Raise your hand if you thought that Daryl Dixon was going to die on last night's episode of The Walking Dead. Good. Now, take that same hand and smack yourself with it — because that was a really dumb prediction. The gang behind TWD doesn't know how to hold on to their showrunners, but they know to not kill the most popular character on their show. Also, biceps. Moving on.
Last night's episode, "The Suicide King," was all about trust, and family, and the various things that can tear a family apart, and really just how you shouldn't trust anybody at all, ever, because they'll beat you with a shovel or not kill the guy who sexually assaulted your girlfriend. Everybody but zombie-bait Beth and Hershel the Wise is now angry at and/or not trusting someone, and Rick Grimes, God bless him, has finally gone completely bananas — and without Daryl "Unlikely Voice of Reason" Dixon by his side, things are looking grim for the Gang of Grimes. (But wait, can't we say that every week?)
Before we get started on the Dixon showdown and the various new factions that exist within the show, I want to talk about how much I love Chad Coleman AKA Tyreese AKA Cutty from The Wire on this show, already. This may be because he's essentially playing a zombie apocalypse version of Cutty from The Wire, or because Carol said "Daryl has his code — this world needs men like that" and that had me thinking about Omar from The Wire with his code and his shotgun, and how Daryl's kind of like that with his cross-bow, only Daryl's not gay (I think) and he doesn't murder drug dealers. Okay, so maybe Daryl's not that much like Omar from The Wire, but he is one of the few characters on the show with an open heart and a firm moral code, so yeah. I guess the point is that I want to watch The Wire. Also, I'm tired.
The only thing that can get in the way of Daryl's good ol' moral code is his brother Merle, so it's unfortunate that both brothers walked away from the death match over in Woodbury. We never got to find out if either brother was capable of killing the other, though it didn't seem like it. Maybe Daryl would have fought harder if Merle had kept kicking him, but when Merle looked at him and said "just follow my lead, little brother," Daryl was relieved to do so. They fought with the zombies the Governor had added to the spectacle, giving in to the audience's thirst for blood for jusssstttt enough time for them to get rescued.
Then things got sort of weird. Back at the highway, everyone bickered over who should stay, and who should go. Everyone basically agreed that Michonne — who finally admitted via scowl that she knew Andrea — was untrustworthy and needed to go, eventually. Fine enough. But why would Merle — who was A, absolutely delighted to be there and B, the only person around who knew everything about their evil genius mortal enemy the Governor, be set free? Like, couldn't Rick have brought him back to the prison to torture him for information? Rick Grimes: good with a pistol, absolutely terrible at decision making. But more on that later. Let's talk about Daryl.
NEXT: Rick is totally losing it, and Daryl is Rihanna.
Uggggh Daryl — but we've worked so hard! Carol's face said it all, later in the episode, when she learned that Daryl had chosen to go off with Merle. Carol had also been abused and belittled and made to feel like she was nothing, and though she wanted to think that she'd walk away from her husband if he magically came a'knockin, she knew that facing an abuser wasn't easy. Daryl had been tested, and he did not walk away from his abuser. See, even studly guys with crossbows and biceps — just like multi-millionaire popstars with scandalous Instagram accounts — have their weaknesses. The strong, capable, baby-holding leader is (temporarily, I hope) gone, replaced with the wounded little brother of yesteryear. Maybe it was the simple fact that Merle didn't kill him that put Daryl firmly back in his big brother's corner, but, like, again — we weren't given enough time to find out if Merle would have killed him if they weren't given such an easy way out. I'm so so grateful that Daryl is alive and all, but I wish we'd had a few more minutes to see what might have happened before Maggie and Rick came in with their sniper rifles. Dramatic sigh.
But, I guess, screw me and my love of instant gratification. Because now that the Dixon bros — #TheWalkingDixons — are alone in the woods, yet again, their issues are going to rise to the surface like Neve Campbell and Denise Richards on the poster for the film Wild Things. One brother will inevitably kill the other, and by this I mean that Daryl is totally going to kill Merle because I can't imagine a reality without Daryl in it. I refuse. The death ring in Woodbury may have been a short-lived, cliffhanger-friendly ruse, but the metaphorical death ring is just beginning. I mean, it won't be long before they inevitably meet up with the Grimes Gang and Woodbury again anways, because — just like how in the Tom Hooper film Les Misérables the entire city of Paris is like five blocks and everybody knows each other — in The Walking Dead the entire American South is the size of my hometown of Collingswood, NJ (two square miles, I think) and everyone just bumps into each other during hunts and formula runs.
Now, let's talk about Rick. Here is your current list of people whom Rick is refusing to trust — Cutty from The Wire. (Okay, fine, Tyreese.) Merle Dixon. Michonne. The Governor, but that one's a given. I mean, he's pretty justified on all of the ones except for the first, but it's become clear that the death of Lori and all of the human-on-human violence he's had to enact over the last few seasons has finally taken a toll on the man. Michael Raymond James in the bar last year. Tomas in the prison. Everyone, at Woodbury. Rick, our steadfast hero, is being driven mad not only by his wife's death, but by the crushing weight of having to make all of the decisions on who lives, and who dies. Yes, if he lets Tyreese and co. go free he's not technically murdering them, but he's sealing their death warrant. But if they stay, of course, they could hurt one of his people. It's happened before.
Before all of this zombie stuff went down, Rick had a firm set of laws he could easily live with. He didn't make the rules; they were written out for him. The small town "bad guys" were locked away, and what made someone a bad guy was not so ambiguous. It's impossible for a man like Rick to live in this world. Rick is not a Daryl. He can't suddenly create his own code of what's right and wrong, stick to his gut, and move on with it. He can't pull a Shane/The Governor — becoming a no-rules, Wild Wild West gunslinger, and still sleep at night. Rick needs to be the hero, and needs to know that he was in the right. And now, he no longer has a Shane to be the shoulder-devil to his angel, and he no longer has Lori to tell him what a good person he is (because she was killed, as a result of one of Rick's decisions). When Shane was around to play the role of bad cop, it gave Rick the opportunity to always play good cop. For viewers, it was boring. But now, for Rick, it's maddening. He has to be both cops. He has to accept moral ambiguities. And letting Merle back to the prison would have led to more death and more torture and more things that Rick just does not want to deal with, so he set him free. And that, my friends, was a terrible decision.
So, basically what I'm trying to say is that the situation with Tyreese is impossible, and that someone like Hershel or Maggie or baby Asskicker should start making more decisions for the Gang. Rick has to either trust Tyreese completely, or send him to his death. (A viable option, being that we learned that half of Tyreese's gang — the white half— are douchebags.) Then, move forward and stop thinking about it. The more Rick tortures himself about his own decisions, the less likely it becomes that he can actually defeat someone like the Governor. Like, now Rick is seeing Dead Lori in a wedding dress, which, I mean — please let this be a one-time occurance. Lori is dead. Gone. The Grimes Gang is better for it. Let's move on. Also, it's really hard to come up with an effective war strategy when you're having imaginary phone conversations and seeing dead people. I know this, because I've played Risk on mushrooms. (No, I have not.)
NEXT: The Friday Night Lights defense.
Now, let's discuss someone who is undergoing a much different transformation: Glenn. Glenn has always been naive and relatively innocent for a kid living in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, and the hard things he's had to do — mainly, with that kid from the bar last year — have been extremely rough on him. He's been fine with not doing the decision-making. He's brave, and he'll go along on the most dangerous of missions, but it's not up to him when it comes to who lives and who dies. Well, not anymore. Glenn's going to go after that Governor, whether Rick wants him to or not. Yes, it was Maggie's innocence that was ripped away when the Governor assaulted her at Woodbury, but Glenn's the one who is going to let his own rage get the better of him. He's already pulling away from Maggie, and he was ready to turn that car around and go after the Governor even though that would have been the stupidest thing ever. Think about your life, Glenn. Think about your choices. Obviously, since — as Rick said — they had "started something" last night, a big battle with Woodbury is a'brewin. But with their lack of troops and resources, it would have been stupid for them to go back, even though the Governor did something that, to Glenn, demanded an immediate execution.
So Glenn is like, super intense now. And I enjoy this Glenn. It's going to cause a division between him and Maggie — who just wants to get over it, and keep living — but I dig the passion, and the lack of wishy-washiness (read: boringness) that has defined his character for so long. "My blood, my family, is waiting for us back at the prison," he said definitively, as Daryl tried to justify keeping Merle. Glenn is like a freaking Soprano now. If you mess with his crew, his speedy little ass is coming after you with a glock, and he also might just kick your head in in a state of blind rage JUST FOR THE FUN OF IT.
Finally, there's Woodbury. The Governor has now pulled a complete 180 re: his leadership tactics — a fact which was thrown in our face with neon lights when he slowly, nonchalantly, walked through the death pit/shoot-out madness with a single gun, and then later shot a bitten townsfolk in the head with no grand speech or even explanation. All he cares about at this point is killing the Grimes Gang, who are currently a hot mess so hey, maybe he'll win and Season 4 will just be David Morrissey walking alone with his daughter's zombie corpse through a burnt desolate wasteland a la The Road. Either way, he's no longer a leader — he's just sitting in his apartment, quietly plotting Rick's demise like Cartman did with Scott Tenorman after Scott sold him his pubes for ten dollars.
But you know what? There's a new sheriff in town, and her name is Andrea. Andrea wasn't happy to see Woodbury falling apart after the raid, so she decided to pull her best Barack Obama (or Coach Taylor?) and muster up some Americana-style enthusiasm. "Years from now, when they write about this plague in the history books, they will write about Woodbury," she said to the panicking people. And you know what? It worked! They calmed down, and then Beyonce sang the National Anthem as Landry Clarke of the East Dillon Lions scored the touchdown that would win the game. And the whole time, the Governor just glared. He glared at Andrea from up high in his seclusion, watching as she stole his people — the people he never actually cared about. He would no longer have them, because he didn't want them. But that doesn't mean that Andrea could have him. No, the Governor is going to kill the folks of Woodbury, methinks. Some men just want to watch the world burn.
And with that, I go to bed. What did you think of the episode, friends? Are you excited for the Dixon bros. road trip? Do you care at all about Michonne? Is Rick really actually a good leader and I'm just a big ol' meanie? Let me know in the comments. Thanks.
Follow Shaunna on Twitter @HWShaunna
[PHOTO CREDIT: Gene Page/AMC]
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