The Walking Dead S3E8: The Suicide King
Original Airdate: February 10, 2013
Recap by Sarabeth Pollock
Greetings, Walking Dead fans! It’s hard to believe that two months have gone by since we left Daryl and Merle in the ring, brother against brother. Now we’re back for the second half of the season. Let’s get to it!
The mid-season premiere begins in the ring. The crowd is fired up, calling for blood, and the Governor walks in a circle around Daryl and Merle, looking like the cat who nabbed the proverbial canary. The Governor is the picture of cool, calm, and collected, even though his handsome face is now marred by a soiled bandage covering his missing eye. The brothers try to avoid looking at each other, but clearly they’re plotting a way out. These two are cut from the same cloth. As the Governor pauses in his appraisal of the scene before him, Andrea tries to reason with him. “The people have spoken,” he tells her. He wants Merle to prove his loyalties, and the winner will go free. “Fight to the death!” he proclaims, while Andrea pleads with him.
Merle launches himself at his brother, and while his punches fly, he assures the crowd that he is loyal to the Governor. Daryl takes the hits and doesn’t fight back until he sees men leading Walkers into the ring. The Walkers are on poles and their handlers thrust them into the action, making sure they’re close enough to potentially cause harm should Merle or Daryl make one wrong move. Daryl catches Merle by the neck and points out that they’ll never let him go. “Just follow my lead, little brother,” Merle assures him. They’re getting out of there. Soon the brothers are standing back to back as they take on the Walkers, who are being pushed closer and closer into the melee. Daryl lands some solid punches, but just how many punches does it take to get to the center of a Walker’s brain?
I guess we never get to find out.
A shot rings out and the bullet takes out the guard holding the Walker who is about to take a bite out of Daryl. It’s the Grimes Gang there to save the day! Rick launches a smoke grenade and the arena descends into chaos as Maggie sprays the crowd with bullets. The Governor pulls out a gun and walks through the smoke with a grin on his face, as if this was exactly what he wanted to happen. Daryl and Merle pick off a few guards, and Daryl saves a little girl from being bitten (who the hell brings a little kid to the makeshift gladiator arena??). Just before they flee the scene, Daryl plucks a crossbow from the hands of an unsuspecting guard. Daryl is to crossbows as Batman is to Batarangs (can you tell I’ve been studying analogies for the GRE exam?) The crossbow is iconic Daryl Mother Fucking Dixon.
Glen and Michonne hear Rick and the gang approaching. But there’s a little problem. Michonne immediately pulls her weapon upon seeing Merle, so Rick points his gun at her. Glen sees Merle and is filled with rage at the man who interrogated him and hurt the woman he cares for. Daryl points his crossbow at him in return. Even with all the weapons drawn, Merle can’t help but see the bright side of the little standoff on his account. He breaks the news that Michonne knows Andrea, which draws a round of questions from Rick and Maggie, who can’t believe that Michonne hadn’t told them. Merle explains that Andrea has been shacking up with the Governor and he suggests that Michonne might be a tad jealous. Daryl tells him to shut his mouth, but Merle is not one to listen. Rick finally cold cocks him with the butt of his gun. “Asshole,” he mutters. Daryl’s lips twitch but he doesn’t say anything.
Back in the prison, Hershel patches up the leg of one of their new friends. He tells the man that he can remove the stitches on his own in a few days, which suggests that these new people won’t be joining up as permanent members of the Gang. Tyrese is grateful for Hershel’s help. They all watch as Beth walks in with baby Judith. Sasha gazes in wonder at the baby, for she didn’t think she’d ever see a baby again. At first she thinks the baby belongs to Beth, but then they realize that Beth isn’t the mother. Tyrese acknowledges that they have been “through the wringer.” It’s crazy outside, he says. He and Sasha survived because they knew a guy who was one of those real-life doomsday preppers, complete with a backyard bunker. They stayed there until the food ran out, and then they met up with Alan and Ben. Along the way they picked up other people while coming across some bad people, too. They’re glad to finally find some good people. Tyrese takes one looks around and laughs that he’s “the first brother in history to ever break into a prison.” Axl walks up, looking dapper in non-inmate clothing, and hands Tyrese a bowl of food, joking that it makes him “the first white boy that didn’t want to break out.” Hershel solemnly tells the group not to get too comfortable, and Carl locks the cell door behind them.
It may not be a democracy anymore, but Sovereign Rick has convened a meeting of his cabinet to figure out what the hell to do. They can’t trust Michonne and Merle is stirring up way too much shit. Daryl argues that Merle is “blood,” while Glen points out that he’s Daryl’s family, not his, and that Glen’s family is standing in this circle and waiting for them at the prison. Rick reminds Daryl that he’s part of the family. They don’t know what to do with Michonne either, but at least she helped them find Glen and Maggie, and ultimately helped to free Daryl. Daryl isn’t going anywhere without his brother. As soon as he realizes that the line has been drawn, he sticks to his guns. He already left his brother behind once, he reminds Rick, who in turn points out that they started something back in Woodbury and they need to be ready for a counter offensive. Daryl throws some supplies into a backpack as Rick watches, looking dazed as he realizes that Daryl is leaving the group. Daryl tells Rick to keep an eye on Little Ass Kicker and Carl. He’s a good kid, he says, and then he turns and joins his brother. Merle puts his arm around Daryl in triumph. Rick turns his anger and frustration on Michonne, warning her that she’s going to be gone as soon as she gets patched up.
Back at the prison, Tyrese and his group are going to bury Donna. Alan sees that the guard house and front gate is being watched over by a kid and a woman (Carl and Carol, respectively) and he suggests that they overtake them and take control of the prison. Tyrese and Sasha vehemently protest, citing the fact that Hershel and company are good people. As Alan continues to make his case, Axl and Beth bring shovels to them and ask if they need help. Sensing a potential for trouble, Ty and Sasha step between the two pairs and accept the shovels, preventing Alan and Ben from doing anything stupid. Once Axl and Beth depart, Ty and Sasha manage to get Alan and Ben refocused on the task at hand. They exchange glances, almost as if they know that this isn’t a good sign.
The Grimes car comes to a stop because the road has been blocked with an abandoned truck and some branches. As Glen moves to release the parking break, a Walker jumps out of the cab. Glen doesn’t hesitate; he pulls him from the car and starts stomping his head in. With every kick you can see the anger pass through him. “You didn’t kill him!” he shouts at Rick. Rick evenly states that rescuing Daryl was the priority. And they couldn’t let Glen go in because he could hardly walk. But Glen is furious that Rick allowed his girlfriend to go back in. Maggie wisely doesn’t pull the feminist card here and instead tries to refocus the men on the task at hand—moving the truck. Glen doesn’t understand what the point of it was. They didn’t kill the Governor and they lost Daryl even though they managed to get him out. Rick won’t admit that losing Daryl was a huge blow, and instead he tells Glen that Daryl made his own choices and he’s not going to beg him to come back. It doesn’t matter. Glen is done.
Andrea walks out of the infirmary and tells Milton that there were nine injuries. He tells her that the Governor is locked in his apartment and won’t come out. And their little world is going to hell. The residents of Woodbury want to get out. Who could blame them, really? They’re at the gates trying to get through, and the guards up on the towers are alternating between stopping them from leaving and keeping the Biters away. The honking horns really aren’t helping the situation. Martinez, one of the Governor’s lackeys, pulls a man from his car and would have beaten him if Andrea hadn’t intervened. She tells him that he’s not helping the situation, that these people are panicked, and—oh, wait, someone is screaming from inside the town. Sure enough, a woman comes running down the street, followed by a man and a bunch of Biters. The woman gets away, but the man becomes a smorgasbord for the hungry Biters. Martinez and Andrea clear the area of Biters, but Andrea hesitates as she stands over the Biters’ latest victim. Apparently the Governor has had enough of the noise. He walks out and puts a bullet in the man’s head before turning on his heel and marching back into his apartment.
Carol and Carl patrol the gates, waiting for the car to return. Carol waxes poetic about the lack of noise pollution, but boy would she love to hear a jumbo jet. Carl agrees, wishing that their little group could be on the plane. She tells him that Lori was proud of him, and she tells him not to worry about things that they said to each other in anger. They are interrupted by the sound of an approaching car. Once the car is inside, Maggie and Glen jump out but Daryl is not there. Rick has the tough job of explaining that they rescued Daryl, but he chose not to return with the group and opted to go with his brother. Carol is absolutely devastated by this news.
Andrea marches into the Governor’s apartment and demands to know what the hell is going on. He’s pulling out bags of weapons. She tells him that he needs to talk to his people. They’re scared, and he didn’t help things by putting a round into that man’s head. The Governor is done with the meek little sheep that have their picnics. A battle is coming. It’s time to get prepared.
Maggie and Glen go inside with Carl while Hershel takes a moment to thank Rick, who has once again come through for them. Rick tells Hershel about their new problem, namely the Governor. He’s a sick man, Hershel concludes. Then he tells Rick about their new guests. Rick breezes past the new arrivals and goes straight to Beth, who tells Rick that Judith has Lori’s eyes. Well, at least she didn’t say that she has Shane’s eyes…. Baby Judith cries in her father’s arms, and Rick seems to lose it. Technically, I think he lost it a while ago. But the baby’s cries trigger something deep inside him and he snaps.
Poor Milton is not a born leader. He tries to calm the growing mob outside of the Governor’s apartment but they talk over him. He insists that the Governor is fine, but he’s a little unstable due to his injury. This doesn’t help calm anyone down. Andrea finally steps in and delivers one of those great rallying speeches that they show during award shows. She talks about how they have all suffered and they have all lost people, but in the end, Woodbury will persevere. Her words soothe the mob, and everyone leaves feeling warm and fuzzy. The Governor stands and watches the scene from the window. It’s hard to tell what he’s thinking about her right now.
Beth carries the baby up to Carol. Carol praises the girl’s motherly instincts. Beth is worried that the group is weak without Daryl. Carol tries to put up a strong front, but it’s clear that she’s rattled. She admits that she’s not the same person she was a year ago, but she’d be very happy if Daryl walked through the door right now. With one final blanket, her project is complete. She sets Judith in a makeshift cradle, made from a USPS mail container. It reads “Lil Ass Kicker” on the side.
Hershel is amazed that Glen didn’t break any bones during his ordeal. Maggie stands in the doorway of the cell, and they stare at each other before Maggie leaves. Hershel comments that they’re holding something back and encourages Glen to talk to her. He tells Glen he’s glad he kept Maggie safe, but conversely he’s glad nothing happened to Glen, who is like a son to him. Hershel goes to Maggie’s cell. She immediately asks about Glen but doesn’t want to see him. Hershel tells her that she’s stubborn and strong like her mother. He can rest easy knowing she can take care of herself, but he can tell that this experience has left her shaken.
Michonne is dead to the world. Hershel figures she probably hasn’t slept in days and might have a concussion. Though Rick clearly wants her to leave immediately, Hershel tells him that she needs to stay a couple of days. Across the cell block, Axl tells Carol that Oscar used to stand up for him when Tomas got angry. He was his friend. Carol rubs his arm reassuringly. Beth wonders if the Governor will retaliate. Maggie says yes. They’re outnumbered and outgunned.
Rick goes to meet with Tyrese and his group. At first Rick wonders how they made it so deep into the prison, and for a moment his temper flares when he finds out that Carl is responsible for getting them so far. Tyrese knows that he has to lobby for his people. They are more than willing to pull their own weight. And they can help defend the prison. But Rick doesn’t want to be responsible for anyone else. He doesn’t want any more blood on his hands. Hershel pulls him aside and tells him that he’s making a mistake. The whole group has followed him without question, but he’s wrong about this. Rick doesn’t relent.
That’s when Rick sees the ghost on the landing. Her silhouette suggests that it’s his dead wife, Lori. The fissures are turning into full blown cracks. Rick is falling apart. He starts ranting, and this in turn scares the hell out of his group. Here’s their leader, ranting and raving and waving his gun while talking to someone that isn’t there.
This doesn’t look good. But it was one hell of an episode!
Does anyone else think that Rick looked anemic tonight? He looked yellow. The poor guy is about to lose his mind. Andrew Lincoln does an amazing job capturing Rick’s angst as he finally collapses under the weight that the world has placed upon him. Now it’s up to the rest of the Grimes Gang to band together and survive while their fearless leader deals with his demons.
What did you think, fellow Walkers? Was this mid-season premiere everything you hoped it would be? Post your comments below. I’ll see you all next week as we prepare for battle with the one-eyed man from Woodbury.