The Walking Dead: The Suicide King

Andrea: “My friends are still alive and we’re shooting at each other?”

Welcome back, Walking Dead! I was so looking forward to this episode and I must say I was a little disappointed. The mid-season finale set us up at the top of a roller coaster and I was ready for the crazy ride to come--but instead we got some plot movement, some questions answered and a ghost--more of a kiddie ride.

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad Merle and Daryl made it out of a situation that looked like certain death. Of course we still lost Daryl, and if you've been reading my reviews you know I'm pretty disappointed about that. I'm sure he'll be back, but I bet we get stuck with Merle as well.

The episode really felt like it was mostly there to set up further action. Our group is in trouble, maybe more than ever before. Rick is disintegrating and Glenn doesn't seem far behind. They've lost Oscar and Daryl. They have a wee baby to care for and they are all very tired, tired of losing people, tired of fighting and mostly tired of trying to make sense of any of it. Of course the Governor will retaliate and Rick is not even open to taking in "new recruits". Glenn is right: they are up to their necks in shit.

At least Woodbury is a mess as well. Carol says that they are outmanned and outgunned but the citizens of Woodbury are weak, sheep who fall apart at the first big problem. Instead of coming together and taking care of the attack by people and zombies, they screamed and ran. Then they were all packed up and ready to leave into the zombie-infested world. They have no idea of the reality of their world but the Governor has kept them that way to control them and feel good about himself. It is ironic that he now holds it against them. I found Andrea's little speech annoying rather than inspiring. What the heck is she still doing in Woodbury? Why didn't she follow Daryl and Merle?

Speaking of that, we have a new group of people who look like they could be helpful. (Well, except for Allan and Ben who wanted to attack and take control of the prison.) They would only have to take on a kid, a woman, a girl, a crippled old man and a convict. It really would have been interesting if they tried. I think they would have been surprised, although I'm sure there would have been big losses on both sides. I do hope that at least Tyreese and Sasha join our group, even though Rick has waved a gun at them.

Bits and Pieces

Tyreese and Sasha hung out in a neighbour's bunker which explains why they haven't been out in the world that long. However, wouldn't a real survivalist have years of supplies around? I wonder what happened to Jerry?

Merle is still an asshole. You would think he'd be smart enough to behave at least for a while. Of course, he might have done it on purpose to grab his brother.

Thing I could live without: Glenn pulling the macho crap about and with Maggie. Ya, she was sexually assaulted - you were beat to a pulp - get a grip.

Loved the baby in a file box. People used to put new babies in drawers. They don't move much so they really don't need a thousand dollar crib. It should be interesting once the baby gets mobile. Why am I concerned that it won't get that far?

Any ideas about the title of this episode? Are they referring to the Governor? Rick? Both?

Quotes

Tyrese: “It only getting worse out there. The dead are everywhere and it’s only making the living less like the living.”

Tyrese: “I must be the first brother who wanted to break into prison.”
Axel: “Makes me the first white boy that didn’t want to break out.”

Daryl: “No him, no me.”

Carol: “It’s easy to forget how loud the world used to be. I used to complain about it all the time. What I wouldn’t give for the sweet sound of a jumbo jet.”

Andrea: “We’re never going to be the same, ever. So what do we do? We dig deep and we carry on.”

Carol: “Men like Merle get into your head, make you feel like you deserve the abuse.”

Hershel: “Hey, don’t disappear on me.”

13 comments:

Jess Lynde said...

I kind of like getting a good talky episode every now and then. The mid-season return may not be the best point to get one, but given everything the characters have been through, it makes story sense that they would need to decompress a bit at this point. And I rather enjoyed some of the quieter scenes. Particularly the ones with Carol. She's been much improved this season. And I always love a good Hershel-Maggie scene. Those actors play so well off each other.

I find that I really don't care what's going on in Woodbury at all, unless it is presenting a direct threat to our group. And Andrea's little speech was just the worst. So cheesy, and yet everyone completely brought into the rah-rahs. Like you, Doc, it is hard to buy that this group presents a significant threat to our group. Even though they have greater numbers, they have no skills, no fortitude, and no common sense.

I'm not super-thrilled with the ghost apparition pushing Rick into a massive freak-out, since I like Tyrese so far and think he'd be a great addition for the larger group. But it does make sense that Rick would still be losing it, and that this particular decision would lead to another mental collapse, since he strongly associates his poor handling of "newcomers" with Lori's death. Beth telling him the baby has Lori's eyes certainly didn't help. Now every time he looks at the baby it's like Lori accusing him of failing her (in his mind).

I've read a lot of commentary along the lines of "I thought we were done with all that insanity stuff after the telephone!" But in story time, it has only been what? Maybe 36 hours since he was chatting up the dead on the phone? It's been less than a week since Lori died, and Rick's had a massive psychotic break. Even though it feels like it has been longer from a viewing perspective, it isn't really reasonable to expect that he'd just be over it already after such a short time.

Re: Glenn's "macho crap" --- I've read some other comments noting that his behavior in this episode may not be a "proprietary" reaction to what Maggie experienced, but rather a part of processing his own trauma and his inability to protect the person he most cares about. Not unlike the PTSD Rick is suffering. It definitely comes across as him way overreacting, especially since she was only threatened with sexual assault, but I think it is ultimately an understandable stress reaction, and maybe a bit of transference.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if it is easier to like the series and the characters when you know the comics.

I don´t know them and have a hard time liking the characters because their behavior is rather stupid at times (And don´t get me started on the Woodbury folk. Cheering for blood and death but crying when people shoot in a world with zombies?).

And I have a question for the viewers here: Are you watching TWD with the premise of being a serious drama or how would you categorize the genre?

I really want to like the show and be invested in it but is really difficult although I like some of the actors.

Jess Lynde said...

It seems to me, based on reading assorted reviews and internet comments, that viewers generally fall into two groups: those that
like the themes and/or characters, and those that like zombie killing and/or visceral thrills and high stakes. I probably fall more towards the first group, but I can't deny that I'm also drawn in by the tension and the stakes (though I could do without the gore).

The show doesn't often play like a deep, thoughtful drama, but it does a decent enough job raising some thematic ideas I find engaging, and I quite like several of the characters and their relationships. I find myself invested in their journeys. And when re-watching older episodes, I frequently find myself more engaged by the character dynamics in the smaller moments than by the big action sequences.

I haven't read the comics, so any attachments I feel to the characters are based solely on what's in the show. Some of them just draw me in or otherwise interest me (Rick, Glenn, Maggie, Hershel, Daryl, Dale, Shane), whereas others feel flat, inconsistent, or underdeveloped (Andrea, T-Dog, Beth, Michonne, the citizens of Woodbury). I feel like they've done some nice development with Carol and Carl this season, and Tyrese and Sasha have popped for me already (of course, my affection for Chad Coleman from his time on The Wire may be influencing me).

As for the "behaving stupid" issue, I'm not sure always making the right or smart choice would make for good drama. :) It can certainly be frustrating to watch people do stupid, stupid things, but as long as it all seems consistent for the characters (or "logically inconsistent"), I can usually live with it.

Billie Doux said...

Count me among the ones who are into it for the characters and the end of the world setting, and not so much for the gore (which has almost made me decide to stop watching a few times). These people are dealing with just about the worst that can happen to them, and it's fascinating to watch them getting stronger to deal with it.

Right now, that would *not* be Rick. It appears that he's had some sort of psychotic break, and I really can't blame him a bit. It's so not a good thing that Daryl, his second, just left the group, because he's probably the only one who could take over. Daryl walks away with Merle! Billie goes, "Noooooo!" I get it, Merle is his brother and sending him off alone would mean almost certain death, but I don't have to like it.

Rick should not be rejecting recruits, but I completely get why he's drawing the line after what just happened. But hey, Axel is working out, isn't he? I think Axel is aware of how lucky he's been. And Rick is right that half of the recruits would work against him. It's a shame Rick can't read minds.

I'm sympathizing with Glenn right now, too. The changes in Glenn since the Apocalypse have probably been the most dramatic: pizza delivery guy, then the go-to sneak-into-the-city guy, then he wins Maggie's love and starts to see himself as she sees him. Now he has to accept that he was completely powerless to protect Maggie during the Woodbury thing, and something terrible almost happened to her. I think Glenn will process it, accept it and move on. He's smart and he's tough.

I hated that Andrea stayed in Woodbury. And I'll echo what someone else said -- I'm not all that interested in Woodbury, and I'm not sure they're that big a threat. Although it's more interesting now that the Governor has stopped pretending to be a nice guy.

Terrific review, Doc.

The Fearless Freak said...

I definitely fall into the zombie killing group, because I hate most of the characters. I love Glenn and Daryl. I like Maggie and Hershel and the sister (who is such a minor character that I can't even remember her name, let alone dislike her) but I think the rest of them could totally be eaten.

drnanamom said...

thanks for the very thoughtful comments. I think it's pretty obvious that I fall into the first camp and not the zombie gore camp. I understand Glenn being traumatized but he has been such a non-traditional male that it upset me to see him almost blame Maggie which is a pretty common macho reaction to not being able to prevent sexual assault on "your" woman. It is supposed to be demasculating but what about accepting and understanding that Maggie is a strong woman and be happy that she could go back and take care of things while you were too banged up to help. Or be proud that she is holding it together and support her in working it through. I just wish the writers would go for something interesting instead of the same old stuff even if that's how it might actually play out. I also don't mind the talky bits of the show and really appreciate character development. It just wasn't what I was expecting and so I was disappointed.

HellBlazerRaiser said...

I'm having a dickens of a time getting by the horrible acting of Andrew Lincoln. He's awful.

Is everyone in Woodbury dumb or are they all numb? This includes Andrea.

They were invaded, under siege. All they do is stand there in the "town square" and kvetch? Did none of them think of checkin for holes in the walls?

Andrea is a mess. The character could be so much more.

Michonne is wate of space. The character should be so much more.

Kill Rick off. Move Andrea to the prison and change them from the Grimes Gang to Andrea's Crew.

The series needs to shake things up and going against the grain - killing the male lead and replacing him with the ostensible female lead - would do just that.

Jess Lynde said...

HBR, I can't help wondering if it is that kind of thinking that got Glen Mazarra fired over "creative differences." :) Because based on most of the comments I see about Andrea, I have to think that killing off Rick and putting Andrea in charge would alienate a huge chunk of the audience. Especially if they keep giving her inspirational speeches.

Not that I'm opposed to them improving Andrea, mind you. I'd love for her to really take control of her own destiny and be a more consistent and less frustrating character! Maybe that's where they are starting to head with her now. It would be nice if the writers stop putting her a position where the audience knows more about the situation than she does, thus making her decisions --- which may not necessarily seem all that poor from her perspective --- looking exceedingly stupid.

HellBlazerRaiser said...

Mazarra is the second show runner to leave. I'm not a television production expert, but that's not a good thing.

The main reason the show does so well in the ratings is that's it's the only show of its kind on TV. There are no other zombie TV series. THE WALKING DEAD is the only. The writing isn't strong enough (nor is it strong enough in the comic book) to really overcome the novelty of the TV zombie. The comic has only told two stories – the second of which has been repeated four time so far.

Andrew Lincoln has not made Rick compelling enough that killing him off would tank the show. Killing Rick would galvanize the audience, but I think it would do so in a way that draws more viewers and keeps people like me around longer. I'm close to dropping the show. I was fighting flipping back to MOB WIVES during this episode. Andrew Lincoln as Rick is awful. Now we have the Phantom of the Prison to put up with.

Andrea is a poorly sketched out character – she is all over the place. Laurie Holden can act, though. I think if they kill of Rick, Glen or Daryl or both can step up as the male leads and Andrea as the series lead. They just need to bring on a writer (NOT Kirkman!!!) who can write and it would work.

I also think they need to move the narrative – once the prison arc wraps up – OFF the east coast! Move them west.

I also think the show should open itself up more and show us other areas of the world. (The comic needs to do that desperately.)

All the zombie films I've watched have always focused on one small area and one tiny group of characters. What the Hell is going on in the rest of the world? They need to think bigger.

Josie Kafka said...

Like many of you, I'm in it for the characters and the end of the world. Although the unremitting despair wears me out--I sometimes have to psych myself up to watch an episode.

Billie, I, too, am a huge Glenn fan. Here's fun interview with actor Steve Yeun. He seems like a genuine guy, which is cool.

Now for a really weird question: on my TV, some of the scenes in this episode seemed overly yellow/orange. Sort of like a cowboy movie from the 1970s, if that makes sense. Did anyone else notice that? (Or is the form my madness shall take?)

Josie Kafka said...

By "here" I really meant here:

http://herocomplex.latimes.com/tv/walking-dead-steven-yeuns-glenn-is-beating-heart-of-amc-series/#/0

celticmarc said...

Josie

It's not your TV set, it's you. You're showing precursor signs that you may be able to travel to Parallel Universes. The Advils you bought recently might contain some Cortexiphan... If you see/hear a blimp overhead, my theory will become a fact.

But if you see a polar bear on the street, please verify if it's not a zoo escapee before freaking out..unless there is more than a dozen of them (Orange Universe FYI) (and they're quite friendly).

sunbunny said...

The debate about what to do with Merle and/or Michonne really bugged me. They're exposed in the woods shouting loud enough to bring in every walker in a half mile radius. I guess they forgot they live in a PRISON with many different rooms with locks on the door. What's the problem with taking them back and locking them up until they can have a reasoned discussion that involves the rest of the group? C'mon guys.