The Walking Dead Season Three, Episode Nine “The Suicide King”

 Rick: “He (the Governor) had Daryl and Merle pitted against each other, the crowd cheering for them to fight to the death. What kind of a sick mind does that?”

Hershel: The kind this world creates…”

daryl merle

The pre-credits scene of episode nine of The Walking Dead, “The Suicide King”, opens in the fights arena as the bandaged Governor (David Morrisey) leaves Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker) and his captured brother Daryl (Norman Reedus) to slug it out to the death. The crowd, hungry for action, spurs them on. The Governor’s thugs hover around the arena with harnessed walkers –part of the sport – as Merle pulverizes his younger brother, calling out his declarations of loyalty to Woodbury. Unbeknownst to the crowd, Merle instructs Daryl to follow his lead in escaping as the two turn on the surrounding walkers. Suddenly, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and the rescue team raid the arena, throwing smoke bombs and firing shots as they enable Daryl and Merle to slip out …

rick

Post-credits, Merle leads the rescue team out of Woodbury, curiously leaving an open hole in the fence. They meet up with Glenn (Steven Yeun), Maggie (Lauren Cohan), and Michonne (Danai Gurira) on the outskirts. Both Michonne and Glenn are incensed that Merle has joined them and both need to be restrained due to their anger. Merle, however, seizes the opportunity to jibe Michonne, sneering a variety of politically incorrect taunts until Rick knocks him unconscious. Heading back to the prison, an argument ensues. Daryl vehemently wants his brother in the group – claiming they need the muscle against the Governor  – but is against Michonne’s presence.  Glenn – his face still red and bruised from Merle’s beating – is opposed to Merle but wants Michonne to stay. Rick, meanwhile opposes the presence of both. Daryl understands Rick’s thinking, and declares that Merle and him will leave the group and fend for themselves. Grabbing his gear, he joins his brother – now awake – and they disappear into the forest. Rick, meanwhile, snaps at Michonne, warning her that the moment she is patched up she is on her own.

Later, when stopping to move an abandoned vehicle on the road, Glenn unloads on Rick for forcing Daryl to leave (making the dangerous rescue mission to save Daryl basically needless) and not killing the Governor. Maggie intervenes, suggesting they simply talk things out after resting. Tired, and out of words, they move on…

In the prison, Hershel (Scott Wilson) visits the newcomers’ cell block to tend to the injured Allen (Daniel Thomas May), as Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman) and the others watch and make small talk. Tyreese reveals his group’s sad backstory:

Our neighbor Jerry, he was one of those survivalist nuts, everybody on the block thought he was crazy. Always preparing for the end of the world…He had a bunker under his shed in his backyard. Sasha and I stayed there until we ran out of supplies. Allen and Ben were the first two people we ran into when we finally crawled up out of that hole, around Jacksonville. Used to be a bunch of us, twenty-five at one point…”

Although the two groups are on now more pleasant terms – sharing some light-hearted banter – the newcomers remain locked in the cell block and Hershel makes it clear that their stay in the prison is probably temporary.

Later, while carrying their friend Donna’s (Cherie Dvorak) body out to the yard for burial, Allen suggests a plan to overpower Carol (Melissa McBride) and Carl (Chandler Riggs), but it is rejected by Tyreese and Sasha. andrea walkers

In Woodbury, the townspeople – frightened by the violent and chaotic events and upset that the Governor has become a recluse – begin to rebel. Agitated, they crowd the gate with their belongings stuffed into gym bags and knapsacks, and demand to leave Woodbury. The Governor’s thugs – led by Ceasar (Jose Pablo Cantillo) – prevent their exiting by gunpoint. After cries of walkers are heard from further down Main Street (presumably having slipped in due to Merle’s breach in the fence), Andrea (Laurie Holden) and Ceasar run over, and find several of the creatures feasting on a hapless victim. The two kill the walkers, but the quivering victim lays dying until the Governor unexpectedly appears and silently euthanizes him.  Without saying a word, he returns to his apartment. Andrea follows him in and gets into a blistering argument about the crowd’s behavior, discovering not only that the Governor is unsympathetic to their demands  – claiming that they are spoiled with picnics and barbecues – but that he is openly preparing for war with the survivors. Taken back by his answers, Andrea pops some important questions and is stunned by the revelation:

Andrea: “So why was Daryl here? Was he part of the assault?”

Governor: “He came for his friends. The other people you know – Glen and Maggie. Merle scooped them up on a run. He was holding them to find out where his brother was.”

Andrea: My friends are still alive and were shooting at each other? You trying to execute them?”

Governor: “Your friends killed six good people. The man out there…he makes seven…so that’s what’s your friends did.”

Andrea: “Why didn’t you tell me that they were here?” Governor: You’re just a visitor here, just passing through. So why should I tell you?”

gov killsAs the crowd continues to agitate, Milton (Dallas Roberts) and Andrea try to keep them calm. Milton stammers his way through improvised answers about the Governor’s hermit-like disappearance – to no avail – but Andrea succeeds in a motivating speech stressing cooperation, perseverance, and the importance of rebuilding the community. As the Governor watches from his window, the crowd – now pacified – disperse…

Returning to the prison, Hershel and Rick update each other, and realize that the Governor is now a major threat. Although calm, Rick proves to be slightly unsettled; he passes through the newcomers’ cell block -oddly silent – and his baby daughter’s cries jar him somewhat.

Hershel tends to Glenn’s injuries, but notices a slight coldness between Glenn and Maggie, who in the meantime are silent about their experience in Woodbury. Hershel decides not to press the issue.

The survivors gather and discuss whether the newcomer’s should stay. Rick  – finally – goes out to talk to them, ignoring Tyreese’s proffered handshake as the husky newcomer introduces himself. Looking Rick in the eye, he requests to stay in the prison:

“Hershel said you could use some extra hands, and we’re no strangers to hard work. We’ll go out, and get our own food, stay out of your hair. You got a problem with another group, we’ll help with that too. Anything to contribute…

Rick, however, refuses. Sasha pleads with Rick, to no avail, although all the other survivors want the newcomers to stay. Rick shows a flicker of softening up, when he suddenly hallucinates his dead wife, Lori (Sara Wayne Callies), looking ghostly and apparition-like staring at him from the stairs. In a bizarre and frightening outburst, Rick waves his gun and screams “Get out!” …

Picking up after a two-month hiatus, governor“The Suicide King” opens with a bang (literally) and sets in motion the ominous events that will dominate the second half of the season.  The danger shifts from the walkers to the sinister Governor, hell-bent on revenge. Played to perfection by Englishman David Morrissey, he is a throwback to the classic Hollywood villains, looking tall, grim, and gargoyle-ish with his long coat and eyepatch. Beginning to crack under the strain – by avoiding contact with the townspeople and not taking the reins – he created a vacuum to be filled by Andrea as she addressed the restless crowds. Are there leadership tendencies in the veteran survivor that were previously dormant? Only time will tell.

As for Rick, well…just when you thought he straightened himself out and got his act together after his bizarre telephone hallucinations, the show throws the curveballs for which it is famous. First, he plunged into a deep regression (majorly unexpected) by seeing visions of his dead wife, spectral-like, looking like something from an Edgar Allen Poe story. Second, in a bizarre twist on the telephone calls where Rick pleaded for refuge and was turned down, he is doing the same to others by denying the newcomers the needed safety.

A few scenes warrant additional mention:

  • Despite being one of the Guv’s most trusted lieutenants, Caeser was fairly incompetent against the Main Street walker, needlessly spraying it with bullets whereas a single head shot would suffice.
  • During Andrea’s motivational speech to the crowd, the fearsome-looking Shumpert (Travis Love) listened quietly but seemed to be smirking…could it be that he is an opportunist for which the town means nothing, and he is waiting to jump ship?
  • Tyreese has been super-calm and seems to know exactly which buttons to press with Rick, wisely understanding that he must wait him out. Does this insight into the former sheriff’s deputy point to a powerful future alliance between the two? Or will Rick see Tyreese as a threat?

Evan Rothfeld

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One Response to “The Walking Dead Season Three, Episode Nine “The Suicide King””

  1. […] Please click on the link to Deadloggers to continue reading about Episode Nine. […]

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