Review of “The Walking Dead” 309–“The Suicide King”
At last we are free of the special hell AMC dumped us in at the beginning of December when they announced “The Walking Dead” would go on their mid-season hiatus. Rick and his crew were greeted by 12.26 million viewers on Sunday night, breaking their record of 10.87 million viewers during the season 3 premiere. What can we say? We really wanted to see what happened to Team Prison and Team Woodbury.
Let’s get down to business. Warning: There may be spoilers below.
During one of the (very) few calm moments during the episode, Carol and Carl patrol the fence line, waiting to catch sight of the folks who went to Woodbury to rescue Glenn and Maggie. Aside from their voices and the wildlife around the prison, it is dead quiet. The noises millions of people create leave a void when they’re cut off by the apocalypse. It is one of the many things we take for granted in our everyday lives. The sound of a jet flying over, the hum of cars driving down the street, even the shrieks of children playing instead of crying out in fear. We also take for granted the chance to open up and love freely, without the fear the person who has your heart will end up dead minutes after you kiss them, or they decide to go off on their own without saying goodbye because they feel it is right. Loyalty, much like love, has no real place in the zombiepocalypse. Trust is the last thing to be thrown to the wayside once you’re forced to fight to stay alive every minute of every day. How many times have we seen the living attack Team Prison in three seasons of the show? Far too many. It is sad when you can’t trust the people you should be able to band together with and thrive.
Carol made another great point later in the episode while talking to Beth about Daryl and how she understood where his head was at. Is she right, once you’ve been made a victim, will you always be a victim? So many of Team Prison fit into this mold—Maggie after the Governor finished interrogating her, Rick post-Shane and Lori, Beth was victimized with her desire to take her own life. Then of course there’s Carol herself. She knows full well if her deceased husband walked in the door alive and well, she would fall into old habits and allow him to take control. It was how she lived for so long and it was easier to submit to the will of someone stronger than fight with him all the time. Daryl fell right into step with his brother, just the way Carol hoped she wouldn’t in her own situation. Some things are so deeply ingrained in us, we can’t break free. Can the others fight the victim role or will the strong people around them force them down, even if unconsciously?
Then we have Andrea who tries so hard to make herself seem the victim at all times in order to garner pity, attention, and power. Sorry, was that a tad harsh? Andrea accidentally shot Daryl in her attempt to prove she could be important to Rick’s group, even after being told not to. She fought with Michonne—the woman who kept her safe and alive after she couldn’t move fast enough to catch up with the group before they were forced to abandon the farm—and allowed her to leave Woodbury. Why? Michonne had a hinky feeling about the Governor and didn’t want her or Andrea trapped in his claws. But it was too late, Phillip had already worked his mojo on Andrea. Then when he was injured, angry, and pulled back from the town to lick his wounds and plot revenge, Andrea played the betrayed party and ensured the town sees her as the important one, the person to lean on for strength when they’ve been apparently abandoned by their leader. How far up can someone climb on the backs of others before they fall? She’s got a long trip down if her power play in Woodbury doesn’t pan out.
One of the most anticipated moments in episode 309 was the Dixon reunion. The first thing I noticed was how cowed Daryl looked when confronted with his brother. He wasn’t the alpha survivor we’d seen rise in the ranks of Team Prison. Daryl let Merle take the lead, dictate what would happen—not only when they were trapped in the fight pit in Woodbury. And when push came to shove, when faced with the decision of family vs. safety, he chose family. Merle on the other hand, is well aware the zombie bowels have hit the fan. He plays brave for his brother, but there are hints he’s just as scared. Merle hides behind lewd language to make himself feel bigger, bolder. Unfortunately all his bravado accomplished is sending the Dixons out on the road on their own with one backpack full of supplies and weapons. How far can two lone men go with only their wits and guts to get them through the walkers?
Did Rick try hard enough to keep Daryl by his side? Team Prison started a war with Team Woodbury and he’s allowing his strongest asset to walk out the door without so much as a real fight. He chased off Tyrese’s group, four able-bodied people who were more than willing to assist them no matter what in exchange for a roof over their head. And to make things worse, Rick snapped at Glenn, the one guy who has been on his side since day one when Glenn talked him through the crowded streets of Atlanta to safety inside the department store. Glenn is fed up with everything. He knows Rick isn’t playing with a full deck anymore and hasn’t since Lori died. So many fans tried to say Rick was better after he held the baby and gave her a proper name. I knew better. It takes more than one bittersweet walk with your newborn to get over the losses and betrayals Rick has been through. Unfortunately for Rick, he has no clue how to cope. The path he’s on is a dangerous one, not only for him, but those who trust him to keep them alive.
And who out there recognized this guy?
Rick has bats in his belfry. Who should take over leadership of Team Prison? Let us know in the comments below.