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The Walking Dead: The Suicide King (Recap)

The Walking Dead Season 3 has returned after its winter hiatus. The last time we saw Rick and the gang, they were disappearing into the night, while Darryl and Merle were thrown into the zombie pit for a brother against brother double-Dixon duel. If you haven’t seen “The Suicide King” then you might want to make like a citizen of Woodbury and try to bust out of here, because there will be spoilers ahead!

We open on the Dixon brothers, staring at each other and the jeering crowd, trying to process everything in the glare of the torches. Daryl looks stunned, while you can see that for Merle the wheels are turning. What’s going to get him out of this situation the quickest? The Governor, meanwhile, is swaggering around, the bleeding eyepatch giving him a ghoulish aspect. Andrea, not surprisingly, is finally starting to put the pieces together and is NOW beginning to freak the eff out.

Merle, yelling something about “proving his loyalties,” jumps right into the fray and punches his brother in the stomach. It looks like he is not hesitating and Daryl has no choice but to fight back. While they’re locked in a throat-squeezing scrum, Merle hisses something about “following his lead.” That’s when the chained-up walkers are brought out, and Daryl and Merle find themselves fighting back to back instead of face to face. Suddenly a hail of bullets splits through the air, taking out walkers and some of the Governor’s men.

Rick and his rescue rangers are back! They didn’t abandon Daryl! This was a kick-ass scene, as Rick and Maggie sweep in and cause chaos amongst the Woodbury folks, giving Merle and Daryl a chance to turn on their captors and make their escape. Now, this does beg an interesting question…if Rick hadn’t shown up, what was Merle’s plan? Did he even have a plan? I guess we’ll never know…

In the midst of all this smoke-filled insanity, Andrea still doesn’t realize who it is that has infiltrated Woodbury. She knows about Daryl, of course, but she’s still partially in the dark, on her knees in the dust, trying to add things up while the bullets fly. The Governor is trying to get eyes (er…an eye) on Daryl’s rescuers as they pull back into the darkness. He looks truly deranged at this point, mindlessly shooting at a walker as he strides through the smoke. Rick and the others regroup to make their escape. Some walkers have been drawn to the noise, and we see one inquisitive fellow come up and slowly put his head through a hole in the Woodbury fence. The perimeter has been breached, ladies and gentlemen…

The next scene was one of my favorites. I’m calling it the “Shut up, Merle!” scene. Once they’re back at their vehicles, Rick, Glenn, Maggie, Merle, Daryl, and Michonne have to take stock of what’s happened and decide what to do next. The problem? Except for Daryl, everyone else would be happy to shoot Merle in the head. Merle, of course, isn’t helping matters, continuing to Merle it up and spout some of the best lines of the episode. “Looks like you’ve gone native, brother!” Even Daryl can only take so much of this. “Shut up, bro!” Finally Rick just clocks him over the head so they can talk without his good ‘ol boy commentary. “Asshole,” mutters Rick as Merle crumples to the ground.

Back at the prison, Herschel is tending to Tyreese and his friends, who explain their history as a group, and how they are trying so hard to make their way. Tyreese is already coming across as a pretty stand-up guy. It’s obvious Herschel thinks so too, but perhaps because of that, he wants to be upfront with him, telling him that he can’t guarantee that Tyreese, Sasha and their friends will be able to stay at the prison.

The rest of the group is still trying to decide what to do about Merle. The problem? Neither side will budge. Glenn will not allow Merle into the prison, and Rick doesn’t seem to want that either. And they have a valid point. Merle is a trouble-maker and a jerk–we know that from first season. But it doesn’t matter. To Daryl, Merle is blood. “Don’t ask me to leave him. I already did that once.” When the rest of the group realizes that Daryl is forcing them to choose, they are devastated at the thought of losing him. But they can’t give in, and neither can Daryl. Every episode I like Daryl more, and even though I’m sad at the thought of him sacrificing his new family for his old one, it just proves that he’s a stand-up guy even when he doesn’t have to be. “What’ll we tell Carol?” Glenn asks. “She’ll understand,” says Daryl quietly, before packing up his things and going off into the woods with his brother.

The new folks at the prison are carrying their friend’s body outside to bury it, when one of them, I think the once called Allen (or maybe Ben–I don’t have those guys’ names straight yet) suggests that the lowered defenses of the prison might make it possible for them to take over. Tyreese quashes this suggestion quickly, he and Sasha giving Allen and Ben some serious looks for even bringing it up after Beth and Axel come outside and nicely offer to help.

Rick, Maggie and Glenn decide to bring Michonne back to the prison–but not with the purpose of letting her stay. She DID help them, but they still don’t trust her, especially since she took off on her own revenge mission in their middle of their rescue. When they need to move a car out of the road and a walker jumps out, we see how much tension and anger has built up in Glenn when he just basically stomps the shit out of the walker’s head. Who needs weapons when you have bottled up emotions? Glenn is angry about being left behind when they went back for Darryl–both because Maggie still went to fight, and because taking out the Governor was not part of their plan. When Maggie suggests just getting back to the prison to talk it out, he spits, “You guys do all the talking you want. I’m done.”

In Woodbury, naturally, the aftermath of the night’s events is pretty ugly. People are trying to flee, but the Governor’s men won’t let them out. Andrea tries to calm everyone down, but just then they realize walkers have gotten inside (remember our friend from last night?) and one poor citizen is getting chomped on before they can kill all interlopers. While the crowd stands around and listens to the poor man crying in pain, the Governor suddenly walks up and shoots him in the head, then turns around and heads back inside without a word. Andrea follows him upstairs to remind him of his obligation to this community–the community that he helped to build. The Governor, however, no longer gives a damn. He tells her everything about Glenn and Maggie, about Rick and her other friends coming to Woodbury. He tells her that the people outside have to adjust to the world they’re living in. “Barbecues and picnics. That ends now.” Andrea is clearly upset, but the Governor is unconcerned. “You’re just a visitor here…passing through.” Andrea, not one to be shut out, is the one who ends up taking charge, trying to comfort and rally the people out on the street. To me, her speech was not convincing, but the Woodburyans seemed to buy it, even if the Governor, watching above from his window, did not.

When Rick returns to the prison, he hugs Carl in relief, but then has the painful job of relating to Carol that Daryl has left them. Probably for good. Her reaction is very sweet and very sad. She seems unable to comprehend it at first. Inside, Rick catches Herschel up on the events of the rescue, and tells him about the Governor. Herschel then shares with Rick the news of the newcomers. Inside, Rick walks past them without a word. He instead goes to see his baby, but there’s a weird moment when he takes little Judith from Beth. Judith starts crying, and there’s a strange disconnect between Rick and his baby. He doesn’t look happy or sad or any kind of understandable emotion. Instead, he just looks dazed. Judith seems much happier with Beth and Carol, who place her in her mail-bin crib, lovingly labeled “Lil Asskicker.” (Thanks, Daryl!) When Beth expresses her disappointment at Daryl leaving them, Carol explains the difficulty of a man like Merle in your life. She might be sad, but Daryl was right…she understands. Herschel checks out Glenn and Maggie and in his sweet paternal way, tries to see if he can help them. When Maggie seems kind of shut down, he gently cautions her, “Hey. Don’t disappear on me.”

After checking on Michonne, it’s time for Rick to size up the newcomers. They all troop into the holding cell and Tyreese offers his hand, which Rick does not take. Tyreese is about as open and polite as you could ask for, but Rick still shuts them down and says no to their request to stay at the prison. Herschel tries to tell Rick he’s wrong. “You got to start giving people a chance.” It’s as this moment, as Rick is trying to consider trusting someone new, that he suddenly sees a woman in a white dress looking down on him. Her face is in shadow, but I assume we are supposed to think this is Lori, appearing to him as a hallucination, not unlike the way he saw Shane in the fight at Woodbury. For Rick, who has been walking a razor’s edge since Lori died, this cracks him open, and he pulls his gun, yelling at the vision.  Understandably, everybody else is noticeably alarmed, and that’s where we leave them…Rick, unhinged, waving his gun at a phantom that no one else can see. What does this mean for our crew, if their leader can no longer hold it together?

Quote of the night:

“I must be the first brother in history to break into prison.” – Tyreese


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