Spoilers ahead for those who watch the show but don’t read the comics… if you don’t watch the show and you don’t read the comics, what are you doing here?
The mid-season finale of The Walking Dead, Made to Suffer, was one hell of a great hour of TV. What made it extra special for those of us comic readers were the whole host of direct elements from the comic introduced in this episode as well as a number of other bits taken from various points throughout the comics early run. Chief among those elements was the introduction of Tyreese and company.
Tyreese is very much a fan favorite. In the comic we meet him early on after our group leaves the Atlanta camp… in the show he is introduced in the cold open as someone on the run with a few others and taking shelter in the prison. When we first meet Tyreese in the book, he is accompanied by his teenage daughter Julie and her weasley boyfriend Chris. This time around, he is with his sister Sasha, a non-book character, and three somewhat familiar, yet very different, characters… Allen, Donna, and Ben.
These are people who were originally in that Atlanta camp when Rick first arrives… main differences being that Donna was a shrew-like nag who was constantly judging everyone in the group, Allen was a meek henpecked guy, and they had two young twin sons… Ben and Billy. Their story arc in the comic is that Donna dies first, and eventually Allen gets bit, Rick chops his leg off (sound familiar?), but to no avail… he eventually succumbs to the wound, leaving Ben and Billy in the care of Dale and Andrea. Obviously, that isn’t going to happen… although, Donna is quickly dispatched, and we have yet to see what Allen and Ben will bring to the table.
So what does Tyreese and his sister bring? For one thing, Tyreese brings his hammer… his weapon of choice. He also brings with him a great deal of potential for being Rick’s right hand man and good friend… but, if Daryl already occupies that role, I’m not sure how this will work. Sasha is an unknown quantity. Perhaps she would fulfill the role his daughter played, but that was to enlighten us to the reality that everyone is infected… which is already established.
Another aspect to Tyreese’s arc in the comic which could come to light in the show, although, Daryl may again throw a wrench into this, is that he is a lover to both Carol and Michonne. Michonne seems a bit more likely given that Carol and Daryl seem to have some sort of thing going on… or is Carol rocking the guard tower with Axel these days?
(again… thanks to screencrush.com for these comparison images)
The Governor’s story seems to have all sorts of pieces from the books spliced in throughout this episode… and in addition to his story, we finally have a parallel for Merle. He is apparently taking on the role filled by Gabe in the comic. The lieutenant with difficulty being honest with his boss as shown above. Gabe had told Phillip that he had killed Michonne, much the way Merle had… only to be shown as a liar.
Also, there is the battle with Michonne. Not quite as it happens in the book, but at least she takes his eye. Frankly, I’m rather fond of how she removes his eye in the comic, by scooping it out with a spoon which had just been firmly digging around in his asshole… but I suppose a large shard of glass works as well. I’m expecting to see more of this battle fleshed out in future episodes… but as a way to stretch out the breakdown of The Governor’s morals and humanity, I like the new treatment. Also, Penny’s fate in the books is unknown… as is the zombiequarium. The show has tied this up quite nicely.
The speech given by The Gov is essentially lifted straight from the page. He uses his new injuries and a twisting of the facts to gain the sympathies and outrage of his people in order to turn them against our heroes. Yes, violence was committed against him, and in the show, against the town of Woodbury… but never once has he been honest with his people, and they are lapping it up exactly as they lapped up his half truths and manipulations in the book.
Again, these are aspects of the story which are not linear… this is becoming an extremely nonlinear way to tell this story, and I love it. It funny to find myself watching the show expecting one thing and being given something else entirely, yet still recognizing where it came from. Early on in the series the show runners made it very clear that they would be using various items from the comic, but would add new material to make it interesting to the comic readers… what I didn’t expect was how much they are mining from the books and re-purposing story elements to fit their new narrative and how well these are fitting in… Tyreese’s arrival being the main one.
There are other shadows of the book present in The Gov’s plan to deal with prison as well as a slight mirror of Daryl being captured and his capture of Tyreese… but I don’t imagine it will end in the same way… not if they want to maintain ratings. I can’t fathom Daryl’s decapitation happening quite yet. Who know what later arcs will bring, but not yet…
Finally… Axel. A horn dog in the book… a horn dog in the show. I know many of you think that Axel is a bad guy… I don’t. I like him in both iterations of the story. Is he a classy great guy? Hell no… but knowing his character in the book to be a goofy yet decent guy makes it difficult to see the show’s version as anything but, you follow me?
I believe that’s about it… I’m sure I’ve missed something, but frankly, this episode had a lot going on, with so much to enjoy and pay attention to. I must reiterate, I love what the show is doing with the source material and the direction it seems to be heading in. Michonne’s character traits are being doled out slowly and methodically, allowing her to continue being a mystery with slight hints of her vulnerability peeking out through her tougher than nails demeanor. For those of you assuming that she is a one note character, I don’t buy it… I expect great and amazing things to come from Danai Gurira’s treatment of her character. Same goes for The Governor himself. David Morrissey has brought something very special to the character and I look forward to seeing where he takes us… and how deep down the rabbit hole of his insanity the show will take him.
I’ve enjoyed writing up each episode and beginning these comparisons between the comic and the show, and I’ve appreciated the support many of you have lent, plus the large number of new readers brought in by The Walking Dead. Thank you all… and remember, “like” my page on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @mrblahg. The more people I can reach, the more I find I write… perhaps I can do something like this for Game of Thrones when that returns in the spring. If that’s something you would like to read, let me know… I love feedback, and always do my best to respond. Just ask and ye shall receive!
Now we wait for February 10th,
Cornelius J. Blahg