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The Walking Dead made its midseason premiere with “The Suicide King," picking up exactly where “Made to Suffer” left off more than two months ago. “The Suicide King” was very much a table setting episode for the remainder of Season 3, reforming old allegiances and sewing new dissension amongst the group while also furthering the seemingly forgotten plot line of Rick’s deteriorating mental state. While it wasn’t the most entertaining episode it made sure to set up the main plots for the rest of the season.
Daryl and Merle had been pitted against each other in the Governor’s makeshift gladiatorial arena just as the midseason finale ended. It was not a shock that both survived but it was a surprise that Rick and company did come back for Daryl. They created enough chaos to allow the Dixon brothers to escape, only for Merle to convince Daryl – or at least for Rick to decide against Merle’s inclusion – to leave the group and go off as a Dixon tandem. It’ll be fun to watch the Dixons to go on zombie massacres (I’m sure this storyline has nothing to do with the upcoming release of a certain video game featured around the same characters) and it definitely will be a welcome change of pace between the prison and Woodbury but it is only a matter of time before they meet back up at the prison. Whether it is because they can’t hack it alone, Daryl feeling guilty for leaving, or simply Daryl not allowing his brother to boss him around (as Carol alluded in the episode about abusive men wielding their power), the Dixons will almost certainly be fighting alongside Rick and co. against the Governor by season’s end.
Rick had a very bad day. Losing Daryl was bad enough but because of Rick’s decision to let Daryl go Glenn – seeking retribution for what happened to he and Maggie during their torture – is a very vocal dissenter against Rick’s decisions. While it may ultimately lead to nothing it is an exciting route for Glenn’s character to go. He, more than anyone, has been the biggest team player from the beginning and in fact was the one that saved Rick in Atlanta and introduced him to their group, so Glenn and Rick clashing heads could become interesting.
Meanwhile Woodbury is going down the tubes, and fast. The Governor (still hilarious his name is Phil) has taken to secluding himself in his apartment while the town, sorely in need of leadership, has begun to panic. Many of the residents want to leave and are not allowed to by Woodbury’s soldiers, and that’s before a few zombies make their way into Woodbury. The losses from the zombie infiltration seem minimal but the Governor is clearly no longer interested in his people or his town. This forces Andrea to take up more of a leadership role as she calms the panicking residents, at least for now. The Governor still questions Andrea’s allegiances but it would be very interesting to see a bit of an accidental coup by Andrea against the Governor. The Governor is hell bent on retaliation against Rick and co. and if he continues to neglect his people, and Andrea continues to take up his place, there could be an exciting story of who really is in power in Woodbury. Could Andrea end up becoming the leader of Woodbury eventually?
The main struggle for power comes back at the prison though. First two of Tyreese’s men suggest they overrun Carol and Carl while they are guarding the gate. Tyreese, clearly a thoughtful and diplomatic man, immediately puts them in their place but not so much that those two may not try something in the future. With Glenn’s recent souring on Rick’s leadership skills and Hershel not only counseling Rick to allow Tyreese into their group, but also telling Glenn that is now like a son, there could be a power shift on the horizon in the prison. Especially if Rick can’t get his mind right.
When Rick was coming to terms with Lori’s death by having fake phone conversations it was something new and exciting that The Walking Dead had never attempted before. Never had they tried something as internalized and possibly (although it didn’t turn out to be) supernatural as those phone calls. When no one really questioned Rick on them, though, and there not being any repeat occurrence of them in subsequent episodes it seemed like the question of Rick’s psyche had been swept under the rug. Not in “The Suicide King,” however. Rick absolutely loses his sh*t in front of both his group and Tyreese’s, prompting Tyreese to believe Rick is freaking out about letting them into his group and immediately running off. It isn’t quite clear what the rest of Rick’s group thinks about it but it is clear that Rick’s behavior was abnormal, whether they believe it was a reaction to Tyreese or something else remains to be seen.
Hopefully Rick’s mental status will receive more focus in future episodes. It is very peculiar that The Walking Dead decided to have so much time between the phone calls and this blow up so it would be an even bigger folly to not have this become a recurring story. Rick clearly is not the man he used to be and if the rest of the group feels his judgment may be compromised it could lead to some more interesting interactions between the characters. It also seems like it could become a growing method for Rick to die at the end of the season (as I and Shannon, another recapper for The Walking Dead, discussed in our Season 3 midseason chat). If Rick does go crazy his leadership will be in serious doubt but if he dies honorably defending his group from Woodbury his character could still reach a satisfying conclusion without dragging him along too long.
Kill of the Week
There wasn’t much death in this week’s episode but Glenn takes the award for his curb stomping of a zombie who had just popped out from a car. It had the added bonus of letting Glenn blow off some steam.