The Walking Dead shuffles back into our TVs after a short break and continues to make Season 3 fairly awesome -- or at least awesome compared to last season. Filled with an abundant amount of gore and some great character moments, 'The Suicide King' is an alright midseason premiere episode.
We pick up with Merle and Daryl trapped in Woodbury. The Governor has a simple solution to their problem -- if Merle wants to prove his loyalty, all he's gotta do is beat his brother to death in unarmed combat. Easy enough, yes? The fight between them wasn't exciting and felt poorly choreographed, but then Merle revealed he has no intention of killing his badass brother. The two go back-to-back a la X-Men Origins: Wolverine (sorry for reminding you of that movie) and attempt to hold off walkers on restraints. Rick and company come to save the day and in their escape Daryl manages to get his crossbow back (victory!). This scene is filled with zombies getting shot in the face, and who doesn't love seeing that?
Concurrently, The Governor walks like a Terminator instead of actually trying to stop them. Sure, it makes him feel formidable, but kind of useless at the same time. Meanwhile, Tyreese and friends are trying to convince Hershel why they'd be a good addition at the prison, but the two other dudes in his company seem dead set on ruining their honest chance of obtaining a safe haven.
Seeing Daryl snag a crossbow was a cheer-worthy moment, but for me, Glenn was the highlight of this episode. Rick surely takes the cake when it comes to a breakdown, but I love the passion Steven Yeun displayed in this episode (just take a moment to recall all he's been through in the past few episodes). And man, seeing him go all Isaac Clark on that zombie was epic.
Hershel had some solid heart-to-heart moments here and you can't help but feel bad for Tyreese, but it Carol had some great character development with her shifting emotions. It's natural she'd be heart-broken over Daryl leaving (don't worry, I'll get to that), but seeing her remain strong and reflect on how much she's developed was great, too. This show has such a wide cast of characters now so it's nice to see everyone getting a decent amount of respect and focus.
Damn it, Daryl! After all he's been through, it's tough for me to imagine the decision could be made that swiftly and easily, but, the saying "family comes first" does exist for a reason. Despite Merle being complete garbage, he's still the only family he's got left and, as he pointed out, was the man that was always there for him before Rick's rooftop interference. Truthfully, I'm happy to see them go their own way. Seeing Merle troll them is something we're more than familiar with and would get old quickly. Because really, this version of Rick isn't going to stand for that kind of trash and it's great to see how much he's changed over the seasons. Rick won't stand for that jibber jabber -- he'll just knock you out.
While Glenn intrigued me the most in the episode, there's no denying Rick is the main crux. Andrew Lincoln has been doing a spectacular job with the role and it's great to see all of these ridiculous tragedies are piling up on him. I can't believe right as he was going to let the group stay, he suffers that freak out. It's understandable, but a small part of me thinks he'd try to walk away from the group instead of losing all credibility right in front of them. Plus, how does waiving a gun around help scare away ghost Lori? Rick, you so silly!
Did the people in Woodbury hurt your brain as well? Their responses are hilariously stupid and then they're so easily persuaded. Also, it's clear the show is making The Governor level up as a villain. "Hey everybody, I'm just gonna shoot this dude in the head. Kthxbye!" I can't understand why he refused to talk to his people, though. He's at war to protect his town (and get revenge, of course), but what's the point if it comes at the expense of his own home?
'The Suicide King' doesn't feel as grand or powerful as prior episodes, but it's still a solid entry and a pretty good way to kick-off the show's return. Viners, how do you feel about this episode?
Oh, and use your words, Michonne.
Gregg Katzman is a freelance writer for Comic Vine and IGN Entertainment. Be sure to follow him on Twitter.