The Walking Dead has been an unprecedented hit for comic fans, zombie movie fans, and most importantly, a hit for AMC. The Walking Dead has gone from a relatively cult-status comic book into a massive hit in just a few years. However, things weren’t always as good as they are now from a quality stand-point. With a strong premiere episode that debuted on Halloween 2010, the later episodes of the first season struggled to maintain the same quality.
The second season was almost an unwatchable mess due to several contributing factors (the show was still trying to find its way, producers left the project etc.), yet you kept watching because you knew the source material was so good, it was only a matter of time before they knocked it out of the park.
The third season is that home run we’d all been waiting for. As we gear up for the second half of season 3, I’d like to look back and commend The Walking Dead for all that it has done right (so far) this season. The show has not only become appointment television, it’s also one of the most fun shows to talk about with friends and co-workers due to the unpredictability. The show has finally found its stride so it’s only fair that we countdown the top 6 things the Walking Dead is doing right this season. And be warned: spoilers follow, so lower your crossbows!
Storylines such as that left many fans to rename The Walking Dead “Adventures On The Drama Farm” – erk. The only positive that came from being on the farm was we got Shane’s awesome “ENOUGH!” speech during last year’s mid-season finale.
When the farm was finally attacked and overrun by walkers during the season finale, fans rejoiced at their next location: a prison. This was a location that had some real weight to it. They’ve done a great job incorporating the prison story arc from the comics into the show. They’ve made enough changes to keep it interesting for comic fans as well. What you get with the prison is a real sense of danger. The prison is huge, and although Rick and the gang cleared it out, you’re never quite sure if they got every walker. Also, the prison is in a prime location for anyone who may want to attack it. You have to worry about walkers and other outsiders who may want to take it over.
The location change is one of the smartest moves the producers made. Although they were already staying well past their welcome on the farm, they could have stretched it a little bit longer (even though the farm stuff in the comics was only 2-3 issues tops; stretching any longer may have fallen into “Let’s make the Hobbit three movies territory). It was good that the writers/producers knew that it was time to move on. We the fans certainly appreciate the swift end to the Adventures on the Drama Farm and the start of Adventures of Rick and His Fortress of Awesome.
[tab=5. Actions Speak...]
If you grow tired of the same ol’ zombie gun violence, new character Michonne offers up a nice alternative with nifty sword action. She’s an equal opportunity slice-and-dicer as well, cutting up walkers and those seeking to do harm to her equally. Fan-favorite Darryl has also upped his game as he has had some incredible crossbow slays this year. The increase in action is most-likely due to the larger budget offered up by AMC. This is fine with me, however, my only fear is that the show will become more action-oriented and lose some of the horror elements. Right now, they are towing the line perfectly so if they just stay the path, they should be fine.
[tab=4. A Human Villain]
A hero is only as good as his main adversary. While the Governor was unable to be portrayed doing some of the more vile things he did in the comics (which, to be fair, would never pass the censors even on a cable network), you still feel that general essence of evil based on the limited interaction he had with Maggie while she was captured. Having a main villain gives the show focus. While Rick may not be able to cure the zombie-apocalypse alone, he can certainly go after the Governor and pay him back for capturing members of his company. When we finally see Rick confront the Governor, it’s going to be an epic showdown.
The show also accomplished being its own story based on some of the changes they made to the Governor/Woodbury storyline. This not only gives fans of the show something to enjoy, but also fans of the comics who know what might happen, but aren’t certain given the changes. Everyone gets to be surprised, and ultimately, that is a good thing. Fans may not have a reason to hate every zombie that comes on screen, but we have plenty of reasons to hate the Governor. He’s everything a great villain should be.
The end of the season finally had Rick declare that “Fine, but get one thing straight, you stay, this isn’t a democracy anymore.” Fans may have been a bit skeptical if a true “Ricktatorship” was really coming to fruition, but that skepticism faded away after Rick buried a machete in the head of prison inmate, Tomas. Old Rick may have tried to talk things out with Tomas, but new Rick has embraced his inner-Han Solo by having no reservations about shooting or stabbing first. While the group may not agree with all of Rick’s decision, they are forced to respect it. Getting rid of the struggle for power allows everyone to work together (whether they like it or not) and actually accomplish something without spending a needless time arguing. It was a very welcome change to the series.
[tab=2. Carl Can...]
Also, we don’t have to worry about Carl getting into trouble. Sure, he still may face peril, but Rick doesn’t have to spend ten minutes an episode trying to track him down. Having Carl learn to fend for himself also gives his character growth. It makes sense for him to be in danger when the outbreak first starts, but not having him learn to adapt just doesn’t make sense in a world overrun by the undead. He can be trusted as a productive member of the group as well.
While some of the characters may not be inclined to trust Carl, which should quickly change once they see what he can do. Chandler Riggs should be commended as well for bringing his A-game to the character as well. There are very few child-actors that would be able to pull off playing the character, yet Riggs has grown along with the character. He also handled one of the hardest scenes with true acting chops. And this brings us to…
[tab=1. The Death...]
Her pregnancy also added another level of pure face-palm to her character. As if she wasn’t awful enough to begin with, they then made her pregnant. Audiences were then teased with Shane possibly being the father as opposed to Rick. I’m aware they also ran this arc in the comic as, however, in a world filled with the cannibalistic undead, is baby mama drama really a necessity?
And then, it finally happened. Lori died and the Walking Dead fan base was able to breathe a sigh of relief. All joking aside, they handled her death in a way that gave it meaning. She sacrificed her life so that her baby could survive. Her character had reached the peak of where it could go so killing her made the most sense. It also adds another layer to Rick’s character, who has to deal with not only raising Carl, but also taking care of a newborn baby. He also has to deal with the grief that comes with losing a loved one. Carl also stepped up as a character (and Chadler Riggs as an actor) by being forced to shoot his mother in order to keep her from coming back. Lori’s death was the single best, and most necessary, thing that the Walking Dead has done so far this season.
Overall, The Walking Dead has become one of my favorite shows to watch. I’m glad that they have finally found a happy balance between following the comics, and also making The Walking Dead television show into its own. I cannot wait to see how the second part of the season goes. I’m optimistic that they can keep the show on the awesome path it is. They’ve righted the wrongs from past seasons; there is no reason to think it won’t keep getting better.
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