‘Dead’ returns with strong season premiere

Episode “Made to Suffer” established the backbone for the upcoming season (Photo provided by mashable.com)
Episode “Made to Suffer” established the backbone for the upcoming season (Photo provided by mashable.com)

For more than a month, fans of “The Walking Dead” have been hungry for answers kept from them at the end of season three’s mid-season finale.

The episode “Made to Suffer” saw Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his crew invade the barricaded town of Woodbury, where The Governor (David Morrissey) was holding Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) hostage. After turning the streets of Woodbury into a battlefield and Michonne’s (Danai Gurira) battle with The Governor leaving him with one less eye, Rick manages to get everyone out of the town safe, except for fan favorite Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus), who knowing his brother Merle (Michael Rooker) was in Woodbury, went looking for him and was captured. By the end of the episode, many questions appeared as to the fate of Daryl and Merle, with The Governor and the townspeople surrounding them chanting, “Kill them.”

Those questions that were eating away at fans were quickly answered during the mid-season premiere on Feb. 10. The episode picked up right where “Made to Suffer” left off. The Dixon brothers were forced to a fight-to-the-death battle, where only the winner goes free. In order to keep Daryl and himself alive, Merle attacks his brother, allowing him to get close and make a plan. Before their battle got too far, Rick and his group overtake Woodbury once more, saving the two brothers.

Those first five minutes answered the question if Daryl would survive, but with one major question answered, even more arose. Because of Merle’s rough past, especially with Rick and Glenn, there was no way he was going to be allowed to rejoin the group. Since they are brothers, Daryl feels he has no choice, but to join his brother and leave the group. This leaves the question of how much longer will he survive.

Fan favorite from the comic book series Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman), who many of Daryl’s characteristics came from, has joined the show. In the comics Tyreese is Rick’s right-hand man and also a love interest for Carol (Melissa McBride). Now that Daryl has left the group, this leaves an opening for Tyreese to step in. Another twist to the story, and the creation of another question, comes at the end of the episode Rick shows that he is still not entirely mentally stable and forces Tyreese and his group to leave the prison. This indicates that season three still has multiple twists and surprises to come.

Probably the biggest question lingering in everyone’s head is about Rick’s stability. The first half of season three showed the mental change in Rick after he lost Lori. First he thought he saw Shane (Jon Bernthal) in Woodbury and now [spoiler], he thought he saw Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) standing in the prison. His mental relapses have already caused the death of Oscar (Vincent M. Ward) and have now forced Tyreese and his group to leave. They might not be the last, now that the rest of the group has seen Rick lose his mind for the first time; although, from the way Rick is acting, he may not mind.

Rick has carried the group on his shoulders since the series started and has lost many close to him. After losing Lori, it appeared he could not handle watching more people die. He let Daryl leave without much of a fight. He wants Michonne to leave the group as soon as she is well, and he forced Tyreese away. The episode is titled “The Suicide King,” but with no characters killing themselves off, it appears that it was more of a metaphor for the way Rick is killing himself inside, by letting his emotions haunt him.

Rick isn’t the only one going through a mental change. The Governor has been through a lot, especially at the end of “Made to Suffer” as he lost not only an eye, but his one true love, Penny. He has abandoned his politician style and has grown the appearance of a man who is only out for revenge. He no longer cares much about what happens to Woodbury as he avoids the riots and people trying to leave. Just as Rick’s group saw him loose his cool for the first time, the Woodbury residents saw the same with The Governor. One of the residents is bitten by a zombie, and none of the other residents know how to help him. The Governor walks out of his apartment, shoots the guy in the head and then walks right back in.

Although The Governor has a little more sick and twisted side to him (hence keeping people’s head in an aquarium), he and Rick are like two heads to the same coin. They are burdened with the pressure of leading a large group, they have a hard time trusting new people, they lost the one they love most and now are losing their minds trying to deal with it all. Trailers have teased a meeting between the two, who have yet to see each other face-to-face, which is sure to be the most anticipated and tense scene of the whole series so far.

As one major question was answered, many more were set up, foreshadowing the usual unforeseeable twist that is to come this season.