Published on October 18th, 2012 | by SARA0
The Walking Dead is Really Back: Season 3 Premiere “Seed” Review
When The Walking Dead returned on Sunday night it was really back. “Seed” may have been the best episode to date boasting stunning visual storytelling and exhilarating action and gore, rivaled only by the simple elegance (if you can call anything with zombies elegant) of the pilot.
Many series take a few episodes, or even a full season to really find their voice. The Walking Dead was one of the few that felt fully realized in the pilot. Adapted from the comic series of the same name, the pilot episode held onto a certain amount of that aesthetic, while hanging classic Western iconography against the backdrop of a zombie apocalypse. Living up to that iconic pilot with the strong imagery of the good sheriff riding down the abandoned road, lost in this new world but not yet tainted, shocked, but not understanding the new, violent world, has been something that the series has struggled with since the first season. Season 2 was plagued with a change of showrunners, and a tendency towards plot driving characters and not the other way around.
In the season three premiere, The Walking Dead is more nuanced and fully embracing the genre – letting the characters be motivated by their environment, internal conflict stem from the external nightmare, Rick is no longer the good guy who wears the hat.
“Seed”, marked by a deliberate lack of dialogue allowed us to understand our characters better as we watched them reflect and react to their circumstances which have only become increasingly dire a few months down the road from the respite at the farm. The beautifully composed shots emphasized the hostile landscape in which our heroes are attempting to survive, the prison was alternately depicted as a place of safety and joy and as the crew entered the labyrinth of tunnels, the haven quickly reverted into a place of uncertainty.
The pre-credits opening, a five minute wordless sequence depicts a hardened group not above eating dog food when they have to, scavenging as they run from place to place. About six months have passed since we left the group and this short sequence, tells us everything we need to know. They are cold, hungry and far from complacent, Rick has embraced his role as the leader, and not the good guy, and he Lori while together, are very much apart.
The claustrophobic shots of the gated fields, and a particularly affecting shot of the cordoned off cell block as the group is settling in, and Rick slumps against the wall alone, are at once reassuring and harrowing as the helplessness of being in a cage reflected by Daryl’s choice of sleeping arrangements, “I’m not sleeping in no cage, I’ll take the perch”, takes our minds to darker, more dangerous places.
“Seed” is exactly what it needs to be, calling back to the minimalism in the series premiere. The man riding solo down the highway, now reunited with his family is still alone, in the darkness, and in leadership, slumped against the wall in a cool cell block. Lori shares a room with Carol relief washes over them- sharing the moment, the slow smile sitting as they settle into a small prison cot – and even the temporary feeling of safety is enough to bring overwhelming joy to their eyes. This is contrasted by the incredibly tender and sweet moment between Glenn and Maggie as he checks his beautiful warrior girlfriend for scratches and they embrace, happy to still be there. And Carl and Beth have a strangely, normally awkward conversation between a boy and a girl perfectly punctuated by Hershel for a bit of humour.
Aside from some wonderful quips (I’m looking at you Carol and Daryl), most of the character relationships were communicated with actions, positioning, and looks rather than conversations – a move that allowed the talented cast a chance to shine.
Let’s not get bogged down with all the feelings because as much as this show is about human relationships, conflict and resilience, it’s a zombie show and damn – “Seed” brings both action and gore! We don’t know much about what the group has been through since the farm got overrun by walkers, but from the beautiful opening sequence where the group clears the farmhouse with walkers, to the way they approach the farm, it’s clear that they have developed a system, honed their skills and become a well oiled fighting machine, even Carl, now wearing his dad’s hat, is expertly wielding a gun.
I want to take a moment to discuss the amazing Maggie Greene (Lauren Cohan). She, along with Glenn and Daryl, was a shining light of season 2. She is a substantial female character, a confident, sexy, adult woman. She lifts up those around her, holding her family together through loss and crisis. She embraces Glenn for who he is but she also makes him better, instilling the confidence in him that she believes he deserves. Refusing to let him continue to be used as bait – and not just because she doesn’t want to loose him, but because he deserves better. AND as it turns out, Maggie is one of the fiercest, powerful, Zombie-Slayers there is. Her physicality as she engages in hand to hand combat completely hyped on adrenaline as Glenn and T-Dog look on in awe, is absolutely breath taking.
And some other notes:
- Such fantastic music choices this episode, I particularly loved the song that played over the scene where the group settled into the cell block. It perfectly punctuated that moment with Glenn and Maggie. Can anyone name that tune for me?
- Speaking of musical moments – the beautiful rendition of “The Parting Glass” performed by Emily Kinney and Lauren Cohan (Beth and Maggie Greene) is available for purchase on iTunes.
- Gotta love the gore this episode – hand to hand combat, blood spattering everywhere and that amateur amputation! Have you ever wondered what it might look like when you try to get the SWAT gear off a zombie you just killed? Now you have a pretty good idea.
- What do you think folks? Will that crude amputation be enough to save Hershel? Do you think they’ve tried this before or was this Rick’s last ditch effort to save the man who might be able to deliver Lori’s baby?
- Will Lori’s baby be a zom-baby?
- Not a lot of Michonne and Andrea so far. Andrea has never quite done it for me (and still doesn’t), but Michonne is incredibly compelling – I look forward to more of her story as the season goes on.
“Seed” completely sold me on season 3. What did you think of the season premiere? What do you look forward to seeing this season as the group digs in at the prison?