The Walking Dead Season 3 Premiere Review

Winter has come and gone for the cast of AMC’s The Walking Dead between the Season 2 finale and the Season 3 premiere ‘Seed.’ During the break Rick (Andrew Lincoln) has lead his ragtag group of zombie apocalypse survivors – including his increasingly pregnant wife Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) – on a house-to-house exploration in search of a suitable shelter from the omnipresent “walking dead.” No matter where they go, a walker herd seems to chase them away.

‘Seed’ writer and The Walking Dead showrunner Glen Mazzara wants audiences to know that he and his team are willing to take risks. The first one comes in the opening sequence of ‘Seed’ where Rick and his gang infiltrate a house and exterminate the zombies inside without speaking a single word. This scene conveys the new normalcy these characters have adapted to and learn to accept, as well as remind us that what we have seen before is not necessarily indicative of what’s to come.

Roughly six to eight months have passed since Hershel’s Farm burnt to the ground and Lori is now extremely pregnant. She has also yet to sew the wound with Rick over her giving Rick the implied go-ahead to kill his best friend Shane (Jon Bernthal). Rick is barely talking to her, which comes across as selfish and slightly forced for added drama considering she’s about to give birth.

All Rick cares about is pushing forward and finding a comfortable shelter for Lori to give birth in regardless of whether he wants to talk to her or not. He finds it on a hunting run with Daryl (Norman Reedus) in the form of a prison that could also serve as a potential “goldmine” of supplies. The catch is that the prison is still full of zombified prisoners and security guards and must be cleansed before it can become inhabited.

The Walking Dead Season 3 Premiere Seed Review
Elsewhere the Georgia woods, Michonne (Danai Gurira) is reintroduced in a fitting scene of her easily dispatching zombies while collecting aspirin for Andrea (Laurie Holden). It turns out winter was not kind to Andrea and she’s fairly sick and needs to be moved rather than left to rot. It’s too early to detect much chemistry between these two ladies given their limited dialogue and Andrea’s state of health, but the potential is certainly there once Andrea gets back on her feet. Right now Michonne and her limited dialogue and death blows are coming across as The Walking Dead version of Boba Fett.

The Walking Dead gets its most violent and bloody sequence of the series yet when Rick’s group take the outer prison grounds in a hand-to-hand raid. Visual effects supervisor Greg Nicotero must have worked overtime to execute the numerous zombies and their eventual ends at the hand of sharp and blunt objects. Even Maggie (Lauren Cohan), Hershel (Scott Wilson), Beth (Emily Kinney), Carol (Melissa McBride) and a clearly older and more mature Carl (Chandler Riggs) get in on the action. The group is tighter and more experienced at zombie killing than it ever was at Hershel’s Farm, and it shows in their nearly perfect execution of Rick’s aggressive plan.

The group’s time on the road together have also created an interesting new dynamic or two. Most notable and somewhat troubling is Carl and Beth’s apparent flirting with one another that Hershel picks up on, something that could become a lot more serious if both characters survive into the next season. It seems like just yesterday Carl was the little boy that Rick and Lori had to keep a watchful eye on. Now he’s gunning down zombies, taking point, and seeking out the cell with the cute young girl to sleep in.

The Walking Dead Season 3 Premiere Seed Review
The prison set pushes the boundaries of The Walking Dead world further than the show has reached before. The exterior yard is huge, and the equally vast interior is a dark and cramped space where anything could be lurking in the shadows. It’s a fantastic creepy and dirty setting that contrasts the cleanliness of Hershel’s Farm from Season 2.

The final act of ‘Seed’ sees Rick and part of his group push into the bowels of the prison to secure the cafeteria and infirmary. In these dark halls that Mazzara refers to as “tombs” are scores of zombies waiting for a meal. Too many to tackle head-on in such a cramped space, in fact, that end up splitting Rick’s group in two as they attempt to flee. Maggie and Glenn (Steven Yeun) dive into a room for safety while Rick, Hershel, T-Dog (IronE Singleton) and Daryl retreat hastily.

During this escape, Hershel backs up over a dormant walker who springs to life and takes a bite out of his calf. I was able to ask Mazzara on a conference call this morning about that incident and he explained this specific walker was a “lurker walker” who had gone dormant after not eating for a long period of time. The scent/disturbance of Hershel crawling over his legs sprung him back to life, so to speak, which reinforces the idea that even a seemingly dead walker can still be a deadly walker.

The Walking Dead Season 3 Premiere Seed Review
I was wondering why Hershel was even on this clearly deadly mission into the prison’s core to begin with, especially considering his importance as being the only person who can give birth to Lori’s baby. Future Spoilers Ahead. Mazzara answered this question I had for him by explaining that any member of Rick’s team could have been on that mission as they have grown interchangeable in their zombie combat duties. Hershel specifically went as medical backup in case of an injury and had his medical bag ready for an incident. Even if Hershel doesn’t survive or is out cold for an extended period of time, Carol has taken some “minor medical training” that will immediately come into play to help save Hershel’s life after Rick lopped his lower leg off to cut the infection off before it could spread. She is Hershel’s contingency plan.

The Walking Dead: Season 3 premiere ‘Seed’ aimed big and delivered at stepping up the action and advancing the story well beyond where it last left off, even before the introduction of Woodbury and the new characters it will introduce that will join the group of survivors discovered pinned down deep within the prison. It is amazing that one episode can so dramatically change the direction and stakes of the series, yet it has.

– Dan Bradley

out of 5

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