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'The Walking Dead': Where did the midseason finale leave the survivors?

'The Walking Dead' bid farewell to viewers until February, and a few cliffhangers will keep fans in suspense until the show's return.

By Kevin YeomanScreen Rant / December 5, 2012

Actors (from left) David Morrissey, Sarah Wayne Callies, Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Laurie Holden, Steven Yeun, and Lauren Cohan star on 'The Walking Dead.'

John Shearer/AMC/AP

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When The Walking Dead first introduces the audience to Tyreese (Chad Coleman), we see a man who is forced to make a very difficult decision in a split second. Faced with the prospect of a group member who has been bitten, Tyreese chooses to keep her among the living, so that when the time comes, his people will be safe, and her loved ones are better prepared to deal with the woman’s impending, horrific and inevitable transformation.

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It’s a decision that’s been made on this program many times before, but one that hasn’t been seen so much during the first half of season 3. It’s a difficult decision because it prolongs the suffering of the afflicted, but still manages to show compassion in a world seemingly devoid of the stuff. It is a decision that would have been made by the Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) of old. 

And with that, a whole new group of characters are introduced to The Walking Dead just before it shuffles off for a brief hiatus. This could be troublesome for the series; more people means more opinions, which means more arguing – something that’s previously ground the plot to halt. But thankfully, ‘Made to Suffer’ isn’t looking to put the audience through that again. This is a tight, well-paced episode that manages to keep the primary focus of the season in its sights for the duration of the hour.

The group in question is small and capable, but clearly running on fumes by the time they reach the prison – entering what they believe to be something of a safe haven. By the time Carl (Chandler Riggs) stumbles upon the group battling a group of walkers, they look as if they might be overrun. It’s another split-second decision, but this time Carl, who has seen his father take a completely different route when it comes to strangers in his territory, is the one to make it.

Both incidents provide a little insight into the change that’s occurred in Rick since the tumultuous end of season 2. Time has hardened him in a way that has seemingly not yet touched Tyreese, and has surprisingly not completely reached his son, who, moments before stumbling upon the gatecrashers, was steeling himself and Beth (Emily Kinney) for the likelihood that the party headed to Woodbury would not be heard from again. Carl is smart enough to keep the strangers at a safe distance, but still, he reacted with compassion in a moment that experience suggests should have gone another way. It’s an emotion that’s led Rick into territory so dangerous, he’s all but abandoned the notion of the needs of others. And considering the suffering the former lawman has gone through these first eight episodes, the fact that he’s even straying from the prison to help those who may already be dead is something of a revelation.

One would like to thing that the party Rick leads to Woodbury in search of Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) is based on compassion, that it shows the level of commitment Rick has to those who put their trust in him – but there’s something about Rick this season that suggests he’s headed to Woodbury to put the hurt on whoever took what’s his. Make no mistake about it: Glenn and Maggie are his people.

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