SPOILERS AHEAD! Stop reading if you haven’t watched The Walking Dead Season 3, Episode 9, “The Suicide King,” which aired Sunday, February 10, 2013.

Poor Rick. His sanity is slipping away and he doesn’t even have his #1 bromance buddy around anymore. Life just isn’t worth living without Daryl Dixon. A vision of Lori is not a fitting replacement. But cheers to one more Rick vs. Lori fight, on The Walking Dead Season 3, Episode 9, “The Suicide King.” It's their destiny.

But hey, poor Carol, too. She lost her daughter, and now she’s without Daryl, thanks to Daryl choosing to stick with his brother, Merle. It can’t be be for long — Daryl will come back, probably with Merle, probably to warn the prison group about a future attack. You can’t really blame Daryl for wanting to stick with blood — and we definitely don’t blame Glenn for not forgiving Merle right after all that torture — but where can the Dixon boys go? The mythical coast that no one ever makes it to? As much as it would piss off Glenn, you should always keep your friends close and a-holes like Merle even closer.

The Dixon Bros will be back. But Rick’s mental health may not be back anytime soon, and we really need the Team Prison captain to be sane as they gear up for a war with Team Woodbury.
After Lori died, he started getting imaginary phone calls at the prison, then had a hallucination of Shane in Woodbury back on Episode 8. Now he’s apparently seeing Lori again. (Blame the crying baby!) At this point, Rick seems to be about 70/30 in terms of sanity/insanity, but maybe the numbers will flip as he goes further down the rabbit hole. But for now, we’ll cherish his moments of pure mental clarity — like knocking out Merle. That was bliss.

Read on for a full recap of Episode 9: 

DIXON BOYS ‘FIGHT TO THE DEATH’
The citizens of Woodbury are a bloodthirsty mob of cartoon characters. Burn the place down! Anyway, the first two minutes of the episode were leaked last week, but it’s the outcome that counts. We saw Merle punch poor Daryl and tell the citizens of Woodbury he’ll do whatever he has to do to prove his loyalty to the town. Like running out of there with his brother! Daryl and Merle were choking each other, but Merle said to just follow his lead ‘cause they were going to get out of there. We knew it would all be a ruse. Merle is a jerk to *other* people, not fellow Dixons. Except when he punches them as part of that ruse. But how was Merle going to get them out of there? Maggie and Rick were the ones who really saved the day. The Governor was so upset, he just moped around. They rained on his parade. Daryl grabbed his crossbow on the way out!

MERLE, YOU ARE NOT COMING WITH US
Rick said Merle was not going to go with them. Merle said they didn’t have time for that discussion. Rick, Maggie, Daryl and Merle ran out of Woodbury and over to a car, where Glenn and Michonne were hanging out. As predicted, Glenn was PISSED when he saw Merle with them. Merle claims they both took their licks during the fight. Yeah, but only one of them had a walker sicced on him by the other. Merle, who can’t stop being irritating even under duress, tells the group that Andrea is in Woodbury, and that Andrea and Michonne know each other. Michonne says nothing. Why doesn’t Michonne ever communicate? What’s worse: An over-communicator like Merle or an under-communicator like Michonne? Rick knows his answer — he finally knocks out Merle with his gun. Merle is dubbed an “asshole,” which is more than fair.

PRISON NEWBIES MEET THE BABY
Little domestic scene in the prison. Sasha, Tyreese’s sister, thinks Baby Ass-Kicker (don’t call her Judith!) is Beth’s baby. They are all silent when Sasha asks what happened to the mother. Tyreese talks to Hershel about their past. There used to be 25 of them at one point, but their camp was overrun six or seven weeks ago. Hershel promised a proper burial for Donna, the woman in their group who died on Episode 8. Tyreese: “I must be the first brother in history to break into prison. Axel: “Makes me the first white boy that didn’t want to break out.” Hershel warned Tyreese not to get too comfortable there. They have a much larger group and it’s not up to him whether Tyreese stays or not. Hershel always defers to Rick. He just hates to make a decision. He embraced the Ricktatorship.

HOW DO YOU SOLVE A PROBLEM LIKE MERLE?
Outside, in the middle of the road, the group decides what to do with both Merle and Michonne. Glenn is still pissed. His family isn’t Merle — it’s Maggie and the people back at the prison. They want Daryl to come back with them. “You’re part of that family,” Rick tells Daryl. Merle is not part of their family. “Fine, we’ll fend for ourselves,” Daryl says. He wants to leave with Merle. "No him, no me." It was just the two of them beforehand, so it will be again. Carol will understand? He just leaves them. 

Credit: AMC Photo: Walking Dead Episode 9 (STILL)

NOT ALL PRISON NEWBIES CAN BE TRUSTED
Tyreese and Sasha seem OK, but Allen and Ben think this is a “golden opportunity” to take over. Hey, it’s been done — by our own beloved Ricktatorship group. But they’d get more of a fight than they imagined. Carl is no little boy. He shot his own mama. He doesn’t take any crap.

GLENN IS MAD AS HELL
You can tell ‘cause he stomps the bejesus out of a walker’s head. If only he could go on a yoga retreat. He’s upset that Rick didn’t kill Merle. Rick said they didn’t go back to Woodbury for that. Glenn said yeah, they went back for Daryl and now Daryl is gone and Merle is alive and The Governor is still out there. Glenn wishes he had been there in Woodbury. Glenn said Rick doesn’t know what The Gov did to Maggie. Yeah, but Maggie does, so let her speak for herself. If she wants revenge, let her get it, don’t do it for her or for your own pride. Glenn: “After all that effort, all the risk we took, Daryl just takes off with Merle?”

WOODBURY RIOT!
One little shootout and the people of Woodbury fall apart. You shouldn’t be bloodthirsty if you can’t back it up with some fighting spirit. Now they are foolish as well as scared. There’s a run for the wall to get out, with some people holding down their car horns, which just draws more walkers to the wall,. Martinez seems to be in charge but he’s not a great leader, just forcing people to get back. Andrea tries to calm everyone down. She would actually make a good leader but not enough people listen to her. Where’s The Gov through all this? Hiding in his apartment, still pouting. Walkers get inside the borders and attack a guy. Everyone wants someone to do something, but the only one who does anything is The Gov. He wanders out just to shoot a guy who had been bit. This is how we end up with dictatorships — too many people yell “do something!” and too few people actually do it. The ones who do it end up in charge.

CARL AND CAROL HAVE A CHAT
They are hanging out by the fence, waiting for … something. Carol used to complain about how loud the world used to be. Traffic. Construction. Carol: “What I wouldn’t give for the sweet sound of a jumbo jet.” Carl: “It’d be even sweeter if we were all on it.” Carol says Lori was proud of Carl. Carl said all he thinks about are the times he was mean to her. She deserved it sometimes, kid.

RICK IS HOME!
The car drives up and Rick hugs Carl. Rick tells Carol that Daryl left with Merle. “Daryl left? He’s gone? Is he coming back?” Yes! Don’t worry. Besides, Daryl thought he’d lost Carol earlier this season. They are like a soap opera couple. They are going to keep going through separations before some kind of romantic reunion. It's inevitable.

ANDREA VS. THE GOVERNOR 
Andrea is unmatched for giving people lectures on what to do. Lori was good at it, too. And now Glenn is feeling that anger. Andrea lays into The Gov for shooting a round in a guy’s head then walking away. She wants to know why Daryl was there. She learns that Merle scooped up Glenn and Maggie. “My friends are still alive and we’re shooting at each other? We’re trying to execute them?” Yep. Team Prison vs. Team Woodbury. Pick a side, girl. The Gov says her friends killed a bunch of good people. He selectively leaves out how many people The Gov and Merle killed and tried to kill. (Like Michonne.) The Gov tells Andrea she’s just a visitor there, so she didn’t get the full picture of what was happening. That was one of Michonne’s points, but Michonne just doesn’t communicate very well.

RICK TALKS TO HERSHEL ABOUT THE GOV
On the other side, Rick talks trash about The Governor to Hershel: “He had Daryl and Merle pitted against each other. A crowd cheering for them to fight to the death. What kind of a sick mind does that?” Hershel: “The kind this world creates.”

RICK MEETS THE NEWBIES
Look sharp, newbies, The Ricktator is home. Except, no. Never mind. He’s not really meeting them yet. He blows them off. Total diva. Tyreese said he’ll do the talking when Rick is ready.

RICK HOLDS HIS BABY
Baby cries can really drive you nuts sometimes, but with Rick they just trigger the crazy that was just lurking for a while. Blame Lori.

MILTON TALKS TO THE CROWD
Milton is the kind of guy, like Hershel, who would make a gentle leader, but that’s not what people want in a crisis. The people of Woodbury want answers. The Gov would give them answers, they’d just be lies. But that may be what they want. Andrea tells them they’ll never be the same, not 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 the plague in the history books, they will write about Woodbury. We persevered.” Andrea really would make a good leader, too. The speech calmed everyone down, which is not what The Gov wants. Like Glenn, and probably Rick, he wants blood. 

BETH AND CAROL HAVE A CHAT
Carol is just playing a great social game this week. She tells Beth she’s good with babies. Carol said Sophia used to wake up the neighbors at 3 a.m. like clockwork. Ed would stay at a friend’s until Sophia calmed down. Beth always wanted a child. She said Little Ass-Kicker wouldn’t have made it without Daryl. She doesn’t understand why Daryl had to leave. “Merle sounds like a jerk.” That’s putting it mildly. Carol: “Men like Merle get into your head, make you feel like you deserve the abuse.” Sad. Carol said she’s not the woman she was a year ago. If Ed were there now, she’d tell him to go to hell. Beth says “We’re weak without him,” meaning Daryl. That’s an extreme position to take. Carol defends him. “Daryl has his code. This world needs men like that.” Makes him sound like a superhero. 

GLENN AND MAGGIE ARE TRAUMATIZED 
Hershel thanks Glenn for looking out for Maggie. If anything happened to her... Well, something almost did. Actually, it did. She was abused, The Gov just didn’t go all the way. Hershel said the same goes for Glenn. “You’re like my own son, Glenn.” Hershel talks to Maggie but she doesn’t want to discuss what happened either. “You two seem to be holding something back.” Maggie has her mother’s spirit and stubbornness. “Don’t disappear on me.”

RICK WANTS MICHONNE GONE
Michonne is sick and sleeping. Hershel said she has a concussion. Rick wants her gone. Why, though?

AXEL MISSES OSCAR
It’s nice that someone misses the guy. He went out to fight for people he didn’t even know.

WHAT NOW?
Good question, Beth. The Governor will retaliate. The prisoners are outnumbered. They need reinforcements. They need Michonne and the new prison people, but Rick is just not mentally prepared to accept them. 

RICK FINALLY DOES MEET THE NEW PRISONERS
Tyreese said they’re no strangers to hard work. They’ll do anything to contribute. The prison group needs help. Rick says no. Sasha: “Please. It’s like Ten Little Indians out there. It’s just us now.” Hershel wants to talk about it. Rick said they’ve been through that with bad prison guys Tomas and Andrea. But good prison guys Oscar and Axel helped them. Rick isn’t in his right mind, but he says “I can’t be responsible.” Tyreese reminds him, if he throws them out, he will be responsible. Hershel pulls Rick aside and says he’s wrong on this. “You’ve got to start giving people a chance.” Hershel is the only one, up to this point, who knows Rick has been having hallucinations. He knows about the phone calls, but not about Shane.

RICK IS HALLUCINATING AGAIN
Rick seems like he’s about ready to relent on the newbies, then he sees a woman in the shadows. Another hallucination! “Why are you here? What do you want from me? I CAN’T HELP YOU! GET OUT!” He shouts at this vision that no one else can see. Now they know their fearless leader is loco. Is that Lori? Eek. This is clear proof of why The Ricktatorship needs a break. Time for either a democracy or a new dictator while Rick recovers from Lori's death. He's not there yet. Don't leave decisions up to him.

COMING UP
Hershel: “We can’t stay here.” Glenn: “We can’t run.” Glenn tells Michonne they can end this tonight. She's definitely going to be in favor of killing The Governor and Merle. So Glenn has at least one ally on that front.

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Credit: YouTube Photo: Promo For The Walking Dead Season 3 Episode 10, "Home"