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The Walking Dead – The Suicide King Review: What is Family?

I hate Daryl. I hate his stupid chopper and crossbow. I hate that he’s so stubborn. I hate him for continuing to call Baby Judith “Lil’ Ass Kicker.” But mostly I hate how much I love all these things about him, especially after what he did in this episode. Daryl has slowly developed into one of the best characters on the show. He serves as an integral part of the group, not just as muscle when walkers attack, but as a pseudo big brother to Carl, as someone who is dependable and caring, as evidenced by his growing bond with Carol, and as a good balance to Rick. Basically, he’s everything Shane, as the second-in-command, never was.

The episode opens right where the show left off in December – with the Dixons about to engage in a fight to the death. The Governor and all of Woodbury watch on, eagerly waiting to see which brother will triumph. From the dueling brothers to the new group that has found its way into the prison, the theme of family runs deep in this episode. In this post-apocalyptic world, the notion of a “modern family” takes on even greater significance. Are families defined by blood or through shared experiences?

When Rick and Maggie cause a ruckus during the duel, they’re all finally able to escape Woodbury, Merle included. There’s always a sense of unease when it comes to everyone’s least favorite Dixon, and once they arrive back at the car, discussions commence between Rick, Daryl, Glenn, and Maggie about their new problem. Rightfully, Glenn feels uncomfortable about taking Merle back to the prison, but darn Daryl and his loyalty to his brother. “No him, no me,” he says flatly. “It was always Merle and I before this.”

In most cases, I’d say blood is thicker than water, but Glenn’s right when he says, “My blood, my family, is standing right here and waiting for us back at the prison.” “And you’re part of that family,” Rick finishes. I don’t care if Daryl feels guilty about leaving Merle behind once before. After everything he’s been through with his surrogate family, from Hershel’s farm to capturing the prison, he can’t just leave them willy-nilly. Daryl seemed to make his decision so rashly, but he must know his brother’s a bad seed. How long will it take before he’s back where he belongs? More importantly, what will it take for him ditch Merle for good?

Meanwhile, back at the prison, the new group waits to have their fate determined. Tyreese and Sasha tell their story with the hope that they’ll be allowed to stay, but Hershel warns them not to get too comfortable. “We wouldn’t be a problem,” Tyreese promises. “You can see what kind of people we are.” And yet, as they get ready to bury their friend Donna, Allen and Ben scheme to take over the prison by overpowering Carol and Carl before the others return. It’s amazing what people are driven to do when they’re desperate. Thankfully, Tyreese and Sasha shut them down, and I immediately love them for their humanity. It may be too soon to embrace them into the fold without first testing their loyalty, but for citing common decency, they get an A in my book. As for the other two, they can be zombie food for all I care.

But oh, that ending! Rick finally has a ruling for Tyreese and company, but just when we think Hershel has convinced him to start giving people a chance again, Rick’s mind starts betraying him with another hallucination. Is that Lori he sees? And if so, why is she wearing such a nice gown? Whatever the case, it’s not good for the group to see Rick so undone. Glenn ushers the new folks outside once Rick starts brandishing his gun, and we’re left to wonder if he’s still capable of leading the group. My heart says yes, but how long can things last in their current state?

Notes and Quotes

- Andrea took a page out of Coach Taylor’s playbook with her inspiring speech to the Woodburians (Woodburites?) when the Governor couldn’t be bothered: “So what do we do? We dig deep, and we find the strength to carry on. We work together, and we rebuild not just the fences, the gates, the community, but ourselves, our hearts, our minds. And years from now when they write about this plague in the history books, they will write about Woodbury. We persevered.” All that’s missing was “clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.”

- Truth bomb finally dropped: Andrea’s in Woodbury shacking up with the Governor, Michonne and Andrea were traveling companions, and the Governor had Glenn and Maggie in captivity. #themoreyouknow

- The look Carol gives when Rick tells her that Daryl chose to stay with Merle was heartbreaking. But she puts it best when she says of Daryl, “The world needs men like that.” Here’s to hoping he gets some sense knocked into him and comes back home soon.

- I hate the Governor with his stupid eye patch and weird affinity for pickled zombie heads, but he’s shaping up to be an interesting adversary for Rick. The citizens of Woodbury saw him as a protector, a father figure they could look up to in times of trouble, but now he’s solely focused on getting revenge. What is he capable of doing now that he has nothing left to lose?

- Who else shuddered when Beth gave Rick a kiss on the cheek? I don’t know if I’m just overthinking it, but it made me highly uncomfortable.



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