Episode 9 of The Walking Dead, ‘The Suicide King’, picks up where the series left off during mid-season break, with Daryl and Merle reunited and in an uncomfortable position courtesy of the Governor. The leader of Woodbury gives them an ultimatum - fight each other to the death and the winner will go free. Luckily for the both of them, Rick and the gang head to the rescue.
Of course, once the rest of the group discovers that Merle is in-tow, they aren’t exactly supportive. So the choice is put forth to Daryl to either stay with the group or run with his brother. Daryl chooses blood first and exits the scene.
Back at the prison, new addition Tyrese and his crew are still awaiting judgment on whether or not they can stay. While things look like they might go well for them, and the group can certainly use the help considering their recent losses and the inevitable vengeance that the Governor will bring, Rick is still a bit nuts and freaks out on them.
In Woodbury, the people are recovering in the aftermath of Rick’s raid to free Glenn, Maggie and, eventually, Daryl and Merle. They’re ready to flee, despite the dangers of the outside world. But Andrea, taking on the role of the voice of the Governor, talks them out of it, assuring them, rightly, that it’s much safer in Woodbury than out on the road.
Though there was plenty going on this episode, there really wasn’t a lot of character development. They tried to squeeze in way too much, in my opinion. Glenn and Maggie are dealing with what happened to them, Hershel is trying to get involved in that, Carol deals with Daryl leaving, Rick deals with being crazy, the Governor deals with Woodbury and the new arrivals deal with their uncertain fate at the prison. There was so much happening that it just became cluttered. It’s as if the writers wanted to set up the entire second half of this season in one go, although the set-ups were only minor at best.
The thing I’m enjoying thus far is the changing way that Woodbury is being addressed as compared to the way they handled it in the comic series. In the books (spoilers), the conflict between Woodbury and the prison is very cut-and-dry. They hate each other, they fight and people die.
In the TV series, they appear to be giving Andrea more of a role in the town, which could lead to twists in the way they use Woodbury as a plot point, hopefully. This could be a great opportunity to deal with something different instead of breaking down all the character development into a firefight of slaughter and ending it there.
I am also looking forward to seeing if they really go the distance and kill as many people as died in the comics or if the conventions of TV will prevent them from staying true to the comics in that regard. Although this intro episode wasn’t the best, I still have hopes for what the next few weeks will bring.