'The Walking Dead' Season 3 episode 8 recap: Midseason finale 'Made to Suffer'

danai-gurira-michonne-walking-dead-made-to-suffer-season-3-amc.jpgThere were so many reunions on "The Walking Dead" midseason finale -- Merle and Daryl! The Governor and Michonne! Michonne and Andrea! Rick and Shane! -- but nobody was feeling good.

Life is still miserable for the survivors, and that's good news for us as the action-packed hour demonstrated over and over again.

So much happened that we can't possibly cover it all, so we'll break out the 8 best moments from "Made to Suffer":

8) Axel (Lew Temple) hits on Carol (Melissa McBride)

Sure, it was just a little moment of comic relief, but we appreciate all the laughs we can get on "Walking Dead." Carol putting an end to Axel's creepy flirtation with Beth ( Emily Kinney) was funny enough. But the incredulous look on Carol's face when Axel explained he wouldn't bother flirting with her because she's a lesbian was even better. His response when he finds out the truth: "You're not? My, my, this is interesting." Sorry, Axel, but just like Carol says: "No, it isn't."

vincent-ward-oscar-walking-dead-season-3-amc.jpg 7) R.I.P. Oscar (Vincent Ward)

Poor Oscar. We didn't have high hopes for his survival given Ward's end credits billing (instead of up front, like Temple), but at least he went out a champion by helping Rick, Daryl, Maggie and Glenn fight their way out of Woodbury and ensuring Glenn made it to safety during the shootout. It turns out Rick could in fact trust Oscar. Too bad he had to prove it by sacrificing his life.

6) Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) fight for their lives

Even after Merle beat Glenn half to death and The Governor psychologically terrorized Maggie with his near-rape, the show's lovebirds weren't going down without a fight. In one of the coolest things we've seen on the show to date, Glenn fashioned weapons out of walker bones and Maggie stabbed a guard in the throat before Merle could carry out The Governor's execution orders. Merle's life was spared when backup arrived, but Rick and company were right behind to save Glenn and Maggie. Glenn was then able to tell Daryl that Merle tortured him.

RELATED: "The Walking Dead" Season 3 photos

5) Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman) and his group arrive at the prison ...

One of the best parts of this "Walking Dead" season so far has been the injection of new faces (and fresh blood) through Woodbury and the introduction of Michonne. Now the universe is expanding a little bit more to include a major player from the comics -- Tyreese -- and four people with him. Allen ( Daniel Thomas May), his wife Donna ( Cherie Dvorak) -- who was bit by a walker almost as soon as we met her -- and their son Ben ( Tyler Chase) are characters from the comics as well. But the woman connected to Tyreese ( Sonequa Martin-Green) is named Sasha, and we're guessing she may be his daughter, even though in the comics that character was named Julie apparently she's his sister.

chandler-riggs-carl-grimes-walking-dead-season-3-made-to-suffer-amc.jpg 4) ... and Carl (Chandler Riggs) puts them in their place

When Carl hears a noise in the prison, he convinces Hershel ( Scott Wilson) to let him investigate, and he comes upon Tyreese's group fighting for their lives against some walkers. Carl helps them out and leads them to a cell, where he locks them in with food and water (he's really learned a lot from his dad). Best moment: Sasha's "Who the hell are you?" reaction to Carl's totally badass teen action hero antics.

RELATED: Chandler Riggs talks Carl's growth in Season 3

3) Rick (Andrew Lincoln) sees Shane (Jon Bernthal)

Rick may have been hallucinating, but we weren't: Yes, that really was former cast member Bernthal reprising his role as the definitely deceased Shane Walsh in Rick's momentary flash during the Woodbury shootout. Is this another sign of Rick's tenuous grasp on his own sanity?

norman-reedus-walking-dead-daryl-dixon-made-to-suffer-season-3-amc.jpg 2) Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Merle (Michael Rooker) are in big trouble

What's gonna happen to Daryl and Merle now? Once The Governor discovered Michonne is still alive (see below), he realized he can no longer trust Merle. And as helpful as Merle is to have on your side, he was getting awfully whiny about needing to see his brother again. So, The Governor gave him exactly what he asked for: Merle and Daryl got to reunite. But it just so happens the reunion took place in Woodbury's arena, after The Governor had pumped up the residents with a speech about fighting back against terrorist threats (i.e. Rick's group). The Governor worked the crowd into such a frenzy, that they're calling for Daryl and Merle's lives, while Andrea looks on horrified. Seeing Daryl is her first real clue about who those "terrorists" are, but it's not her first clue about the true nature of her new boyfriend...

1) Michonne (Danai Gurira) vs. The Governor (David Morrissey)

The pièce de résistance of an overall excellent episode was the stunning sequence that began with Michonne finding her way into The Governor's secret lair. Drawn by some of Penny's thumping, Michonne busts down the main door. That's when she sees the fish tanks full of severed heads. Yep, Michonne, you were right. Penny's noise draws her attention again. She opens the door to Penny's chamber and the little girl walks out in her straightjacket with her face covered. Suddenly, we see a new side of Michonne: tender, compassionate, almost motherly. She immediately reaches to pull the sack off the girl's head, only to discover what we already know: Penny's a walker.

Instincts kick in and Michonne swings around and has a sword to Penny's head when The Governor arrives and begs for mercy. Michonne's not that compassionate: she thrusts her katana straight through the back of Penny's skull. The Governor flies into a rage and lunges at Michonne, knocking her to the ground. He strangles her before she hits him with her katana and they continue going back and forth. The Governor slams Michonne into a tank where a severed undead head is chomping at the bit. Michonne grabs a piece of glass from the shattered tank and stabs The Governor in the eye.

She's about to finish the job with her katana when Andrea interrupts and pulls out her gun. The former friends face off -- Andrea shocked at Michonne's violent actions; Michonne disappointed that Andrea can't see the truth -- and after a few moments, Michonne lowers her weapon and walks away. That's when Andrea notices the walker head on the floor... and the other heads in the tanks... and The Governor cradling Penny's body as he weeps one-eyed tears.

If you've seen a more thrilling, emotionally-charged, edge of your seat six minutes of television this year, please share. Because I don't know how anything can top that.

Now we'll have to wait until February to find out if Andrea can save Daryl (and the seemingly irredeemable Merle) from The Governor's wrath. If Rick can learn to trust Michonne. And how Tyreese may change the game.

There are eight more episodes still to go in Season 3, and they can't get here fast enough.

RELATED: It's official: "The Walking Dead" returns Feb. 10, 2013
Photo/Video credit: AMC