October 15, 2012

Episode Review: THE WALKING DEAD, "Seed"

It's probably safe to say that Season 2 of The Walking Dead was hit-or-miss at the very least. It started off strong, lulled in the middle to the point of annoyance, but it was able to regroup and finish on a somewhat high note. Thankfully, Season 3 was able to keep the momentum going and kicked things off with an action-packed opener that didn't waste any time whats-so-ever, and yet it also felt like not much actually happened.

It's been a few months since Hershel's farm fell, and the ragtag bunch of survivors have been in search of a new place to settle down. So far, they've been going house to house trying to find supplies and refuge, and the episode opened up with them once again coming across a potential domicile until they realized that it was surrounded by walkers and made a run for it. After regrouping (and Daryl feasted on an owl he killed), Rick and his trusty, redneck sidekick went hunting and stumbled upon an abandoned prison. It looked like it could be the perfect camp, so they decided to take it.

At first, the group only needed to clear out the inner courtyard of its zombie inhabitants, but Rick knew that they needed to get inside the building to look for supplies in order to survive. So, they soldiered on, secured a cell block and most of the men went on a mission to find food, medicine, etc. Of course, things were going way too smoothly which meant that something bad was about to happen. While exploring the layout, the group ran into a group of walkers, got separated and Hershel was bitten. In order to save to old-timer, Rick chopped off his leg, but that wasn't even the craziest part. When it was all said and done, our heroes found out that there were not the only survivors living in the prison.

In a very minor B-plot, we got some more glimpses of the mysterious, katana-wielding Michonne. As it turned out, she and Andrea grew closer over the winter, but the latter has been hit by an illness. After Michonne found her some medicine, the duo quibbled over whether Andrea was a burden or not and decided to keep moving in order to find a better haven.

One of the best decisions The Walking Dead decided to do was to return to its horror movie roots. Last season dragged because it spent way too much time trying to debate on ethics, leadership and other abstract ideas in lieu of pure action and adventure. From and economic and creative standpoint, I understood why the show took that route. I'm sure the budget didn't allow for countless zombies being disposed of, and Frank Darabont wanted to transcend the genre. That's all well and good, but it was clear that it wasn't equipped to be a morality tale and that's when the wheels started to spin. Instead of getting genuine tension, we were subjected to half-baked power plays, people doing stupid things to further the plot and non-stop debates about what's right and wrong. On paper, I can see how that could lead to gripping television, but unfortunately it just didn't work out like it should have.

In a lot of ways, "Seed" felt like showrunner Glenn Mazzara was acknowledging what Season 2 did poorly, gave viewers non-stop undead violence and the episode was better because of it. While the story didn't take any drastic leaps forward (in the end all that happened was the group found a new home), it was refreshing that the plot didn't get in the way of the action or the character beats. Most of the time focused on Rick's role as a leader and how the survivors have learned how to navigate this new world instead of complain about it. Sure, we didn't learn anything new, but I can see myself rooting for these people to survive because they're now active participants in their own fates instead of passive aggressive naysayers who bickered with one another. That said, Lori still needs to go.

Much like in Season 2, Lori was still the show's weakest link because she's still as unlikable as ever. Now to be fair, it's only been one episode back, and it did seem like she was owning up to her past mistakes, but it all felt like lip-service to me. She's yet to be redeemed, so the scene where she confessed to Hershel that she's afraid that her baby could be dead and might eat her from the inside out didn't land because it involved someone I didn't care about. But I do hope that she can still be turned around because I believe she still has more to offer, and at least she's made Rick more interesting. So, there's that.

Other Odds and Ends:
  • I'll go ahead an echo whatever one has already said; letting silence do all the talking was a brilliant move.
  • How cool were those prison storming scenes? I just hope the show didn't blow its budget on them.
  • So, the writers really want to see Daryl and Carol happen? Eww.
  • Rick's karate kick in the prison yard always makes me chuckle.
  • I know that many didn't care for her suicide sub-plot last season, but I kind of like Beth. As for Carl's crush on her... not so much.
  • Honestly, I think I'd be OK if Lori's zombie baby ate her insides. Maybe she can contribute through death.
  • I haven't read the comic, so I don't know what happens but I want Hershel to live and not be all walker-fied. Writing him out now would be kind of a waste.
So, after an up and down season, The Walking Dead came back with guns blazing and put together a pretty effective and entertaining first hour. Horror fans got tons of mayhem and gore while the TV snobs got a little bit of quieter character moments. In the end, I don't have any complaints about "Seed" or what it accomplished, but whether or not the show can maintain this level of quality is another question altogether.


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