With the loss of Shane and Dale, the character-scape of The Walking Dead has been altered immensely. Shane, of course, had tendrils that ran into every aspect of the series dramatic arcs, while Dale embodied the moral questions of the series in way that really spurned the often deep and philosophical after-show talk. I guess the pontificating is all up to us now. So how do you deal with the sudden loss of such integral narrative components? You jump ahead, just a wee bit.
The Walking Dead picks up some time after last year’s finale finding Rick’s dictatorship in full swing, and unopposed, as the group drifts about exhausted without any base. They have spent months trying to break out of an increasingly tightening corridor, flanked by drifting hoards of the undead that have forced the group to circle across the same area over and over again, picking it clean of its resources and descending into the less savory aspects of scavenging. No-one is preoccupied with thoughts of those who passed, or why, yet it is pretty clear where some of the emotional chips have fallen, particularly between Rick and Lauri.
The opening scenes of The Walking Dead do a chilling job of showing us how the characters, and the writers, have moved on from those shocking losses, and become more focused on this new and desperately shifting core. There is new emotional baggage that has been slung over their collective shoulders since we last saw them, making it as interesting to learn about this missing piece of their past as it is to learn about their future. And of course, there are zombies.
Complaints for season 2 largely homed in on the fact that there just wasn’t enough undead. The counter argument, as always, was that the season did some of its best character based story telling, but it was too late: Season one and much of two had already shown us that The Walking Dead brain-trust was very capable of doing both in parallel.
“Seed” is so successful at blending The Walking Dead‘s grotesque genius for Zombie action with gripping character drama that it not only makes any of that criticism moot, it really raises the bar. There really does seem to be an effort to step up the intensity a notch between season one and two, and that imperative is evident here with season three of The Walking Dead as well. The Walking Dead has reached its blood stained state-of-the art.
I would be doing you a major disservice to give you too many specific details of “Seed”, but here are a few things to keep in mind:
– Herschel is NOT the new Dale, he’s Herschel. Damnit.
– Rick strikes me as so withdrawn, and so changed, I wonder how much of the old Rick still exists.
– The zombie deaths are fast, furious, and often cruelly inventive.
– When hankering for some Michonne, consider these words: Tease and Deny.