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The Walking Dead "King" of cable television

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Written by : published Monday 11th February 2013

AMC's The Walking Dead resumes its third season with "The Suicide King." The episode picks up right where last fall's mid-season finale left off, with the Governor (David Morrissey) forcing Merle (Michael Rooker) to fight his brother, Daryl (Norman Reedus), to the death to prove his loyalty to Woodbury.

As the tussle begins, Merle knocks Daryl to the ground and begins kicking him. At first, I thought this meant that Merle intends to carry about the Governor's wishes. Then, he whispers words of reassurance to Daryl, before fighting back to back with him. If Merle is going to so quickly ditch any charade and defend his sibling, why kick him first? It seems cruel, and I think that Merle takes the opportunity to punish Daryl a little for abandoning him, as Merle sees it, in Atlanta.

Which makes it all the more disappointing when Daryl chooses to leave the group with Merle, after Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and the others break up the fight and rescue them. There is something noble about sticking with your blood, even when they don't deserve it, and I do think it makes Daryl come across as a better person to not abandon Merle. But if anyone ever didn't deserve a thirty-eighth chance, it's sadistic, selfish, evil Merle. Were their positions reversed, Merle wouldn't hesitate to leave Daryl.

Given this, Rick needs to act the hero and allow Merle to come back to the cell block. That doesn't mean Rick and the others should let down their guard around Merle, but they owe Daryl this, after everything that Daryl has done for the group. You stick by your people, and Daryl is one of their people. If he feels the obligation to protect his brother, then you accommodate that.

I thought it was interesting that Carol (Melissa McBride) compares Merle to her departed abusive husband Ed. There is a slightly different dynamic, in that Merle is Daryl's blood, while Carol chose to be with Ed. However, I appreciate the sentiment, with her coming to Daryl's defense about his decision.

It might be easier for Daryl to leave because there is no direct threat to the group at this time. They all realize that the Governor will likely make some play against them in the future, but they don't know enough about him to decide what that offense may look like or when it will come. There is definitely a vague feeling of needing to be prepared for it, but without knowing what that may entail, Daryl is walking away at a time where there isn't an urgency for him to stay.

Before the Governor comes for the prison group, though, amends will have to be made with Daryl, with or without Merle. The others desperately need him. The barbed wire defenses aren't enough to keep out the Governor, and Daryl is one of their best combatants. Not having him puts everyone else at risk.

In this circumstance, one would think that Rick would be glad to accept help from Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman) and his friends. Rick may not have spent much time around them, but others have, and they've observed what a good man Tyreese is. The same cannot be said for everyone in his party, and that will have to be dealt with, probably sooner rather than later. But Tyreese looks like a big, strong, capable man, and they could really use some of that right now.

Ditto for Michonne (Danai Gurira). She may be a little unstable, too, when going for the Governor, and not sharing all her information with Rick, but she is tough and good with her swords. Rick cannot kick her out. They will need her when the fight comes. Thank goodness she's exhausted and sleeping, buying Rick some time to get his head on straight.

Both of these major mistakes are Rick's alone, with his friends disagreeing with him. I think we can chalk some of this up to the fact that Rick is not in a good mental state. During his conversation with Tyreese, he hallucinates Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies), and begins to yell at her. Rick is breaking, and he needs to step back and heal himself, letting someone else make the leadership decisions until such time as he is capable of doing so himself.

It's time for Glenn (Steven Yeun) to step up. It is sort of unexpected, but he has established himself as a person who wants a say in what the group does. He is no longer a sidekick, and with Daryl gone and Hershel (Scott Wilson) no longer displaying the backbone he once possessed, though still being a valuable adviser, Glenn is the only chance the group has of righting their course. He argues with Rick a little in "The Suicide King," but I think there could be a bigger confrontation coming.

One other thing I worry about in regards to the prison group is Beth's (Emily Kinney) feelings towards Rick. She mentions wanting to have a baby, and seems pretty attached to Rick's infant. She also kisses Rick on the cheek in a sort of awkward way, which could mean that she is planning on staking claim to Lori's former position. It will never work, but the kind of emotional devastation such a let down could bring to the young girl could cause larger trouble for the small community.

Back in Woodbury, the town is reeling from the invasion, several of their own dead. There is unrest already, and a few walkers get in and stir up more. The Governor retreats to his apartment, unwilling to come out and set everyone straight, emerging only to kill one of their own who has been bitten, then stalks back off with no explanation.

This isn't going to work for long. The Governor has his armed guards, and they will stay with him, but the rest of the folks aren't going to follow a man anymore who acts like this. If the Governor wants to maintain order, he has to say something inspiring. He may not feel very much like caring for the community right now, but that's exactly what he needs to do.

Eventually, he will. And he will probably do so by gearing them up for a revenge attack against Rick's group. This isn't what should happen, and will definitely ruin Woodbury once and for all, but it's the only way I see the Governor emerging as a leader again. He's done being soft or allowing people to believe life can be the same within his walls as it used to be, and he tells Andrea (Laurie Holden) as much.

Andrea is the wild card. For those who read the comic books, Woodbury was a brutal place. But it did not have Andrea there to try to save the souls of the citizens. Many of them want a person with a positive and compassionate attitude in charge of them. If it won't be the Governor, it could be Andrea. At least until the Governer decides to wrest power back from her.

"The Suicide King" is not a particularly eventful episode. Instead, it begins setting up the end-of-the-season arcs, adjusting the dynamics, and rearranging the groups. There are a few things that must be overcome before a final showdown between Rick and the Governor, and this episode begins going down that road.

The Walking Dead airs at 9 p.m. ET on AMC. Also, Talking Dead, a post-episode talk show from The Nerdist, has expanded to a full hour, and now airs immediately after, beginning at 10 p.m.

Want to read some of my fiction? It's on my website, JeromeWetzel.com! Also, for the latest updates and article links, as well as commentary on episodes I don't fully review, please follow me on Twitter. 

About the author JeromeWetzelTV

JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome Wetzel is a huge fan of stories, in both books and television. He writes TV reviews and fiction. He currently posts articles for TheTVKing, Seat42F, and BlogCritics, as well as his own personal blog, as well as writing fiction. His website is www.jeromewetzel.com Follow him on twitter @JeromeWetzelTV

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