The Walking Dead returns for the second half of season 3 with a chaotic but solid episode that sees a lot of changes on all sides. The last episode ended with a new group arriving at the prison, while Daryl was set to fight Merle, with the now one-eyed Governor looking for loyalty from Merle, and that’s where this episode, ‘The Suicide King’ kicks off.
Merle and Daryl have to fight, and it’s not surprising that Merle is the man to land the first blow. He’s always seemed capable of doing anything to anyone, and it does seem like he’d be willing to kill Daryl in order to stay alive. But before we can find out for sure, Rick and Maggie return to rescue Daryl, striking hard against the Governor’s people (and one or two walkers) and getting Daryl to safety, although they are reluctantly forced to accept that Merle is coming with them, at least until they are safely clear of Woodbury.
Glenn and Michonne are naturally less than happy to see Merle when they return to the cars, and he wastes no time in being his usual vulgar self, insulting both of them before Rick does the decent thing and cracks him on the back of the head with a gun. But Rick is adamant that Merle isn’t coming back to the prison with them, which forces Daryl to choose a side. Despite everything that has happened between them (Merle has always bullied Daryl and is, in general, thoroughly obnoxious) Daryl chooses to go with Merle, while Glenn is angry at Maggie and especially Rick for not killing Merle after everything that he’s done.
While there’s trouble in the prison camp, there’s even more trouble at Woodbury, as a night of chaos has panicked the residents, who no longer feel safe in the town, and want to leave. A crowd is forming at the gates, with the Governor nowhere to be seen. It’s up to Andrea to try and calm them down, although it’s not really a role that feels realistic for her. Andrea hasn’t been in Woodbury for that long, and although she’s become the Governor’s partner in the bedroom department, I’m not sure why anyone in Woodbury would suddenly trust what she had to say. After she’s somewhat calmed the commotion at the gates, another one starts up as two walkers get a hold of a resident and start having a good chomp on him before Andrea and a guard can kill them. The Governor re-appears to put the chomped man out of his misery, before stomping back up to his room.
Andrea tries to get him to say something to the people who start gathering outside, but being stabbed in the eye has unsurprisingly led to an attitude change for the Governor, and Andrea is again forced to re-assure the residents herself. It is again a little bit too easy for her when it comes to convincing them to stay, but she does manage to do it.
Back at the prison, the new group (who seem to be led by Tyreese, played Chad Coleman) are disagreeing over what they should do next. One of them thinks they could over-power Carol and Carl and then take over the prison before Rick returns, but Tyreese won’t have it. When Rick does return, he’s reluctant to let them stay, but Herschel appears to have successfully changed his mind when he warns him about the numbers the Governor could muster if (when) he decides to come looking for revenge.
But Rick sees a ghostly apparition of Lori, and he doesn’t handle it well, having a bit of a breakdown and demanding Tyreese and his group leave immediately. It’s a poor end to a solid episode, as Lori’s appearance and Rick’s reaction to it doesn’t really work very well. To have Rick suddenly go a bit wrong is an idea that doesn’t immediately work, and Andrew Lincoln’s ‘I’ve got nut-nut’ acting isn’t very convincing.
So as The Walking Dead returns, there are a couple of issues with what’s happening in it. Season 3 continues to be a massive improvement on the stagnant season 2, and a confrontation between Rick and the Governor seems inevitable, but Rick’s descent into madness could be problematic. This episode sees Glenn questioning Rick like he never has before, and Rick’s visions could put his ability to lead the prison group under scrutiny. I hope that ghost Lori doesn’t hang around for too long, not only because she was such a terrible character when she was alive, but also because it doesn’t immediately feel like something that will work.
But I’m not too worried about the show at this point. This was a good episode and the good things about this season as a whole outweigh the bad.