The Walking Dead: 309 “The Suicide King” Review
Reviewed by Rich Jepson, cult TV enthusiast and author of 24: Terrorism Through Television.
After what has felt like an eternity, The Walking Dead finally returned to UK screens tonight with mid-season premier “The Suicide King”. Although this episode had some strong stand-alone moments, particularly from Glenn and Tyreese, it was a bit of a mixed bag and not quite the return most of us were hoping for. Nonetheless, it was still a good episode that reset the season a little by bringing the group back to the prison (minus the Dixon brothers of course). This episode also allowed Tyreese and his crew to become more integrated with the rest of the cast and let the citizens of Woodbury recalibrate after a home defeat, before what will surely be the second leg of their war – an away trip to the prison.
We’d last seen the group rescue Glenn and Maggie from their incarceration at the hands of The Governor, which came at the expense of Daryl, begin captured and Oscar dying (it was nice to see Carl actually acknowledge this back at the prison). Getting Daryl back was a short yet enjoyable scene but what were the extras in the circle doing at the Daryl/Merle face off? They looked like some poor CGI characters in a budget video game, repeating the same gestures over and over again. This unfortunately killed any sense of tension within the first few minutes so the briefness of this scene actually did it a favour.
Following on from this the entire Woodbury part of the episode was pretty mediocre to say the least. David Morrissey did well as the Governor, as he has done all season, turning another shade darker after killing the bitten citizen coldly in front of the rest of the town, but what let things down was Andrea.
She’s gone from being annoying to acceptable, back to annoying and now just completely frustrating. Her ‘speech’ to the rest of the group was terrible, completely cringe-worthy and badly timed. What bugs me the most about all this is – why does anybody care? Andrea has only been there five minutes and she’s playing the saviour of the people who she now knows fought with her old friends. Furthermore, after discovering the truth about the Governor (well most of it anyway), the heads, the arena and the detainment of Glenn and Maggie, she still sticks around with her new fella. I know it’s the end of the world and pickings are slim for romance but being the lover of both Shane and the Governor? That takes some effort – it’s like dating Hitler before going on the rebound with Bin Laden.
Thankfully the episode had a stellar performance from Steven Yeun during the confrontation with Rick and Merle. This was breaking point for Glenn and you really felt for him when he stuck up for himself after what happened to him and Maggie. It made it impossible to believe he could ever trust Merle again and this was the deciding factor for the split.
Michonne on the other hand is starting to become a little exhausting as the ‘closed book’ that she’s portraying, which is becoming ever more distant from the character in the comics. It’s okay to be cool, coy and collected but just not saying anything the entire time, even when asked about Andrea is just draining to watch.
Back at the prison it’s been intriguing to watch Tyreese’s quartet grab more and more screen time. Fans of the comics are dying for him to step up and now that Rick’s lost his second in command, as well as his marbles it seems, there’s a clear opening for Tyreese. Daryl is such a popular character that it’s hard to see anyone else getting as much attention, so this is positive to witness. Given that the Dixons have split, for now anyway, there’s room for these new characters to immerse themselves in the group, which will be needed as they’re going to need all the help they can get.
Rick’s hallucination at the end was a somewhat out of context way to end the episode, which served as an opportunity to show that he’s far from over the death of Lori. At first I thought this was bizarre as the women in white cast in shadow didn’t look like Lori but upon second viewing and looking up the cast list, it turns out it was actually Sarah Wayne-Callies so presumably we’ll be seeing more of her.
Season 3 has been the most consistent and entertaining season to date, but what worries me, as it does many fans, about this is the fact that the show-runner for season 3, Glen Mazzara, has left following a disagreement with AMC about where the series will go next. There’s a lot of potential plot lines to stick to or veer from in the comics so I only hope that the network hasn’t taken leave of the senses in pursuit of expanding their audience by ‘appealing to the masses’ with some lame PG-rated Hollywood story.
Time will tell on the fate of season 4. For now it’s time to sit back and enjoy the latter of half of the show’s best season to date.
Scene of the Episode: Cross Roads – Yeun’s depiction of Glenn really brought some heart and emotion to the episode and made the stand off between him and Merle much more intense. After this the one question I find myself pondering is, if the two were to cross paths again, would Glenn actually kill him? If you were Glenn – would you?