Previously on The Walking Dead: two men and a bunch of zombies enter, one man leaves!
At some point, if you’re living through the zombie apocalypse and you’ve been told that guess what, EVERYBODY has the Zombie Plague and thus you will turn into a walker upon death unless some thoughtful person puts a bullet in your head, you’re probably going to do some soul searching. What’s left to fight for? What’s the point of living? How long until the world’s supply of toilet paper runs out?
Heady questions, to be sure, and as we jump back into Season 3 of The Walking Dead, Episode 9 (mysteriously titled “The Suicide King“) makes a half-hearted attempt to answer them. (Andrea makes a half-assed attempt to do so all by herself, but we’ll get to her in a moment.) But before we can weigh such existential matters, there’s some business to attend to in Woodbury. Thunderdome!
Merle and Daryl are pitted against each other and a few walkers-on-a-stick. “Brother against brother!,” yells The Governor. “Winner goes free! A fight to the death! Mano y mano! Two men enter, one man leaves! THIS…is American Idol!” You get the point. But before Daryl can kill Merle or Merle can kill Daryl, Team Rick: World Police shows up and starts shooting everyone in sight. They free Daryl and Merle, and escape into the woods. They find Glenn and Maggie and Michonne, who don’t seem happy at all to see good ol’ Merle. Merle then begins to talk, which rarely ends well for him. Rick gets down to brass tacks: Merle ain’t welcome at the prison. He tells Daryl that their group is “family”; Daryl chooses his real brother, and Rick and the group bid him a somber farewell, not knowing as we do that per the closing previews of next week’s ep, they’ll see him again in a couple of days. Thanks, AMC!
Also, in this week’s dose of Obligatory Zombie Gore, Glenn takes out his inadequacy issues on a walker’s head. (I feel compelled to mention this, as really, not a whole lot happens in this episode.)
Back in Woodbury, things are going to shit. The Governor is sulking up his room, crying his eye out over the events of the past few days. And the townsfolk are starting to freak out, with a few even looking to get the hell out of Dodge before the walkers figure out that the walls been breached and…oops, too late for that, it seems. Woodbury’s facade is crumbling, literally and symbolically; what’s kept the folks of Woodbury together has been the illusion of safety and the will (and seeming stability) of The Governor. Good thing Andrea is around! She delivers a “rousing speech” to the townsfolk, something about how they can rebuild the gates and themselves and work towards a brighter future and FREEEEEEEDOMMMMMMM. It is actually more terrible than one would think, and we shall never speak of it again. Even more bad news for Andrea: the Gov seems to have gotten as tired of her as the rest of us.
At least Rick’s got his shit together, right? If Woodbury represents the idea of clinging to illusions in the face of disaster, then the prison is a reminder that (breathing, non-flesh-eating) people are all that really matter. Rick breaks the news about Daryl to Carol, and she’s visibly upset, as are thousands of recappers across the U.S., because DarCarol (Caryl?) is a fantastic Couple Mashup Name and now it’s lost to us. Dysfunctional as the group may be, they are a family, and now they’re faced with another dilemma: what to do about newcomers Tyrese, Sasha, Mumford and Son. Being kept in a cell isn’t sitting well with Alan Mumford and Ben Mumford. The one who talks tells Tyrese that they should make a try for some weapons and club, hack or preferably shoot their way out. Tyrese intervenes when’s it’s clear that the two are making a play for a shovel and a pickaxe. We know that Tyrese is a good man; problem is, Rick doesn’t, and given the problems he and his people had with a couple of the inmates, Rick’s not too keen on trusting any noobs. Actually, Rick doesn’t seem too keen on trusting anybody, up to and including Lil’ Asskicker: our first indication that he may not retain his Post-Zombie Apocalyptic Dad Of The Year crown is his creeped-out reaction to his baby girl. (Babies cry, Rick. Shoulda read some dadblogs when the Internet was still a thing.)
And here is where I
rant editorialize a bit. While I get the fact that a world besieged by cannibalistic zombies will not, by definition, be a particularly chipper place, there’s only so much Bleak a viewer can take. (Yes, I’ve read the comics, and yes, without spoiling anything I’m aware that things actually manage to get worse.) Rick’s descent into depressed madness isn’t good for anyone – certainly not for the folks in the prison who still see him as someone worth following, but also those of us following him at home. Because really – who would you want to hang out with? Tyrese, who seems like he’s found a good balance between being a badass and being a decent human being? Or Rick, who’s slowly but surely using up all of his goodwill points? Furthermore, the whole Rick-Tyrese “conflict” is a hollow one; unless you’ve never seen a TV show, you can be sure that Ty and Sasha will be joining Rick’s group, just as sure as we know that Mumford and Son are going to eat up as walker food.
Hershel sees this, and makes the case to Rick that he needs to rethink his decision to cut Tyrese and his crew loose. And he doesn’t do this just to be nice. With Daryl gone and a pissed-off Governor out there, Team Prison is going to need all of the gun hands they can get. For about five seconds, Rick seems to reconsider his position. And then, wouldn’t you know, Lori shows up and prompts Rick to start swinging his gun around and yelling “get out”. Which can’t be good, considering that she’s dead and all.
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