"Walking Dead": Season premiere top takeaways

After a two-month hiatus, the third season of AMC’s popular series, "Walking Dead," resumed Sunday night with “The Suicide King.” Here’s what struck me most during the highly-anticipated return of post-apocalyptic chaos.

 

-Brotherly Love: The last scene of the midseason finale way back in early December ended with Merle and Daryl reuniting under less-than-ideal circumstances. The brothers were pitted against each other in the “arena” by the increasingly unlikable “governor” in what appeared would be a fight to the death.

Screenshot by Emily Akin/Gavel Media

Screenshot by Emily Akin/Gavel Media

I assumed that Merle would be meeting his end, whether by Daryl’s hands or a zombie’s teeth, and I don’t think I was the only one who was looking forward to his demise. But, predictably, Rick and the rest of the crew swoop in and ambush the residents of Woodbury, allowing both Merle and Daryl to escape unharmed. All in all a fairly anticlimactic resolution to the situation we were forced to sit on for two months.

Unsurprisingly, Rick had no desire to accept Merle back into the group. But somewhat surprisingly, Daryl, who had become Rick’s right hand man, decided to stick with his brother. With the Dixon brothers leaving the group to fend for themselves, we’ll see how these two factor in for the remainder of the season.

Also, I laughed when Merle played peacemaker as the crew emerged from the bedlam in Woodbury. I guess there’s a first time for everything.

-Pacing issues once again: This show struggled critically, by its standards, last season in large part due to the long stretches of dialogue, which interrupted the audience-favored, zombie-killing-pandemonium.

This episode digressed away from said pandemonium, as I zoned out during the several lengthy dramatic scenes. For this reason, I think that this episode was a step back from the very well-done first half of season three. Yet, with seven episodes left, all is not lost.  The writers can still redeem themselves.

Screenshot by Emily Akin/Gavel Media

Screenshot by Emily Akin/Gavel Media

-Do I love Andrea or loathe her: No offense to fans of Andrea, but she’s become one of my least favorite characters on TV (although Skylar White and Dana Brody take the cake in that department). There’s just something about characters that are perpetually negative and pessimistic that irritates me.

Turn that frown upside down for once Andrea! Anyways, it looks as if she will begin playing a larger role in Woodbury, now that the governor has gone completely off the reservation. Shockingly, her speech near the end of the episode actually had an optimistic tone! Maybe I should rethink my hatred of her. But then again, maybe not.

-The Baby: One of the interesting storylines going forward, and perhaps for the remainder of this show’s life, is the development of Rick’s baby. Will she survive to adulthood in maybe the worst environment for someone who can’t defend herself? Will the world begin rebuilding during her growth?

-The ending…wow! (Don’t worry, no spoilers!): One of my favorite things over the course of The Walking Dead’s tenure on TV has been its insight into the potential psychological effects of a zombie apocalypse on survivors. Competition for resources, shelter, etc. has created human vs. human conflict that many of the characters have progressively come to accept, despite the obvious strains on their conscience.

Screenshot by Emily Akin/Gavel Media

Screenshot by Emily Akin/Gavel Media

Decisions on whether to accept strangers into your existing group or send them off on their own (a death sentence) further blur the line between right and wrong. Rick, as the series’ protagonist and de facto leader of the main group, has dealt with difficult decisions since the beginning. Add in the death of his wife earlier this season and it’s no surprise that he finally snapped.

The best scene in the episode, and one of the most mind-blowing of the entire season, was the closing scene in which Rick falls into a state of psychosis. Hallucinations of his dead wife lead him to wave his gun at everything and everyone around him. This is undoubtedly the most extreme example of the psychological stress this setting puts on the survivors.

After a fairly lackluster return, the writers made sure to leave us itching for next week’s episode.
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