How You Live, How You Die

Season 3 Episode 15 “This Sorrowful Life”

The Episode

It’s all about Merle this week. He gets a chance to interact with many of the characters as what we come to see is his last day on earth. Yes, unfortunately we have to say goodbye to the elder Dixon. But have no fear, Merle doesn’t go down easy.

As Rick moves forward with the plan to turn over Michonne to The Governor, he enlists Merle for assistance. The two have a very pointed conversation about who knows the other best. Rick sees him as just a loser that doesn’t know why he does the things he does. Merle is actually more insightful about Rick. Merle sees the cold side that Rick is showing with the whole Michonne thing; a part of Rick that not even he is seeing right now. And Merle ends up being right about Rick. He tells him he’s not going to go through with it and Rick does end up changing his mind.

One of the softer moments of the show comes between Carol and Merle. Carol wants to know if he is truly with them. The conversation reveals a lot about Carol’s changes. Merle says she used to be afraid of her own shadow and Carol replies that it was her husband’s shadow she was afraid of. We get to see that Carol has an understanding of her abused past and seems to be comfortable with it being behind her. Merle goes on to call her a late bloomer, to which Carol says maybe he is to. That seems to have some impact on Merle. Perhaps it is never too late to change.

With a show like this where characters are constantly dying, I have a fascination with last words. Sometimes the characters get to say goodbye and sometimes they don’t. It’s generally heartbreaking no matter what the case may be. The last words between Daryl and Merle are particularly sad and it is one of those cases where they have no idea this is their last conversation. Daryl finds Merle being sneaky in a secluded part of the prison. Merle plays it off that he’s down there looking for drugs to get high. They talk about the plan a bit and about what happened with Glenn and Maggie. Merle defends himself by saying Rick is doing the same thing he did, delivering someone to The Governor. It’s a simple conversation at first but ends much more real. Daryl tries to get real serious with his brother and says he just wants his brother back. Merle pushes him away emotionally and tells him to get lost. Daryl leaves and we now get to see that Merle is actually packing a bag of supplies for the delivery of Michonne.

I don’t believe Merle set out that day to sacrifice himself for the group but that’s how it went. As he takes Michonne without anyone knowing to bring her to The Governor, he has one of those bad guy epiphany moments that what he is doing is wrong and he finally needs to do that one thing that can make it right. It was interesting to see Michonne and Merle interact alone together. This was a different Michonne we got. She was patient and actually spoke. Most of it was to try to convince Merle to go back but still not something she does a lot. She got Merle to admit killing 16 people. In a particularly cruel moment, Michonne tells Merle that no one is going to mourn him. It was the last straw for Merle. After the other conversations he had that day, Michonne’s words were the ones to finally push him to the point to change. He releases her and tells her to go back while he continues on to meet The Governor.

black rose

The Governor is Merle’s final stop. He goes out with a blaze of glory though. First, he gets a herd of walkers to follow him to the site while he gets drunk in the car. Then he uses the car and walkers to distract the Woodbury fighters. While they shoot the walkers, he proceeds to shoot them. He takes out quite a few of them before they catch on. Merle is beaten and fights The Governor. In a rage, The Governor actually bites off two of Merle’s fingers on his remaining hand! Geez! Merle utters his final words that he is not gonna beg for his life. So, The Governor shoots him. I don’t know about anyone else but I assumed it would be a head shot. Silly to assume The Governor would be that kind.

Daryl is unfortunately the one who finds Merle. The Governor let him bleed out and Merle became a walker. Daryl finds him munching on a dead guy. It’s the saddest moment in Daryl’s story thus far. He had done so much to save his brother after just getting to reunite with him. Now there is nothing left to save. He aggressively puts Merle down as he cries. As he lays crying in the grass it almost feels like he might just let himself go too.

Daryl made an astute observation in Season 1 about his brother. “Nobody can kill Merle but Merle”, were his words. I find this statement comforting. Not only is it literally what happened (which I love when that happens) but it gives us a tiny insight into the depth of Daryl and Merle’s brotherly love. It’s nice to know that got to exist for a while.

Some good did come out of this episode though. Glenn and Maggie got engaged. And Rick denounces his Ricktatorship to the group. He tells them they are the greater good and that doing things without telling them is not the way to go, that they have to do things together.

Best of the Episode

The proposal. Mostly Glenn’s preparation for the proposal. He begins with getting Hershel’s blessing, which of course he does. Then he goes to get the ring in typical

wedding rings resting on rocks

zombie apocalypse fashion…by cutting it off the hand of a walker. And then the proposal. Glenn does a baller move by just placing it in her hand and saying nothing. Maggie of course says yes.

Daryl and Merle’s final moments. It was incredibly moving and heartbreaking to see Merle as a walker stand up and come at his brother. And Daryl having to deal with the surprise of his brother dead and putting him down while weeping was just devastating.

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