The Walking Dead Season Three, Episode One,
|Go ninja, go ninja, GO!|
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At least half of the episodes of The Walking Dead last season were not very good. The worst episodes were the ones where the characters all just sat around Herschel’s farm with not much to do except be assholes to each other. Conflict between the characters often felt forced and sprang from too much poorly-written dialogue. The plot often felt like it had no momentum. The premiere of the third season, however, did a lot of things right.
Ricky Rick and the Funky Bunch are on the run when the cold open finds them cleaning out a walker-infested house like bosses. Here, we get our first indications that some time must have passed between the last episode and this one as the group seems to be much more efficient at working together, Carl appears to be a capable zombie killer and Herschel is sporting a solid beard. What I also noticed, aside from Daryl killing and eating that owl without checking if it was carrying a letter from Hogwarts, is how silent everyone is. I think T-Dog (!) has the most dialogue when he says “Psst!” to alert the group of incoming walkers. In fact, the whole episode didn’t contain a lot of dialogue and what it did contain wasn’t even irritating. Even a much-more-pregnant-than-when-we-last-saw-her Lori raised some legitimate, scary points in her talk with Herschel.
You know I just hate
Lori like crazy
But what a bummer
Once the group finds the prison, from there the episode sets up a sequence of small goals for Rick and Co. (who are now obviously a well-oiled machine consisting of Hawkeyes) to reach, providing some plot momentum and makes for more interesting and organic conflict. Rick (now a borderline unhinged efficiency robot) and his anger (at himself? Lori? Fate?) drives him and subsequently the group (It’s not a democracy, remember? It’s a Ricktatorship!) a little bit farther each time. This whole setup reminded me of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? as after each successful mission, the group can either stop and walk away with what they accomplished or try for a little bit more at the risk of losing it all (bottom line: It was interesting and intense). Ultimately they appear to bite off a little more than they can chew as Herschel walks into the arms of a zombie who takes a bite of something it wants to chew: Herschel’s calf. One gruesome amputation by hatchet courtesy of Dr. Rick later and Herschel’s prognosis is looking pretty bleak.
Oh, and we saw a little more of the katana-wielding Michonne and her now apparent partnership with the ailing Andrea. Not much happens here except to establish their bond from surviving the winter together and Andrea’s worsening sickness.
Anything I’m forgetting, Steve?
From what the executive producer, Glen Mazzara, said on the after show, Talking Dead, apparently this level of action and suspense should carry through most of the season. I'm sure they took note of how bored fans got midway through last season and will be sure to change that.
The first thing we noticed was that a significant amount of time had passed. From Hershel's bad ass beard to Lori's about-to-pop preggers belly. Then enter Carl, clearly he has adapted to this environment and has truly become his fathers son. The other sign of time passing is their weapons. Way more hand to hand combat and those with guns, Rick & Carl (in the opening scene at least) have home made silencers, I couldn't figure out what was on Carl's, but Rick has fashioned his flash light to the end of his gun. This shows that they are either getting low on ammo or smarter about the noise they make, or both. This could also be the reason for the lack of dialogue. As for Rick tossing away the dog food, was that because it was expired, or in my opinion, him showing that they will not be reduced to animals.
On to the opening credits. I liked the original one but this one holds a lot of weight. Notice the item they show when the actors names flash up. Rick with his badge, Daryl with the 2 bolts, Carl with the house, Glen with the pocket watch he received from Hershel, etc. The one that stood out to me was Maggie with the crave stone, based off what I have read in the comics I have an idea of what might happen to her, and potentially her sister. No spoilers here though in case I'm wrong. I'll go into that more if it happens
After my third watch though I picked up on them addressing the passing of time. When they get out of the vehicles and study the map they talk about where the walkers are, apparently they have been tracking them, and fear that 2 large groups might meet up and merge. They also mention how they have dodged them throughout the winter. And then they find it, the prison, what we all have been waiting for. We see Rick with a smile, probably the first time in a long while that has happened.
Hershel deserved to be bite, you never walk that close to a walker. While clearing out the prison the one thing that annoyed me was the lack of Rule #4, Double Tap. Every walker they passed should have been stabbed in the head as they passed. One good point that I read online was that Hershel was blinded by worry at the fear of losing Maggie, causing him to not think straight. As for the impromptu dismemberment, according to Mazzara Hershel carries a medical bag at all times, so that was a clean, sterile axe, to be used for that very reason. Rick made the decision to at least attempt to save his life.
-Not really a burning question but how sweet are the new opening credits? Love ‘em.
-When will the much-anticipated Governor show up? Who encounters him first? -When does Merle show up again? I assume it must be fairly soon as there is an official season three character poster for him. And what effect will he have on Daryl’s general likability and his affectionate relationship with Carol?
-If Lori’s baby comes out undead, does that make it the first baby to be a walker right out of the womb? Or are baby zombies called crawlers?
-Will anything become of Carl’s obvious crush on Beth? A little bit of online research reveals Carl to be 13 and Beth to be 16. I see some rejection and rash decisions due to this unrequited love in Carl’s future.
-Really interested to see where this baby arc goes. Credit to Chris Hardwick for this one; The way to tell if the baby is Shane's is if it comes out of Lori and goes right into Andrea.
-Merle will be interesting to see return, how has the long time alone(?) changed him? Or do they find him with the Governor?
Blair’s Episode MVP: The Idea of Lori’s Potentially Undead Baby Killing Her
Steve's Episode MVP: Maggie, she has turned into a hot, zombie killing babe.
Blair’s Episode Grade: A-
Steve's Episode Grade: 2 thumbs up
Blair’s Deadpool Pick: Herschel (Carrying this one over from last season)
Steve's Deadpool Pick: One of the inmates