11 February, 2013
Review- Walking Dead 3.9: 'The Suicide King'
Walking Dead returns after winter hiatus, but not with as much bang as I was hoping. The Daryl/Merle showdown goes mostly as expected and the other survivors spend a lot of time doing nothing. More thoughts below, but as you can tell I wasn't really impressed with this episode.
Things pick up pretty much where we left off with the showdown in the arena between Daryl and Merle, and with the rescue squad waiting in the wings. Things play out as expected with Daryl and Merle staging a fake fight and then an escape, with the assistance of Rick, sharpshooter Maggie, and some smoke grenades. However, all is not well once they escape Woodbury and the group decides they don't want to take Merle back with them, and that they aren't too sure about Michonne either. My biggest problem with this episode was that it seemed to take a long time to get wherever it was going. Everything that happened up until this point wasn't anything I hadn't speculated on or thought about after the mid season finale, yet it felt like the show was giving me an inordinate amount of time to digest it. On top of this the group kept getting waylaid on their journey back to the prison to have what seemed like drawn out conversations about who should and shouldn't be in the group while standing out in the open on the highway. Notably there was a scene in which there were clearly walkers in the background in the forest, yet all three characters seemed unconcerned and or unaware that they might be attracting walkers. Other than Daryl making the ultimate, but not totally unexpected, decision to go with Merle; and Glen going nuts on the walker, the first half of the episode didn't really move things along too much.
Meanwhile back at the prison Tyrese is trying his best to convince Hershel and the others that they can coexist peacefully in cellblock paradise without getting in the way of their group, but Hershel won't make a final decision until he consults with Rick. Also, Tyrese's companions aren't convinced that they should play nice with their new cellmates, but Tyrese manages to talk them out of a prison riot/mutiny plan. Not much goes on at the prison until everyone returns and there's more tedious discussion about how to deal with the new members. The only part of this chunk of the episode I enjoyed was strangely the scene with Beth and Carol, two characters the show doesn't usually seem to focus on. I thought their conversation nicely reflected some of the issues within the group and it gave those two second tier characters some good dialogue. After confronting Tyrese, Rick declares that the Ricktatorship is not currently open to new membership, against Hershel's will. However, Rick's also been having a minor psychological breakdown for the majority of this episode and this finally culminates in perhaps the episode's greatest moment: where Rick completely loses his shit, thinking he's seeing the ghost of his dead wife hanging around the rafters of the prison. He also does so while waving his gun around which makes everyone in the group a little nervous, and seemingly makes them reconsider Rick's leadership as of late.
Overall I wasn't too impressed with this episode. Hopefully this second half of the season is just taking its time getting started, but this one felt a bit slow in the dialogue and the action. If I had to rate it I'd give it a 60 out of 100- not enough action and too much time spent debating who gets to be part of the group.
Odds and ends:
-I didn't mention it really but the only other part of the episode I enjoyed was the downfall of Woodbury. Everyone loves to watch the suburbs burn and I liked watching the denizens of Woodbury go nuts and rebel against their absent Governor.
- Andrea is staying in Woodbury, despite now knowing that her friends are alive and well. And in opposition to anything resembling common sense she's going to continue hanging around a mentally unstable man hell bent on revenge against her aforementioned friends. I also disliked her Hallmark movie-style inspirational speech: "WE PERSEVERED!"
- Daryl's crossbow stealing move might have been the highlight of this episode.
- Things are rough in Maggie/Glen land, but good job Maggie for being the only one in my least favorite highway debate scene to suggest that maybe they should all get back to the prison before having long, unnecessary conversations about group dynamics.
-Carl remains a bad ass