The Walking Dead Season 3: Episodes 3 and 4

*Spoiler zombies lurk here*

Wow.

I watched these two episodes back to back, which highlighted their differences. Episode three, in introducing some new players, had to rely on characterisation—never the show’s strong point. But episode four got back to what Walking Dead does best: zombies, horror, gore and death.

Lori was a massive pain in the arse, but to kill her off was a bold move. Whether her death was due to an adherence to the comic’s plot, a natural progress of the show’s narrative, or a response to the fan’s intensifying dislike for her, I don’t know (and am too scared to look up because of spoilers). Regardless, to kill off someone so important to the show’s lead is a brave move indeed.

You know a show has made a bold move when you can’t imagine how the next few episodes will look. How will Rick deal his with grief while caring for Carl and the new baby? How much responsibility will he continue to shoulder for keeping the others safe?

Even when all the signs pointed to Lori’s death, I never expected it to happen. A part of me thinks that maybe Carl didn’t shoot her, but still, the human part of Lori is gone.

The zombie invasion was wonderfully horrific. I’ve yet to develop any sense of orientation for the prison’s exterior. When Rick & Co were making their way back to Lori and Carl, I had no idea of what way they were running. But once they got indoors, that confusion worked in the show’s favour. The scene descended into chaos: the survivors, now broken into groups, fleeing the long shadows of zombies through a dizzying web of corridors. A bleak, tense, moment, which should rank with the zombie-barn cull as one of the most thrilling scenes in the show’s run.

This scene was so good that it deserved a better engineer. A bit-part player—a presumed-dead prisoner—being behind an event of such drama and importance just seems wrong. This guy, whose name I’ve never known, is responsible for one of the most important events in the show. Did the stress of the zombie attack bring on Lori’s labour? It certainly looked that way. If she’d been back at the survivors’ homebase, among people with medical knowledge and a pile of stuff from the infirmary, she may have survived. Lori and T-Dog are dead because of some guy we briefly saw a few episodes ago.

Yes, T-Dog, the man in the background, is gone. Walking Dead’s writers finally start giving him some lines, and just when he looks like his role is expanding, he’s dead. There was little build-up to his demise, which seems appropriate for a character who could so easily be forgotten about. With the apparent addition to the group of a prisoner, one big black guy is being replaced by another. T may be gone, but the quota stays the same.

Carol is gone, but only for the moment. I refuse to accept she’s dead. Yet, at least. The show went to the length of having her wear a headscarf, just so she could drop it as crumb for the rest to pick up on. Her path took her through the prison, where the show seems reluctant to take us. Soon enough they’ll go looking for her, as they did with her daughter. But I’m confident that Carols returns un-zombied.

A lot happened in episode four. But episode three had its share of events, it just didn’t feel that way. We met The Governor, Michael Rooker returned (which was sadly spoiled by catching his name in the credits), we found a safe haven (hmmm). The Gov was, unsurprisingly, revealed to not be the good man he claimed he was. But none of this was done in an interesting way. Andrea was the only link to the Walking Dead world we know, the rest felt abstract and of only fleeting importance. David Morrisey lacked the charisma to make Gov magnetic in public, or menacing in private.

Walking Dead has recently been compared to Lost. I never discovered the reason why, but episode three seemed comparative  The Governor’s town—a quaint oasis amidst chaos—is similar to where The Others lived in Lost. Dallas Roberts’ character smells like Ben Linus*. Yet Roberts’ or Gov’s interactions with Andrea or Michonne lacked the tension that Lost would be capable of injecting. Walking Dead is making a genuine attempt at fleshing out their characters. But there’s a lack of creativity to the writing, the dialogue is forgettable, and the actors just aren’t gelling like they need to. Points for trying, however.

*The casting of Dallas Roberts feels like a slap in the face. Roberts starred in another AMC show, one of my all-time favourites: Rubicon. Rubicon was the better show, yet pulled in 10% of the viewers that Walking Dead does, and was cancelled after one season. Every Roberts appearance will remind me of this and makes me sad.

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