The Walking Dead, Season 3 Episode 2

Welcome back to The Walking Dead, Season Three! I tell ya, one can wait so long for a show to premier again that by the time it gets going, they find themselves falling behind on their watching and reviewing. Would you believe I didn’t get to watching the latest episode til this morning? Yeah, it’s crazy I know. But I hope this review makes up for that and piques the interest of anyone who has yet to watch it.

Now rumor had it that this episode was the best one yet. That’s a pretty tall order considering that the show has set some pretty high standards thus far for action, suspense, and good old fashion gory kill fests! But I went in with an open mind and tried not to expect too much. Mainly, I just wanted to see what they would choose to reveal and what other cliffhangers we could expect.

Last, I should mention that thanks to a friend (hi, Khaalidah!) I’ve taken it upon myself to learn all I can about the comic books and how this show relates and deviates from them. Thanks to my initial research – still looking to get a comprehensive volume of the first 90 or so issues – I noticed a few things in this episode that were pretty significant as far as the overall storyline goes. But more on that later. Here’s what happened this week on The Walking Dead:

Sick:
The show picks up where the premiere left off, with Hershel bleeding on the floor from an impromptu amputation and Daryl discovering that there are inmates still alive and uninfected inside. After hurrying Hershel back to a cell where they try to stop the bleeding, Daryl, T-Dog and Rick have a strained chat with the inmates. Eventually, they come to an accommodation. In exchange for helping them clear out a new cell block for them to occupy, the inmates agree to share what’s left of the food supply with them.

At first, this doesn’t go so well as it is clear that the inmates are not used to fighting as a single, disciplined force. They make a mess of things as they come upon their first group of Walkers and begin stabbing them in the stomach and rioting on them. However, things improve with subsequent encounters, and slowly the group begins to get the hang of Rick and his group’s tactics. Namely, go for the head, stay together, and don’t let them get around you!

However, the biggest man, ironically named Tiny, disobeys these rules and slips off in the middle of an encounter, causing him to get scratched. The groups begins to debate what to do with him, but that ends when the inmates de facto leader (the only one with a gun) bashes his head in and they move on.

When they reach the cell block, a pitch battle ensues to the take out the last guarding the doors. During this fight, the same prisoner tries to take Rick’s head off, accidentally-on-purpose, and tosses a Walker on him when that doesn’t work. As soon as they kill off the last of them, he pretends it was all an accident. To this, Rick responds, “Yeah, I get it… Shit happens.” And then plunges his machete into the mans’ skull!

Another runs, and ends up getting locked out by Rick, to be eaten shortly thereafter. Of the last two, Rick and the others try to decide what to do with them. The one insists that unlike their companion, he is no killer and just wants to live. The other refuses to plead, and tells Rick to do what he will. Rick decides to spare them, and they enter the new cell block. They find that the former inmates were all shot in the head, execution style.

Meanwhile, Hershel goes from bad to better as Carl manages to slip off and find the infirmary. Coming back with gauze, bandages and peroxide, he even boasts that he killed two walkers. Naturally, his mother is incensed, but he insists he’s just looking out for the group. And the medical supplies help, as Carol gives Hershel’s stump a proper wrapping that will ward off infection. They also cuff him to his bunk, as a precaution…

What follows is on the most touching scenes as Maggie has some time alone with Hershel and tells him its okay for him to let go. Unlike her little sister Beth who hopes her father will recover, Maggie is convinced that they must be prepared for the worst, and tells her unconscious father that she and Beth will carry on as best they can. They have a close call when Hershel stops breathing and becomes suddenly reanimated after Lori gives him CPR, but everyone calms as they realize he’s still alive. He even comes out of his coma shortly thereafter to the relief and delight of everyone.

However, Carol has impending woes as she knows that Lori’s baby is due soon and may have to be removed by C-section. She doesn’t know how to do this, and at the time it seems as though Hershel will not be on hand to do it himself. Hence, she asks Glenn to help her procure a female Walker so she can practice on it. After finding and killing one in the yard, she gets to work on slicing open its stomach. As she does, she is watched from the treeline by someone… or something!

Things come together in the end as Rick and Lori have a private chat. They commend each other for their quick actions and being cool in the crisis. All in all, they agree that it was a good day. However, Rick still can’t talk about all that’s happened between them. The episode ends with him telling her how thankful they all are for saving Hershel’s life, and then leaving her alone.

Summary:
Hm, best episode yet? Not in my humble opinion, but definitely a good one! Personally, I am waiting on next week’s which the previews have indicated is where Michonne and Andrea will meet “The Governor” and be brought to his little town. What’s more, hints are given that Merle Dixon, Daryl’s crazy-ass brother from season one, will be making an appearance. If this episode had some people thinking it was the best yet, I’d tell them to wait on next week’s. Promises to be revelatory!

But of course, this weeks episode still needs a little play by play. For starters, it was damn good because of the way it juxtaposed the group’s fight to save one of his own members alongside the rather ruthless display Rick made with the prisoners. After cutting a deal with them but realizing he couldn’t trust them, he quickly dealt with their ringleader by splitting his head in cold blood! Then he even trapped another one outside where he was eaten by Walkers. As the Joker would say, “See, even to a guy like me, that’s cold!”

What’s more, hints are given that Carl is heading down the dark path as well. After running off to fetch supplies, he had absolutely no patience for his mother telling him that he took an unnecessary risk. In addition, the scene when Hershel is revived and they suspect he might be a Walker ends with Carl holding his pistol whooped out and at the ready. This, along with last weeks episode shows how Carl has progressed from little kid to dedicated killer. And when it comes to his parents, he’s showing some clear signs of identifying with his father at the expense of his mother. You might say he’s picking up on the conflict between them and picking sides.

Also, there was a little revelation that put me in mind of something I read about from the comic books. During this episode, Rick tells the prison inmates that they all have the virus, and that as soon as any of them die, they will be reanimated as Walkers. To my memory, this is the first instance of this being mentioned in the series, though I could be wrong.But if it is, it means they have now tackled an important part of the comic book series, which was the grand revelation that any one of them, including people who die while still human, has a strong chance of coming back as a Walker. Remember Shane? Well, if they choose to follow the comics on this point, Rick will have to travel back to where they buried him, unearth him, and put a bullet between his eyes.

Like I said… cold!

The Walking Dead, Season Three Premiers!

It’s here at last!This past Sunday, after taking a very long break, the AMC’s Walking Dead finally premiered their third season.I tell ya, I was waiting so long that I almost forogt all about it. And it’s been weeks since there have been any helpful previews to remind me!

But alas, last night I remembered that the 14th was the big day, er, evening, in which the show would be airing. And, since I lack cable TV, I knew I would have to be employing extra-legal means to see it. So, taking to my computer, I found a torrent, uploaded it, and watched it with baited breath! Well, not exactly baited, but definitely lots of anticipation. I mean, it’s not like it was the new season of Game of Thrones, am I right? 😉

But before I tell you about this episode (Spoilers to follow), there’s the matter of how the last season ended. As we all know, all what was left unresolved thanks to the showdown between Shane and Rick, the split up of the original group, the loss of the farm, and Andrea’s rescu eby a mysterious hooded stranger. What was going to come of all this? Who would make it in this next season, and who would die?

Episode One – The Seed:
The party breaks in to a home occupied by Walkers and begins killing them, clearing the way for the rest to come in and settle down. Afterward, they begin to search for food, but find only an owl (which Daryl shoots with his crossbow) and some cans of dog food. However, more Walkers begins descending on the house, and they are forced to throw their bags into the small fleet of vehicles they have and flee.

From this opening scene alone, a few things become clear. For one, it has been several months since the shootout at the barn took place as evidence by Lori’s pregnancy bump. Second, Hershel, Maggie and Beth have joined the party, clearly believing that they would be safer on the road than on their farm. Third, Shane, Andrea and Dale are gone, either dead or having split off and gone their own way.

After leaving the house, the group confers and agrees that they can’t keep moving as they have been. Pursued by different groups of Walkers, their ultimate goal is to find a place to set down until Lori can deliver her baby. At last, they find a place that seems secure – a prison! However, there is still the matter of clearing it of all the Walkers that are currently inside. After making their way through the fence, the group deploys with the discipline of an army unit and takes out over twenty of them. Apparently, they are getting pretty good at killing zombies!

After making camp and having a meal, Rick tells them that they need to push and take the rest of the prison. He thinks that it fell early on, and that it must have supplies, food, medicine, and an armory. However, since they are low on ammo, they will need to go in in and fight it out hand to hand. This they begin to do,but quickly realize the interior of the prison is not as secure as hoped.

Luckily, a cell block which they come upon does appear to be impenetrable and they decide to spend the night there. And just to be on the safe side, Rick finds the keys to the cells and every locks themselves in for the night. Ironically, the prison’s purpose is reversed now, locking people in instead of trying to keep them from getting out.

In between all this, we cut to a small town, where we meet Michonne for the first time and watch her ass-kicking skills at work! This consists of her decapitating zombies with her samurai sword, and without the slightest bit of trouble I might add! After making the rounds, she returns to a “Deer Cooler” (a meat locker) where we find Andrea, who appears to be sick and in her care.

They decide to set out again, as Andrea doesn’t think she’ll survive if they stay. Packing up her two captive Walkers, the two set out… Yes, apparently Michonne is n the habit of keeping two Walkers with her in chains while traveling. Neither have jaws, which is clearly a defensive measure to make sure they can’t bite her. And I’m guessing having them around keeps other Walkers off their backs. Clever!

Lastly, we cut back to Rick and his usual party of hunters are exploring the basement of the prison. Unfortunately, this area is filled with Walkers, the party gets broken up as they begin running from two separate parties. In the process, Hershel is bitten on the leg and they are forced to scramble to the nearest secure room. Once there, Rick amputates Hershel’s leg with an axe to prevent the spread of the infection. Hershel is still in danger of bleeding out on the floor, and Daryl turns around to see several uninfected prisoners hiding in the next room…

Summary:
What can I say about this opening episode except WOW! Some seriously and truly badass stuff happened here, not to mention plenty of more cliffhanger notes. For starters,the opening scene was very effective and quite intelligently done. Not a word of dialogue passes between anyone in those first few minutes, and yet, we are made to everything of importance. The group has changed, they’ve become more seasoned and experienced, but everyone has the same look of fatigue and wear on their faces. The moment when Carl opens a can of dog food and Rick throws it in the fire place, that too was classic. It’s like he’s saying,”we may be hungry but we’re not animals!” And it was done without a single word.

Then there are the scenes where they fight their way onto the prison grounds, then into the prison proper were both very cool! In the first, special attention is given to the fact that the company has become a highly disciplined and able force, which is demonstrated in how hey manage to quickly envelop the zombies and pick them off from all sides. The moment at the end where Rick shoots the last of them and then laughs to himself is especially good here. It’s like a moment of pride where he’s realizing how effective they’ve become at the whole business of staying alive and killing zombies!

Then comes the fight next day where they begin clearing out the prison grounds using only handheld weapons. Each and every one of them is particularly badass here, stabbing and slicing their way in. But the best part is when the former guards, decked out in full riot gear come to fight them and they have to get creative. After all, you can’t simply smash in their skulls when they are protected by a helmet, and Daryl’s arrows prove useless against the helmets face shields. Here, T-Dog grabs a riot shield and begins bashing into some, while Maggie realizes that the best way to kill them is to stab under the helmets, and then feels very proud of herself when she kills one this way.

And of course, the irony of the prison. What better demonstration is there of how in an apocalyptic world, everything is turned upside down? In this kind of environment, a facility that was once built to incarcerate men is now turned into a fortress, with the express purpose of protecting those withing from those without. And the ending, where they must both cut off Hershel’s leg and find prisoners who are still alive? Whoa, you talk about a climax! A sure fire guarantee that people will be tuning in next week! I know I will…

However, there were also some kinder, gentler elements that were also well suited to the story. In this episode, Lori is desperate to talk to Rick about everything they’ve gone, specifically the triangle that existed between her, Shane and Rick. The matter of the baby’s true father is intrinsic to this, and while Lori wants to talk it out, Rick sure as hell doesn’t! She lets on towards the end that she thinks that Rick hates her, and intimates that Rick killed Shane, which is something she blames herself for. Her words “I put that knife in his hands” silences any doubt as to the whereabouts of Shane, and whether or not she or being literal or metaphorical remains to be seen.

Also, there is the issue of budding and developing romance that is factored in here. In the last season, Maggie and Glen began to have a relationship, and its clear from this episode that it is still happening. At the same time, Carol is beginning to make some overtures towards Daryl, who as we may recall was a great comfort to her last season while they were still looking for her daughter Sophia. However, Daryl seems a bit unenthused and is keeping her at a distance for the time being.

At the same time, little Carl also seems to be taking an interest in Beth, much to the chagrin of her father Hershel. Between these two seasos, he’s obviously grown considerably and is trying to emulate his father, wearing his old hat, shooting a gun, and trying to be a protector. It’s cute, it’s endearing, and in a way all of these relationships are indicative of something very important in the story. In the midst of all that death, people want to cling to life and take what joy they still can. But naturally, there’s a great deal of misgiving and hesitancy since there’s a chance it will end in pain.

Michonne was also very cool, and for what’s it worth, it’s good that they introduced here. Obviously they haven’t developed the thread involving her and Andrea very much in this episode, but we can assume their will be more to  come on that front later. At this point, we can only assume of what happened to separate her from the rest. But if I were a betting man, I’d say Shane killed Dale to protect his secret, Rick killed Shane out of necessity (he did kinda go batshit crazy there!), and Andrea took off because her and Shane had a thing. Somewhere along the way, she got sick and fell in with Michonne, who pulled her out of harm’s way.

The only complaint I might make, more of an observation really, was that as usual, they did up the disgusting factor! The worst part, for me, was when Rick ripped the helmet off one of the prison guard Walkers and his entire face came with it! Oh, and did I mention the skull kept screaming at him? And then Rick cut his head in half with the machete. I know it’s all animatrons and models, but holy shit yuck!

Looking forward to episode two and more revelations, not to mention zombie smashing!