The Walking Dead Season 3: First Quarter Recap & Review
AMC and new showrunner Glen Mazzara have created this pop culture phenomenon that goes beyond great story telling. Simply put, it’s becoming really fun to watch. The Darabont-era of the first season and first half of the second season seems to pop its head in every once in a while – allowing those who enjoy the philosophical waxing, moral dilemma discussions, and debriefing of emotions to still get their fix.
Does Dead rock when it’s all bang bang shoot ‘em up zombie-style? It does, but frankly, that’s not what brought most here in the first place. You need those serious emotional elements, characters you give a damn about, and a culture to make you a part of. Episodes like yesterday’s “Killer Within” are prime examples as to why this show is as special as it is, even drawing from the equally-great-in-a-different-way episode last week, “Walk With Me.” One thing that’s great about this show is that the creator of the comic, Robert Kirkman, is still very much involved. His input and his origin story ideas are the heart of the show. Couple that with sensible television show runners that understand the need to entertain, educate, and elevate an audience and you have a show that usually strikes a remarkably fine balance. And hey, a big part of this has to do with the introduction of two key beloved characters from the comic.
Dead has hit that pinnacle of what I call “Momentary Holy Shits.” 99 things can happen in a show, but we rush to our Facebook, Twitter, etc and talk about that one thing. And this one thing could be at the end of a terrible episode, but that one thing happening made us praise the show tremendously. 24 became infamous for doing this and even Lost. This really awesome graph explains my sentiments for most of the second season. I can’t say the same for Season 3. Every episode has had a purpose, a meaning, an end-game, and above that they all remained entertaining and engaging. This show is hitting its stride and finding a rhythm unheard of in a show of this genre (probably because it’s the only show of its genre) and these moments that have us running to our social media are also getting us to engage in the bigger picture questions (like, is there a one black dude per clique policy?)
While I haven’t been around to recap and review every episode as I once did (*shakes fist at real life stuff*) I will try to come in every quarter and chime in and be a smartass about the show, highlight some things that may not have been so obvious, and even just create a forum to share opinions about the show.
Rick: He’s a killer, he’s a leader, and he’s now a father of a newborn baby in a zombie-apocalypse. He’s definitely about as bad ass as he has ever been and seems to understand this cold-heart notion that Shane was on to. One of the biggest hurdles for Rick was to be brutal for the sake of survival. He clearly DGAF anymore as he machete’d the hell out of Tomas or even when he axe chopped Hershel. It’ll be interesting to see how he copes with Lori’s death and more so, how he will deal with Carl who has to deal not only with her death, but re-killing her, too. One also has to think that the zombie’s prison break-in was partially Rick’s doing as he fed Andrew to the group of walkers. (Sidebar: Andrew outran and survived a pack of walkers who were right on him and he somehow became an expert at zombie motion guiding? End.) Great acting by Andrew Lincoln, by the way, when he realized what had happened.
The Governor: Ohhhhhh baby. David Morrissey has given this character a whole new dimension to those that are fans of the comic. While the floating head scene is taken right out of Kirkman’s graphic novel, this character is not. He shares similar tendencies, but he is definitely more of a politician than a flat out brute-force killer. He kills you with his charm, his wit, his logic, and his persuasion. He carries a large machete, but does he even need it? There are so many layers to him and I’m glad the showrunners didn’t climb on to this “is he good or isn’t he” dialogue that could’ve happened all season long. No, they’ve told us – he’s awful. But he’s the yin to Rick’s yang. He’s a new Shane. One that understands that in order to survive in this world, you need to become a part of it and discharge yourself from the world that was.
One line that stuck with me from “Killer Within” was Governor’s line about Augusta. He said something to the effect of “Let’s take the ladies to play at Augusta, we’ll make history” (where Golf’s most prestigious tournament, “The Masters,” is played and does not allow female golfers to be members of the golf club). It drew me into the notion that The Governor wants to create a new history, he wants to be studied in books hundreds of years from now, he wants his statue on mantels. He wants to be known for what he thinks is the right thing, even though at the moment it may seem remarkably extremely. I also assume in the next few episodes, you’ll get to know about his daughter that he had mentioned. Regardless, he’s an amazing character and actor and I can’t wait for him to clash with Rick. For now, we’ll settle with his creepy flirtations with Andrea and his amazing bits of dialogue with anyone.
Michonne: Speaking of Andrea, we were noted that a whole winter season had gone by and Michonne had taken care of her new blonde friend. Yet, all this fan-favourite character has done is frown and swing a sword. She’s doing the angry face 4 episodes in, and she’s a remarkably talented actress (Danai Gurira). Underused? Yes. Mysterious? Definitely. The armless zombies have a backstory and I’m positive we’ll hear about it, as well as her own backstory. The great thing about Michonne, more than Rick and even mentioned by the Governor, she’s the most equipped to live in this world. Andrea, on the other hand, still has that girl-in-horror-movie type of annoyance to her. She’s holding Michonne back and is now the apple of the Gov’s eye, sort of.
Daryl: He’s still as awesome as ever. I like that they’ve implied a relationship or connection between him and Carol now (another character that has been completely revamped and as of the latest episode may or may not be dead). I also like the notion of him reconnecting with his equally awesome brother, Merle and the potential mayhem that will ensue from that. I want to see some real meat on the bones of this Daryl character though. He’s undoubtedly the second in charge to Rick in the group, but doesn’t say very much – and when he does it’s awesome. There, I said “awesome” three times in a paragraph about Daryl Dixon.
Lori: Good Riddance. Honestly, it was a sad scene. I know a lot of people who didn’t leave episode 4 with dry eyes, I get it. But I think it is safe to say that 90% of us were wanting Lori’s death because of her “infidelity” and weird schizophrenia tendencies. I like to think of Lori as the easiest one on the show to hate (Similar to Jessica Brody on Homeland), but one that if we were put in her shoes, might just act the same way. With that said, she was crucial to the constant Shane and Rick tension that was so key to season 2 and made season 1 super awkward anytime the three of them were around. There wasn’t time for Lori to be annoying or hated this season. With that said, she was killed with a due purpose. Her dying and the effect of her dying is going to lead to many more crucial storylines.
T-Dog: He’s dead, but you knew this when he was given more than a minute of screen time in the same episode. They made a big deal about him dying on Talking Dead (a pretty cool follow up show on AMC), but realistically speaking, he became a chunk of enforcement that was easily diminishable.
- Carl’s development is obviously going to be a focal point moving forward as well. I did love the flashback to the farm talk he had with his father about people dying. Staying with Carl, he’s gonna get it in with Hershel’s other daughter? Right on.
- This season has installed some of the best zombie kills in the entire season.
- Axel and Oscar seem to be hanging around for a while, especially with Oscar saving Rick’s life and Axel just wanting to help out. Oscar does string me as someone who could be the television show’s version of Tyreese from the comic. Though, I also pictured Tyreese as Chad Coleman (Cutty from The Wire).
- Woodbury, even if it is a civilized and well-taken care of town, is still a town existing in the freaking zombie-apocalypse. It looks a little bit too pretty.
- Rick’s ability to chop off Hershel’s leg without even thinking twice about it is about as close to a metaphor for this show that you can get: absolutely crazy, but in tact with all the logic and reason necessary. Speaking of which, see Hershel’s crutch swing?
- There have been some extremely heartfelt moments of dialogue early on this season. The conversation between Lori and Carl before Lori passed and the conversation between Maggie and Hershel when she thought he would die. Powerful stuff that both came from personal places according to Glen Mazzara.
- This show has a sense that for it to evolve and keep people on their toes, people need to die. No one is safe. The egos of the actors are checked out at the door and everyone is on board to make the best and most exciting show possible. The best is yet to come, I’m sure.
First Quarter Rating:
4 / 5