Oct 15 2012 10:00am

The Walking Dead S3, E1: “Seed”

When we last left Rick and the gang, a bunch of people we hardly knew or barely tolerated had just died, Lori decided her new role in the group was as the town hypocrite, Andrea was rescued by THE COOLEST PERSON EVER, and Rick discovered his inner assbutt. Rick also finally revealed Dr. Jenner’s deep, dark secret and it turned out to be super-important in the grand scheme of things but ultimately pointless for those fighting on the ground. Did I mention the arrival of THE COOLEST PERSON EVER? I have been looking forward to Michonne’s (not actually named in the ep, but she’s in the credits so I’m going with it) arrival since day one. And she did not disappoint. But the biggest change on the horizon is the prison. Those who’ve read the comics knows what goes down there, and it’s some pretty heavy stuff.

Obviously things are going just peachy under Rick’s stellar leadership. Everything’s buckets of sunshine and puppies. At least they’re working together. And by golly are they a well-oiled machine. They stick to formation, have sound commands, and take orders like good little soldiers. They’re also completely miserable and worn out, both from the constant assault of cannibal corpses and from Rick’s relentless need to be the biggest bag of dicks in a 50 mile radius. In the last eight or so months, Rick and Lori have drifted further apart. She’s still sulking about him killing her possible baby daddy—she gave us the ep’s only monologue and thankfully it was shortish and not given more weight than it deserved—and Rick is angry about pretty much everything. Shane banging his wife, Carl killing Shane, Lori being Lori, the grass being green, you name it, and he’ll grumble about it.

When Rick’s not being a sourwolf he’s being a plan-ahead kinda guy. Lori’s about to pop out the next generation, and regardless of their failed marriage, he has to get her somewhere safe. More to the point, his group is at the center of a confluence of several large roamer herds headed their way and if they don’t find shelter soon they’ll all be zombie noms. Here’s where I’m a bit confused, and if you have a theory please let me know in the comments, did they really just spend eight months not knowing that prison existed, or were they just too chicken to clear it out until desperate times called for desperate measures? Seems like a straightforward if not risky plan, one that should’ve been done the morning after last season’s finale. If, on the other hand, they didn’t know the prison was there until Rick stumbled upon it, then that means they circled that damn prison for the better part of a year and failed to see the giant building that was on their stupid map this whole frakking time.

Either way, the intensity with which they cleared out that prison over the course of a day and a half was vicariously exhausting. I got my daily workout just watching them. The Walking Dead has many problems as a series, but it’s always managed to do action and horror well. It’s characters and story that trip the whole thing up. Tonight we were blessed with concise dialogue that was able to balance plot exposition with character development and more gory beheadings than you could shake a stick at. With the exception of Andrea. Why we had to sit there and listen to her complain about having a cold is beyond me. I get it, she feels like crap. I’m sure there are few things worse than having a fever while surrounded by things that want to eat your brains (like having your foot cut off, giving birth to a possibly undead fetus, or PMS), but you’d never know it the way Andrea was carrying on. Michonne either has the patience of a nun or they’re now über-besties or something, because if I had to listen to several days of uninterrupted “I’m dyyyyyyyyying!” I’d ditch her without guilt.

The Walking Dead has always been good at premiere eps. With season one we got that terrific, nearly silent opener as Rick woke from a coma and found himself in the midst of the zombie End!verse. Which led to 5 episodes of freshman-level philosophizing and complaining. But, man, what a season finale! Season two was a tense and unnerving bob and weave on the highway that killed Sophia and brought them to Hershel’s farm. Which led to 11 episodes of the world’s most melodramatic whinging ever seen and an epidemic of ciphers, hypocrites, and an absence of personalities. But, man, what another killer season finale! As history is wont to repeat itself, I knew that this premiere would be good, but it’s the rest of the season that has me concerned. For now, though, I choose to be cautiously optimistic.

Final Thoughts

  • Some ground rules: I don’t care if you want to talk about upcoming eps or future storylines from the comics, but please be a decent human being and preface it with a spoiler warning. I’ll return the favor and try and keep the comics to a minimum in my reviews.
  • “Pretty romantic. Wanna screw around?”
  • “Goodnight and joy be with you all.”
  • “If something goes wrong you could be the last man standing.” - Rick, ever the master at foreshadowing.
  • Daryl, a gentleman does not defeather an owl in the living room.
  • Why look at you, little Carl, with your Panic! at the Disco haircut.
  • The new credit sequence is much better than the original.
  • Not to get too spoilery, but if we’re going to get the Governor this season they’re going to have to cut down a huge chunk of the prison arc. Given the show’s history of stagnating by sticking to one location too long, this is a very good thing.
  • Can’t remember if this was in the comics or not, but Michonne’s two de-armed zombies look like they might be her father and brother....
  • I get Lori’s paranoia, but, honestly, what harm can a zombie newborn really do? It can't grip anything, much less gnaw its way through its mother’s uterus. Awkward, yes. Life-threatening, not so much.
  • Little things about the prison scenes that I liked: Lori and Rick aren’t sharing a cell, and neither are Rick and Carl; the writers hanging a lampshade on Carol and Daryl; Glenn spray-painting directional arrows on the wall so they can find their way out of the prison maze; the “no muss no fuss” attitude toward chopping off Hershel’s leg.

Alex Brown is an archivist, writer, geeknerdloserweirdo, and all-around pop culture obsessive who watches entirely too much TV. Keep up with her every move on Twitter, or get lost in the rabbit warren of ships and fandoms on her Tumblr.

Dusty Craine
1. dustycraine
Alex - I hung out and watched the Talking Dead last night and the guy who wrote the episode, who I beleive is also the producer, said that they could have known about the prison for months but that the roaming zombie hoards block off areas at given times and this may have been their first opportunity to get close enough to the prison to try and claim it.

As for Michonne’s zombies, someone told me that they are her boyfriend and his best friend. She keeps them around because their scent keeps zombies off of her. But who knows if the show will differ from the comic in this regard too.
2. morialord
What i don't get is why if they could attract and kill a few through the fence, why not just continue to attract the rest in the yard instead of going "in the wire" and wasting more precious ammo? Sometimes the stupidity of the choices Rick and the group makes amazes me.
Alex Brown
3. AlexBrown
@dusty: See, that's one of the problems with the writers. They are constantly going on interviews and explaining the actions of their characters (see Mazzara's interview with THR in re: Andrea) without just adding a sentence or two into the actual show. All I needed was T-Dog saying something like, "I guess that zombie-filled prison we found 8 months ago is our only hope for survival" and all confusion is resolved.

@morialord: It wouldn't be TWD if Rick didn't do at least one stupid, life-threatening thing per episode.
John Ginsberg-Stevens
4. eruditeogre
When they cut down on the soap opera and amp up the drama of surviving in the apocalypse, this show gets a lot better. I like the distance Rick has cultivated because it makes sense. Carl is still annoying, but at least he didn't cause any problems this time. The amazing marksmanship is still bothersome too but it's there because TV. Economic dialogue and fewer speeches made this episode move much better, but as Alex noted it would be nice if the writers would insert a line or two about the why of things in the episodes themselves rather than revealing them in the aftershow.

My favorite bit was WEE SPOILER

the zombies in riot gear who proved to be hard to kill. I actually felt some concern for the raiders at that point. It was great that Maggie figured out how to combat them first.
Ashe Armstrong
5. AsheSaoirse
Well, at least Michonne turned out well. I might go ahead and watch it now.
Elizabeth Heckert
6. silhouettepoms
I spent most of last season saying "too much talking not enough walking dead". The premiere at least, redeemed it some for me... hopefully it will keep up. Also I only watched just the once so may have missed some obvious reason why this can't be so, but could Andrea's fever possibly be due to a Zombie bite. I was reading something today that reminded me they can succumb to a fever after being bitten, then die and reanimate. (I realize they reanimate regardless how they die, but a bite itself is supposed to bring on a fever and death). Maybe they have found some way to possibly fight it off or maybe that's why she wants Michonne to leave her behind? LIke I said only watched it once and might have missed an obvious detail. I just remember her being feverish and suggesting MIchonne go on without her.
Alex Brown
7. AlexBrown
@erudite: Yes to everything you just said. And kudos to Maggie for figuring out how to re-dead the riot gear zombies.

@Ashe: It was a good ep. It did well everything the show usually does well, and improved dramatically on the things it usually sucks at. Of course, it won't last...

@silhouette: According to that article I linked to in my comment above, Andrea has the flu. Nothing nearly as exciting as a zombie bite. But, as I said before, they failed to mention that anywhere in the show so as far as the audience is concerned she could have anything from dropsy to the black plague.
8. Calliope66
Is no one else bothered that the one and only doctor was brought along on that raid when there's a pregnant woman due any day left behind with 2 kids and a character who is brand new to firing guns (even though of course she's a miracle ace)???? What, they didn't have enough guns to explore those narrow hallways with that they just couldn't afford to leave doc behind? (SPOILER) Time to play spot the victim again, cuz lo and behold! who gingerly steps between the legs of a zombie and.... Sigh. The way the episode was going up until that point seemed like such an improvement, I was even ready to just go with the fact that everyone has perfect aim. But then this boneheaded move came along and now I'm about ready to give up again. I just want a little bit of logic, is that too much to ask?
Tyler Durden
9. Balance
Put me down as someone who loved the first season, but became disappointed with the 2nd as it moved too slow . This season seems to be off to a much better start. Hopefully AMC has got their money problems under better control and can continue with quality programming. Read up on it and see how hard it is for them with their current business model. They are pumping out Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and Walking Dead, without serious financial backing. After I learned a lot more I gained respect for their ability to juggle finances. For this reason I give them a break with all the commercials. I’ll take BB, and WD with lots of commercials over no shows at all.

I like Rick now. I like the group now. They work better as a team. In survival situations someone usually becomes the Caesar. I prefer it be someone with a good moral background and outlook like Rick, verses the machiavellian ideals of Shane.

Now I usually try not to nit pick the realism of choices in shows that require the suspension of disbelief as a major requisite to watching the show. (i.e undead roaming the land) But……

Poking the Walkers through the gate: There was an open inner gate that had many walkers behind it. They had to get into the courtyard to close off that inner gate, so more walkers wouldn’t spill through. If every one just stood a the gates calling over the walkers for easy pickings, the other mobs would have came through, possible causing a pile up, possible causing breaches in the fence. Also there could have been another opening beyond even that inner gate with more walkers. Too much trouble. I agree with Rick’s plan to rush in and close it, thereby creating a good perimeter.

Walker Pets: That chick also keeps them as pack mules. She can load them up with as much as they can carry, and they can’t complain. (no lower jaw) they don’t have to be fed, they got no civil rights. Perfect slave labor.
10. jobo
Yeah, I also didn't get this „Okay, let's go ahead into this dark, dark prison and clear it out. Ooooooh, waitwhat, more then one zombie!? Let's try a panicky retreat and fuck up instad of just killing them.“ What was that? Were they only prepared to fight one zombie at a time because of the narrow space or what?
11. Improbable Joe
Team Shane... oh. Never mind.

Someone needs to tell the writers that it doesn't cost more money to have the characters do things that make sense, and set up the action scenes so that they have a consistent logic to them. Hell, it might be cheaper because a well-crafted action scene needs less zombies and terrible CGI muzzle flash to get a greater effect.
Alex Brown
12. AlexBrown
@Calliope: Why did they take Hershel with them? Because if he didn't go then he wouldn't have had to have his foot chopped off, that's why.


In the comics, Dale is the one who gets his foot cut off after a zombie bite. Now that Dale's rotting in a mudflat somewhere, Hershel's the only one who's expendable. With his age, it'll be a lot harder for the group to justify keeping him around and protecting him.


@Balance: Rick may be Julius Cesar, but there's a Caligula looming in the background who's about to fuck everything up for everyone.

@jobo: They're plan worked great on paper, but once they panicked it all fell apart - exactly like what happened in the season 2 finale. The group may be a well-oiled machine, but startle them and they scatter like frightened rabbits.

@Improbable: I was hoping you'd turn up this season :) I totally agree. I'd take some more crappy network-level CGI if it meant getting more logical plot lines.
Tyler Durden
13. Balance
I agree with Calliope66 about the faulty reasoning of bringing the only doctor along. That seems stupid to me. In a perfect post-apocalyptic world he would be on the back lines to receive the wounded. Perhaps Rick made a Tom Hanks mistake and figured the medic could take care of his shit (Saving Private Ryan). Perhaps the Doc is a stubborn old coot and Rick said “whevererz” and that’s why he was there. It’s like Milo1313 said, one more line of dialogue would have explained it. But, whatever it’s a TV show.

I do disagree with jobo about the retreat. We need open area to swing and stab. The zombies can pile up 5 abreast and 8 deep (what I think I saw in the hallway), and keep pushing forward, biting and scratching, and a bite or bad scratch is all it takes for game over. Our guys can do what? Two abreast to swing? The machete gets stuck in a skull, someone slips on blood, a re-dead body falls forward, and someone is gonna get hit….that’s risky when a simple bite can get ya. The walkers had mass numbers on two fronts (other Walkers came from another adjacent hallway). I’d pull back too. They were shit at it, but hey, even with all their experience they aren’t Marines. Now in a perfect post apocalyptic world, they would go with arm/body armor, shields, and really long spears, phalanx style, but this is a bunch of civies from Atlanta. And we are sitting here armchair quarterbacking. It’s fun to discuss, but it’s not completely unbelievable. Same thing with the doc. It was stupid. But from my experience people do stupid, stupid things. When the stress is up, they tend to do more. So I let that shit ride
Bill Capossere
14. Billcap
I confess to now watching the show as background, doing my work or something else and popping my head up if something good seems to be going on (there's still enough of those--barely--to keep it on as background) and simply awaiting the far-too-many times of here's another idiot plot move. I've just come to accept that the show will take as much as it gives:

sharper, more concise dialog--good

taking only doctor on risky trip (when you didn't do that the last risky trip, only emphaiszing the stupidity of it)--idiot plot

sword wielding, decapitating, zombie-leashing character--great

Great character nursing whiny character? Not so good but blessedly brief

walking right over a zombie cuz what, it's "dead"?--idiot plot (espcieally when we just saw a character checking the "dead" zombie, only emphasizing the stup, oh, never mind)

Beaten down group, worn, exhausted, pushed to edge--good

Cleaning out zombies from prison--good
Doing so for so long--bad
Having some of them in annoying riot gear--very good
wearing the vests but not the boots, riot shields, etc--not so good

little Carl hoping to stay in the girl's cell-very good
Alex Brown
15. AlexBrown
@Balance: I totally get making stupid decisions. What I take umbrage with is the alarming frequency with with Rick and the Gang make them, and that they routinely fail to learn from them. Look, I'm the first to admit that when the outbreak hits, I won't make it through the first month. I'm far too weak and cowardly and rooted in modern life to survive. And that's why they didn't make a tv show called Alex Fights Zombies and Loses Like a Total Loser. On TWD it's, what, 18 months into the zombie apocalypse and they're STILL stepping over bodies like it's no big thing? Really?

@Billcap: The Walking Dead giveth, and it taketh away.
Alex Brown
16. AlexBrown
for some reason it double-posted. nothing to see here...
17. sofrina
it hasn't been 18 months. lori is - at best - nine month's pregnant. this apocalypse is less than a year old. rick woke up maybe a few weeks into it. he probably woke from dehydration after his i.v. ran out. can't have been too many days after shane left him.
18. Bryan Rasmussen
well, Herschel walking over zombies without checking is a little different than if Daryl did it.

Anyway, nothing has topped zombie in a well for stupidity yet.
19. tigeraid
enjoyed the season opener.

I agree with Balance that Rick's idea to run in and estabish a perimeter makes a lot more sense than waiting for potentially THOUSANDS of walkers to pile up against the fence. It's a great way to deal with zombies by the DOZENS, but once hundreds start to pile up, you a) can't reach the zombies in the back "row" and b) will eventually knock that fence down.

Carl was not annoying, for an entire episode, and mostly just kept his shit together. When was the last time we saw that? THAT should be the biggest thing to celebrate so far.

Yeah, Herschel stepping on the zombie was dumb and cliche, but he's an old man, in the dark, is it really that unforgivable? As Bryan said, this isn't Daryl or Rick doing it.
20. tigeraid
Oh, and everyone talked and played a useful role. T-Dogg for chrissake, T-DOGG had relevant things to say! The writers had to have been listening somehow.
Alex Brown
21. AlexBrown
@sofrina: I'll give you that it's less than 18 months, but it has to be at least a year since the outbreak.

@Bryan: Hershel still knew better than that. He even checked it before he stepped over it. But yes, still smarter than the well.

@tigeraid: Carl's lack of being annoying - and staying put for once - was shocking in and of itself. He's grown up the most in the last 8 months. And you have no idea how please I am that not only is T-Dog getting lines, he's getting to contribute to the group in a useful way. He's not just an overpaid extra anymore, he's now a functional and important member of the group.
22. JerzeeGirl
@Milo - Herschel making that mistake is almost completely understandable when you think how tired and worn down they all are...they'd already gone by how many un-moving dead non-walkers? It's only natural that the tired mind stops paying as much attention, imho. Not a great excuse but it is plausible.

As for why they didn't head directly to the prison after the end of Season 2 - it seems entirely realistic to aim for that place but not be able to make it due to needs for food, shelter & fuel nevermind to avoid running into herds that are anything but consistent in their movements. What little info they are able to gather is in person, there's no way to really know what they will run into until they literally run into it.
Alex Brown
23. AlexBrown
@Jerzee: Your prison theory makes sense. But I still don't understand why they couldn't have just stuck a sentence in there explaining what happened. That troubled look on Andrew Lincoln's face just didn't cut it.
24. TStewart
My Herschel question is - why in the name of all that's holy was he out there in the first place? With Lori about to pop, he's probably the most important person in the group, probably the only one with a clue about what to do in the middle of a birth - and they take him walkabout into a zombie-filled prison? How insanely stupid...
25. JerzeeGirl
@Milo - I'd agree with you there - there was so much happening it was easy to get lost in what wasn't said/explained. Having read the comics tho has really helped in some ways as I feel like I have an idea of where the story should be going so it helps with the suspension of disbelief over some of the more glaring gaps in the story.

It was a great opening episode tho and sets up what should be a pretty action-filled season. The interesting part will be to see where the writers choose to diverge from the comic story-line as this was a super dark story-line when Kirkman wrote it back in the day.
26. Monkat
I laughed aloud multiple times while reading this review and again while reading some of the comments. Thank you!

(By the way, though I am soft, squishy and unlikely to survive long post-outbreak, I am hereby taking an oath not to die from blatant DUMB!)

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