The Walking Dead returns, now with increased moral abandon! [SPOILERS]

In case you haven't seen it already (and this post contains lots of spoilers after the jump, so you might want to hold off), AMC's The Walking Dead came back with a vengeance, picking up months after we saw the survivors fleeing Hershel's farm and Andrea meeting the warrior woman we now know is Michonne. A lot has changed, and if you're a reader of the comics, you'll know that some crazy, crazy stuff is about to go down. What has a few more months of the zombie apocalypse done to our "heroes"? The answer: very upsetting, but understandable things.

Since I'm going to be discussing things that happened in this episode, please assume that I'm, well, going to be talking about things that happened in this episode. And that means there are spoilers from this point on.

This summer, I started reading the Walking Dead comics and have read just beyond where the show is taking place (thank you, The Walking Dead: Compendium One). What have I learned from this? That once the survivors reach the prison, things take a very gritty, nutty, and disturbing turn. Yes, the show is quite a bit different from the comics. But there would obviously be plenty of opportunities for the show to follow the same insane events, albeit with different characters. (I'm looking at you, Carol.)

For starters, Carl has been promoted from the role of "inconveniently absent son" to "fellow killing machine." He would be in elementary school if not for the zombie apocalypse, and now he's one of his father's trusted gunmen. This both devastating and fantastic. The killing of zombies has become nothing more than a daily chore, and Rick seems to find the process satisfying enough to smile about, as if he just raked a ton of leaves and found a lush, green lawn underneath. As a group, they've developed their reflexes and devised a series of effective methods for zombie extermination that give them enough time to squat in an abandoned residence and eat owls. If civilization was still around, they could probably open up a pretty competitive zombie extermination business with a staff of skilled employees.

Eventually, they all come across the prison we saw at the end of Season Two and clear it out to check out the digs. Rick, leader of the Ricktatorship, is hopeful that this will make a reliably safe home, what with its purpose of keeping people confined.

Our merry group of friends is now living in a world in which killing their decaying brethren is as commonplace as flushing the toilet, and a stark, stone fortress designed to house the worst of society looks like a cozy dwelling. We've seen everyone struggle to adjust, fight and weep for what they've lost. But now, they've reached acceptance, looking ahead rather than back. This was bound to happen, but it's amazing to see this sharp of a turn from last season, when everyone still seemed ruled by the chaos.

Not that everything is all hunky-dory. One of my favorite parts of this episode was Lori's creepy zombaby thoughts. Significantly more pregnant than she was at the end of last season, she and Rick are past the whole "Rick's or Shane's" thing, and Mommy is having much darker and terrifying thoughts about her unborn child. She can't feel any movement, so if her baby is dead, is it a zombie, and will it tear her apart from the inside? Or, will the baby kill her during childbirth, turn her into a zombie, and then she'll kill the baby and everyone else? They're extremely valid thoughts to have, no matter what opinions everyone has formed about Lori. Personally, I find this element of the Walking Dead story to be incredibly interesting: bringing a baby into this world in the first place, attempting to rescue a healthy human race amongst the ruins or sparing a child from the horror, but then considering these very real complications.

In addition to Lori's zombaby and the casual "whack-a-mole" approach to zombies, we also have Andrea and Michonne. We get a better introduction to Michonne's badassery with some hot machete action, and we find out that Andrea isn't doing so well after a long winter of zombie fighting. It's not a lot of information, but it was enough to point us in the direction of a storyline that will be leading up to the Governor, the character who bothered me the most in the comics. (So far.)

But the most spoilery takeaway from "Seed" took place in the final moments: While trying to clear zombies from the various parts of the prison, Hershel (now bearded and ready for this new lifestyle, dreaming of tomato and cucumber crops) gets a portion of his leg torn off by a zombie. And then, because Rick wants to save him by stopping the infection (if that's how that works), Rick chops off the remaining portion of Hershel's leg with an ax. Which makes sense in the situation, but now Rick is a man who will chop off a man's -- an ally's -- leg without dwelling on it for more than ten seconds. The look on his face says he is begging his mind and soul to believe that he did the right thing, but he still just cut off a guy's leg without a second thought.

We are in a new era for the survivors, kids. A crazy one. This season is going to be nuts.

Photo credit: AMC



    Nice Recap. I was shocked at how quick Rick came to the decision to lop off Herschel’s leg. I’m also intrigued to see what the (living) inmates will have to say, knowing that their first contact with the group was watching one of them butcher their own.

    On a more serious note, during the camp-fire sing-song I had a demented vision of the zombies turning their heads at the sound of the group’s voices and begin crooning in soulful, un-dead harmony.

  2. If Rick had waited any length of time at all, there would have been little point to the amputation. It may not do any good, it may not have been necessary, but there’s no way to tell either of those things in the moment, but one thing is for sure – waiting to make a decision when no more information is going to be forthcoming anyway – is pointless and is simply a risk. RIck’s the man.

    I thought his son was pretty amazing in this episode, too. When he sees the pet food in the cupboard, he barely hesitates – he has adapted to the new reality better than most of the adults.

    1. Yes yes yes.  I love that Karl has become the first ‘native’ of the new age.  Gives the character a lot more depth (and hopefully means the multiple episodes of “Where’s Karl?” drama are far, far behind us).

      1. My feeling is that Carl is actually the main character of The Walking Dead.  He’ll outlive them all.

  3. They lost me with the whole “everyone already has the virus” thing. We’re just watching them kill until they flat line and join the horde. They did this about 25 years ago in an issue of The Savage Sword of Conan, except it was a curse. If there’s no hope of a cure, this is just right wing torture porn.

    1. I suppose it depends on what you think the zombiefication process IS. If it’s actually a virus, then the whole thing is impossible: biology just doesn’t work that way. If, however, it’s a supernatural process (“When there’s no more room in hell the dead will walk the earth”), then of course everyone will turn into a zombie after dying. They’ll just die quicker if bitten.

      Seriously, if THIS is what you have a problem with in a zombie show, I think you’re missing the point – and all of the fun.

  4. Ha, I welcome Carl’s development into “fellow killing machine” as a step-up from the
    let’s-practice-gun-control-during-the-ZOMBIE-APOCALYPSE theme of Season 1 & 2. But a 10-year-old’s instant ability to hit headshot after headshot from 50 yards with a pistol is about as believable as Rick’s stare-acting.

  5. I did like that they finally crafted some silencers for their pistols. That seems like one of the first things you’d do once you had the time and equipment.

    1. Well in reality “silencers” aren’t going to make a gun that much quieter. The real deal (actually called suppressors) basically bring the volume down to the point where it doesn’t cause hearing damage, and apparently make it difficult to pin point where a shot came from. A homemade one is gonna at best be worse and only last a few shots. So no practically speaking its not really worth the effort.

      In tv land, where even a soda bottle stuffed with socks gives you “wiff” instead of “bang”, yeah they should have been on that shit. And being in Georgia where these things are available, having been to police stations, military bases, and gun shops you’d think they would have come across some ready made ones by this point. 

  6. Whoa, Rick and Lori may be past the whole “Rick’s or Shane’s” saga, but they are NOT getting along.  What do you think about that?  Is it because RIck doesn’t show much remorse over killing Shane?  Is it because Carl witnessed Rick killing Shane?  

    Or is it the existential angst of bringing a new life into such a brutal, pitiless world?  An angst which Lori may feel like Rick is too preoccupied to help her with..

      1. Well sure, but is it “bothered” as in he is one of the most legitimately disturbing characters to appear in a comic book in recent memory, or was she “bothered” by him because he felt out-of-place, poorly-written, or something along those lines?  Or just because his arc revolved around (IMO) the two most disturbing issues of the entire series?  It’s a vague choice of words.

  7. As always the missing weapon is the 22 rifle, semi or bolt action that could have efficiently cleared that prison yard.

    Also, they could have set up a sort of gauntlet (Indian style) where the zombies are let out to be slaughtered one by one.

    It would not be hard to set a trap for zombies – consider a nice steel industrial stairway going up 3 stories. Saw off the railing and maybe remove a couple steps about 20 feet up and replace that with a springloaded trapdoor to drop them to the ground, or any variety of traps to send them back to the ground. They’ll get busted up. Or set it so they fall into a large dumpster. 

    What they really need is the kid from “Home Alone.”

    1. The stock plague-zombie, being slow, stupid, only slightly infectious (it requires a bite) and easy to kill once you get the hang of it, is hard for me to take as a credible cause for an apocalypse. Humans are remarkably good at killing things – especially slow, stupid things.

      1. Minor comic spoilers:

        At this point in the comic the zombies have become basically a nuisance — somebody in the lettercol recently pointed out that it’s been over 25 issues since somebody actually got bitten.

        The zombies are a threat, but they’re easily avoided once you get used to them.  The real threat is the other survivors.

        Which is going to be the major theme of this season’s arc, I should think.

    2. That’s the problem with the vast majority of zombie movies, and practically all slow zombie movies; not only do they take place in worlds where there apparently are no zombie movies and therefore no one has any idea initially of how to deal with them, but people regularly carry the idiot ball and even smart people will pick it up at the worst times.

      I tend to think that the more likely scenario is Shaun of the Dead; quite a few people get bitten, die, and spread the plague initially because of the surprise factor, and more people who are either incapable of defending themselves or have literally nothing with which to do so will die, but then you have the rest of the people who can keep their shit together for long enough to wipe out the zombies, and after that, even if everyone automatically becomes a zombie when they die, everyone adjusts to the “new normal” where part of the way in which the dying are treated is to put them in restraints, with a relatively non-gross method of performing the necessary postmortem head injury (I’m thinking of a captive bolt pistol, such as the one that Anton Chigurh used in No Country for Old Men), and accident victims are given a wide berth until someone can find the emergency machete. (Fido did their own version of this, albeit in a more satirical fashion.)

      1. Plus, in Shaun of the Dead, after the normals cleaned things up and restored order, the zombies were retrained to do simple, useful repetitive tasks such as corralling shopping carts, or in the case of Shaun’s friend, given a garden shed and an Xbox.   

  8. “…introduction to Michonne’s badassery with some hot machete action”

    Ahem. Samurai Sword. (adjusts nerd glasses)

    1. I was going to comment on the original summary about the amputation, but here is as good a place as any.  It was a hatchet Rick used, not an ax. How badass is it taking off a leg with a much less formidable weapon?  0_o.

      Yeah, the Katana was impressive. Chris Hardwick used it to take out a chunk of wall with a bad swing. :-D

  9. My major problem with the tactics in Season 3 is why nobody is making the zombies come to them. There was no need for Rick to run the gauntlet to clear the yard so soon when they were easily killing zombies from the safety of the other side of the fence. Also, Hershel would still be bipedal if they had just opened the door to the next block, yelled a lot and leisurely killed what came through.

  10. If it’s like the previous two seasons everything but the last three episodes will be awesome, and the end of the season will just kind of unravel. Going beyond just the weird omissions and changes from the source material, every season drags to a halt before a climax followed by a lot of bad dialogue that seems endless.

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