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Fans of the hit AMC show “The Walking Dead” faithfully watched the premiere of the new Season 3 last Sunday and followed up on October 21 with episode 2, ‘Sick’. Even though viewer numbers dropped from the successful opening night, 9.5 million people tuned in which is still impressive numbers, according to TVbytheNumbers.com.
“The Walking Dead” also seems sure to remain the number one program for adults this fall, pending the development of the storyline for our favorite survivors of the zombie apocalypse.
It was indeed an adrenalin kick of a first episode, which ended rather unexpectedly as the senior member of the crew, Hershel, was bitten. Rick’s quick resolve resulted in a stomach-churning amputation and the discovery that the group is not alone in the haunted prison.
Come ‘Sick’, and we are introduced to a motley band of nameless prisoners who have been isolated from the mayhem that swept through the prison and survived nearly a year in the cafeteria. Their role in the overall narrative is intriguing; both in the way they act towards Rick and his men and the way Rick reacts to their ‘intrusion’.
There is an obvious power imbalance between the two groups – they’ve been locked up, blissfully unaware of the dire situation of the world around them while Rick’s group are experts on survival. The only thing that equalizes them is that some of these men are purebred killers; The Atlanta group has learned to kill.
Rick’s hardening is painfully evident as he strikes a deal with the supposed leader of the prisoners; while his original group’s encounter with Hershel and his people at the farm was a dance that eventually married the two, Rick draws a strict line between his group and these men. There will be no cooperation – he has learned to trust no one.
You gotta love ‘New Carol’
The Atlanta group works very well as a team under pressure this season, after spending Lori’s pregnancy on the road together. They know their roles, their strengths and each others limits (sort of).
Carol is by far the most creative character these days and she continues to surprise, having grown so much from her catatonic state for the most of Season 1 and 2. We’re told that Hershel taught her a few things for the birth so when he is hurt, medical responsibilities are passed on to Carol. And it suits her. Deciding to find a walker to practice a c-section on shows resolve, and in a world where creative solutions are key to survival, ‘New Carol’ is an asset for both the group and “The Walking Dead” as a show.
Maggie, on the other hand, let us down in this episode by stepping completely out of character and giving up on her father without a fight. Her lack of confidence in his survival is a strange detour from her powerful performance in the season premiere. It was hard to believe that she, rather than Beth, would abandon hope so soon, practically begging Hershel to let go of life.
Speaking of which, while many fans found Carl and Lori insufferable throughout Season 2, Carl has so far abandoned most of his mindlessness and Lori is so subdued by guilt and pregnancy that she barely makes a noise. So who is now “most recommended for zombie feed”? After Sunday’s episode, Beth gets my nomination.
Besides fulfilling duties like ‘singing at bonfire’ and ‘being the only girl remotely close to Carl’s age he can play footsie with’, all Beth does is stand around sobbing. Her positive attitude towards Hershel’s amputation is suspiciously out of character.
Finally, while Rick and Lori’s relationship is distracted by the newcomers and the effort to save Hershel, we still get a few glimpses into their dynamic as husband and wife. After discussing their options towards the inmates, Lori seems eager to support a decision to end the other group. A retort is quickly delivered from a visibly irritated Rick, reminding us that Lori disowned him after he revealed killing Shane in self defense. Lori then admits to being a ‘shitty wife’. All I’m thinking is “will someone just say ‘I love you’!”
Lori’s heroic save of Hershel’s life seemed to soften Rick’s emotional barrier towards her, but he is still struggling to come to terms with the pain he feels in her company. All she (we) got was a hand on the shoulder.
Questions for next week: Who is that person spying on Carol from the bushes? Tune in for next episode of “The Walking Dead” this Sunday, October 28 on AMC.