Monday, October 15, 2012

The Walking Dead: Season 3: Episode 1: "Seed"

[Editor's Note: Over at The House Next Door, I will be penning review for The Walking Dead's third season. After each recap has been posted over at Slant, I will also post a preview (with a link-through to the full piece) here on this site. Finally, on a somewhat related note, to read my full review of the second season of The Walking Dead, click here.]

The Walking Dead's season-three premiere suggests that the program's showrunner, Glen Mazzara, and writing team have listened to everyone's gripes about season two's frequent and labored pontificating. Bearing almost none of the heated bickering and discussions of morality that personified the previous season, "Seed" is about persistence and strategy. It picks up several months after Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and the group's escape from Hershel's (Scott Wilson) farm, which was overrun with walkers. Despite any unrest among them, the group exhibits a renewed sense of unity as it trudges on in an increasingly dangerous world. In the pre-credit sequence, Rick, his wife, Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies), Hershel, Daryl (Norman Reedus), and the rest of the gang raid a home in the middle of the woods and share a brief meal consisting of canned food. If for no other reason, the sequence is striking for its silence. Without a word of dialogue, the opening ostensibly sets the series forth in a new direction, thematically and otherwise.
The characters inevitably get back to talking, but mostly absent from their conversations is all the unsubtle moral agonizing. The writers seem more confident in the new material and the urgency with which they deliver it. Some of the characterizations and performances are marked by obviousness, such as the way Rick appears to be less human with each passing moment, and how Lori still seems intent on breaking the barriers around them. Overall, though, the characters more concerned about survival. Consequently, the series more closely resembles the sprawling dystopian vision it suggested in its first season than the soapy dramatic palette of the second. The moments shared between characters are punctuated by quiet exchanges, such as in an early scene around a campfire when Hershel's daughter, Beth (Emily Kinney), is encouraged to sing. The scene is drawn out to nice effect, articulating both the hollowness and camaraderie that now defines the group.

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