Any fear we had that season 3 of AMC’s The Walking Dead would be a redux of the slow moving character studies of season 2 is completely put to rest with this season’s premiere episode ‘Seed.’
Directed by Ernest Dickerson and penned by Glen Mazzara, this episode has something the previous season lacked – PACING. This show is about humanity but it thrives on tension and dread. In season 2, all of that tension fizzled whenever a character lamented their internal struggle. While that might be what real people would do in a post-apocalyptic zombie infested world, it doesn’t make for good television. The audience needs to feel every part of the terror this world brings. Too much conversation takes us out of that experience and we end up finding the character self-obsessed rather than tortured.
Season 3 starts off as it should, with some zombie slayage. We’re shown, not told, that Carl is no longer that little boy who is always going to get lost. He is a full fledged zombie killer, now. Everyone, with the exception of pregnant Lori, gets in on the killing as the survivors clear the infestation out of their new home, a prison. The zombies do more than provide gore and action, they remind the viewers why these characters make the decisions they make. The zombies remind us why these characters have skewed morals. And as the end of the episode reveals, the prison holds more than just walkers and sets the tone and the drama for the rest of the season.
What this episode did not have was enough Michonne but for those unfamiliar with the comics, too much of her in the premiere would have been confusing. What we do see of her character enforces the promise that this season will be more intense than season 2.
Rick, who usually spends every episode weighing the ethical costs of even the smallest decision (“If I step on this grass what effect will that have on the other grass? What will Hershel think of my stepping on his grass? Let’s spend 40 minutes talking about this until someone gets their brains eaten.”), is the character most changed this season. He has finally taken the advice of the best friend he murdered – sometimes to do what is right you have to do bad things. There is no point blubbering about it. Just do the bad thing and get it over with.
Rick’s final scene in the episode is brilliant. I’m not going to tell you why, just in case you have yet to see the episode (what is the matter with you?), but he does something incredibly brave. The acting was on point. The way Andrew Lincoln shakes, yet does not hesitate was perfectly layered. He does what had to be done and while I doubt his actions will make a bit of difference it was beautifully tragic and beautifully gruesome. It was the kind of scene that as an audience member you feel in your bones and still haunts you the next day.
If the show continues to show us the horror and sorrow of these characters rather than spoon feed it to us in drawn out monologues, season 3 of The Walking Dead will be one of the most intense seasons of television we’ve ever experienced.