Review: Walking Dead S3

Posted: January 23, 2013 in Reviews, Zombie Posts
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Now, obviously as someone who names her blog The Girl Who Loved Zombies, you might imagine I have an unreserved loved for AMC’s television adaptation of The Walking Dead. Not untrue. However, like many, I have complicated feelings about the show. I’ve never had a problem rooting for the zombies in any undead entertainment, but The Walking Dead has often taken my frustrations with survivors to new, never-before-experienced levels of hair-tearing. And the show is problematic in many other respects, not in the least from a racial and feminist perspective.

That all said, I think season 3 is a marked improvement from its predecessor and may, depending on its second half, surpass even the first season. I was glad to see the show improved after the novelty of zombies on  television wore off and the writing sank into a miasma-like sophomore slump. With the mid-season premiere just a few short weeks away, it seems worthwhile to break my No Zombies rule and discuss the strengths and questions of season 3.

It should go without saying that this post contains spoilers. But there. I’m also saying it.

Probably the number one thing season 3 has going for it is momentum. There’s a lot going on from episode to episode and the focus doesn’t linger too consistently in one place. I think we’re much benefited by the change of scenery. It helps that prisons are already terrifying places, but the the dark tunnels and real possibility of getting well and truly lost, it makes for a creepy as hell setting. I loved it. This is in sharp contrast to the seemingly idyllic town of Woodbury, where the Governor reigns. Although the clean streets and plethora of amenities make Woodbury seem like the ideal post-apocalyptic settlement, there’s an unease about it that is not unlike the unease of the prison.

I think we also see a lot of momentum in this season because of the mortality rate. Key characters have died; others come to replace them. In one instance, we have a secondary character who has returned to have a far greater role. Like many, I was more than okay with Lori’s exit and I appreciated the opportunity for the character’s redemption. I’m still upset about T-Dog. I will probably always be upset about T-Dog, especially because he was just starting to get awesome. And, in a way, his death felt gratuitous because the showrunners had yet to put the time and energy into really developing him.

I’ve never really been on Team Rick (like all sensible Walking Dead fans, I am 100% Team Daryl), but I am fascinated by where they’ve taken his character this season — his brittleness, followed by a complete breakdown in the wake of Lori’s death. It’s interesting, too, how the leadership role he shared with Shane has now dispersed between the other members of the group, primarily Glenn (who has also seen some fabulous character development), Hershel, and Daryl. I think this shift in dynamic has helped tremendously. Love triangles are never that interesting to me, even if one point is a batshit crazy Jon Bernthal.

Obviously the introduction of new characters always adds complications and breathes new life into a show. Based on my knowledge of the comic, I was excited to see Tyreese’s group. And there’s the Governor, of course, who makes an interesting if somewhat difficult villain (I’m still waiting for the full of extent of his crazy to come out, although the zombie heads in the aquariums were pretty fantastic). And Michonne. You could easily watch this season just for Michonne and Daryl. In fact, just as I wanted T-Dog and Dale to start their own peaceful post-apocalyptic collective in a spin-off series I like to call Of Walkers and Turnips, I want Michonne and Daryl to ride off into the sunset (as comprades!) and have awesome zombie-slaying adventures and terse, monosyllablic conversations about life, love, and weapons.

Is it a perfect season? Not at all. Is it a great step in the right direction? Definitely. The pacing still often feels weird to me and I’m not sure how all the plotlines are going to play out, but I’m invested enough to stay along for the ride.

What are your Walking Dead season 3 thoughts? Who do you think is going to bite it in the second half? And what is your ideal spin-off series?

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