I don’t know why they didn’t call this episode “Broken”, because both sides of the divide are clearly in a state of disarray following the first real dance of combat and bloodshed between Woodbury and Team Rick.
For the Governor, he’s merely mopey and withdrawn thanks to the death of his zom-daughter, his missing eye, and the invasion by the Rickers, an attack that has spooked Woodbury’s supply of sheeple into trying to jump out of the frying pan and into the zombie filled oven.
For Rick, it’s much worse. He’s seeing ghosts, Oscar is dead, Michonne has splintered off from the group to destroy the Governor’s aquarium, and Daryl ran off and got caught, forcing Rick and Maggie to rescue him and his brother. Something that might have been a bit more exciting had the promos not completely blown that for us.
Of course, the central conflicts this episode aren’t between Rick and the Governor. They’ve backed off that a bit to show the repercussions from “Made to Suffer” and to show the similarities between these two leaders who have been made anew by the awful transformation of the world. Two leaders who have put too much on their shoulders.
This time around, the big conflict is between Rick and himself as he struggles to keep it together while seeing more ghosts, driving away Daryl (who chooses Merle), and keeping his distance from Michonne and Tyrese — warriors who could be vital for the coming firefight with the Woodbury folk that is likely brewing.
Now, I can’t speak to how far down the rabbit hole the show plans to take Rick before his inevitable resurrection, but I welcome the change, provided that the show can deliver some consistency — something they have struggled with before. Rick has endured too much to not experience a break like this, and if Rick is down, they need to let him stay down for awhile while Glenn and Hershel take the reigns in the name of showing us something different.
– As always, Melissa McBride steals every scene that she is in. Her bond with Daryl has always been sweet and obvious since last season, but after she processes Daryl’s departure, her remarks about the similarities between her and Daryl as abused people and her fears about what she would do if she saw her husband again hit the right note. Carol is quickly becoming my favorite character on the show, which means she’ll be dead by next week.
– Darryl grabbing the crossbow. Nuff said.
– Rick silencing Merle. It bordered on slapstick humor, but it was a nice throwback to season 1.
– Andrea’s speech to the Woodburyians. These people barely know her and she’s supposed to quell an uprising based on fear and the sudden disappearance of their leader with 30 seconds of oratorical empty calories? More than a bit ridiculous. “When they write about this…” good lord…
– Ghost Lori/Wolverine Shane/The telephone. I love the phone device in the comic and I was thrilled when they brought it into the show, but the further they take this, I almost wish that Rick’s insanity were allowed to manifest itself with only his actions, rather than these big, “Now Entering Crazyburgh” signs. Lori was just another example of that, though I’m glad they did it right and brought back Sarah Wayne Callies — even if we couldn’t really see her.
– This isn’t about the show so much as it’s about the promos. I know AMC has to try and get eyes on the show, but they’ve got to strike a balance and preserve some of the shock factor for viewers by not blowing big reveals in their previews.
– Though I should expect nothing less, I really thought there might be some humanity from Merle upon being rescued. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I’m also surprised that there wasn’t more of a conflict between Merle and Rick. Producers went down the middle instead of delivering either of these extremes, and the end result was a profane jackass that foolishly left behind an offer of shelter to go it alone with Daryl.
Overall, I give “The Suicide Kings” a 3 out of 5. Coulda done it better, but at least it wasn’t just a bunch of mindless violence and worthless character culling.