For the penultimate episode of Season Three, The Walking Dead gives us a flawed but compelling tale.

Title: “The Sorrowful Life”

Cast and Crew

Directed by Gregory Nicotero
Written by Scott M. Gimple

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes
Danai Gurira as Michonne
Norman Reedus as Darryl Dixon
Michael Rooker as Merle Dixon
David Morrissey as the Governor
Steven Yeun as Glenn Rhee
Lauren Cohan as Maggie Greene
Scott Wilson as Herschel Greene
Melissa Suzanne McBride as Carol Peletier
Emily Kinney as Beth Greene
Chandler Riggs as Carl Grimes
Vincent Ward as Oscar
Dallas Roberts as Milton
Chad Coleman as Chase Tyreese
Jose Pablo Cantillo as Martinez
Sonequa Martin-Green as Sasha

Additional cast and crew information may be found here.

Premise

Merle takes matters into his own hands—and raises questions of motivation and redemption in the world of Walking Dead

High Point

Two high points that stayed with me (other than the conclusion) were:
The scene at the motel.
Post-apocalyptic wedding ring shopping.

Low Point

Merle says he doesn’t know why he does the things he does—and while I can posit reasons for why his plan developed as it does, his initial actions appear to be driven by the fact of an audience that needed to be kept in suspense, rather than internal logic, even Merle’s idea of logic.

The Scores

Originality: 3/6 We have some new directions for some characters, though most of us likely predicted the conclusion.

Effects: 6/6 This episode featured even more blood and gore than usual, and the make-up and effects people did an excellent job.

Story: 4/6 The episode creates suspense about the conclusion of this week’s plot and the season’s arc.
I wish we had a stronger sense of Merle’s initial motives, or how he arrived at his particular conclusions, or why Rick ever gave serious consideration to what he must have realized was a bad idea, both ethically and practically. Then again, Stalin signed a non-aggression pact with Hitler.

Acting: 5/6 We had some obvious displays of strong emotion, and a good turn by Rooker as Merle. Andrew Lincoln aptly handled the realization of who his group is supposed to be, and why they’re not the Governor– or, at least, he handled better than the script did.

Emotional Response: 5/6

Production: 6/6

Overall: 5/6

In total, “The Sorrowful Life” receives 35/42