Ben but forgive me if I'm not bawling my eyes out over here. You hardly said one damn thing during your entire stint on the show, your dad Allen was a jackass, and I've got much better friends to mourn than you. RIP Ben (sarcasm). (FYI Merle was the zombie eating Ben. LOL.)

Stream of consciousness blogging: I've been so caught up in losing Merle that I haven't summarized what happened in this episode.


Rick wracks his bean over whether or not he should fork over Michonne to the Governor (this was a dumb side plot all along because: A. it was a bad idea, and 2. it wouldn't work). Why would it be such a bad idea? Umm, hello? Have you ever seen how sick Michonne is setting up barbed wire tire traps and decapitating zombies heads? Instead of handing her over to end 'the war' you should just use her to help end the war. It would be like throwing an Uzi into a fire to try to put out the fire, when you should have just used the Uzi to threaten the man who started the fire to put it out. Or shoot him and put it out yourself. (The man who started the fire is the Governor...)

Anyway, Merle slashes up a really uncomfortable looking mattress (it was not a Sleep Number) looking for 'dope', and then has a heart-to-heart with his brother Daryl. More on that later.

Merle, you were the only one who understood me...

Then Merle concusses Michonne (it seemed kind of unrealistic how he somehow convinced her to just walk alone with him in the catacombs. What is this, The Cask of Amontillado?) So you think his plan is to dump Michonne off at Woodbury, ending the cold war, but he really sets her loose and tries to off the Governor himself. Go on Merle, with your bad self!!!

I loved Merle...

I will say this about Merle. He literally went out in a blaze of glory. That sucker the Governor bit his fingers off (you'll pay for this, Governor), but Merle took down a bunch of zombies and several humans with him before he died, and he still kept his dignity.


He even got one last reunion with Daryl before it was all over. There was so much man emotion between those two in this episode. How heart wrenching was that scene, you guys? No matter how many differences they had, Merle and Daryl still had a brotherly bond, and you could totally feel it when you saw Daryl with his Hawthorne Heights haircut and squinty eyes figuring out that his brother was undead...


Thank you Merle. Thank you for being you...I'll never forget you and you'll live on in the hearts of those you touched and inspired.

At the end of the episode, Rick lays all the cards out on the table about the whole Michonne thing, and then Michonne returns to the prison unharmed. It's time to fight this fight...

Woulda been funny if...

Glenn had handed Maggie the whole zombie finger with the wedding ring on it as his way of proposing. He could have been like "Hey, will you take this hand so I can take your hand in marriage, no..." Or if he started poking her in the face playfully with the wife zombie finger and then he was like "No, just kidding, will you be mine for better and for worse?" Or if he started scratching his head with the zombie finger and was like "Oh I was trying to think of something I can't remember? What was it? *scratch-scratch* Oh yeah, will you marry me?" and then he hands her the finger...

Seriously though, I hope he at least rinsed off that ring in a Cripple Creek or something...

Messed up Merle

When Daryl goes to talk to Merle he already looks kind of faded...Was he huffing in that work room or something? The whole time there is this low hum going on in the background too. Was it supposed to be some generator running, or was it all in Merle's head cause he's so bejeweled blitzed?

Merle seems pretty smooth at grand theft auto...

Until he sets off the world's loudest and most obnoxious car alarm.

A joke I did on Twitter

Merle looks a little worse for the wear in this episode, and then he starts abusing substances and it takes a toll on him, and he's no spring chicken to start with, so he starts to look a little tore up from the floor up. My joke on Twitter (@ACHoCoSports) was that he looked a little haggard. Get it you guys, Merle Haggard? Come on, it's fun...

Charlie Church

Hershel is SOO religious. First he participates in all these sacraments, like the sacrament of agreeing to let one's daughter get married and having church with his daughters, then he shared this inspirational poem during the commercial break:

"One of Scott Wilson's Favorite Poems

To me this poem speaks to something central to The Walking Dead.


No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were;  any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."

-John Donne, "Meditation 17", Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions

Who invited this guy?

Carol is the Black Widow

Carol flirted with Axel and he died. Carol flirted with Merle and he died. Watch your back Daryl!!!

Again with the ghost wife?

It's like Rick wasn't getting enough attention in this episode so he had to start imagining his dead wife Lori again to make a scene. I thought we had resolved all of this? I'd rather see Ghost Dad.

I liked how he said "You're not there! ... She's not there." Like first he's trying to reason with her, and then he's trying to reason with the world around him. Plus he's wrapping this blue wire around his arm all OCD. What are you doing with that wire, Rick, setting up a LAN party so you and your friends can have an epic Counter Strike marathon? Burn.


As if to one-up him, Merle finds the phone! Was Merle having hot chats with some imaginary person on that phone?

Rough night?

When Michonne is tied up at the motel this one zombie comes stumbling out of one of the rooms, but the funny thing is that it didn't look very decomposed or anything, it just looked all gray and wore out. It looked like maybe it was just some down-and-outer in that room drinking Wild irish Rose for three days and three nights and it came out like "Hey keep it down! Sahhhh, it's too bright!!!"

Home and Gardens Tour

I liked when Michonne and Merle were walking through that suburban neighborhood past all those old houses. Every time I go past strange houses in an old neighborhood I wonder what would be inside each one. And since it's the zombie apocalypse they actually could have checked without getting put on the police blotter! I bet there were some really cool old vidya games, posters, maybe some refurbished pinball machines, and old baseball cards. B-)

Did you know?
  • This episode was filmed right around Halloween.
  • Rick called himself "Officer Friendly" in season one when they were on the rooftop with Merle handcuffed.
  • The bar that Merle sat in his car and drank in front of was called 'Big Jake's'. Is it a real bar? I don't know. I googled it with no results. You tell me!
  • One really cool thing that Greg Nicotero does is put famous or iconic zombies into the episodes that he directs! The one that I noticed immediately in this episode was the main red flannel shirt zombie from the movie poster for 1978 Dawn of the Dead! He comes out of Big Jake's while Merle is herding walkers toward the end of the episode. (Nicotero was a protege of the legendary Tom Savini, who was the main special effects man on that film.)
  • The song that Merle listens to while attacking the grain storage stronghold is Turn it Up, by Ted "The Nuge" Nugent.

Merle's assault rifle
(From AMC Story Sync)

  • Colt M16 with scope
  • Military version of the AR-15
  • Action: Semi, three-round burst, full auto
  • Barrel Length: 20 in
  • Weight: 7.18 lbs
  • Muzzle Velocity: 3100 fps
  • Most-produced firearm of its caliber
  • First produced: 1959
Merle's jams...

Merle's jams were so nice. And that sound system was silly fresh with the color effects. Tight. And that rig had some bangin' rims! He listened to Motorhead, Fast and Loose.


Led Zeppelin, All of My Love

Type O Negatve, Some Stupid Tomorrow

A Perfect Circle, Gravity

Deadsy, Babes in Abyss

The Rolling Stones, Can't You Hear Me Knocking

Dinosaur Jr., Crumble

Pailhead, Man Should Surrender


The Cure, Charlotte Sometimes

Ozzy Osbourne, Over The Mountain

Bad Company, Shooting Star

Danzig, Black Angel, White Angel

Quote board

Rick: "Do you even know why you do the things you do? The choices you make?"

Merle: "You're cold as ice Officer Friendly"

Merle: "I don't know why I do the things I do, never did, I'm a damn mystery to me."

Merle: "We got any whiskey? Hell I'd even drink vodka."

Carol: "It's not time to do shots, it's time to pick a damn side."

Merle: "Do you even possess a pair of balls little brother?"

Daryl: "You can't do things without people anymore man…"

Michonne: "Wanted my sword back before I get away." (weird smile)

Michonne: "That's a whole lot of maybes…"

Merle: "I can't 'go back'. Don't you understand that? I can't."

Merle: "You gotta play the hand you're dealt, I only got one…"

Merle: "I've killed 16 men since all this went down…let's go."

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Merle: "I aint gonna beg, I aint begging you!"


Rick: ""We can stand and fight, or we can go!"

Winner: My Best Friend

Best zombie kill

I liked it when Michonne tied copper wire all around this lady zombie's neck and some beam, and then the lady zombie was like "Hey, what the?" and Michonne yanked, and *POP* came off its head like a dandelion!

The one she stomped on with her steam punk boots was pretty good too.

Creepiest zombie

There was this one that walked up to Merle while he was hot wiring the car and Michonne was tied up. It looked like it had a big pillow in its shirt except the pillow was all rotting guts and its mouth was all snaggled and mangled so creepy. Merle cut off the whole front of its face, which was awesome.

Death count

Zombies: There were at least 25, for 255-260 on the season.

Humans: Five? Merle, Ben, a few other guys, one of them had long Native American hair. 34 on the season.

Lingering questions
  • How do Milton's inventions work?
  • What is Morgan going to do with himself in King County?
  • Who burned up all those zombies in the pit?
  • Who's psyched for next week's season finale?

What song was the Governor whistling while he stalked Andrea? Thanks to JGreeb for the intel that it was "Bye Bye Baby Bunting"!

A look ahead to next week's episode, "Welcome to the Tombs"

The Governor tortures Andrea. Rick tells Michonne she's one of them. The Governor rallies the soldiers for a real fight! Team Woodbury actually attacks Team Prison! Something big is gonna happen!