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.
- 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.