“Made to Suffer,” last night’s midseason finale of season 3 of The Walking Dead, left us right in the thick of things—perhaps in even more of a mess than when it started. As I stated in my preview post last week, the finale shifted into several new plot points that will give us plenty to look forward to when the show picks up again in February.
Here are the top 5 new plot developments.
1. Merle is stuck in a tight spot.
He lied to the Governor about Michonne’s escape, and that lie cost the Governor an eye. Now that Merle is found to be the brother of someone in Rick’s company, he has become the perfect scapegoat for the attack on Woodbury. He will find no mercy from Rick’s group, so his only hope now is Daryl.
2. Speaking of which, will Merle and Daryl have any future?
Daryl’s loyalties are highly suspect right now after he came as close as ever to wavering in his support of Rick. Questions abound. Was he legitimately captured, or did he give himself in for the sake of his brother after he made sure Rick’s people escaped?
3. Glenn is indeed a hero.
His animalistic groaning, grunting, and yelling went a little overboard, but these are animalistic times. In the face of impossible adversity, he showed that he’s tough as nails. It takes some steel to withstand torture, take out a walker whilst strapped to a chair, and then have the presence of mind to use said walker’s broken bones as weapons against your captors. Should he escape (and depending what happens to Daryl) expect him to become Rick’s new right-hand man.
4. We got the unexpected.
In an unexpected twist, an entirely new group of people was introduced. As I said last time, the beauty of zombie stories is that you can add and remove characters at almost any moment without violating the storytelling laws of probability, necessity, and plausibility. The refugees that Carl saves in the prison seem like decent, trustworthy folk.
But as we’ve seen earlier, you just never know. If the Governor attacks the prison, which will happen pretty soon if the graphic novels are anything to go by, Rick will have a hard time turning down four new potential allies.
5. The Governor faced off with a much more dangerous character than Rick.
Michonne versus the Governor was the best scene of the finale last night. Once again, the Governor proved himself one of the most compelling new characters in season 3. You know you have a desperately twisted character when the thing that humanizes him the most (or rather, the only thing that humanizes him) is his zombified daughter.
I suspect this is the most tenderness and compassion we’ll see from him for the rest of the show. I felt no pity for the Governor, but it’s a pity that the last ounces of any good, virtuous instinct he may have had were spent on a reanimated corpse.
The finale delivered all of the fantastic action and drama we have come to expect as the norm for season 3, but here’s the problem; it hardly resolved anything. Season 2 at least took a midseason break on a gut wrenching, emotional climax and resolution. When the zombified Sophia emerged from the barn, we knew that chapter of the story was over.
This time at the midpoint, we are left with a cliffhanger for the next two months. I bet the design here was to keep the show's huge new audience on the hook so they’ll come back for the rest of the season. That’s understandable for the marketing team, of course, but from a storytelling perspective, this hardly seems like a natural breaking point.
“Made to Suffer” is an apt title for the midseason finale, because that’s what I and millions of fans will be doing until the show picks up again in February.