I know a lot of people love The Walking Dead TV show. I am not one of them. The incredible, heartbreaking, disturbing, nightmare-inducing comic series created by Robert Kirkman? Yes, absolutely. The episodic video game series produced by Telltale Games? Yup, one of my favorites of 2012. The first season of AMC’s The Walking Dead? For the most part, pretty good. The second season? A disaster.
Season three premiered this week, and I’ve got some thoughts about it. Spoilers ahead.
I’m not going to spend too much time talking about how much I hated season two of The Walking Dead, but I basically felt like it had become a boring show full of unlikeable characters. It took too long for anything to happen. Every episode was more talk than action, and boy, was the talking terrible. Andrea, one of the best characters from the books, became a whiny, bratty shrew. Rick was pretty much ineffective; the crisis of character he had when thrust into a leadership role meant a whole lot of doing nothing, apparently. As for Shane, I don’t think a single episode went by without me screaming at the TV, “You’re not even supposed to be here!” The second season spent way too much time building him up as a villain when they should have killed him off before they even got to the farm–not because that’s how they did it in the books, but because he was holding the show back. And robbing Carl of a huge story moment by not having him kill Shane to save his father (and no, killing zombie Shane does not count) felt like a cheap cop-out to appease a TV audience.
But now it’s a new season, and “Seed” feels like it could be a fresh start. There’s no dialogue during the opening, but it’s obvious that the characters have changed. They’re stronger, bolder, ready for action (and where did they get silencers?). Carl’s got a gun, and he’s not afraid to pull the trigger to help clear out abandoned houses. These are the characters we should have seen in season two. Better late than never, maybe, but I couldn’t help but note how The Walking Dead was better when nobody talked.
The fact that Rick and his ragtag group of zombie apocalypse survivors found the prison right away was a huge relief. After it was teased at the end of season two, I knew it was coming, but I was worried we’d see these people wander from shelter to shelter for several episodes before they found it. It took most of the episode to clear the shelter, and Hershel lost his leg in the process, but now that they’ve found a place to settle, maybe the show can move forward.
We finally got a good look at Michonne in action after seeing her at the end of season two, and she appears to be appropriately badass. A little too nice to Andrea, maybe, but hopefully she can be a strong female character where Andrea and Lori have failed. Maggie is still awesome, however, and I love that she’s part of the otherwise all-male group that gets put on zombie clear-out duty.
Things got a little awkward when the writers attempted to instill some sexual tension and humor between Daryl and Carol, the result of which was just… weird. That was nothing compared to the uncomfortable scene in which Carl tried share a bedroom/jail cell with teenage Beth and was quickly rebuffed by Hershel. I know Carl’s at that age where his body is probably going through some changes, but… what the hell? Despite that oddity, for the most part Carl was finally the character I’ve wanted him to be for two seasons, and it was great to see him working seamlessly with the group instead of creating more trouble for everyone.
You might wonder, if I hated the last season of The Walking Dead so much, why I’m still watching it. As I said, I love this property. I love the books, I love the game, and I really love a good zombie apocalypse. I know the potential for a good show is there, The Walking Dead just needs to live up to it. With “Seed” being a huge improvement over the two-hour snoozefest that was the season two premiere, I’m hopeful that the show is moving in the right direction, even if it is slowly.