Three guys talking about comic books, sports, movies, TV shows and the numerous other pastimes that make us Gentlemen of Leisure.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Walking Dead 3x01: Seed


Now that's more like it: this episode showcased what I've always wanted to see more of on this show: a group of beleaguered individuals competently tackling the problems of living in a world overrun by zombies. Finding a place to hold up, clearing the prison yard, pushing deeper inside; these are small goals, nowhere near the level of rebuilding a functional society, but they fit the scale of the show, and gave the characters believable obstacles to overcome beyond just "surviving" (and in overcoming them, they give the characters some level of victory, however small, and prevent things from feeling too hopeless). The cold open, especially, was a thing of beauty, as we watch Rick and company clear a house of zombies, scrounge for food, setup camp, only to hurriedly rush out the back and into their cars, moving on, when a wave of zombies appear. Without a word of dialogue, it's made clear exactly what the situation is, how certain characters have changed, and how the group as a whole is surviving.

Of course, the best episodes of Walking Dead are its premieres and its finales; getting everyone to someplace and getting them out of that place seems to bring out the best in the show, likely because those events allow the show to focus on the zombie killing instead of moments of poor characterization. So it remains to be seen if the balance between action and character on display in this episode, and the ability to do more showing and less telling, can be maintained in the episodes ahead. For all we know, the episode-ending cliffhanger reveal of non zombies inside the prison could just lead to another Farm Redux as Rick tries to share/control the prison with these newfound people while everyone else settles in and starts bitching about who's not doing their share of the cooking. But hopefully the strong storytelling on display in the opening, and really, in all the action scenes, is an indication of a show more confidant in its strengths, and a sign that while Rick and his group may have found a respite, they won't be able to rest for too long.

Other Thoughts
I'd be perfectly fine with the group spending the season (or more) at the prison, so long as the focus remains on making it safe/functional, with plenty of excursions and/or zombie incursions, and less so on petty interpersonal issues.

We received just a few brief scenes of Michonne (who was never named on screen, but we all know who she is by now) and Andrea, but I'm intrigued by the bond they formed over the winter. It made sense for the show to jump ahead in time (and worked to its benefit), but I hope that jump doesn't end up short-cutting the Michonne/Andrea friendship, leaving us with a bunch of scenes where we're told how deep their friendship is now. 

I remain curious why Michonne has the chained zombies with her. Are they her parents or family members she's keeping alive for sentimental reasons? Does their smell ward off other zombies?

This episode took some good strides towards rehabilitating some of the more annoying characters; Carl is finally being useful and allowed to participate in the group without a crap ton of debate, and Laurie had a nice monologue where she finally admitted she turned Rick and Shane against each other. 

Other nice character moments: Carol and Daryl's scene atop the car, and Carl's (nicely understated) burgeoning crush on Maggie's younger sister (whose name still escapes me...).

For a show that once honestly had a scene in which a woman was taken to task for not doing her share of the cookin' 'n' the cleanin', it was nice to see Maggie as part of the central zombie killing squad, and that Carol has become a good shot.

I never would have expected this, but Hershel has grown on me to the point where I really don't want him to die. Rick hacking off his leg was delightfully gruesome, though. Someone needs to cauterize that stump fast.

Nitpick time: putting aside the fact that everyone is a really good shot (I guess we can chalk that up to lots of offseason practice, though I did like the moment where Carol almost shot Rick)), if ammo is in such short supply, why waste it on the zombies in the prison yard? They were spread out enough that the they probably could have been taken out hand-to-hand. Otherwise, they could have been lured to the fence and just taken out assembly-line style. Also, when exploring deeper into the prison, why not stab the brain of every body you find laying on the ground, even if they appear to be dead, just to be safe? If they had, Hershel wouldn't have been bitten.

Finally, a quick housekeeping note: I'm not quite sure yet which day these posts will appear regularly, as I still haven't settled on a preferred viewing method of the show this season (this episode we watched online thanks to AMC). My hope is to have the Walking Dead posts up every Tuesday, but that may not be feasible. We'll see. At any rate, I'll be sure to tweet out each post as it goes up, so follow me on Twitter (@AustinGorton) and once I've settled on a viewing/posting schedule, I'll be sure to let everyone know.

10 comments:

  1. You had the exact same issues as me and hubby--he was especially bothered by the ammo-wasting in the yard. And we both said something about making sure the dead were dead inside...

    And yes, Herschel has really grown on me too, surprise surprise. I hope he doesn't die.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yep, you nailed all the pros and cons we had as well.
    We were particularly irritated that they didn't just stand on the other side of the fence and kill every zomb with a stab to the brain. I mean, that's really, really safe, so why would you half do that and then half waste your ammo?

    But otherwise, i'm looking forward to the next episode. Let's hope they can keep it up

    ReplyDelete
  3. Woo, I think this is my first time commenting.

    I predicted that perhaps Michonne was keeping the pair of "de-fanged" zombies as an intimidation factor for any other humans she runs into. Or, as I notticed at the end of the episode, perhaps she's using them as pack mules, as both were carrying backpacks while they were traveling. Which if you have the balls to keep two zombies with you, is a pretty smart idea for traveling with supplies. I just hope it doesn't end up being something stupid like "we just thought it would make her look badass," which is kind of how I thought it came off on the finale when she showed up. I think you can get away with that kind of thing in a comic, but on a tv show, it's a little much.

    ReplyDelete
  4. @Summer, Sarah: Good to know I wasn't the only one bothered by the yard zombie shooting.

    It wouldn't have even bothered me that much if they hadn't pointed out how low on ammo they were.

    @Unknown: Woo, I think this is my first time commenting.

    Welcome to the party!

    as I notticed at the end of the episode, perhaps she's using them as pack mules, as both were carrying backpacks while they were traveling.

    Oh, that's a good thought. I could see that. I certainly like that better than some sentimental/illogical reason.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm right with you on everything you said. I really hope this season that if someone tells Carl to stay in the house, that later he's actually in teh fucking house. and if giving him more responsibility is how that comes about, then i'm game.

    ReplyDelete
  6. @Anne: I really hope this season that if someone tells Carl to stay in the house, that later he's actually in teh fucking house

    Or, conversely, if he's told to stay in the house and leaves, then he dies.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I finally just watched this last night. It was a definite improvement over season 2, though as you note, it was a single episode, and a season premire at that, and so probably shouldn't be judged against the entirety of last season.

    I really wonder if the apparent improvement may be due to the new showrunner. Everyone knows that Frank Darabont was fired (or quit; can't recall) about halfway through last year, but Glen Mazzara still had to carry Darabont's storylines to conclusion. Now he's starting fresh, at least as far as the direction of the series goes, so maybe this is where his vision will become more pure.

    Anyway, I was a little upset about Herschel too, though I had always liked him. The entire businesslike approach to hacking off his leg was something I don't think we ever would have seen before on this show. It's become clear that these folks have at last fully adapted to their situation and hopefully there will be no further whining when it comes to things like that.

    Having not read the comics at all, I have no idea what to expect from the prison. As of right now, I look forward to seeing where this goes.

    ReplyDelete
  8. @Matt: Now he's starting fresh, at least as far as the direction of the series goes, so maybe this is where his vision will become more pure.

    Hmm, that's good thinking. Though based on some stuff I've seen from Glen Mazzara on Twitter, I'm not entirely sure I like the idea of him having a firmer hand in the direction of the show (he has at times seemed fairly dismissive of some legitimate logical issues that fans have brought up to him, and of course comes across like too much of a cheerleader when confronted with the show's flaws, but that at least is to be expected).

    ReplyDelete

  9. Good comments, everyone...

    this episode showcased what I've always wanted to see more of on this show: a group of beleaguered individuals competently tackling the problems of living in a world overrun by zombies

    Heck, yeah... Your whole intro is very well put and echoes my own thoughts. The same goes for your hopes, concerns, highlights, and nitpicks — which, in a show that's mainly a post-apocalyptic gorefest adrenaline pump but obviously has aspirations to be a smart post-apocalyptic gorefest adrenaline pump, are really more than nitpicks.

    Parts is parts:

    We got a Lost eye shot to open the season. Uh-oh? 8^)

    I never noticed how much the kid playing Carl, Chandler Riggs, looks like Sarah Wayne Callies as Lori.

    Seeing Carl with a gun, all purposeful like, was neat — it just makes sense in its own right and it also was a great shorthand clue that time had passed. I was surprised that it didn't seem more laughable, frankly. Also? I totally want to see a crossover team-up between him and Henry from Once Upon a Time now.

    For the life of me I'm not sure whether I cheer or jeer Rick for his "No! Dog food! Ever!" move. I understand not wanting to get in the habit of settling for, let alone wallowing in, subhuman standards, but, y'know, at the same time, Vive la subsistence!

    Early on I didn't exactly like Hershel as a character, but I appreciated him as a character and I thought that Scott Wilson was doing an excellent job. By the end of the season I had grown to flat-out like him; I'd be sorry to lose him.

    I enjoyed how danged giddy they all got blowing away the walkers in the yard in some combination of exhaustion, triumph, and (let's face it) shootin' things bein' fun. This episode of The Walking Dead has been brought to you by the gutteral sound kkkhhhh and the emotion bloodlust.

    I also liked Daryl's rocking his rug/poncho/shawl cape and the flirting with Carol; for a moment, I actually wondered if we were going to get a revelation that they'd already begun enjoying sexytime together but I guess we're still building up to that if it indeed ever happens.

    The very awesomest thing of all, however, was Riot-Gear Zombies. Somehow the sight of shambling reanimated corpses in fine clothing and/or specialized uniforms is particularly hilarious.

    My combination most-dreaded and most-hoped-for line of dialogue this season: "Carl! Stay in the cell block!"

    ReplyDelete
  10. @Blam: We got a Lost eye shot to open the season. Uh-oh? 8^)

    Ha!

    I totally want to see a crossover team-up between him and Henry from Once Upon a Time now.

    Carl bugged the crap out of me last season, but I have to admit he'd probably run circles around Henry. "Want to see my storybook?"/"No time to read. Killing zombies."

    I understand not wanting to get in the habit of settling for, let alone wallowing in, subhuman standards, but, y'know, at the same time, Vive la subsistence!

    I was similarly torn. At the end of the day, food is food. Dog food might seem gross when you have better options, but it's still edible/digestible/containing nutrients.

    Somehow the sight of shambling reanimated corpses in fine clothing and/or specialized uniforms is particularly hilarious.

    True statement. I also liked how while the face mask made it harder to stab the zombie in the brain, it also made it harder for the zombies to bite anyone.



    ReplyDelete

Comment. Please. Love it? Hate it? Am mildly indifferent to it? Let us know!