Season 2 of ‘The Walking Dead’ limped towards its finale like a Walker with a gimpy ankle. (Why do all zombies seem to have gimpy ankles?) The farm took its toll not only on the expected zombie carnage, but also on the show’s characterization. The finale showed us glimpses that Rick has finally realized that Shane’s my-way-or-the-highway attitude is the only way to survive. The question now is: Does the beginning of Season 3 build on that momentum?
A large chunk of time has passed since last season. (I don’t watch ‘The Talking Dead’, so let me know in the Comments if that was discussed there.) This we know because Lori’s belly has grown immensely. By the looks of it, multiple months have gone by. Andrea also mentions surviving an entire winter with her mysterious samurai friend. I’m surprised that it took the characters this long to find their way to the prison. The end of Season 2 made it look only a few miles away from their campfire. While it’s hard to believe that they stayed in that small area for months, all the while being trailed by hordes of Walkers, I was ready for the prison storyline to start. So, I sort of stuffed that plot hole in my back pocket and decided to go along with it.
Season 3 introduces quite a few new changes to our group of unwashed heroes. Rick has taken on Shane’s listen-to-me-or-shut-the-hell-up assertiveness and has planted himself firmly as the group’s leader. He was always their leader, but an argument could be made about how much leading he actually did. Also, the group has seen fit to equip Carl with a gun. Yes, the kid who routinely ran off into zombie-infested woods now carries a firearm with a silencer bigger than he is. Still, it’s nice to see that some things haven’t changed. T-Dog remains a mute. One wonders if the writers even discuss his character in the production meetings. Lori still cries a lot, and has serious self-esteem issues. Above all else, their product-placed Hyundai remains sparkling clean. Apparently all the water for showers has instead been allocated to keeping the show’s contest car (which you can totally win!) clean as a whistle.
I think it’s safe to say that the Season 3 premiere has as much or more zombie-killing carnage as the entire second season. It’s also nice to see that the group has finally figured out how to kill zombies in a methodical way, rather than blindly shooting into groups and hoping to hit as many heads as possible. King Leonidas would be proud of the formations that Rick, Glen, Daryl, T-Dog, Hershel and Maggie use to move into the prison.
The shooting gallery is amusing to watch. Carl has become a crack shot over the few months they’ve been away from the farm. Hitting zombie noggins from atop a prison guard tower with nothing but a handgun? I know, I know… In the zombie apocalypse, everyone knows how to deliver headshots with ease no matter where they are.
The prison poses some threats, but its rewards may be so much greater. Lori can safely deliver a baby there. That is, assuming that the baby isn’t stillborn and tries to eat Lori from the inside out. Boy, is that a graphic imagining of the worst possible scenario! Just think if the series goes in that direction. Could any show ever top a zombified fetus tearing through Sarah Wayne Callies’ stomach?
Andrea is apparently deathly sick now, but we’re not really sure what she’s got. Wouldn’t that just beat all? The undead swarm the Earth and she ends up dying of some mundane disease. Andrea’s been hanging out with the most comic book-y character of the whole show. Michonne (Danai Gurira) slices Walkers with a samurai sword and leads around two armless (and jawless) zombies like putrefied pack mules. We still don’t really know what they’re up to or where their story is going, but zombie head slicing looks a lot easier than ramming crow bars in zombie eye sockets at close range.
What will become of our intrepid bunch? Will Rick slowly turn into Shane as he gets testier and testier? Will the group be able to clear the prison of unwanted flesh-eating guests before they collapse from exhaustion? Will Carl accidentally shoot someone? Will Lori get eaten to death by the zombie version of Kuato? Will they learn to check every seemingly dead body before stepping over it well within biting distance?
Well, we know the answer to that last one. Hershel falls for the old sleeping Walker trick. He gets his Achilles pulled out in one satisfying chomp, and then Rick crudely amputates his leg. This leads us to one more question: Does limb amputation really work? If so, how long does it take for the infection to spread? In the CDC episode of the first season, I thought it was implied that the spread of the infection is extremely rapid.
Right after Rick gets done hacking off his friend’s lower leg, the group comes face-to-face with another batch of real, living people. Reflecting on that moment makes me think that this was the perfect way to end the season premiere. We now have a large group of ancillary characters who will no doubt be used as zombie chow over the course of this new season. At least the main characters can breathe a sigh of relief. With some fresh meat in their ranks, they’re probably safe until the inevitable “I can’t believe they just killed that person!” episode airs at the end of the season.