Monday, 15 October 2012
Review : The Walking Dead - Season 3 Episode 1 -Seeds (2012)
It looks like the writers and creators of THE WALKING DEAD have been listening to the fan's concerns, and listening good...
I don't mean the haters or the trolls; those strange creatures will continue to pick apart anything and everything that the rest of us love about this phenomenal show. No, I'm talking about the real fan's... the people, and we are legion, who are critical without being ridiculous.
It's no secret that a lot of folk's out there were turned off to some degree by season 2 of the show. Myself, I loved it like I love my jerky, but I can admit that it had some pacing issues and some of the writing was a little uneven. I had no problem with the episodes that featured a sparsity of the munching dead, and I came to care for all the right characters and find frustration with all the wrong ones. Shane was a fascinating guy, as were Darryl and Rik. I had a few issues with Carl's worth, but lets face it, he was a kid; scared and untrained. Lori was the cat who caused the most scratches on the couch, and while I often couldn't abide her actions, I found it easy to go along with her uneven behaviour. After all, I've never been in a fucking zombie apocalypse, so who am I to judge?
Still, while my love and admiration for the show and the cast never diminished, (and I've yet to meet anyone outside of an Internet forum who feels any different), the show clearly had the potential to rise to even greater heights.
With the opening episode of season 3, it's looks like it's reached them.
Glen Mazzara and his team are now in full control of the show, and this, let it be said, is a very good thing. There was a notable increase it quality in the last season when these guys took over, and its clear that its continuing into this new chapter of our tale of survival, moral disintegration and death. The show feels entirely fresh, with a much more focused intent on character nuance, action and suspense. This time, it all just feels much more balanced.
Now, I know its only one episode into the season, but it's very heartening to see our characters all become far more likable than we've come to know them. Time has passed, in our absence, (a very wise move by the creators), and our desperate group of survivors have all grown while we waited. A harsh winter has passed, and everyone has found their inner strength. Lets just look at a few of the great changes this episode brought....
The women are no longer delegated to side characters or spare wheels. The washing of dishes has been replaced by determination, courage, ability and yes, even a sense of humour about their situation. A scene between Darryl and Carol is amongst the shows warmest and funniest in its entire run; now who would've thought that? Also, we have the much heralded entry of Michonne into the mix, who can only further the female empowerment the show is now portraying. While there will surely be time for cooking and cleaning, (and it looks like these poor bastards could all use a good wash), the girls of the group now know how to fend for themselves, and have much greater worth to the group. Its a very good sign of things to come.
And what about the two main gripes that were aimed at season 2 ad-nausea...Lori and Carl?
Well, in the months that have been endured in the land of the dead, Carl appears to have become the son Rik needs him to be. He's put aside childish things and is taking the right steps to becoming a man. And Lori....Lori, by some miracle, was sympathetic in this episode. The writers have used the negative attention towards her character to help push her story arc, (and that of her families) in new directions. She realizes she fucked up, and seems so much more humble, and human, now.
As for her long-suffering husband, and the shows 'dead center', Rik has grown much colder, much more capable and much more complex. His scenes with Lori hint at an inner anger having usurped his despair. His relationship with Carl is far more realistic, too, and its very clear to see that he's become the harsh leader we all knew he should, and could, become. There are a number of very telling scenes in which Rik merely glares at characters when questioned, and in the opening scenes, his actions as a starving Carl pries open a tin of cat food speak much louder than words would, as do the expression of his group. No-one is talking back. They all now know he's their only real hope for spiritual and physical survival, and they accept his authority without question, (so far). All the while Rik never loses his compassion, or his well honed moral compass. At least, not yet...
And what of the new prison setting? Its as imposing, claustrophobic and bleak as we all hoped it would be. There are some fantastic scenes that take place in its dark, foreboding corridors. The episode finale, in which the group navigate its labyrinthine, pitch-black corridors using only torches, is the most suspenseful moment in the show since a much less experienced Rik got his sorry ass stuck under that tank way back in the day. The prison is going to be a fantastic setting this season, and as we all know, it'll be contrasted by a certain, simple-living town run by a lovely guy who goes by the name of, 'the Governor'. There's much to look forward to, folks.
As I mentioned earlier, there is a much stronger balance here between action and drama, and the action scenes do not disappoint. There may be more zombie killing in this episode than all of season two combined, yet thanks to great writing, it never becomes overbearing. This never has been, and never will be, a mindless romp focused on constant action and gore, (thank heavens), but its truly exciting to see the group kick some serious undead ass. The violence here, which is through the roof, helps to build character, and that's the key to making this show work.
The effects are as great as ever, and it seems with the shows success they may be allowed to go a little further, as this one felt right up there with Romero's DAY OF THE DEAD. It was bloody as hell, with faces sliding off, rotten, half eaten corpses, too many, (and too varied), kills to count and a final scene that just kicks your teeth in, and leaves us on a brilliant cliffhanger. This is horror heaven, right here, troops, and we should all rejoice.
THE WALKING DEAD has been great from the beginning, and despite some flaws, its always had a very loyal, loving fan base. Its brought people to the genre that previously thought horror to be stale and thoughtless, and its upped the stakes in what we expect from horror, both on television and in theaters. We should raise a glass to Mazzara and his team; they've listened, they've cared, and they've acted accordingly, and we get to reap the fine rewards. I can't see anyone outside the forum trolls, being disappointed. Its as good as TV gets. Exciting, pulse-pounding, scary and dark as hell. This is what horror is all about. And we still have The Governor to look forward to....
High hopes indeed...bring on the next episode!!!
(Authors Note : I'll be reviewing the rest of the season as it airs, so stay tuned for more reviews, guys. Love, Kyle)
10 Owl-Burgers out of 10