The back half of season 3 opens where the first half ended. We’re in the Woodbury walxing arena and the Gov declares that this Daryl vs. Merle battle is a fight to the death (which will presumably confirm where Merle’s loyalties lie). Andrea pleads with the Gov to end the fight, calling him Philip to appeal to his human side. The Gov refuses to stop the fight, in fact, he decides that it wouldn’t be a walxing match without some walkers. Of course, it can’t really be a fight to the death when the guys holding the walkers come in so close that Merle and Daryl can hardly land a punch.
Merle does get a couple of good slugs in, claiming that he’s got Woodbury’s best interests at heart. He knocks Daryl to the ground and the two grapple for a bit. It’s just long enough for Merle to pull out the ol’ “follow my lead” trick. He doesn’t say it, so we can only assume the move they’re about to pull is one they’ve pulled dozens of times before in their travels (the Syracuse Swindle? the Montgomery Mismatch? the Boise Brawl?). Whichever it is, it doesn’t matter because sniper Maggie shows up, taking out a couple of walkers and blowing Katniss away. Rick tosses a smoke grenade which adds to the confusion. The Gov stalks menacingly through the smog, but never catches a glimpse of Rick. He opts to dispatch a walker in particularly badass fashion.
Daryl and Merle get away in the smoke, but not before Daryl recovers his crossbow. Andrea stoops over Katniss’ body, probably vowing revenge in her head, because that archery lesson, and these people meant so much to her. Merle helps the gang break through the wall of Woodbury, leaving it open for walkers to enter. As they leave town, Maggie kills Zombie Hines Ward, finishing the job that Bane started last summer. Glenn and Michonne flip when Rick, Maggie and Daryl show up with Merle. There’s a fun twist on the old-fashioned Mexican standoff with a couple of guns, a crossbow and a katana (and an arm stump).
After yelling back and forth for a while, Rick just knocks Merle unconscious so the adults can have a conversation. Daryl is the only one in Merle’s corner and his only argument is the fact that Merle is his brother (which is, of course a valid argument, even if your brother is Merle). Also, Maggie’s the only one who vouches for Michonne as Rick is ready to leave her behind, but perhaps not without taking away her sword again first. When Daryl decides to leave with Merle, Rick tries desperately to get him to reconsider. “What do you want us to tell Carol?” he asks. Realizing that Daryl has about as much investment in that relationship as the audience does, he goes for broke.
“We started something last night,” he tells Daryl, finally proclaiming aloud to the romance that has been budding between these men over the past two seasons, “I just don’t know how to quit you.” As expected, Daryl is torn, but then he realizes that they’re still in the south. It can never be, not in this world, not yet. “Take care of Li’l Asskicker and Carl,” Daryl tells Rick, then he walks into the woods with his smug brother. Oh well, at least now with Oscar dead and Merle and Daryl leaving there will be room for everyone in the Hyundai. Maggie calls shotgun.
Back at the prison, Tyreese (okay, I’ll call him Tyreese instead of Cutty) and the Cutting Crew (I’m not giving that up yet though) hang out with the leftovers of Rick’s gang. Axel cooks for everyone while Beth parades Judith “Asskicker” Grimes around. Tyreese tells Herschel that he and the gang are the first decent people they’ve met since this whole thing started. He recounts a little bit of their story, which is basically what you’d expect. We also learn that the redshirt dad and son are named Allen and Ben. Herschel tells them not to get too comfortable in the prison.
Later, the Cutting Crew goes out to bury their dead (apparently someone did manage to finally get in a little “hammer time” all over dead Donna’s head). Allen brings up a plan to try overtake Carol and Carl, gain the upper hand, and cement their place as future walkers. Sasha and Tyreese put the kibosh on that pretty quick, taking the shovels offered by Axel and Beth before dad and son can do something stupid.
Back in Woodbury, the citizens are getting restless. Some are attempting to leave in their cars, which seems like the stupidest decision ever considering how secure the community has been in the past. Still, they want to go, but the guards are keeping them in by force. Mad Scientist Milton informs Andrea that the Gov is up pouting in his apartment (maybe he’s the suicide king of the episode’s title). The arguing continues until suddenly…WALKER ATTACK! Some idiot manages to get himself taken down by a walker in the middle of the street in broad daylight. My best guess is that he was napping, or deaf/blind, or he mistook the walker for a bench/dog/milkshake.
Andrea and Martinez (I think that’s the name of the new #2 in Woodbury) take out the walker(s), but the idiot/victim is still screaming. The citizens stand around doing nothing, and instead calling for someone else to do something. It’s a wonder they’ve survived this long. Not even Andrea will do anything to help the screaming idiot. Enter the Gov. He comes out into the street, calmly shoots the guy in the head with his pistol and then goes back to pouting. That’s why these people love the Gov, he actually gets things done!
Andrea follows the Gov to his apartment and pleads with him to be a leader for the people of Woodbury again. He’s not interested in running the show the way he used to. “Barbecues and picnics, that ends now,” he says, “we’re at war.” I guess that means the Flapjack Fiesta is off? The Gov also reveals to Andrea that Maggie and Glenn were in Woodbury, but he still blames Merle for everything. He also tells Andrea that she means nothing to him, essentially. She tells him not to be that way. “You’re not the boss of me!” he screams, running into his ruined aquarium room and slamming the door.
On the way back to the prison, Rick and his group come upon an obstacle in the road which apparently wasn’t there when they drove in yesterday (or they took a different route, which I choose not to believe). It’s a truck containing a walker. Glenn flips out, again, and stomps the walker to death Gosling-style.
Glenn proceeds to get mad at Rick for letting Daryl leave and for not killing Merle. I don’t see how killing Merle would have convinced Daryl to stay, but Glenn clearly isn’t thinking straight. They hop back in the Hyundai and make their way back to the prison, interrupting an awkward conversation about noise pollution between Carol and Carl. Carol asks about Daryl and amazingly, someone (Carl) asks about Oscar. Also, Beth kisses Rick on the cheek. It’s weird. Rick refuses to meet the Cutting crew and takes his baby daughter into his arms. Beth tells him that Judith “Asskicker” Grimes has Lori’s eyes. Rick starts to wig out a little as the soundtrack gets a bit crazy. Does she have Shane’s smile?
Maggie and Glenn won’t talk to each other, so Herschel (in what is a good episode for him) talks to each of them separately. He tells Glenn that he feels like Glenn is his own son. He tells Maggie that she’s like his own daughter. No, he doesn’t, but he does tell her that he’s proud of her strength and independence and she should try talking to Glenn. It’s a nice little scene.
Back in Woodbury, the people are growing restless again and the Gov is still doing nothing. Seeing her opportunity to announce her candidacy for the 2014 Woodbury gubernatorial election, Andrea steps up to the plate. As the Gov looks down from he window, she stands in the middle of the townspeople and gives them a pep talk straight out of the Big Book of Cliche Pep Talks. Here it is:
“You’re right, Karen. You’re right. Every one of us has suffered. We don’t even have funerals anymore because the death never stops. We’re never gonna be the same. Ever. So what do we do? We dig deep and we find the strength to carry on. We work together and we rebuild. Not just the fences, the gates, the community, but ourselves, our hearts, our minds. And years from now when they write about this plague in the history books, they will write about Woodbury (the crowd concurs, interjecting “yeah they will!” and “Woodbury!”) We persevered!”
Actually, the first part of that speech wasn’t too bad. Plus, consider the audience. I don’t hold the people of Woodbury in very high regard, and this episode doesn’t do anything to help their reputation as easily-swayed simpletons. No wonder Andrea fits in so well. Also, I like how this sets up the potential for an even greater rift between Andrea and the Gov, as I’ve not liked their relationship from the beginning. Here’s hoping for some less-sexy fireworks between them in the episodes ahead.
Back at the prison Rick complains about having to take care of Michonne. Herschel makes the case for letting the Cutting Crew join the group as reinforcements. Rick finally decides to meet them, and is super unfriendly as usual. Tyreese offers their help in anything and everything. Rick says no. “You turn us out, you’re responsible” says Tyreese. Herschel tells Rick that he won’t back Rick on this and that he thinks Rick needs to start giving people a chance again. Rick seems like he’s just about to change his mind when he sees a shadowy, female figure on the catwalk above the group. I guess Rick isn’t done with his ghostly visitors. He proceeds to go nuts asking “why are you here?” and “what do you want from me?” and waving his gun around. We can’t really tell if it is Lori, but that seems the mostly likely possibility. Nobody else can see her. Tyreese and the Cutting Crew back away and decide to leave. They don’t need to hang out with a nutbag. Something tells me we haven’t lost our third prominent black guy of the season just yet. Tyreese ain’t afraid of no ghosts.
Next week on The Walking Dead: The results of the Woodbury emergency recall election are in! It’s Andrea by a nose over Zombie Hines Ward with Milton coming in a very distant third.