Hello, zombie lovers. Our favorite show to love and complain about returned this Sunday after a two month hiatus. The first half of the season was largely fantastic, keeping up a frenetic and demanding pace, and pushing the characters’ emotional storylines to the wall. Given that the mid-season finale spoilered the Woodbury jailbreak in their previews, most of the tension that episode built up was dissipated before this one even aired. So with that counting against it, how did “The Suicide King” hold up to the tone set early in Season 3?
For me, this episode was a bit of a let down. We already knew that Daryl would be rescued and it didn’t take a big deductive leap to guess that Merle was going to be escaping with him. The biggest shock was Daryl turning his back on his new family for his abusive, racist, good-for-nothing biological brother. Even Carol — who the rest of the group apparently views as his partner — wasn’t enough to tempt him to stay. Every other storyline this week was setting up for future episodes. Familiar ground was revisited (Rick doesn’t trust outsiders, Rick maybe is losing his shit), a few new seeds planted (Glenn going on the offensive, The Governor going to war), and we all treaded water until 50 minutes, give or take, had passed.
Much of the episode was solidly in the “meh” category, but there were a few standout moments that deserve to be singled out. Most of them involve Glenn.
Glenn’s be the second string yes-man since the show started. He’s the quick one, he’s the volunteer, he’s the brave guy who doesn’t want to make the hard decisions. That was the source of one of his early fights with Maggie, who told him he had it in him to be a real leader if only he would step up. We’re seeing him do that now, motivated by his fury over what happened in Woodbury and Rick’s deteriorating mental state. Maybe if Daryl hadn’t left, Glenn would still be a background man, but there aren’t very many leader options left by the end of the episode.
Daryl stealing the crossbow off the Unnamed Black Guard in Woodbury. He’s such a bad ass.
Hershel telling Glenn he’s like his own son.
Why is the timeline on this show so fucked? Their elastic concept of the passage of time is so distracting I find myself zeroing in on every concrete mention of date that happens, and then when I try to fit it into the action on the show, I’m left with a headache and a bad mood. Let’s look at it: When Beth appears with Baby Asskicker, Sasha asks how old the baby is. Hershel says she’s barely a week. So the group has been at the prison maybe two weeks, if we want to be generous about it. Lori died a week ago. Michonne shows up on the tail end of Rick’s first crazytown express ride, so possibly five days ago. Give another day or two to heal up, and then the group takes off towards Woodbury. So three days ago. Either that day or the next, Tyrese’s group shows up in the prison and gets rescued by Carl.
So why does Tyrese say to Hershel, ‘Thank you for taking care of us. For a while there, we didn’t know who we were dealing with.” A while? IT’S BEEN A DAY. I’m sorry for the all caps nature of my frustration, but that’s where I’m at. They haven’t even buried their dead group member yet. And for that matter, how is Hershel up and maneuvering around like a champ less than two weeks after a jailhouse amputation?
I guess on a show where I can accept that the dead walk the earth because magic, I should be more forgiving about their problems plotting out a timeline. Or speedy healing times and resistance to infections. Maybe I should give them a break on their piss-poor characterization of Andrea and Michonne too.
Speaking of, let’s talk about that. Michonne, who might be the hands-down largest fan favorite character from the comic book, had one damn line in this episode. She’s directly addressed repeatedly in the big fight in the woods and all she does is glower and threaten her sword at Merle. One might say that she’s supposed to be stoic, but she comes off as stupid or angry. She has a perfectly reasonable defense for why she didn’t tell the prison gang that she knew Andrea, which is that she’s known them for three days or so, they keep threatening to toss her back out to the walkers, and Rick’s wound as tightly as a spring. When was she even supposed to tell them? Why should she, when they abandoned her friend to die back at the farm? It’s all so damn stupid, but I don’t think we, the audience, are supposed to view this ridiculous level of pointless finger pointing as stupid. We’re supposed to read tense and desperate, which can lead to stupidity, but wouldn’t someone trying to survive, you know, say something now and then? Weigh in, maybe, with some salient points?
Meanwhile over at Woodbury, Andrea finally gets to take center stage like she’s always wanted to. As the town flips out and the guards get violent towards the survivors and The Governor is AWOL, she leaps to the forefront to take charge of the situation. This an objectively Good Thing, but I’ve spent two seasons now being annoyed at Andrea’s self centeredness, so the only lens I have to see her actions through is the same old one. I didn’t warm up to her, even when she was confronting Philip about the clusterfuck of the attack the night before. Maybe it was her freezing over the bitten and suffering man writhing on the ground before her that killed my sympathy. Or maybe it was her still trying to rescue a romantic relationship with The Governor even after he said he knew and held captive her friends without telling her. Girl. Look at your life. Look at your choices.
Speaking of women, please start placing your bets on how long it is until Beth shuffles off the mortal coil. She’s young, pretty, and said she wanted to have babies, so I figure she’s on the chopping block. Also, she had a couple of lines this week. Maggie is shaping up to be the most righteous of BAMFs, surviving and carrying on after being tortured by the Governor even while Glenn is in a rage over his impotence when it came to protecting her. And Carol had a handful of good scenes, taking the news that Daryl wasn’t coming back with first shock, and then resolutely moving forward.
Next week: “Home”