I’ve given you a day to catch up on the latest episode of ‘The Walking Dead’. Let’s be honest here, if you haven’t fired up your DVR to watch this episode already, you aren’t going to any time soon. Much like apples in the window sill or milk out in the open, if you don’t watch a recorded show within the first few days, you never will. Well, that’s how it goes for myself, anyhow.
Also, if you were that concerned with not having the episode spoiled, you wouldn’t be reading my posts. Rather, you’d be sitting in quiet isolation right now. Your Facebook page would be deactivated, and your Twitter account suspended. If anyone wanted to get a hold of you, they’d have to do so by sliding notes under your door or by calling your Dixie cup and string phone.
Wait, I thought I was talking about you?
There are SPOILERS here. I don’t think I can be any more clear
We all knew it would happen sooner or later. As is the premise of the show and the comic book, everyone is bound to die sometime. Isn’t that how real life works, minus the zombies who want to eat your innards? Despite all of those facts, it is still hard to see a main character go. Especially when that character makes such a dramatic change before their untimely demise.
Merle Dixon, redneck loud-mouth and one-armed hot-wiring extraordinaire, met his maker this week. But, it wasn’t in a way that you would have guessed (stoned and naked underneath a mound of strippers he saved somewhere outside of Atlanta). No, he died a hero.
Shocker, right? Let me take it back a little bit to tell you how…
After the meeting between Rick and the Governor a few episodes back, Rick decided that he was going to give Michonne to the Governor. He chose to do so despite objections from Daryl and Hershel. Rick decides that Merle was going to help. But, as Rick tells Merle about the idea, Merle lays some hard truth upon Rick – giving the Governor Michonne won’t solve their problems.
Despite the talk, Merle decides to help anyhow. Afterward, Rick takes to the prison yard to look for something to tie up Michonne with when he sees Lori on a catwalk. She looks like she did when he last saw her alive. Her white, Roma goddess-like gown was gone, and she was back to her pregnant self. This time, however, he shakes it off. He tells himself that she isn’t really there, and he drops the wire he was holding and walks away.
Merle, on the other hand, decides to go through with the plan. He lures Michonne into a cell block and knocks her unconscious. He ties her up and takes a few things, most notably the phone Rick used to call the afterlife. I’ll get to that one in a minute.
On the way back to the Governor, Michonne tries to talk Merle out of it. She says that he can turn the car around and pretend like this never happened. He can come back to the prison and be one of the group. But, Merle knows he can’t. Then, in a shocking turn, he decides to let Michonne go.
After drinking in a parking lot and luring a dozen zombie to him with loud music (a move I call the ‘Reverse Pied Piper’) Merle leads the horde to the barn where Rick and the Governor first met. While the Woodburians were distracted, Merle began to kill them one by one. But, his rampage was cut short when the Governor found him. The two struggled and fought, and it ended after the Governor bit off a couple of Merle’s remaining fingers. As a final disgrace to Merle, the Governor shot him in the chest as Merle refused to ask for mercy.
Daryl found Merle a little while later, but it was too late. He had already turned into a zombie. Daryl broke down and refused to kill Merle for a moment. But, when he finally got the will to do it, he unleashed a fury upon Merle’s face. The episode ends with Daryl panting and crying on the ground.
Merle always knew that he was going to die by the Governor’s hand. He had even said it in previous episodes. Daryl knew that the only way Merle would die would be because of Merle’s own actions. And, we all knew, from season one, that Merle would not ask for mercy from anyone, God or man. Despite his last minute character change, that was one part of his personality that he held true.
In one episode, an entire audience reevaluated their opinions of Merle Dixon. It makes you wonder what we had missed with his character. Underneath the rough and angry exterior lies a man who was a true hero at heart. It makes you see where Daryl get his compassion from, doesn’t it?
Before I wrap up, there are two moments from the episode that I’d like to touch on:
Why did Merle take the rotary phone?
After Merle hogtied and bagged Michonne, he started to gather materials from the prison workshop to take with him. In his haste, he grabbed the rotary phone Rick used to call the Afterlife. But, why? Did Woodbury have a working phone line? Was he planning on calling Daryl when he made it home to Woodbury?
I think it was more symbolic than anything else. After Merle leaves with the phone, we see Rick start to get his sanity back. Sure, he’s come to realize that Lori isn’t alive anymore. But, most importantly, he realizes that his proclamation at the end of season two that the group wasn’t a democracy was the wrong call. By taking the phone, it was meant to show that Rick is getting back to his old, pre-Hershel’s farm self.
Why did Daryl stab Merle so much?
After Daryl breaks down and half of the U.S. male population sheds a tear, he stabs zombie Merle to re-death. But, it isn’t just one stab to the head. It is several, like perhaps six or more hard blows to the brain. There was anger in every blow. But, why?
I’ve come up with two answers that satisfy my curious mind:
- All of the anger he held for Merle was finally coming out. Each blow was fueled by rage from years of scorn and ridicule from Merle.
- It was the frustration of losing his brother so soon after finding him. He was angry that Merle had done something to get himself into this position. Perhaps it was one of those “You’re So Stupid For Doing This Shit” kind of stabbings?
Either way, Merle will be missed. Well, perhaps we’ll miss the Merle we knew for the final 10 to 20 minutes of the episode. The old, racial slur throwing Merle won’t be. Unless you’re in to that sort of thing, that is…