- Written By: Evan Reilly
- Air Date: 2/10/2013
- Directed By: Lesli Linka Glatter
- Starring: Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Laurie Holden, Lauren Cohan, Danai Gurira, Steven Yeun, Chandler Riggs, Melissa McBride, Scott Wilson, Emily Kinney, David Morrissey, Michael Rooker
- Guest Stars: Dallas Roberts, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Lew Temple, Chad Coleman, Daniel Thomas May, Xavier Cruz
The return of THE WALKING DEAD was as heartbreakingly brilliant and depressing as ever. This entire episode teems with moments you want the characters to relive, so they might make a different decision so it might play out differently. Each moment feels real and authentic, building up the audience’s hopes and dashing them repeatedly from scene to scene.
“The Suicide King” picks up right where we left off, with the newly eye-patched Governor, ticked off and pitting brother against brother in the arena. The raucous crowd is rooting for death as Merle and Daryl Dixon look sheepishly at one another. The Governor wants Merle to prove his loyalty. Merle seems ready to do just that, pummeling Daryl repeatedly as Woodbury citizens stupidly bring in walkers/biters to ramp up the danger and excitement. Then, Merle tells Daryl to follow his lead, which apparently means to just beat the crap out of each other.
I was thinking this feud would drag out for a while, and that Daryl would be trapped in Woodbury for a bit longer, but NOPE. Rick and Maggie return for their comrade, causing panic in the square and allowing Rick, Maggie, Daryl, and Merle to escape. Once they’re clear, the verbal fighting match between Merle and everyone else begins, as Daryl argues to let Merle back in the group, while everyone else won’t have it. In particular, Glenn is morose and angry, as Merle had previously captured him and allowed horrible things happen to his girl Maggie. We’ve never seen Glenn so ticked and shattered, and while it’s disturbing, it’s little wonder why. Great performance by Steven Yeun, as always, and Michael Rooker deserves an Emmy just for his wacky smile and drawl, as he chews scenery faster than the walkers tear through flesh. Rick can’t let Merle come back, and Daryl decides to leave with his brother, leaving Rick’s crew a lot lighter than before, following the deaths of Oscar, Lori, and T-Dog. It’s sad, as Daryl has come so far, and come out from the shadow of his brother to become a valuable member of Rick’s troupe, not to mention a fan favorite. But now he roams off with his brother (just like in the THE WALKING DEAD video game!). For the audience’s sake, we can only hope this doesn’t last long. It’s clear the folks at AMC are setting one (or both) of the brothers up to sacrifice themselves for the good of the group against the Governor.
Losing Daryl is a massive blow to Rick’s crew (and his psyche, clearly), especially due to the fact that a war is brewing between them and the folks at Woodbury. But there’s an easy solution: Tyreese and his three friends, who Carl rescued in the back end of the prison before the midseason break. It’s clear Tyreese (Chad Coleman, already earning his stripes) is a moral and honorable man, a good ally to have, but everyone is so cautious to trust anyone that Herschel keeps their crew locked up until Rick returns. Tyreese can tell that Herschel and company are good people, but Ben and Allen want to take over the prison before the cavalry comes, not seeing Carl, Carol, and Herschel as any major threat. You take one look at Carl and almost beg for this to happen, because you know it wouldn’t be pretty for the outsiders. Tyreese talks Ben and Allen down, preaching patience, as he waits to talk to the Ricktator, hoping to join the group. If only it were that easy.
Back at Woodbury, Andrea is shocked to learn that Maggie and Glenn were tortured and imprisoned, that her friends are still alive, and that the Governor has been lying to her all along (while giving her the business). The Governor is nowhere to be seen following the newest attack by Rick’s crew, and Andrea, instead of hightailing it out of there with the rest of the panicked Woodbury residents, takes on a leadership role in holding the community together. As always, we’re left to wonder what Andrea is thinking, and perhaps contemplate whether she will turn out to be as dangerous as the Governor, or if she’s playing a different hand. Either way, it’s all disturbing, and continues to make her the most divisive character on the show (most divisive = most hated).
This is top notch stuff all around, precisely because it is so frustrating seeing characters screw up so badly (and seeing the awful portents of their choices), time and time again, all the while seeing precisely why they would make such decisions. I’m upset there are only 7 more episodes this season, and, while I have some good guesses for what’s to come, anything can happen.