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Fans from around the world tuned in as the new season of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” premiered this Sunday, October 14. TVByTheNumbers.com could report that Rick and his band of survivors beat other cable hits such as “Modern Family,” “The Big Bang Theory,” and “The Voice” and is pretty sure to become the biggest show this fall among television viewers, 18-49.
With 10.3 million people watching, the season premiere showed a 50% increase from Season Two and no wonder; the final episode ‘Beside the Dying Fire’ left a handful of tantalizing cliffhangers that one by one were opened up when the news episode ‘Seed’ rolled over our screens.
Right off the bat, we’re introduced to a jump in time; Carl is taller and has learned to shoot, Hershel looks particularly more ‘wild’ than at the farm and Lori is seriously pregnant. The visibly strained group has been looking for a place to camp out for some time, as it is evident that Lori is nearing the end of her term, so when Daryl and Rick find a prison in the middle of nowhere, Rick makes up his mind; that prison is theirs.
There has been some exciting character developments since we left off on a rather beastly note in Season Two. Rick declaring himself the dictator after sharing with Lori that he, in fact, killed Shane and sharing with the rest of the group the little detail that the scientist left him with at the end of Season One; some pretty harsh ground rules were set for the new season. It brought on a couple of crucial questions. Will the group accept Rick’s terms and more importantly, how much is left of Rick’s humanity?
The first of the characters to show progress is Carol. Despite obvious signs of distrust of Rick’s supremacy at the end of Season Two, her new, albeit shaky, skills as a marksman shows great empowerment from the fragile mother-in-mourning throughout Season Two. When the group has cleared out the yard area of the prison, she is the first to inquire Lori for her well-being and to confidently walk into the body-littered area, expressing her contentment. She is also boldly flirtatious towards Daryl which is a clear sign that a new, less inhibited Carol is breaking out of her shell.
Rick and Lori’s relationship seems to have taken a turn for the worse since Shane was killed; whether Lori is afraid of Rick or Rick has become scornful towards Lori, somehow the impending birth of the baby which may or may not be the spawn of Shane is the root of icy, almost hostile relations between the two. This is a noticeable comedown from Season Two’s “First Lady”-feel, where Lori was adamant to stand by her man and Rick willing to sacrifice everything for her.
Maggie also grew a pair in the elapsed time; from being a wall of tough girl attitude, to an emotional, near-hysterical sob princess, to triumphantly stabbing an armed zombified guard, Maggie finally brought her feisty persona and powerful machete-wielding together to fight as an equal against the walking plague. She has taken the spot from Andrea, just without the exhausting defiance and irritating “lone ranger” tendencies. Still, as Glenn checks her for scratches, we are reminded that there is a deep emotional bond between them, a huge indicator that their love story will become the dominant source of “feel good” this season.
Daryl seems to have adopted Shane’s job as right-hand-man to Rick, offering back-up and practical support in defense and attack. It is an interesting development as Rick notoriously chained Daryl’s brother Merle to the roof of the department store in Season One, from where he mysteriously disappeared, leaving behind a hand as proof of a possibly violent end. As a major fan favorite, Daryl has been kept more or less the same apart from the growing trust between him and Rick.
The last thing that simply has to be addressed from “The Walking Dead”‘s season premiere is the mysterious black lady who showed up at the nick of time and saved Andrea when she had been separated from the group. It was an impressive entrance, the mysterious woman donning the screen like a warrior goddess with two debilitated walkers on a leash. Who was she and does she mean good or bad news for Andrea?
We don’t have a name yet but we learn that her and Andrea have been roaming the land as a team, and a bond has been forged, meaning that the samurai sword-wielding warrior refuses to leave a sickened Andrea behind in a walker-infested area.
A very interesting thesis is presented as part of Lori’s impending childbirth. Given that they now know the virus is already in them, what happens if her child dies before being delivered? Or she dies during childbirth? Lori is clearly distressed at the thought of a zombie baby ripping through her insides, but Hershel attempts to dispel any negative emotions about the baby. Lori confides in him her feelings regarding Rick and Carl and admits to thinking that Rick hates her for what she put him through. Hershel confirms that the whole group has felt the weight of this emotional burden. The question remains if Rick will in fact come around.
Fans lucky enough to attend the 2012 New York Comic Con were treated to a more exclusive “Walking Dead” season premiere as the two events collided and the Con-goers could warm up for Sunday’s premiere with a panel of cast members and main writers, not to mention a special booth dedicated to fandom at the heart of the showroom floor. “It worked out really well when the show premiered,” said exhibitor David Andry to International Business Times. “It’s really nice that people come out and are excited about the show and the graphic novels.”
Sunday’s episode ended on a bloody note fit for the expectations and fans have been very positive towards the direction of the show. On Metacritic.com, user iFyzikal wrote: “Rick Grimes is way above his badass status as before and rises to a whole new monster.”
Another user, Booger-T writes, “The show is reinvented, the prison is absolutely perfect and a paradox in itself as its a enclosing institution that actually frees them.”
Finally, kudos have been given to the choice of advancing the time elapsed for character development, as Kkirbz1281 notes: “The jump in time has added a whole new dimension to the characters, keeping us on our toes even more than before. If this premiere is any indication, this is going to be the best season yet.”