Blick Tolkien reviews The Walking Dead – Episode 034 – This Sorrowful Life

The Walking Dead - Episode 034 - This Sorrowful Life 45 min., 2013
Written by Scott M. Gimple
Directed by Greg Nicotero
Language: English
My rating: ★★★★★

Deal or No Deal?

* * *


The following review is rated WOE (Waiting On the End), it contains deranged opinions driven by boredom and the consumption of lead based paint taken deliberately at random. The views here do not reflect the thoughts of a completely sane person. They are being presented by a person that has grown up in a rather unseemly portion of town, taken recreational narcotics and has been molested by a clown. Don’t feel compelled to read it all, hell I know I don’t. Albino, Mormon and Republican reader discretion is advised.


An ultimatum was given at the last meeting between The Governor and Rick. The decision seemed clear, give up Michonne and they leave all the folks at the prison alone. After 2 days to mill it over, Rick has decided that it’s now or never. Looks like Michonne is gonna get her walking papers. He enlists the help of Daryl and Merle only after seeking Dale’s sage old council… oops I mean Hershel’s. It’s getting harder and harder to tell them apart these days unless he’s quoting scripture, or has a bible in his hand. Hershel wants his girls safe so he can’t quite agree with Rick’s decision, but he damn sure can’t just tell him to forget it if there’s a chance they could all be rid of The Governor for good. We have seen Rick in the 2 prior seasons always try to lead by example; always let his moral compass point north. That’s part of the appeal; part of the hero type he embodies for us. He is the cowboy with a code, the law in a lawless town, but in season 3 he knows the Boy Scout routine is getting people killed.

The “Everyone can be saved, redeemed or rehabilitated” line of reasoning can’t work in every world. There is always an exception to the rules. This is why comic book fans (insert irony here) are so divided over DC’s No kill heroes like superman and batman, and Anti-Heroes like Spawn and The Punisher. Some enemies can be made allies; some Villains can come back from the dark and be redeemed; but sometimes you get a Lex Luthor, or the Joker, or Osama Bin Laden, where the only cure for their cruelty is a bullet to the brain. Not because you need to see them die, but because you can’t suffer them to live. They will escape, they will rise up, and they will charm or persuade people up to your front door and burn your house down. And they will do it all with a smile. I hate to be heavy handed here, but The Governor is that villain. Rick is painfully aware that if he isn’t sated or slain, no one he knows or loves can ever be safe.

Rick reluctantly gets Merle to agree to gift wrap Michonne for the meeting. Then after some choice words on how he’s cold as ice for doing exactly what Merle did to Glenn and Maggie, Merle still agrees to take one for the team. Glenn and Daryl have words over how sorry he knows Merle must be, and has high hopes Glenn can forgive, but that seems a tree best left un-barked up. The dialogue however prompts the last conversation the Dixon brothers have in which Daryl tells Merle he just wants his brother back, and Merle visibly affected, shoves him off and sends him on his way.

I think this would be a good time to remind our readers of Rick’s wishy-washy attitude when it comes to sticking to one course of action. Because just as he is in the courtyard getting wire to bind Michonne, he sees another vision of Lori looking over him, judging him and safeguarding the man he truly is. He decides then and there to call the whole thing off. Remember he gave Shane 3 chances, and it nearly cost him his life 3 times. He decided to live on Hershel’s land and not put the walkers out to pasture, or let Hershel see firsthand what they were until all hell broke loose. So there is a running theme of him ignoring common sense and trying to give folks a chance. We all know this will likely backfire; but in the end we love him because he always wants to find a way for us to come out on the other side of a dire situation united and safe. So I suppose we shall see how it plays out.

Merle lures Michonne into the depths of the prison, and while they are killing walkers, knocks her out and hauls her off to the meet up. Rick tells Hershel and Daryl that he’s called it off and can’t find Merle, so Daryl goes out to intercept him and bring her back before it’s too late. During their travels on the road to Woodbury, Michonne has been more than happy to give her commentary on his role in the lives of any group that’s been willing to take him in. Like his ability to be the one man cleanup crew for any dirty work with no real respect or admiration for his troubles. He seems unphased until she tells him they can just go back and all really would be forgiven, and they would see him as the good man he really is underneath the drugs and the racism. That he has a good heart, the same heart that leads him to keep watch over his little brother. That’s when his faith’s actually shaken in the careless bad ass he’s supposed to be and he lets her go.

Daryl runs into Michonne on her way back, and she tells him what his brother did and where he’s headed. Then, after an epic showdown where almost all of his lackeys are slain, The Governor takes Merle down and vacates the area before Daryl can get there. Watching Merle as a walker, and Daryl (the only character that has consistently evolved emotionally and mentally) react to knowing he will never get his brother back, and then seeing the vacant look in his eyes is heart wrenching. To have to follow that look up with watching him take his brother’s life is almost too much to bear. This is the moment that truly attests to Michael Reedus’ acting ability and range without question.

Back at the prison Rick fesses up to what he did, or tried to do in sending Michonne to the wolves, but not before (with Hershel’s blessing) Glenn proposes to Maggie. The group (which is after this confession no longer a Rickocracy) votes to stay and fight. This episode went back to form, and gets a resounding 4 stars from me as it sets us up for the season finale in episode 16: “Welcome to the Tombs.” But until then, I truly hope all your films bring fright.

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About Blick Tolkien

About Blick Tolkien: The bastard half brother of Zeb Carter, he grew up in Chicago's urban jungle, forced to be the victim of racial injustice and daily bullying until the day he saw Night of the Living Dead. the immersion into violence on film gave him the tools to externalize his hate and make the world a horror show for all his enemies. A card carrying member of the Black Panther party, he hates whitey and all forms of coonery including any and all Tyler Perry films. You have been warned. About Zeb Carter: The younger brother of Blick Tolkien, he used horror films as a way to open him self up to the social and story telling aspects of cinematic fear as well as his love of the silver screen. After seeing Gremlins at the drive in he was hooked. He also writes short fiction, has 2 daughters and a pack of animals that he is currently serves as the alpha male over. You can read his fiction at
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