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Cult Recap

'Walking Dead' recap: War breaks out in Woodbury in 'Made to Suffer'

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The Walking Dead S03E08: 'Made to Suffer'

© AMC

Season 3, episode 8 | Aired Friday, Dec 7 2012 at 22:00 GMT on FX

The Walking Dead's third run has been a season of two halves, dividing its attention between the prison plot and the Woodbury arc, but mid-season finale 'Made to Suffer' opens by introducing an all-new cast of characters. It's finally time for the much-anticipated debut of another fan favourite character from Robert Kirkman's original comics - the burly Tyreese.

The newcomer is brought to life by Chad Coleman - previously best known for his terrific performance as gangster-turned-boxing coach Dennis 'Cutty' Wise on HBO's The Wire, Coleman brings the same gravitas and intensity to the role of Tyreese.

On the run from a plague of zombies, Tyreese and his clan stumble upon an apparent safe haven - the same prison where Rick and company have been holing up of late. With only a few members of the first prison posse still in residence, Carl (Chandler Riggs) has completed his evolution from moody, trouble-making brat to mature, gun-toting young adult, essentially assuming control of the remaining few.

Having a pre-teen take charge in such a manner might sound ludicrous on paper, but as a performer Chandler Riggs has a maturity and confidence beyond his years that means you absolutely buy into Carl's new role.

The Walking Dead S03E08: 'Made to Suffer'

© AMC



The Governor (David Morrissey) is planning to eliminate his prison opposition, unaware that Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and his gang are already launching an armed assault on Woodbury, led by a vengeful Michonne (Danai Gurira).

A bloodied Glenn (Steven Yeun) is still being held hostage within the town alongside a traumatised Maggie, who gives voice to the major theme of this season - "All this time running from walkers… you forget what people do."

Glenn rips a jagged bone from a dormant walker's arm to use as a weapon - a perfect example of the lurid and imaginative gore in which this show excels - and the couple attempt a break-out, but despite their valiant efforts, they're quickly overcome by Merle (Michael Rooker) and his goons.

The Walking Dead S03E08: 'Made to Suffer'

© AMC



Luckily Rick's crew arrive to rescue them in the nick of time and Daryl is confronted by Merle's actions - though not yet by his brother in person. Kudos to the Walking Dead writing team for including a fun nod to early fan speculation here, with Daryl wondering aloud, "My brother's this Governor?"

Rick and the others are keen to escape Woodbury as quickly as possible, but Daryl is torn between going with them and tracking down Merle. With all hands on deck, the group makes a desperate attempt to flee and, in a brief but enthralling sequence, Rick suffers a hallucination amidst the chaos, believing that his slain friend-turned-foe Shane is advancing towards him...

Jon Bernthal's brief wordless cameo is a nice moment for fans and another indication that, despite outward appearances, Rick may not have completely overcome the psychosis he's displayed in previous weeks.

The Walking Dead S03E08: 'Made to Suffer'

© AMC



In last week's recap, we expressed our disappointment in the direction taken with the character of Andrea (Laurie Holden) this season - the once bold and confident character has fallen hook, line and sinker for the 'mink-lined prison' of Woodbury and for the Governor's unhinged charms.

When all hell breaks loose, he doesn't want her picking up arms and this display of male chauvinism seems to offend her far more than his previous deeply suspicious, bloodthirsty behaviour at the zombie arena bout. Come on, Andrea - wise up!

In any case, the Governor will find it more difficult to 'keep an eye' on Andrea in future. In an almost unbearably tense sequence, Michonne discovers the dictator's bound, zombified daughter and coldly puts her down in front of him.

The Walking Dead S03E08: 'Made to Suffer'

© AMC



What follows is a fight sequence so brutal, so visceral, that it's genuinely difficult to watch, climaxing in a truly stomach-churning piece of violence as Michonne gouges out the Governor's eye with a broken piece of glass. That one'll stick in our minds for a while.

Andrea arrives to save her beau, but is finally confronted with the truth - courtesy of the Governor's zombie daughter and his collection of pickled walker heads. He's lost not just his eye and his daughter, but also whatever last vestige of humanity still lurked within...

More paranoid and deranged than ever, the Governor turns on Merle - whom he suspects of having let Rick and the others into Woodbury - and rouses a mob to descend on both Dixon brothers - Daryl having been captured during the assault. All the while, Andrea limply watches on - seriously, if this isn't enough to make her turn on The Governor, then we're done with her.

The Walking Dead S03E08: 'Made to Suffer'

© AMC



'Made to Suffer' leaves us wondering what will happen next with this fantastic cliffhanger ending and there's plenty to speculate about. How will Daryl and Merle escape? Will Andrea get a grip? When will Rick face down the Governor - a confrontation we'd predicted would come this week? And how will Rick react to the arrival of Tyreese at the prison?

The first four episodes of The Walking Dead's third season were genuinely phenomenal, packed with shock twists and unexpected character exits. Later episodes couldn't hope to keep up that pace, but have remained consistently surprising and consistently entertaining.

This action-packed mid-season finale is the perfect cap on what has been an exceptionally strong eight-week run. We've got every faith that the Walking Dead team can keep it up - and very probably amp it up - in 2013.

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