The Walking Dead: Episode 3.09 – The Suicide King – Review
The mid-season premiere begins right where last season left off. The Governor has captured Darryl and decides to put him in a fight to the death with his brother Merle. Fratricide to demonstrate loyalty and entertain reveals much about The Governor and his people. But Rick’s group saves the brotherly combatants before they can do much harm. His group attacks the Woodbury spectators sending everyone in a panic and chaos. All this draws a smile to The Governor’s face. He clearly is sadistic and desires war. He knows this attack will generate fear and work to see his advantage for war.
The episode is called “The Suicide King” for no clear reason, at least that I can divine, and focuses on the emotional toll the survivors have endured. The third season has moved briskly as the survivors have been in one predicament after another with nary a chance to stop and reflect. This episode demonstrates and reveals the emotional toll that has been exacted. It’s long overdue, I say.
After Rick, Maggie and Michonne rescue Darryl and by happy accident his slimy older brother Merle, the first emotional thread begins to fray. Understandably Glen is not happy about Merle’s proximity to Maggie or him given the vicious beating he delivered upon a restrained Glen, not to mention that he was about to kill them both before Rick’s group intervened. It’s is difficult to forgive a brutal beating, sexual assault and threats of death.
Glen makes his displeasure and sheer anger known to the group and Merle. Later he even confronts Rick about the decision. Merle offers little apology and seems to delight in informing the group of Andrea’s sexual activities with The Governor. Even Darryl finds Merle’s prodding too much. The group dynamics are interesting here, as Darryl really has become an important part of Rick’s extended family, but when put to the test, Darryl prefers his biological family—Merle—over the one his killed for since the outbreak began. Darryl’s decision to leave Rick’s group is hard on Glen and Rick. But will Darryl and Merle remain alone and independent? I suspect not, but still it was an interesting turnabout. The ease with which Darryl abandons the group clearly disconcerts Rick. After all, Darryl was his right-hand man.
Other emotional strains emerge back at Woodbury. The Governor seems childish and ridiculous as he refuses to assuage his people. They want to leave the relative safety of Woodbury, to certain death no doubt, but he does nothing. He is mad at them because of his inability to protect them. Andrea points all this out and The Governor cruelly dismisses her as a passing fancy. Being rebuffed by one’s sexual partner is bad enough, but his implication is that she will be leaving soon. She has a legitimate beef with The Governor for not conveying what he knew about the other group—Andrea’s original group. However, she seems to want to stay with The Governor, despite this fact and that she has seen his sadistic and psychopathic proclivities. Andrea’s motivation is compelling. Does she really want to remain or is she protecting herself? I can’t tell yet, but she is smart and now seems desirous to remain alive—thanks to Dale, one recalls. Her ability to calm the group down by delivering the standard “we will rebuild” speech speaks to her emerging leadership. Will she challenge The Governor as Woodbury’s ruler? Had she been running the show at Woodbury, the proverbial shit would not have hit the fan and it is likely that Rick and his group could have integrated. But drama demands conflict so no such luck. I suspect that she will reunite with Rick and his merry band of survivors at some point. Or will she join in the war with her erstwhile friends and compatriots?
Meanwhile at the prison, we learn more of the world outside. Tyrese and his group seem to be getting along with the rest of Rick’s group. A discussion with Hershel, who takes on the role of a much needed mental health caretaker in this episode, reveals that most of the humans still alive are shitty and dangerous people. Tyrese is a decent person and even thwarts an attempt by two of his own to overtake the Rick-less group. Of course, they surely underestimate Carl, but it does not come to pass anyway. We in the audience know that Tyrese can be trusted and should be allowed to stay with group, so when Rick returns and has another mental breakdown, in front of the entire group, we are rightly bummed out that he sends them packing. Or does he? But will Tyrese and his group be forever banished? It is interesting to note that the worse punishment in the zombie apocalypse is to be sent out—banishment from the group. A fate akin to death.
Rick’s fraying emotional state fails to present him with logical, sound choices. However, each time he has extended an ounce of humanity to survivors, it has backfired on him in tragic ways. His compassion led to his wife’s death, for example. Rick is falling apart as the episode closes and so is his group. Without Darryl, the group’s strength is significantly undermined and with the impending war with The Governor, Rick should reconsider, as Hershel tries to prod him to do. Not to mention it is perhaps the right thing to do. But it’s no use talking to a crazy man.
Glen seems to be dealing with his own emotional issues, as well. He harbors serious anger and hatred toward the Governor for his treatment of Maggie. It causes him to shut down and even Hershel can’t bring him out. How will Glen repair his psyche? Someone will pay no doubt.
While the title “The Suicide King” makes no sense, the mid-season premiere does a solid job of setting up the inevitable conflict to come. It finally shows the emotional impact the reality of this world exacts. But here’s hoping (hope is a luxury not afforded to the characters of The Walking Dead world but still I can’t help myself ) that Darryl and Tyrese find their way back to the group—okay and even Merle. His character is a whole lot of fun every time he is on screen.
And one last thing—did you all see Hines Ward as a zombie? Here’s the pic. Yep, that’s him. It’s what one does after football.