Last weekend, AMC premiered the third season of The Walking Dead. Coming on the heels of a troubled second season, there is much expectation on how the show can maintain its footing. For those unaware, last season, original developer and screenwriter Frank Darabont stepped down as showrunner in the middle of an alleged conflict with writers and producers. Although the show has continued to enjoy solid ratings, some critics and fans have criticized the pace and narrative of the second season. So season 3 is the time for Glen Mazzara, the new showrunner, to prove that whatever problems were a result of the past administration, and that he can handle the job.
The episode, titled "Seed", picks up several months after season two, with our band of zombie-fighters on the run, looking for food and shelter in every other place. The group is still led by noble-sheriff-turned-dictator Rick (Andrew Lincoln) who seems to be at odds with his pregnant wife Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) probably because there's no way to make a paternity test for the baby in the middle of the zombie infested country. As they look for a place to settle, they stumble upon a prison that seems like the perfect place to hole up for some time, give some rest to the group, and welcome Lori's baby. But first, they have to get rid of the zombies around and inside the facility.But after a seemingly "easy" cleanup of the prison courtyards, they stumble upon bunches of "walkers" inside the labyrinth-like corridors of the prison. Their attempt to escape leaves one of them without a limb, and the rest of the group looking at a group of residents that aren't precisely zombies.
There was also a brief moment with Andrea, who was saved on last season's finale by Michonne, a sword-wielding woman that carries two armless and jawless zombies in chains. There's not much to say about this, cause the scene was quite brief, but I've been having my reservations about this character since the finale. But I suppose it's too soon to speak, so I won't.
Let me begin my review, by saying that I didn't have as much of a problem with the past season as most people. Sure, it had some ups and downs, but overall, it was a pretty solid show with some excellent moments. That said, I have to say that I wasn't that impressed with this episode. I liked it, but if I were to compare the first episodes of all three seasons, this one would easily be the weakest. During the first half hour, the show features three different instances of our group blitzing groups of zombies (first at the house, then at the prison patio, and finally at the inner courtyard). IMO, all of them felt somewhat stale and repetitive. There was no tension at all. It just felt like formulaic, by-the-numbers hacking to get the characters from Point A to Point B.
As for the drama between the characters, I didn't care that much for the conflict between Rick and Lori. But I do think that Lori's moment at the cell, where he wonders what will be of her and her baby, was pretty good. I think the last act picked up the pace a bit, and that last walkout through the dark prison corridors was pretty good and tense. I thought that someone getting bit was a bit dumb, but it might be cool where this takes us. I, for one, would've been stabbing and hacking at all those corpses heads like a madman to avoid that. And speaking of hacking, that last scene had me cringing a bit, but it's cool to have gore. It's a zombie show! Finally, the revelation that they weren't alone comes as no surprise. I think it was pretty obvious that there would be somebody else inside.
So, like I said, not the best season premiere of the show, but it was still a decent episode. I do hope that things heat up as the season continues. Grade: B-
(All pictures belong to AMC and its affiliates)