Episode 15 of The Walking Dead, This Sorrow Life, opens with Rick, Herschel and Daryl discussing their next play. Rick has given in and believes that sacrificing Michonne to the Governor is his only move. Even though both Herschel and Daryl feel this isn’t the group and how they operate, they side with Rick. However Rick needs one more onboard so he approaches Merle, asking him why he does what he does. Merle answers that he has no idea what has shaped him, however he sees straight through the sheriff and calls Rick on his mask of bullshit, telling him he hasn’t the guts or the spine for what he intends to do next.
Outside, the group are debating ways to defend the prison, laying barbed wire for the Governors vehicles. Rick likes the idea and Daryl quickly adds that it was Michonne’s plan. We can see that Daryl, while respecting Rick’s authority, is not behind him one hundred percent with giving up Michonne. The dichotomy here between Rick Grimes in the comic book and Rick Grimes on screen is that in the comic Rick has a tendency to play cards close to his chest. Rick has been known to say one thing and express a certain idea or opinion while at last minute doing something completely different as he has done with Negan in the comic series.
Daryl and Glen talk about Merle. Daryl is all about forcing Merle to make things right with Glenn and Maggie, however Glenn makes it clear it’s not so much what Merle did to him but what was done to Maggie. Glenn cares more about Maggie than he does himself, which is why he hasn’t forgiven Merle.
We see Herschel giving a prayer from the Bible, something we haven’t seen for much of this season. As he speaks his prayer we cut to Rick walking alone, preparing to tie up Michonne. He once again sees Laurie who even seems to disapprove of his planned actions. The prayer is more for Rick’s benefit, Herschel tells his daughters that he would do anything to keep them safe as Rick comes into the prison and tells Herschel that he cannot go through with the plan. This version of Rick is much more realistic than the Machiavelli version of Rick from the comic book.
Unfortunately it’s too late, Merle has already taken Michonne and is in the process of bringing her to the Governor. Merle had no faith in Rick to go through with anything. He knows his place, he does the dirty work. He did so for the Governor and he’ll do so for Rick Grimes, saving them the trouble. Merle is almost not a bad guy in this episode as he does what he feels is right, he does what Rick and the others only flirt with knowing.
Amidst all this turmoil there’s still love in the air. As Glenn comes to terms with what has happened to him and Maggie he asks Herschel for his daughter’s hand in marriage, stating that he doesn’t even need a wedding he simply wants her to know that he is there and in love with her. Herschel, the farmer with the hot daughter as it were, has come to love Glenn as a son where as in season 2 he was ready to cast him out. We have always seen the two play the Father-n-Law and Son-in-Law game but now it becomes official. You also have to love how Glenn finds his wedding ring for Maggie, that’s just hardcore!
We see a bit of zombie action as Merle tries to hotwire a car, setting off the alarm and calling zombies like a moth to a flame. After fending off the walkers, the two drive the rest of the way to Woodbury where they have a small heat to heart chat. As much as Merle would love to turn that car around he admits to Michonne that he can’t go back. He knows what he has done and that there is no return. He releases Michonne to return to the prison on her own, Merle is going to make one last act of selfishness in a bid to save everyone.
What ensues is a firefight as the men of Woodbury fight off the zombies with Merle picking off the army, one by one. With the Governor in his sights, Merle takes the shot, but a walker intervenes and Merle is caught by the Governor and his men, who beat him to a pulp. The Governor steps in and a full on fistfight ensues, Merle seems to have the upper hand until the Governor bites off Merle’s finger. As the Governor beats Merle almost to death, he leaves him battered and broken. In one last act of defiance, Merle Dixon spits his final words before the Governor blasts him away.
“I ain’t begging!”
- Merle Dixon I knew him well, the bastard! He went down fighting!
Daryl arrives at the carnage that was the meeting site and finds that Merle, his only family, has become one of the Walking Dead. We see omething in zombie Merle’s eyes, something of recognition as he hesitates. Then we feel our collective hearts break as Daryl cries for the first time in the series. Daryl does what must be done and puts an arrow through his brother’s eye. We are left with the final shot of Daryl Dixon mourning what his brother had become, what the Governor allowed his brother to become, a fate worse than death in this new world.
With only one episode left, Rick and the gang prepare for the worst that is about to come!