The Walking Dead, S3 E9 “The Suicide King”

Hello again, fellow zombie fanatics. We’re back with the latter half of season three of AMC’s ridiculously popular show The Walking Dead. This episode marks the beginning of the end for showrunner Glen Mazzara, who is soon to be replaced by Scott Gimple, the man who was to Mazzara what Mazzara was to similarly ousted Frank Darabont. And it’s a pretty meh farewell.

In this very special episode, everyone yells at everyone else, except Michonne who silently glowers like there’s no tomorrow. There was also petty bickering and lunatic ravings. Rick and the gang rescued Daryl and his jerkface brother from the savage clutches of the Governor and his bunch of bloodthirsty cotton-headed ninny muggins. And because they forgot to shut the door behind them, a gaggle of zombies scooched in and ate some dude (Rick? Rich? Rip?). Andrea whined for a while, then made the world’s most pathetic Big Speech. Back at the prison, Tyrese, Sasha, Treacherous White Dude #1, and Treacherous White Dude #2 explored the option of murdering a bunch of helpless people because somehow that would be easier than trying to convince them they were worth keeping around. Rick lost his damn marbles, and not even death could halt Lori’s overbearing disapproval. Someone named Heisenberg died, too, apparently.

I don’t care what is or isn’t in the comics. Rick’s crazy town banana pants spells annoy the hell out of me. As soon as he saw Lori on the balcony my whole body seized up in an death-defying fit of second-hand embarrassment. Andrew Lincoln isn’t a good enough actor to pull off these temporary descents into guilt-infused madness. More importantly, this has got to be the worst possible moment for him to lose it. As I always say with this show, I get what the writers were aiming at. Having Rick go batty in front of the outsiders makes for automatic conflict—who wants to be ruled by a dictator screaming at ghosts? Also, Hershel is to season 3 Rick what season 2 Rick was to Shane, making their arcs very dramatic and meaningful and blah blah blah. Thing is, none of it means anything in the long run. Since AMC will never allow the writers to kill off the main character on their highest rated show, there’s only one way this can all play out. Rick will go crazy long enough to spawn a handful of Doubting Thomases, but will rally back to sanity just in time to do battle with the Governor and save all the white people (but only one of the black characters). Without any actual stakes, risky character plots end up being little more than spinning wheels.

Speaking of wheel spinning: Michonne. C’mon, girlfriend. Say something. ANYTHING. At this point, keeping mum is causing her far more harm than good, and she knows that. So what the hell, man? It’s like the writers don’t know what to do with her. Here’s this awesome chick who kicks ass and takes names, and she, what, decides she doesn’t feel like chatting today? I never thought I’d hate a fictional character as much as I did Lori, but Michonne is steadily working her way up. Andrea still holds the top spot, though. I don’t know how anyone could be so profoundly idiotic and yet simultaneously so utterly boring. The writers eagerly used Andrea to fill the cipher void left by Lori, to the detriment of her character and the show.

As for Daryl and Merle…actually, I don’t have much to complain about on that front. Daryl continues to be the show’s best character, even when he makes boneheaded decisions. But it did set up one of the nicest dialogue-heavy scenes the show has ever done. Carol (who has turned into a rather interesting character herself, due in large part to her relationship with Daryl) explains to Beth why Daryl went off with Merle and why he shouldn’t be hated for his choice, however wrong. I never thought of Daryl as an abuse victim, but Carol clearly saw the parallels. He suffered Merle’s attacks just as Carol suffered from Ed’s. It adds a new dimension to their somewhat inexplicable bond, as well as shades out their characters. Merle’s still a racist, misogynistic asshat of epic proportions, and I can’t wait to see that cockwaffle get eaten by zombies.

Not sure I see the logic behind having this ep as the mid-season premiere. “When the Dead Come Knocking” would’ve made a much better stopping point. “Made to Suffer” would’ve functioned well as a mid-season premiere, with “The Suicide King” as a nice place to take a deep breath and settle into establishing the remaining plots. The writers were obviously going for a dramatic cliffhanger, but looking at the big picture, drawing the line where they did undercut the very dramatic tension they were aiming for.

This was an episode where everyone stood around yelling at everyone else about who was going where and doing what to whom. Certainly not one of The Walking Dead’s more stimulating hours. But it was still aces above just about anything from the second season.

Final Thoughts

  • “It’s only getting worse out there. Dead are everywhere. And it’s only making the living less like the living.”
  • “This is the hand we were dealt.” Rick talking about Merle and hands. Puns!
  • “Don’t do that. Don’t drive me out. Not now.” Oh, Andrea. Honey. You were never in to begin with.
  • How unintentionally hilarious was it when the Governor up and shot that guy? I don’t think the writers wanted me to laugh as loud as I did at that moment, but it was so awesomely bad.
  • Hi Scott’s mom!
  • David Morrissey’s accent somehow got worse over the two month break.

Alex Brown is an archivist, writer, geeknerdloserweirdo, and all-around pop culture obsessive who watches entirely too much TV. Keep up with her every move on Twitter, or get lost in the rabbit warren of ships and fandoms on her Tumblr.

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