Credit: Gene Page/AMC Photo: Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) and a photo-bombing zombie on The Walking Dead Season 3, Episode 15

WALKING DEAD SPOILERS AHEAD! Stop reading if you haven’t seen "This Sorrowful Life," which aired Sunday, March 24 on AMC.

The Ricktatorship is dead. Merle is dead. Ben is dead. Daryl is devastated. And The Governor is still alive. Andrea may still be tied up in Woodbury — does that even feel important anymore? — but the main drama on The Walking Dead Season 3, Episode 15, "This Sorrowful Life," was The Dixon Brothers Devastation, born from The Governor’s latest lie suggested deal for Team Prison to give up Michonne in exchange for peace.

On the wildly watchable and emotionally wrenching episode, we had the good news of an engagement (congrats, Glenn & Maggie — wash that ring!) and the bad news of Daryl Dixon having to put down his brother, Merle. The Governor shot the elder Dixon and Merle turned into a zombie. (Turn him into a pet! Keep him in a prison closet, like Penny!) Despite Michonne’s Debbie Downer prediction, Merle will be mourned. (Share your Merle mourning moaning here.)

But Team Prison is now in the position of voting for war or desertion — and as we saw when Dale made his speech to save Randall on Season 2, this group really hates having to make tough decisions. They’d much rather just look at the ground and have a strong leader, like Shane or Rick, just take the burden off their shoulders. But then again, that was Season 2. This is Season 3, and we’re almost at Season 4. As Merle noted of Carol, she’s changed. They’ve all changed. So maybe they really have outgrown a dictatorship. But should they stay and fight The Governor/Woodbury or leave? Since we’re gearing up for a major battle, we’re guessing they either vote to fight or the fight comes to them before they have a chance to leave.

Read on for a full recap of Episode 15:

RICK TELLS HIS BROMANCE BUDDY ABOUT THE DEAL
Remember when Carl told Rick he shouldn’t be the leader anymore? Carl said Hershel and Daryl could handle things. Those are the two guys Rick talks to about the Michonne deal. He started with Hershel, because Hershel was there two weeks ago to tell. (Hershel is the new Dale, aka the new Jiminy Cricket.) Daryl’s reaction isn’t exactly supportive. “This ain’t us, man.” Hershel agrees. Rick says “We do this, we avoid fighting. No one else dies.” Now why does he have that idea? Why does he trust The Governor’s word? He’s met Michonne, he’s heard her stories about him, and Merle’s too. Why trust The Gov’s word?


RICK TELLS MERLE ABOUT THE DEAL
Rick wonders if Merle even knows why Merle does the stuff he does. “If we give The Governor Michonne, Woodbury stands down. I don’t like it, but it’s what needs to be done. We need to make it quiet. We need your help with that.” We. The royal “we.” Rick is still using it. Merle is “honored” to be part of Rick’s inner circle. Merle tells Rick about The Gov’s plans. He tells Rick The Gov won’t kill Michonne, he’ll just “do things to her.” Will Rick let that happen for a “shot” at saving the prison? “You’re cold as ice, Officer Friendly.” How can Rick even consider this plan? Shane might do it. Merle tells Rick he doesn’t have the spine for this plan. Rick says they need to get Michonne to The Gov by noon. Why are they letting The Gov win this war? They are conceding too easily.

Credit: Gene Page/AMC Photo: Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker) on The Walking Dead Season 3, Episode 15

PRISON FORTIFICATION
Michonne is casually slicing walkers while Maggie, Carl, Glenn and Daryl work on fortifying the prison. Michonne came up with a good idea to set up some spikes to blow Woodbury drivers’s tires, if they try to drive up. Michonne says “we don’t have to win, we just have to make their getting at us more trouble than it’s worth.” She’s using the “we” too, but as a sign of solidarity. Can Rick really be serious about this? He hesitated more over killing Randall, and Randall never helped them half as much as Michonne.

MERLE & CAROL
Now these two could be cute together, in another life. But she has the better one already. He wants whiskey. She wants to know “Are you with us?” Merle says “Sure.” She’s not talking about occupying the same space. “I’m here for my brother,” he said. Carol said Daryl is there for them. “It’s not time to do shots. It’s time to pick a damn side.” Merle recognizes how much she’s changed. She was a mouse scared of her own shadow. She said it was her husband she was afraid of. “You’re a late bloomer,” Merle says. “Maybe you are too,” she responds. True. There’s always time to change your stripes.

DARYL TALKS TO GLENN
Daryl says he’ll make Merle make it right with Glenn. “There just needs to be a little forgiveness is all.” Easy for him to say. Glenn tells Daryl Merle tied him to a chair, beat him and threw a walker in the room. “Maybe I could call it even but he took Maggie to a man who terrorized her, humiliated her. I care more about her than I care about me.” Sorry, Daryl. There’s no way to win this one, especially when you’re the one trying to win for Merle instead of Merle making his own moves.

MERLE & DARYL HAVE A TENSE TALK
Merle was looking for some crystal meth, to go with his whiskey? Merle says he’s in, in terms of Michonne, but Rick doesn’t have the stones for it. They know Rick will buckle. Does Daryl want him to? Daryl: “Whatever he says goes.” Merle: “Do you even possess a pair of balls, little brother? Are they even attached? I mean, if they are, do they belong to you? You used to call people like that sheep.” He has a bromance going with Rick! It’s a beautiful thing, don’t judge. What happened to Daryl, Merle asks. Daryl asks what happened with Glenn and Maggie. “I’ve done worse,” Merle says. “You need to grow up. Things are different now. Your people look at me like I’m the devil.” He grabbed “the lovebirds” and now Team Prison wants to do the same thing to Michonne. “People do what they gotta do or they die.” Daryl says he just wants his brother back. He puts his hand on his shoulder. Merle seems to get emotional, says, “Get out of here, man.” Aww. Sad parting.

RICK SEES LORI AGAIN
Hershel leads his daughters in prayer. As we hear Hershel speak, we see Rick wandering the prison grounds. He sees a vision of Lori again. “You’re not there. She’s not there.” She was never really there for you, Rick. Back inside, Hershel gets emotional. Beth asks if he’s OK. “What I wouldn’t do to keep you two safe.” Hershel starts to talk to Rick about what he’s about to do. Rick changed his mind already. He does that. Remember with Randall? “I can’t,” he tells Hershel. “I won’t.” Well, no argument from Hershel.

MERLE KIDNAPS MICHONNE
He leads her on some expedition through the prison to the "tombs" to kill some walkers, then knocks her out. Then goes back to killing more walkers in the prison. Cold as ice! 

MERLE TELLS MICHONNE ABOUT THE OFFER
At least he has her walking around. He said he’s being straight with her, but she said he wasn’t exactly straight with her when he led her into the tombs. Merle is there to do the dirty work. He uses her katana to kill a walker. She doesn’t run away. She wants her sword back! Daryl goes back for his crossbow, she goes back for her katana.

MERLE & MICHONNE ARE MISSING
Daryl is relieved about Rick’s change of heart, but now they can’t find Merle and Michonne. Daryl can tell that Merle took her. Rick wants to go after them, but he can’t track for shit. (Point to ponder: What does Rick do well?) So Daryl will go after them.

MERLE USES MICHONNE FOR THERAPY
Merle wants to be with his brother. If he pulls this off, maybe all is forgiven with Glenn & Maggie and he can stay at the prison. Poor Merle. He's so hopeful. That’s a whole lot of maybes, Michonne said. “You gotta play the hand you’re dealt,” Merle says. “I only got one.” Michonne finally says something, after all her silence. She tells Merle a “bad man,” someone truly evil, they’re light as a feather. “They don’t feel a thing.” Merle says he’s killed 16 men since all this went down. There are tons of walkers wandering in the woods. Just a reminder that this is the zombie apocalypse.

GLENN ASKS FOR PERMISSION TO PROPOSE TO MAGGIE
Glenn can’t believe what that “bastard” has done. As Hershel sees it, “He’s one man. There’ll be others like him. There always have been.” Preach it. Glenn sits down in Hershel’s cell, plays with the watch Hershel gave him. “When you gave me this, I didn’t fully understand what it meant. Such a simple thing. I know what it means now. I know what it takes. I want to marry Maggie. And we don’t have to have a wedding. I don’t even know if we’ll last the week. I want her to know before, who knows.” Hershel gives his blessing. A moment of sweetness and light amid all the darkness and sorrow. Hershel should be the leader of the prison group. He’s ready. He wasn’t ready on Season 2, but he is now.

MERLE CAN HOTWIRE A CAR … BUT CAN’T GET THE ALARM OFF
They end up at a hotel and he ties her up as he hotwires a car. He’s resourceful. Gotta give him that. But the car alarm goes off and it attracts all the walkers around them. Damn car alarms never help even when it isn’t the zombie apocalypse. Michonne is helpless, all tied up with Merle in the car. Scratch that, she’s even badass with her hands tied up! But even she can’t do everything, so Merle has to shoot a few before slashing her ties and getting her in the car. They drive away.

MICHONNE SAVES HER OWN LIFE
Michonne: “Is this your thing, then - take out the trash?”
Merle: “Don’t be so hard on yourself, darling.”
Michonne: "The Governor. Rick. Anyone who needs their piss bucket emptied and you come a runnin’. Things are different for your brother.”
Merle: “Yeah they are. Rick says ‘jump’ and he wants to know how high.”
Michonne: Rick needs him. Respects him.”

Michonne said this could’ve been his shot. With his skills, he could’ve had a whole new beginning, but he chooses to stay on the outside. “No one’s gonna mourn you. Not even Daryl. He’s got a new family.” Not true! Merle threatens to cut her tongue out. She’s as much on the outside as him. “Maybe,” she says. “Once the Governor’s done with me at least I won’t have to live with myself.” Did Merle kill anyone before this thing started? No. How about before Woodbury? Silence. “So he saves your life, cleans you up, fed you a line of bullshit. Why would you kill somebody else for him? You know we can go back.” Merle said he can’t go back. Why? He stops dead in the middle of the road. Frees her. Tells her to go back and help them prepare for what’s next. “I got something I gotta do on my own.” He even gives her that katana back. Oh, Merle. You’re a softie. Should’ve kept the katana to kill THe Gov, though. Just give it back to her later. Or have her help you kill The Gov. It’s not like she doesn’t hate him too. And how is she supposed to get back the prison without a car?! There were zombies everywhere.

DARYL MEETS MICHONNE, MERLE GETS DRUNK
He wants to know where Merle is. She says Merle let her go. So he goes after Merle. This is not going to end well. Why didn’t Merle just drive Michonne to Woodbury and have her help him kill The Gov? Instead, Merle sits in a car listening to rock and drinking whiskey as walker groupies crowd the car. He drives on, teasing them by stopping every few feet, and leading them onward. Fun with zombies! Then he ditches the car by the rendezvous point, which is also now surrounded by walkers.

MERLE HUNTS THE GOVERNOR ... AND KILLS BEN
Love how this whole stalking The Gov bit has its own rock music soundtrack from the car. Martinez and the Team Woodbury guys are there and they start killing the walkers. Merle sets himself up as a sniper and kills some Woodbury guys, including ... Ben? Remember Ben with Tyreese's group? One Woodbury guy gets bit. Merle really could’ve used some backup on this one, and both Michonne and Glenn probably would’ve been fine to help.

MERLE IS ATTACKED
Woodbury guys beat on him, but The Gov says for them to leave Merle to him. The music is still playing as The Gov kicks the crap out of Merle. And chews off his fingers?! When is someone going to give this treatment to The Gov? Merle said he’s not going to beg. The Gov just says “No” and shoots him. Oh, Merle.

GLENN PROPOSES TO MAGGIE!
He gives her a ring. Don’t ask where it came from, just accept it! “Yes,” she says. They kiss. Ah, some good news.

RICK ABDICATES
The Ricktatorship is dead. Long live democracy? He tells the group about the Michonne deal. He was going to say yes, to keep them safe. He changed his mind (as usual) but Merle went to fulfill the deal and Daryl went to stop him. “I was wrong not to tell you.” (This is not Rick’s first big secret from the group. Remember the whole CDC thing he kept from them?) He apologized. What he said after the farm, it can’t be like that. “What we do, what we’re willing to do, where we are, it’s not my call. It can’t be. I couldn’t sacrifice one of us for the greater good because we are the greater good.” It’s like the Harry Potter deathly hallows debate all over again. Why is Rick still making speeches if he’s not the dictator anymore? “I’m not your governor. We choose to go. We choose to stay. We stick together. We vote. We can stay and we can fight or we can go.” They don’t show the vote. In fact, Rick walks away. He’s not even going to vote? What should they do? You can vote here.

MICHONNE IS BACK
Rick has her in his view. He knows she either killed Merle or was set free. He seems relieved. Rick’s bad decision making causes problems. Love Rick to pieces, but he’s not up for this.

DARYL HAS TO PUT HIS BROTHER DOWN
He sees the remains of people who’ve been eaten by zombies. He kills one zombie, then sees another. It’s Merle. Walker Merle. Daryl starts to cry. No stoic Carl here. He’s broken for the loss of his brother. And they had such a tense parting. His big brother! He flinches away from Merle. This is such an emotional loss for poor Daryl. He pushes Merle away. He doesn’t want to have to kill him, but he takes his knife and stabs him over and over. So much anger. So much grief. Wow.

COMING UP
The Governor says "they" killed eight men. (It was just Merle!) Next Sunday, March 31 is the season finale. Are you ready? Read a bunch of season finale spoilers/teases here.


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Credit: YouTube Photo: Promo: The Walking Dead Season 3 Episode 16 "Welcome to the Tombs"
Credit: YouTube Photo: Sneak Peek of The Walking Dead Season 3 Episode 16: Team Prison Packs Up to Leave?