The Walking Dead‘s return features Daryl‘s departure! Chaos in Woodbury! Rick seeing dead people that aren’t actually there!
Last night’s episode “The Suicide King” slowed the show’s pace from a dead run to zombie-like shamble. It’s a nice breather after the previous half season’s kill-a-minute pace, though it occasionally falters because of the relaxed tempo. These characters work best while doing things: clearing out prisons, scavenging supplies or assaulting towns. Here as they wait for their next obstacle, Walking Dead feels a little weaker for it.
Things begin with Daryl and Merle squaring off in brotherly gladiatorial combat. The Governor apparently thinks he’s George Bluth Sr. from Arrested Development or something, promising this Boyfight’s victor his freedom. Rick and company rudely interrupt the match, springing both siblings. They inadvertently let a bevy of Walkers into town getting out of Woodbury, which sends property values plummeting.
After regrouping, the gang ponders their next move. Daryl adamantly pushes Rick for letting Merle stay. During this argument Merle forgets calling Michionne “the Nubian queen” isn’t acceptable and receives a polite etiquette lesson via pistol whip. After recovering from the blow, he and Daryl strike out on their own. This could be part of The Governor’s plan to have Merle gather information on Rick’s crew, or simply out of respect for their blood bond. Either way, if Daryl isn’t back to his old badass self in three episodes or less I’ll be furious.
Merle wonders why everyone can’t just be friends?
Meanwhile, Woodbury’s residents call an impromptu homeowners meeting. Upset at last night’s bullet festival, residents gather at the gate demanding their release. A gaggle of Walkers also show up to voice their safety concerns, and maybe nibble on a few brains. Ugh, don’t you hate it when folks show up at meetings just for free food? Andrea dispatches the Biters, and The Governor finally makes an appearance calming down the crowd. Well, one bitten member of the crowd. Oh, and by “calm down” I meant “shoot in the face.”
His gubernatorial duties completed, The Governor retires home and resumes packing. His undead daughter slain by Michonne and Woodbury in shambles, he doesn’t see any reason to stay. Andrea urges him to restore order among the peasants outside because she is literally the worst, but her pleas fall on deaf ears. Can we please have Andrea stop just being “that girl with terrible taste in men” and see different sides of her? She’s watched The Governor take her old friends captive but insists on standing by her man. It’s getting irritating.
Carol and the mixture of puberty and PTSD known as Carl greet Rick as everyone makes their triumphant return. Much like the viewers, Carol gets upset over Daryl going his own way. Afterward Rick checks on his bite-size Walker snack err… baby daughter Judith. It’s a particularly chilling scene, with sinister music playing while Rick’s face contorts with terribly mixed emotions. Even Judith picks up on bad vibes floating around, crying at her father’s touch. Seems on some level, Rick holds his child responsible for Lori’s death.
Pure man candy Milton tries calming Woodbury’s discontents with little success. Delivering an inspirational speech, Andrea convinces everyone things will be just fine and dandy if they have a little faith. Note: Andrea is literally the worst.
Yelling. I hate it when people are yelling.
Herschel and Carl both separately note how without Daryl, they’re vulnerable to inevitable retaliation from The Governor. Reinforcements would improve their situation, but where oh where would they find such a thing? It’s not like they’ve got a bunch of people willing to help just laying around. Oh wait, yeah they do.
Rick talks with Tyreese and company, telling them to be on their merry way. This is rightly filed away under the “Stupid, Stupid Decision” category by everyone present.
You guys need to leave, but if you see anyone who could help us out send them our way.
Then things get weird. A woman in white distracts Rick from requests to let Tyreese’s group stay. He pulls out his gun, yelling incoherently at this specter which sends the newcomers running. We’ve seen Rick’s grip on sanity slipping throughout the series, but this feels a little unnecessary. It lays the story’s cards out on the table early: Rick’s questionable mental state leads to doubt concerning his leadership, which fades after he repels The Governor’s attack.
“The Suicide King” proves enjoyable despite a few flaws. I’m excited for seeing Daryl and Merle’s adventures, even while hoping The Amazing Racist becomes Walker food in short order. Hopefully next week’s episode takes the premise established this time and does some interesting stuff with it.
P.S. Andrea is literally the worst.