The Suicide King (The Walking Dead)

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"The Suicide King"
The Walking Dead episode
Episode no. Season 3
Episode 9
Directed by Lesli Linka Glatter
Written by Evan Reilly
Original air date February 10, 2013 (2013-02-10)
Guest actors
Episode chronology
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"Made to Suffer"
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The Walking Dead (season 3)
List of The Walking Dead episodes

"The Suicide King" is the ninth episode of the third season of the post-apocalyptic horror television series The Walking Dead. It was directed by Lesli Linka Glatter and written by Evan Reilly, and aired on AMC in the United States on February 10, 2013. The episode's first airing was the most-watched episode of the series and beat several ratings records for a basic cable series.[1]


Picking-up from the mid-season cliffhanger, Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Merle (Michael Rooker) are in the biter arena in front of all Woodbury, where despite Andrea (Laurie Holden)'s protests they are ordered to fight to the death. Merle savagely hits and kicks his brother, while quietly advising Daryl to follow his lead. Semi-restrained walkers are then brought into the ring, but the brothers do not have to fight them for long, as Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) fire shots and a smoke bomb at the crowd, giving Daryl and Merle a chance to escape with them.

Merle quickly leads them through a weak point in the fence (which he leaves open behind them) and they regroup with Glenn and Michonne at the car, but Merle's presence is unwelcome. In addition to his past transgressions, Merle antagonizes the group. He also explains that he had found Andrea and Michonne together and brought them back to Woodbury, where Andrea is now sleeping with The Governor. In contrast, Michonne remains silent, despite pressure from Rick to explain herself.

Despite needing fighters to counter the expected retaliation from Woodbury, Rick refuses to bring Merle back to the prison and advises Michonne she can only stay long enough to get "patched up", and then she must leave. Daryl understands Rick's decision but will not leave his brother again, and he and Merle walk off into the woods.

Meanwhile, at the prison, Hershel, Beth, and Axel visit Tyreese, Sasha, Allen, and Ben. The newcomers claim to have been with a group of 25 before their camp was overrun about six-to-seven weeks ago. Although they seem to be making friends, Carl keeps them locked up, and Hershel tells Tyreese not to get too comfortable because the decision for them to stay is not his to make. Later, Allen hatches a plan to overpower Carol and Carl while out in the yard to bury Donna, but Tyreese and his sister Sasha refuse to back that plan.

While stopping to clear a road obstruction, Glenn blames Rick for forcing Daryl away (effectively nullifying the success of the mission to rescue him and bring him back to Rick's fold), not taking the opportunity to assassinate The Governor, and generally making a bad situation worse. Maggie suggests talking things over after they get back and have some rest, but an unhappy Glenn is done talking.

There is unrest in Woodbury as The Governor has withdrawn into his apartment, leaving the townspeople even more agitated. A small convoy has formed of residents who have packed their belongings and demand to leave, but The Governor's guards refuse to open the gates, and they point guns at the would-be deserters. All the noise and activity attracts walkers outside the gates. A small number of walkers (who presumably filtered in through the breach Merle made when escaping) attack a couple of residents on the open street. The Governor steps out of his apartment to euthanize one of the victims, then returns inside without saying a word to the frightened crowd.

Rick, Glenn, and Maggie return to the prison, and Carl and Carol greet them at the gates. Carl hugs his father, happy he is back. Carol looks for Daryl and begins to worry when she does not see him. Rick reassures her that Daryl is alive and well, but ran into his brother and took off with him. Carol cannot believe Daryl is gone and asks Rick several times if he really is gone.

Andrea asks The Governor to calm the people of Woodbury, but he takes a tough war-time stance, holding Rick's group responsible for seven deaths, and he reveals that Merle had brought Maggie and Glenn to the town to question them about Daryl's whereabouts. Andrea then realizes The Governor had kept knowledge of her friends' presence a secret while sleeping with her. He coldly points out that she made no commitment to the town, and so he had no reason to tell her.

Tyreese and his people see Rick as he passes by to enter the cell block. Rick glances at them but continues walking and does not grace the expectant people with a single word. Rick proceeds straight to his infant daughter Judith, but she cries in his arms, haunting him. As Beth puts Judith down, she and Carol discuss Daryl's leaving the group. Beth thinks they are weakened without Daryl, but Carol understands why Daryl chose his brother. Carol also reflects on how she might have reacted if her abusive husband Ed had shown up. They then put Judith to sleep in a lined mail crate labelled "Lil’ AssKicker".

Hershel patches up Glenn's injuries. He notices there is a strange distance between Glenn and Maggie, who refuse to discuss their ordeal. Hershel also checks on Michonne, who has been locked in a cell, telling Rick she'll need a couple of days' rest before she's ready to leave.

In the Governor's stead, Milton steps up and reports the facts to the unhappy townsfolk. Andrea speaks with more inspirational words about rebuilding and persevering and wins over the crowd.

Back at the prison, Rick's group, now fully reunited with the exceptions of Daryl and Andrea, discuss whether or not Tyreese and his group should stay. Rick finally goes out to talk to them, ignoring Tyreese's offered hand as Tyreese introduces himself. Tyreese asks to stay, promising to keep out of their hair, to scavenge for their own food and supplies, and to help with any trouble. However, after all his group has gone through previously, Rick is unwilling to give the newcomers a chance. Sasha pleads with Rick, and Rick's group members all want the new people to stay. Hershel seems to get through to Rick's better nature, but then Rick hallucinates his dead wife, Lori, looking down at him from the inner catwalk, and suddenly snaps, waving his gun around madly and screaming "Get out!". This frightens everyone, and Glenn quickly ushers Tyreese's group out before Rick's sudden temper can escalate.


Critical response[edit]

The episode received mixed reviews from critics. Zack Handlen, writing for The A.V. Club, rated the episode a B on an A to F scale, commenting the episode "feels like it’s shuffling folks around so it can get to the next big step in the season’s arc, and while I wish it did so with a little more grace or character, those make-or-break stakes remain".[2] Eric Goldman at IGN gave the episode 7.7 out of 10, saying he enjoyed Glenn and Carol's character growth, but disliked how Andrea and the residents of Woodbury acted in the episode.[3]

Critics of The Atlantic wrote, "What a hot steaming mess of mind-numbing numbitude this episode was! No, check that, it wasn't boring -- it was offensive."[4]

Darren Franich of Entertainment Weekly wrote, "The show still runs into problems when the characters talk too character is basically a walking Meatbag waiting to be chomped or sliced...Walking Dead reminds you of Battlestar Galactica, and it doesn't benefit from the comparison: While the characters on BSG decided to keep moving forward, the characters on Walking Dead appear stuck in their tracks, reliving the same traumas over and over. Will Andrea fall for next season's villain, too?...Lori was not a good character. The show killed her off: That was wise. The show has now brought her back in ghost form twice: That is not wise."[5]


Upon its initial broadcast on February 10, 2013, "The Suicide King" was watched by 12.3 million viewers, becoming the most-watched episode of the series at the time, and it beat several ratings records for a basic cable series.[1]


  1. ^ a b Kondolojy, Amanda (February 11, 2013). "'The Walking Dead' Premiere Delivers Largest Audience in Series History With 12.3 Million Viewers". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved February 11, 2013. 
  2. ^ Handlen, Zack (February 10, 2013). "The Suicide King". The A.V. Club. Onion Inc. Retrieved February 12, 2013. 
  3. ^ Goldman, Eric (February 10, 2013). "The Walking Dead: "The Suicide King" Review". IGN. Retrieved February 12, 2013. 
  4. ^ "'The Walking Dead': Suicide King?". The Atlantic. February 10, 2013. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  5. ^ Franich, Darren (February 11, 2013). "'The Walking Dead' recap: No Bullets in Me". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 

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