The Walking Dead: "The Suicide King" (Season 3, Episode 9) & "Home" (Season 3, Episode 10)

Flabbergasted

We left with a brewing civil war between mentally disturbed survivor leaders. Well, consider it brewed. “The Suicide King” is a little weak, but “Home” ends with a certified bang.

People are still dropping like flies, Rick is still falling apart, and that does not bode well for his overmatched group. The Governor is a full blown sociopath at this point, which doesn’t bode well for his group even if he wins. Nothing like a little lose-lose confrontation in a post-Apocalyptic world to bludgeon hope to death. Maybe that’s why Mad Max never stuck with any group for long.

“The Suicide King”

We left Merle and Darryl in a brother vs. brother fight to the death under the Governor’s vengeful eye. It winds up anti-climactic. They kind of fight, kind of fake it until Rick and Maggie conveniently show up with gas grenades and the requisite sniping. The surviving members of Rick’s team leave Woodbury behind. They also leave a parting gift: a gap in the wall through which walkers can pass.

The real tension occurs after the escape. Merle is an asshole with bravado. He likes to flaunt his offensiveness. That leads to a showdown between Darryl and Rick: “no him, no me.” Rick watches them walk off. In all honesty, this is a tough one. After all, Merle just got through trying to murder Michonne and torturing Glen. But then Rick tells Michonne: “We’ll patch you up and then you are gone.”

You realize you just started a war, don’t you? Exactly who is supposed to defend the vast grounds of your prison?

Back at the prison, Tyrese and his sister continue to be decent folk. They refuse to support Alan and Ben in a rush on the pitifully small group of prison defenders. They will not get repaid in kind for such consideration.

Woodbury is stumbling around, to quote President Lincoln, “like a duck hit on the head.” No one seems to be wondering too much about how last night’s attackers got in, or if the walls they depend on so much have been breached. People just want to leave. The Governor’s paramilitary enforcers, however, will have none of that. While they argue, some poor sap gets attacked by walkers. After the Walkers are dispatched, The Governor emerges to put a bullet in the poor sap’s head. Then Andrea gives a stirring speech about holding together that I didn’t find particularly stirring.

Back at the prison, Rick has four new bodies to man the prison in Tyrese and his folk. They’re as polite as can be, they’re desperately needed, and Hershel vouches for them. So of course Rick sees a ghostly image of Lori and goes nuts, screaming for her to get out while waving a gun around. Tyrese and company naturally think he means them.

Let’s see, Woodbury lost a couple people and had to endure a trite inspirational speech. Rick has driven off four potentially helpful people, has lost Darryl, and seems about to lose Michonne. He’s also openly delusional.

Advantage Woodbury.

“Home”

Rick sees Lori out in the prison yard. He follows her out beyond the gates, where his delusion touches his face. He’s relieved. Michonne is staring at him from the prison like he’s a complete lunatic. And to be honest…

Advantage still Woodbury.

The Governor compliments Andrea for the speech I found trite. He says they need her. Over the course of this episode, he will alternate between talking about how much they need her and openly questioning her reliability. Which is still one better than Rick—we all know he’s not reliable anymore.

Merle tells Darryl the Governor is going to kill his pals at the prison. Glenn wants to go assassinate the Governor. He figures he’s in charge now since Rick is obviously insane. I guess that’s a reasonable enough conclusion. But, in a plot device I found forced, Glen and Maggie are sniping at one another. It seems a false response to their ordeal a Woodbury, where they ultimately did hold together. I guess it’s supposed to up the angst.

Like this show needs more angst.

Darryl emerges as a genuine superhero. Seriously. Someone get that man some Spandex tights. He and Merle come across a hapless family besieged by Walkers on a bridge. While Merle just cracks jokes, Darryl almost single-handedly dispatches all the Walkers. He gets bonus points for this week’s jump-the-shark moment on gruesomeness. He closes a station wagon’s rear door on the head of a Walker, which goes to pieces with lots of liquid goo.

Merle, being an asshole, tries to rob the survivors. Darryl sends them off while holding Merle at arrow point. They argue long enough for Merle to point out that the plan was to rob Rick’s group long ago in Season 1. We also get some insight into the abusive nature of their father, which brings the first flash of genuine empathy we’ve ever seen from Merle. Ultimately, Darryl decides to head back where he belongs. That would be his prison pals.

Hershel’s having a pointless day. He basically offers good advice to a sequence of hard headed mules, from Maggie to Glen to Rick. The high point in unintentional comedy occurs when Rick is carrying on about following Lori. Hershel says “You need some rest.”

Absolutely. Genuine US Grade A, 100% beef advice.

Axel, our last surviving prisoner, is trying to flirt with Carol. Then… BLAM! Bullet in the head. The Governor and his minions open fire from two positions outside the gate and atop one of the guard towers. See, I told you, Rick—you haven’t got nearly enough people.

Carol goes for runner up in tonight’s gratuitously grotesquerie. She’s pinned down and hides behind Axel’s body, which keeps getting hit. Maggie comes out to get pinned down with Carl, but at least she’s got a rifle. Rick takes time out from following his dead wife’s ghost to get pinned down. Fortunately, he’s got a gun, too.

Oh, and Glen was out checking the perimeter. Good thing he’s surprisingly incompetent at that, or he’d have probably been picked off solo.

Small numbers divided multiple ways with no mutually reinforcing capability. Robert E. Lee and Ulysses Grant would be equally appalled.

Tonight’s clever surprise: the Walker bomb. A big truck comes barreling down the road and smashes through the prison gates. It parks in the middle of the yard, idles menacingly until the back door opens and Walkers come pouring out. The Governor opens up with one last extended burst, maybe to attract more Walkers, maybe just to make a point that he’s got ammo to burn. He then leaves.

Maggie finally picks off the guy in the tower. A small victory I suppose. Glen arrives just as the Governor is driving off. He heads for Hershel. Then we get one wicked cool bit of imagery: Michonne half-races, half-dances through the tall grass, decapitating Walkers right and left. She meets up with Glen to complete the rescue of Hershel.

Rick is about to get swarmed under outside. That would actually serve him right. But then Darryl arrives with Merle in tow to save the day. A genuine superhero indeed. I’d take him or Glen over Rick as my leader anytime. They look toward the gate to see more Walkers stumbling through.

Advantage Woodbury, big time.

Team Prison needs to get its act together.

Will Conservatives Like These Episodes?

Good military action, culminating in the instantly classic Walker Bomb. Why not?

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