Written by: John Edward Betancourt
It's a good thing when you're proven wrong. It humbles you when your opinion of a person turns out to be completely off. It forces you to look at things in an objective light, but it isn't always easy to do that.
Merle Dixon is a fine example of this. I saw nothing but scumbag for two seasons on The Walking Dead and I expected an awful death for a worthless man that would have me clap my hands and cheer out with joy. Well, last night I was proven completely and utterly wrong as ol' Merle proved himself to be a better man than anyone expected and he did not deserve such an awful death.
I was stunned to say the least, and credit is due to actor Michael Rooker for pulling off one hell of a magic trick. I have never felt an ounce of pity for Merle until last night. Only because in his final hour on the show he revealed exactly what kind of man Merle Dixon was before the fall of man and what he thought of the man he had become after the fall and the end result was truly heroic.
Let's face facts, in the old world, Merle was written off by everyone and everything. He was a man screaming for attention. He just wanted to be someone in the world, much like the Governor but the difference here was that Merle never harbored anger toward the world the way Philip Blake did. He had no dreams of power, just a need to simply belong. One of the best moments of last night's episode was the scene where Daryl told Merle he wanted his brother back. The tears welling up in Merle's eyes, said it there; he stuck by his brother because Daryl was the only person to ever truly believe in him.
Yet clearly Merle could not live with the man he had become in the new world. While Philip thrived in it, Merle despised it and himself. We learned he had never killed a man until the Zombiepocalypse, but after a wave of walking death swept over the planet, Merle ended up taking sixteen human lives. The world without rules he wanted became more than he could handle. Yet he understood the road he had taken. He was the post apocalyptic era's garbage man and the burden that stayed with him after crossing the line was more than he could bear. His sacrifice, by choice, was an incredible redemption and one that wiped away all the bad that Merle brought to the table.
This was a beautiful and haunting performance by Michael Rooker and the second time in season 3 of The Walking Dead that the title reflected the character it focused on. "This Sorrowful Life". But the saddest part of this episode, which left me in tears, was the ending. To see Merle's heroic act, one that left me cheering, end with his resurrection as a walker was absolutely heartbreaking.
So, vaya con dios Merle Dixon, and thank you for proving me to be the fool by reminding me that there is hope for us all.