So, the week after the season five finale, I started watching The Walking Dead again from episode one. Of course, season one being only seven episodes in length, I made short work of it. I then discovered that binge-watching makes Season Two much better than it was upon initial viewing.
Season three is what I was really waiting to get to, though; I have to be honest. There’s good stuff in the first two seasons, and I didn’t rush through them to “get to the good parts” or anything, but Season Three is where The Walking Dead really starts feeling like the show I watch religiously now. The characters have arrived at the second of the comic’s iconic locations, the Prison, and most of the cast has settled into their characters. More to the point, we’ve had some time to settle into them.
Of course, there were rapid-fire shakeups from the get-go, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way:
— The season kicked off with Rick amputating Hershel’s leg. Even though something similar happened in the comic, I was completely caught off guard because in the book, it happened to Dale (who, of course, bought it last season). Ol’ Hersh ended up not only inheriting Dale’s beard and status as the group’s moral compass, but also his destiny of becoming the busiest man in an ass-kicking contest. This sort of thing happens regularly in the latter seasons of the show–Hershel takes one for Tyreese at the end of Season Four (comic fans will get the reference) and someone else gets Dale’s “Tainted Meat” subplot from the comic in Season Five.
— Hands down, one of the best scenes in the entire season happened in the second episode–Rick chopping Tomas in the dome after the convict tries to feed him to some walkers while they were cleaning out a cell block. The carefully-considered, episodes-long approach Rick took with the “Shane problem” in Season Two had it’s place, but it showed growth in his character that he wasn’t handling things the same way anymore.
— The Governor–I can’t say enough about him. David Morrissey and the writers’ take on him was plenty different from the comic version, but no less iconic, and touched on the most important parts of the source material: his affection for his dead daughter, the animosity toward Michonne and of course, the heads in the fishtanks. Dude was cray. In his first episode, the way he deals with those soldiers was diabolical, but at the end of the season, what he does to his own damn people is nothing short of insane.
— I’m really glad they didn’t waste Merle–I mean, they did waste him in one sense, heh. But they did a good job of breathing life into someone who was pretty much a stock character in Season One. I remember all the teasing that went on in the weeks before the season aired, and I remember thinking how disappointing his return was probably going to be. It totally wasn’t. He managed to serve as both protagonist and antagonist in the same season, have a bit of a redemptive arc at the end, and of course, was the reason for Daryl Tears, something far more rare than a unicorn (at least, before the apocalypse).
— The return to Rick’s hometown–and Morgan–in the episode “Clear,” is easily one of the best episodes of the entire show so far, though Season Three made it damn hard to pick just one episode as the best of the season. The little bites we got at the beginning and end of the first half of Season Five just wouldn’t work as well if the last time we saw Morgan was in Season One.
— Finally, I’d advise you folks to pour one out for Andrea, but really, she doesn’t deserve it. Nothing against Laurie Holden–she was a great Andrea–but I just can’t believe they wrote her character as such an idiot. She got exactly what she had coming. The first few episodes were believable enough; her getting taken in by the Governor, the schism between her and Michonne, even her sharing his bed. But everything after she had that chance to kill him while he slept, and didn’t? She asked for that shit. As annoying as Lori was, at least she went out like a champ, to ensure the survival of her child.
Next up is, of course, Season Four, which I’ve already finished as of this past weekend. I’ll try to get that and a recap of the first half of season five up before the show starts up again, but no promises.