I usually post write ups of sweet and often horrible zombie movies on Mondays. I’ve also taken a little time to go back over the Walking Dead. And although some episodes deserve their own review, I’m looking at the show season by season.
There’s a lot going on in Season 3. Our survivors have made it to the prison so popular in the comics and we are introduced to some of the biggest conflicts we’ve seen to date. Every episode seems to drive the story further and further into dark territory. I’ve previously tried to stay away from making comparisons to the comics but there are times it seems to mean quite a lot in the writing process and the development of the characters.
So let’s dive right in.
This season opens with our survivors on the road, on the run from roaming herds, going hungry and getting more and more desperate. What they need is a place to settle in and it’s not long before they find it, the prison. (It’s actually about seven minutes in, so no big wait there.)
The prison is a major part of the storytelling in the comics. It’s where a LOT of the comics take place and where much of the early drama of the characters happens. It’s also exactly what the fans had been waiting for. The prison doesn’t come cheap though. It takes a lot of work getting it up and running and then they face the problem of holding onto it.
Added to that is the developing threat posed by another group of survivors in the nearby town of Woodberry lead by the ruthless Governor.
The season goes back and forth between these two camps, as we see new characters’ reactions to the two groups, and series regulars attempt to struggle with the reality developing around them of growing threat from the thousands of walkers in the area as well as other survivors.
Upon first viewing I was a little frustrated by some wishy-washy back and forthiness in the season but from a writing standpoint it’s meant to give the audience a better perspective on the action that is engulfing our characters. It shows the struggle and the doubt about which camp or way of living is actually better. By all accounts Woodberry looks like the place you would want to stay, and the Prison looks like a hell hole run by a psycho. Yet appearances aren’t what they seem in either case.
Michonne – A fan favorite and one of the main characters from the book she is hands down one of the toughest most badass and beautiful female characters on Television. I just love everything about her. Despite how Kill Bill I find her samurai sword, I can’t help but love it.
Herschel – A horrible scare had him bit early in the season only to be saved by Rick cutting his leg off. In the comics this happened to Dale so for any of the hardcore comics fans seeing Herschel this way must have been a real surprise. It was a good indication to those fans that similar or familiar events could happen but to different characters, meaning anything could happen.
Tyrese – A classic character from the comics and one of Rick’s best friends. Tyrese showed up much earlier in those stories but he’s beautifully cast here and is going to develop quickly over the series run. He’s sort of a gentle giant in this incarnation and not the freaked-out father we meet in the comics.
Sasha – Another series regular joins the cast. I can’t say her character really compels me much but she’s a survivor nonetheless.
Judith – Rick and Lori’s little girl was killed in the comics shortly after being born but lives on, on the show in season 3. She terrifies me. Adding the pregnant lady story line is a sure way to create tension and fear among viewers. Adding a baby or a child just seems even scarier to me. Please! Let that baby make it.
Carl – This kid is fantastic. Not just the character. Chandler Riggs is phenomenal in this part. I totally believe him as he plays the character and there’s never a time when I don’t believe it’s not Carl. That’s tough for any actor, maybe more so for a child actor. He’s someone I really hope to see develop into a good actor as he grows up.
For his part, Carl, the character is also developing and in some pretty hard ways. He made a hard choice but did the right thing when he shot his mother after she died giving birth to Judith. But he also made the wrong choice when he decided to shoot a boy from Woodberry who was surrendering to him outside the prison. Growing up in the world he is, it’s hard to believe Carl wouldn’t make those kinds of choices, mistakes or otherwise. It raises questions about the right and wrong of our actions.
Imagine if Carl had done the same thing as a kid growing up in say, Baltimore or Atlanta or Tampa. He’d have been trucked off to jail in a heartbeat and would probably be lost for the rest of his life. In the world of the show we are divorced from those social consequences and left with purely moral ones.
LOST – This post is already so long that I’ll simply note that I’ve repeatedly pointed out writing similarities between LOST and The Walking Dead. For more on that check out my post on Rick from a few weeks back. A quick example or two are in order though. Like Rick’s newfound fondness of seeing people who apparently aren’t really there. (On TV mental illness is a plot point, not a realistically portrayed phenomenon.) We also get the very “Others-like” Woodberry, a solitary town that seems peachy keen in the middle of a survivalist tale. As if to remind us of just how much we have . . . wait for it . . . lost. There’s also Claire’s baby. Sorry! Lori’s baby. Yeah, throwing a pregnant lady in the mix on a survival show is a sure ticket to freaking people out. More on that in my Rick post though.
The Governor – This character was fleshed out rather differently from the comics and in a more satisfying way I felt. As I mentioned above I had stayed away from comparing the comics and show for some time but as we get further into the series the differences start to matter a bit more.
The Governor in the comics was a monster who repeatedly abused and raped Michonne. This is deeply important to the way Danai Gurira portrays her character. She has said that the show is a reflection of what happens to women and women’s bodies when society breaks down. We only get a hint of what the Governor is really capable of along those lines on the show but it’s definitely there bubbling under the surface and hinted at.
On the show the Governor is a more sympathetic character. There are times you feel sorry for him, when we learn about his daughter in particular. In not sympathetic, at least you can see why he ended up where he did. We can never accept or forgive his actions but as his brutality is portrayed differently on the show, restricted to mostly martial violence and a greatly restrained sexual abuse scene, he is a very different animal here on television, more human, less of a straight monster.
Merle Dixon – Daryl’s racist brother is back and hard at work pissing everyone off. We finally get a deeper look at his character and again, a tribute to the good writing, despite being a person we hate, he is a character we are deeply interested in. He’s played superbly by Michael Rooker throughout the season and it was a real pleasure seeing him develop. Right up until the very end. Which brings me to . . .
. . .the ones we lost this season.
Lori – died giving birth to Judith. And though she also dies in the prison in the comics it’s a bit different there. In fact she survives childbirth just fine in the comics. This was another break from that continuity as Lori and the Baby were both gunned down in that version. Here in the show we see something even more horrible. When Lori dies, it’s up to Carl to make sure she doesn’t come back. This changes Carl, deeply. For all the vitriol surrounding this character, when she finally goes, it’s hard. She loved her son deeply and despite being a flawed human being she was a compelling character.
She was also apparently COMPLETELY DEVOURED after being shot in the head and dyeing. Like seriously, where was her head? Where was her hipbone and the rest of her skeleton? We are sort of left thinking that the walkers just gulped her down whole.
T Dog – A series regular since the beginning it was tough seeing him go. Still, his character wasn’t being pushed that hard into new territory and it was a safe call on the writer’s part.
Andrea – This was a real shock for many people. Andrea has been at the heart of both the show and the comics. It was a major blow at the end of the season when she was bit by the zombified Milton. It made a lot of sense though as her character developed. Andrea was torn between the two groups, the prison and Woodbury and from her point of view she had been away from the group for about seven or eight months, longer than she had actually been with them it seems. She really couldn’t go back to either group and simply fit back in, nor was she able to just head out on her own. The very fact that she was even allowed to go back and forth between camps is sort of a testament to how torn most people felt. Seeing her fall has been described as the blood sacrifice that helped Rick open up and start letting people in again.
So what was your favorite part of season three? There was so much going on there’s no way I could write about all of it. Let us know in the comments!