The Walking Dead: The Suicide King

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by Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

Like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead is adapted from previous source material. This review is not meant to compare similarities and differences between the show and comic. It’s meant to be read purely as a take on the episode as it stands.

That being said, SPOILERS AHEAD.

“Brother against brother. Winner goes free.”

It’s been a while since everyone’s favorite survivors had a go of it, but they’re back now. Saying that things are okay would be a vast understatement and the characters do their best to make do with what they’ve got. They’re dealing with zombies and the Governor, leading other humans desperate to maintain their version of civilization. Even if that civilization devolves into the more primitive incarnation, courtesy of Merle and Daryl pitted against one another as brothers and combatants; the former due to blood and the latter for the pleasure of the Governor.

The Governor was the king of his small kingdom and it’s still not completely clear why exactly he maintained the town as long as he has. As citizens are desperate to leave and zombies are infiltrating it, his world is literally crumbling around him, yet he maintains a stoic ignorance about the events. He’s secluding himself from it all, likely plotting his next move and strategizing what the town really means to him. The citizens have seen the madness his decisions actually incur. Previously, they were under the impression that every decision he made was for the good of the community. After this episode, they’re scared and are starting to see him for what he really is: a sadistic, calculating madman with no real agenda other than preserving his well-being.

The burgeoning camaraderie between the old and new survivors is quite the opposite of the fall of Woodbury. It’s a great storytelling device, in that it shows the world does include some good people other than Rick and his running crew. The new survivors are desperate to stop moving and find some security, even if Rick’s crew is reluctant to take them in. Not all is friendship though, as some of the new survivors are more like the old than first indicated.

Pairing up Daryl with Merle makes sense. They are brothers and before Daryl started to become Rick’s best friend, Merle was all he had during the downfall of civilization. Daryl has definitely become a fan favorite though, which makes his new role even more difficult to comprehend. Nothing is permanent in The Walking Dead (even the dead don’t stay dead), so it doesn’t mean it’s a permanent change. It was interesting that Carol almost seemed to compare herself to Daryl in a way that implied both are the victims in similar domestic abuse relationships.

Glen’s transformation throughout the series has been nothing short of phenomenal. He’s moved from being a nervous runner who did all their dangerous missions into a broken, vindictive member of the team. He’s followed Rick with a blind devotion that appears to be clearing up; realizing that the life he signed up for with the group has changed dramatically. He gets to spend some quality time with his father-in-law during the episode, but even that doesn’t afford him any break in bitterness. Continuing to be convinced that the Governor sexually assaulted Maggie only adds fuel to that fire.

Andrea has gone through a similar transformation. She’s gone from being scared and clinging to the memory of her sister to being someone hardened yet compassionate. She deals with the zombie interlopers in Woodbury without flinching; likely owing to her time spent barely surviving for months with Michonne. She doesn’t necessarily hold a grudge against the survivors for leaving her, but it remains to be seen whether she’s truly forgiven them or not. She’s still a poor judge of character, choosing to confront the Governor immediately after seeing how he handled a dying man.

It looks like Rick made quite a few realizations of his own in the ninth episode. He realized that Michonne is still something of a wildcard. He realized that blood is thicker than water with Daryl and Merle. And he realized that maybe–just maybe–his daughter doesn’t have Lori’s eyes. If Shane is the father, that’s going to put quite a wrench in Rick’s desires to raise the child. That’s not to say that Rick is heartless and will disown the baby if it’s not his (and it’s almost impossible to prove in this world), but obviously he won’t have the same bond with her if she were actually his daughter.

Season 3 continues to move along at a breakneck pace. There are tons of fires that need putting out back at the ranch so to speak and Rick addresses probably the biggest one by parlaying with Tyrese, Sasha, Alan and Ben. He recognizes the need for help against the inevitable Governor retaliation and, despite what could go against his better judgment, decides to decline their help.  Herschel does have a point when telling Rick he needs to give people a chance and Rick seems to start buying into it until things get weird.

Rick continues to have seemingly psychotic breaks from reality. He’s starting to crack and the others are starting to see it, which could lead to more of the old version of Rick, who gets walked all over.  Whether or not he really did or didn’t want Tyrese and the others to stay will likely come up again. One thing’s for certain though: everyone is changing in the world they’re living in and very few of them are changing for the better.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


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