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'The Walking Dead' recap, episode 309: 'The Suicide King'

And we're back! After a two month break for the holidays and football playoffs, AMC's The Walking Dead returned to the airwaves Sunday night with a fairly strong effort to kick off the final eight episodes of season three.

Sunday night's episode, The Suicide King, wasn't bad. There was plenty of gore, which I've sorely missed. Like when Glenn took out some frustration by performing the theatrical show Stomp on the cranium of that zombie who had been just chilling in that red pick up truck, minding his own business. Or when Merle was on his knees messing up that zombie's head outside of the gates of Woodbury. In each case the resulting carnage looked like someone took a roadkill opossum, put it in a blender with leftover spaghetti and meatballs, and then dumped it out on the ground on top of the zombie's neck. Love it.

But on the other hand, this episode didn't really have any of those "WOW!" moments that we've come to love from this series. Those moments that leave you hitting pause and shaking your head back and forth, massaging your temples, looking up at the screen and rubbing your eyes like "Ummm, hold on... what!?" I know you can't pull off a major shocker in every episode, but this one pretty much reinforced a lot of character development that had already been well established two months ago.

The Governor is losing control of Woodbury. Rick is losing control of his sanity. Carl is being groomed as the next leader; John Connor if you will. Rick doesn't want anyone else to share the prison with them, even though Tyreese seems like the perfect combination of nice guy and good zombie chopper.

This last bit causes some dissension in the prison camp because Daryl just eloped with Merle after they both ditched Woodbury (thanks to Rick and Maggie) and took his crossbow with him.

So yeah, Daryl and Merle reuniting and then running off into the zombie infested woods was pretty much the big plot development of this episode. That and the people of Woodbury starting to riot. What, did the Woodbury co-ed softball team just win the Georgia state title or something? (It's a good joke because the University of Maryland used to always riot when one of their teams won a game. Look it up.)

The thing I liked about the Woodbury angle was that it allowed for all these extras to mill about. Like at the Merle-Daryl forced fight scene at the beginning, or the storming the gates scene. I like to look at the extras because they're always wearing these carefully picked out outfits with vests and jackets tied around their waists and silly hats and other things that people never wear in real life. The extras are always nodding earnestly or just shouting pointlessly and basically doing a bad job of blending into the background.

I especially liked when that one jackass was just parked at the gate laying on the horn of his Built Ford Tough SUV. He must have been from New York City. Seriously, these people turn into chickens with their heads cut off at the first sign of trouble.

On another note, I do really like the scenes where they have random walkers shuffling around in the far background, down the road or deep in the forest. It really makes it feel like they're everywhere. I wish I could be one of those extras! I promise I won't eat a Jolly Rancher or quietly sing Biohazard lyrics to myself or something else that would never appear on camera but would be completely out of character for a zombie! ;-) (wink emoticon, fingers crossed behind back when making promise).

What about that scene where ghost Lori appeared in the catwalk of the prison common area? It was TOTALLY like when Cloud sees Aeris' ghost in Final Fantasy VII! Did anyone else find that to be a little over the top? His first reaction to seeing the sexy spectre of his deceased wife is to draw his weapon and start brandishing it all around and screaming? Rick is all like "Get out! Get out! What are you doing here! Just go!" and of course Tyreese thinks he's talking to him and is like "Chill bro! We'll go!" It was a classic comedic misunderstanding right out of an 80s sitcom.

Speaking of 80s sitcoms, the L'il Asskicker angle is supposed to be a nice respite from the bleak world around them, but the scenes of Carol and Beth chuckling sweetly while they lay the baby into a plastic post office bin are already getting tiresome. I'm afraid to see how the writers employ the baby if the series stays around long enough for it to walk and talk. I can see it now toddling into a scene holding a severed zombie hand and saying "this man gots a boo-boo" while all the other characters fawn over it.

And I'm sure everyone heard that Hines Ward was one of the zombies in this episode (so was Greg Nicotero, the show's make-up/special effects guy). Maggie put Ward out of his misery with a gunshot to the head.

I'd normally insert a bunch of anti-Steelers jokes here about how Hines Ward couldn't outrun the zombies just like he couldn't outrun tacklers, or how I bet he's not smiling now, or how he's not catching passes but he is catching bullets, or something like that, but since the Ravens just won The Big Game I'll take the high road...

Finally, everyone can take a big sigh or relief, because the Hyundai Tucson is still looking good and its engine is purring like a kitten.

Did you notice?

  • The names of the Woodbury citizens that the Governor cited as being murdered by Rick's banditos were: Tim (evil Glenn), Crowley (decapitated by Michonne), Gargulio (ahh, Gargulio), Haley (Zoey 101), Bob Adams (Bad Ass Bob Adams), Eisenberg (what about Cohen, Snyder and Katzenberg?)‎, and Richard Foster. Foster was played by Greg Tresan, who is actually the dog trainer on the show. (Thanks The Walking Dead Wiki!)
  • Kevin Smith (on Talking Dead) says whatnot way too much.
  • One of the Governor's henchmen, Martinez (backwards baseball hat guy), actually saved a little girl during the seige scene. Foreshadowing that he might be a good guy who joins the prison group (or tries to)?
  • Axel eats Top Ramen Oodles of Noodles out of a big pot at the prison? NOM-NOM-NOM. I hope it was Picante Beef flavor!
  • Sasha wears a shirt that says "Southern Gothic Revival." It's some band.
  • Rick kind of flinched when Carol said the baby had Lori's eyes. Like maybe he was thinking it wasn't his baby at all, but Shane's!

 

Did you know?

  • So there were a few songs earlier this season that I couldn't identify. Well the show is releasing a soundtrack (Volume 1) now that should reveal all. It features bands like Jamie N. Commons, Voxhaul Broadcast, Baby Bee, Fink, Of Monsters and Men and Delta Spirit. Maybe they'll send me a free copy...or not.
  • The fighting arena is actually an abandoned mill in rural Georgia.
  • Greg Nicotero was also the zombie that bit Andrea's sister Amy and was killed by Andrea in season one. (Thanks Talking Dead!)
  • There is a bar and restaurant in Senoia, Georgia (Woodbury) called Founders. I imagine the cast and crew must patronize the place occasionally. I'll have a Boilermaker with Michael Rooker please.

 

The other guys

So you know that Tyreese is played by Chad Coleman (Cutty from The Wire). But did you know about his cohorts? Sonequa Martin-Green (Sasha) has had recurring roles on The Good Wife and NYC 22. Daniel Thomas May (Allen), that dick who wanted to kill Carl and Carol to take over the prison, had a small role on The Vampire Diaries. And Tyler Chase (Ben) played "Ghost Boy" in The Between, whatever that was.

 

The Suicide King? WTF?

The Suicide King is the name of a "Choose Your Own Adventure" style novel by Robert Joseph Levy based on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series and published in 2005. Wikipedia summarizes the plot as: "A number of student suicides has (sic) been taking place at Sunnydale High, shaking the community. When the new grief counselor ends up killing himself, the Scoobies suspect that there is something supernatural to blame. Soon one of them shows suicidal signs and Buffy must race against time to defeat the ancient Suicide King."

That doesn't seem like the best idea for the plot of a book targetted at young adults.

The name of this episode was probably referring to the King of Hearts playing card, which is also known as The Suicide King, because it's stabbing itself in the head in most traditional decks. I still don't know what the heck that has to do with this episode. Maybe just that Rick is going nuts?

 

Another outlandish fight scene

Remember when the Governor was a complex character, and you thought maybe he could become a good guy? Well that's all gone out the window. The episode opens with the Governor leading a bloodthirsty crowd of extras to force Merle and whimpering Daryl Dixon into a fight to the death.

"Brother against brother!" the Governor booms, and some guy starts guffawing like he's in the audience at a taping of Mind of Mencia or something.

"Winner goes free! Fight to the death!"

What is this:

 

Sweet cross promotion!

Tyreese talks about his neighbor Jerry, who was "one of those survivalist nuts." Who was always preparing for the end of the world and had a bunker in his backyard underneath the shed. NatGeo Doomsday Preppers cross promo FTW! I hope next they cross promo Extreme Cheapskates!

On a sidenote that actually relates to the show this blog is about: their camp, which was at one point made up of 25 survivors, was over run near Jacksonville and Donna (Tyreese's wife?) didn't make it.

 

Maybe you should write a song about it, hippie

Carol talks with Carl about how loud the world used to be and how she complained about traffic, construction and car alarms. And now how she wishes she could hear an airplane.

Well, hey, Joni Mitchell, why don't you bust out your guitar and write some protest songs about noise pollution, Joan Baez.

Then Carl says it would be sweet if they could all be on it, cause he wishes he was on Lost instead of this show.

That dumb commercial break freeze frame thing...

...said this: Norman Reedus on why he's like Daryl

"I'm pretty damaged already I guess. He doesn't know what to say, and neither do I, as you can tell by this answer. I'm loyal to my friends and would do anything for them, but I'm kind of quiet. I believe in people and the cause, but I really don't want to ever be the center of attention. You can tell when Daryl speaks who he is and what he's about. He's nervous but he always speaks from the heart and doesn't hesitate—I'm like that at times. The ways I'm not like Daryl are too numerous to write down here. We can save that for another time."

Please don't. What a waste. I'd rather see what his favorite NES games were growing up, or who his top ten hottest celebrities are, or anything other than this nonsense...

 

Quote board

Merle: "You know me I'm gonna do whatever I gotta do to prove that my loyalty is to this town!"

Merle: "Just follow my lead little brother. We're getting out of this, right now!"

Merle: "Hey we both took our licks, man!" Daryl: "Jackass!" Merle: "Hey shut up!"

Merle: "Aww yeah man, he is a charmer, I gotta tell you that. Been putting the wood to your girlfriend, Andrea, big time baby. UUUUnnnnnggggghhhhhh!"

Merle: "Her and blondie spent all winter, cuddling up in the forest. Mmm-mmm-mmm. Yeah. My Nubian queen here had two pet walkers. No arms, cut off the jaws, kept them in chains. Kind of ironic now that I think about it."

Merle: "Snug as two little bugs. So what you gonna do now sheriff? Huh? Trial by a bunch of liars, thugs and cowards? Oh man, look at this, pathetic! All these guns and no bullets in me!? Shut up yourselves bunch of pussies...! (THUMP) Rick: "Asshole."

Tyreese: "It's getting worse out there. Dead are everywhere. It's only making the living, less like the living."

Tyreese: "I must be the first brother in history to break into prison." Axel: "Makes me the first white boy that didn't want to break out."

Daryl: "So you're gonna cut Merle loose and bring The Last Samurai home with us?"

Allen: "This would be easy. A little kid, a woman, a girl and a one-legged old man!"

Governor: "Those people have had it easy! Barbecues and picnics... that ends now." (I guess he has no interest in a second-term as Woodbury Social Gathering Coordinator)

Governor (to Andrea): "You're just a visitor here, just passing through, so why should i tell you?"
Rick: "He had Daryl and Merle pitted against each other, crowd cheering for them to fight to the death. What kind of a sick mind does that?" Hershel: "The kind this world creates..."

Hershel: "You're like my own son, Glenn."

Sasha: "It's like Ten Little Indians out there!"

Hershel (to Rick): "You've got to start giving people a chance!"

Winner: Merle, and he will be every single episode he appears in.

 

What everyone is up to

Rick: Quickly descending into madness. Leaving Tyreese hanging. Why won't he shake anyone's hand? Is he one of those hand sanitizer obsessed people?

Carl: Wearing that dumb cowboy hat and trying to act like a big boy now who gets to eat Lunchables Maxed Out.

Glenn: Putting the boots to an innocent zombie's head and turning it into a Swanson Chicken Pot Pie. Having a lover's quarrel with Maggie.

Daryl: Making a heel turn and ditching the group to go have adventures with Merle again.

Carol: Lamenting the loss of Daryl as a potential sex partner, and warming up to her safety back-up, Axel.

Hershel: Spitting truth, rocking a sick pony tail and showing off his one-legged stair-hopping Parkour skills. Also trying to play marriage counselor to Glenn and Maggie.

Maggie: Getting all emo in front of Hershel and acting like she's too cool for his food.

Beth: Kissing Rick on the cheek and trying to trick the baby into thinking she's its mother.

Andrea: Delivering an inspired war movie speech to all the extras as the Governor peers through the window.

Michonne: Becoming the subject of a comedy roast by Merle. Recovering from a concussion.

The Governor: Losing control of Woodbury and talking sh!t about barbecues and picnics. You mad bro? He also tries to ditch Andrea after boffing her a bunch of times.

Merle: Acting racist, sexist and homophobic and reuniting with Daryl.

Axel: Wearing a cool new military outfit. Does anyone else think he looks kind of like Maynard James Keenan when he wore the big moustache for that one Puscifer album cover?

Milton: Stumbling and bumbling and fumbling through his speech to try to calm the townspeople. Failing to wrangle Andrea as she tried to break up the Daryl-Merle fight.

Tyreese: Offering to become a productive member of the prison staff but getting rebuffed by Rick's insanity episode.

 

Best zombie kill

When Glenn started dancing the Charleston on that red pick-up truck zombies head. The one where Merle was on his knees jacking up that zombie's pretty face was good too.

 

Creepiest zombie

When that one busted out a slat of the fence and started peering into Woodbury like Jack Nicholson in The Shining. It was funny because it was missing a peeper but it still looked like it was trying to see with that eye.

 

Death count

Zombies: I counted 13 (including Hines Ward) for 175 on the season. But at this point who the hell really knows...(The official Story Sync says 16, but I like 175 better than 178.)

Humans: I counted two (the girl who was bad at archery, Haley (Alexa Nicolas), and the guy, Richard Foster (dog trainer), who was eaten by zombies and then shot in the head by the Governor for 25 on the season.

 

Lingering questions

  • Where are Morgan and Duane?
  • How do Milton's inventions work?
  • Why is Rick so mean to Michonne when you KNOW he wants to give her a french kiss?

 

A look ahead to next week's episode, "Home"

Glenn fights some people on a bridge or something, a bunch of people talk about leaving the prison and there is also turmoil at Woodbury. Why can't everything just stay the same!!??

From the sneak peak video on AMCtv.com: Merle pees on a tree, talks about killing squirrels, and spits. Daryl has second thoughts about agreeing to go on this camping trip.

From the Talking Dead sneak peak: Glenn talks with the prison people (sans Rick) about what their next step should be regarding the war with the Governor. He suggests that he and Michonne should sneak into Woodbury and assassinate the Governor in the middle of the night.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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