After a torturous hiatus, The Walking Dead returned with tonight’s installment entitled “The Suicide King.” Picking up where we left off, Daryl and Merle are forced into a grotesque brother vs brother fight to the death, surrounded by walkers for the entertainment of the masses in Woodbury. In a moment of clarity, Merle and his brother join forces to fight their way out and with the help of Rick and his band of misfits, Daryl and Merle escape with the group. The Governor watches with a knowing stare – surely he will see them again soon (enjoy the walkers now coming through your fence, you SOB.)
In an almost unbelievable twist, Daryl refuses to return to the prison with our little nuclear group. Words don’t seem to matter and not even the fledgling relationship with Carol is enough to stop him from choosing his nutcase blood family over his stable apocalypse family (if “stable” can describe the thread of sanity they have left). As the group dynamic begins to crumble, we start to see what this world can truly do to you. No one is safe, no one is immune and no one can ever truly get over the loss of a family member, even one not connected by blood.
As our prison group remains split, Hershel aids our band of newcomer, who, like real people, try to find out about each other and ultimately ask to stay. Hershel declares that it isn’t his decision, always looking to Rick as the group leader. Will it ever become a democracy? Surely one man cannot be right 100% of the time. We soon find out that our new friends are half friend, half foe (and since when are Beth and Axel allowed to be alone together?)
After the smoke has cleared, things in the quiet, happy town of Woodbury are no longer quiet and happy. The people demand to be set free from the walls that have sheltered them for so long and screams pierce Andrea’s heartfelt pleas as walkers suddenly appear in the town. Charging in with gun drawn, Andrea still does not have it in her to put a man out of his misery. The Governor (seemingly appearing out of thin air) finishes the job before slinking back to his apartment with Andrea on his heels. The events of the last few days weigh heavy on The Governor as he declares that the people of the town have been coddled and sheltered from reality, and Andrea and Milton decide to be the glue that will put the town back together and save what they once had: stability.
Rick returns to the prison with news that Daryl has gone AWOL while Carol attempts to act as though it doesn’t affect her as harshly as it does. Their relationship may have been young, but in this world, bonds are formed fierce and fast. We see tears in her eyes as Rick embraces her, knowing partly what her pain feels like. He reconnects with the group, his mind clearly on wanting to see his children and as Judith begins to cry in his arms, we hear the tell-tale tunneling sound that signals his spiral into insanity.
Group dynamics being what they are, Hershel finally tells Rick that he needs to talk to the newcomers – if they’re going to fend off The Governor’s coming attack, they need reinforcements. Rick refuses Ty’s offer to help in any way they can until Hershel calmly tells him that he is wrong. Just as we being to think that Rick may listen to him, Lori’s ghost appears, which sends Rick into a gun-swinging rant. Is Judith the catalyst for this? I couldn’t save you! He screams at his wife’s specter, and is this lingering guilt? Just as we thought Rick was on the mend, he spirals back down the rabbit hole. Can the group dynamic survive the demise of their leader?
As the list of questions grows, tune in next week as we see what happens when The Governor come knocking.