In the aptly-titled mid-season finale of The Walking Dead, "Made to Suffer" introduced us to a new group of survivors and reunited a bunch of familiar ones. But if you're thinking about giant, relieved hugs after a triumphant run across a grassy field, you are going to be sorely disappointed. In summary: a moment of manliness by Carl, a moment of insanity by Rick, a moment of power by Carol, and one million awkward moments between all the people who used to hang out together -- Andrea, Merle, Daryl, Michonne -- and no longer do.
As usual, plot spoilers are discussed after the jump, so you have been warned!
Last week's episode ended in a tense moment when Rick, Daryl, and Oscar finally reached Woodbury, led there by Michonne so they can rescue Maggie and Glen. What they don't know: Andrea and Merle are also there. What the Governor thinks, because Merle told him so: Michonne is dead. This will all culminate in a bloody catastrophe.
But first -- another group of survivors, including comic book favorite Tyreese, played by Chad Coleman! These guys are traipsing about the forest like they've had their own zombie apocalypse show this whole time. One of them is bitten by a zombie, but unlike Rick, Tyreese does not lop off the victim's arm. Instead, they carry her to a building in the distance, which turns out to be the prison.
After last week's zombie experiments and still unaware of her boyfriend's near-rape of Maggie, Andrea comes in and tells the Governor that she's going to help Milton cremate Mr. Colmeman. Andrea seals her position as the official Will Tippin of The Walking Dead.
Glen and Maggie are recovering from their assaults and prepare to make an escape, but not before Glen has the incredibly resourceful idea of ripping out both forearm bones from a dead zombie. He keeps one for himself and gives the other to Maggie like the sickest promise ring in the universe. (I'm going to pretend that zombie's name was Jared.) These makeshift weapons will come in handy when the two are taken to "the screaming pits," as ordered by the Governor. Luckily, Rick and the gang are not far away.
Back at the prison, Axel displays his disgusting side by hitting on 17-year-old Beth in front of everyone, no attempt to be subtle about it. Carol takes him aside, and he explains that there is no one left for him to bone because everyone is taken and Carol is a lesbian due to her short haircut. She laughs at him, walks away, feels true power over at least one stupid man, and a sitcom is born!
After almost overpowering Merle but failing (again), Glen and Maggie are brought by Merle to the aforementioned "screaming pits," which actually just looks like another gross room. Bags are put over their heads, just in time for their fellow survivors to ambush the Woodburians and save them, and Daryl misses a huggy reunion with Merle by mere seconds. The Governor is alerted, and Andrea wonders if anyone she knows is here because OMG she didn't even make tea for them!
Glen tells Daryl that Merle is the one who beat him up, but Daryl is torn between being upset and wanting to see his brother, who he now knows is alive. Um, Daryl? You have a phone call from someone named Severe Loyalty Conundrum. You wanna take it or let it go to voicemail while you head into this gunfight?
The Governor puts Andrea in charge of door-to-door "check-ins" and she gets pissed because she won't be able to shoot anything. Meanwhile, Michonne finds the Gov's office and starts snooping. Andrea goes rogue and joins the gunfight, no idea that she's shooting at her old crew -- and Daryl has no idea he's firing at his brother, who is firing right back at him. In the chaos, Oscar is lost. Then Rick thinks he sees a bearded Shane firing at him, so at least we know who the really crazy one in this fight is.
While his father hallucinates, Carl takes charge of the new survivors and (cautiously) allows them to stay in the prison. Later, he rounds them up into a cell with food and water, and while they whine, Tyreese reminds them all that they've been crapping in the woods amongst zombies, and the prison is a fine upgrade. And he also refers to Carl as "the man," which made Carl's balls grow three sizes that day. Carl Grimes is now a strapping man, trapped in the body of a boy, and feeling totally allowed to drink real beer if he can find some.
Speaking of kids, Michonne finally meets Penny (as well as the Gov's head collection). Right before she is about to kill her, the Gov walks in, begging for her life to be spared. It's a pretty insane moment, considering 1. Michonne and the Gov seems to have a connection, having tried to keep undead loved ones close (it's been implied that her "pets" were not strangers), and 2. the Gov was told that Michonne was dead. There is undeniable sympathetic moment, but when Michonne finally kills Penny, the Gov flips, a tussle happens, and Michonne stabs him in the eye with a chunk of glass. Andrea walks in, seeing the most undelightful shit she's seen all day, including dead-undead Penny and chomping zombie heads on the floor. She might be onto something, you guys.
Michonne escapes and asks Rick to take her in. Daryl and Merle are reunited when the Governor -- who has now lost everything -- throws Merle under the bus for lying about Michonne, telling Woodbury that Merle led the "terrorists" to them, that he was a traitor because of his brother. And what's the last scene before we sign off until February? Daryl and Merle, facing off. What a predicament!
The Walking Dead returns to AMC on Sunday, February 10 at 9:00 PM (EST)! More good news: The Talking Dead will start to air at 10:00 PM (EST) and will be extended to an hour!
Photo credit: AMC