In the interim between the end of The Walking Dead‘s last season and the premiere tonight, I had a chance to read all of the graphic novels to date. I mention this not to introduce spoilers but rather to point out how divergent the television experience is from the text on which it’s based. Actually, shockingly so. Shane is such a fleeting character in the graphic novels, yet we all endured two full seasons of him on TV. Several characters exist only in the graphic novel and/or die fairly early on vs. the television versions (notably, Dale), and vice-versa. It’s fascinating to witness the changes the show’s creators deemed necessary for broadcast, and I’m more than a little optimistic about the narrative prospects.
Needless to say, I have a lot of questions for The Walking Dead.
The show itself, not the, um zombies.
(Yes, I’m allowed to reuse that joke. It’s a new season.)
After a notably brief “previously on The Walking Dead,” we rejoin our survivors in medias res. After finally burning down Magic Farm (TM) months prior (as evidenced by Lori’s protruding belly), they have come across what turns out to be a house devoid of usefulness. After a quick Hyndai product placement, they’re forced into retreat as zombies slowly meander towards them. No one [besides zombies, natch] is hurt, and no harm was done. Was this supposed to set up the story’s next natural conflict — that they can’t keep running forever? The answer to this question is yes.
In the graphic novel one of the first truly smart things the survivors do is to systematically eliminate the zombies at the prison so that they can cordon off known safe areas. I was so happy when we left Magic Farm (TM) in both versions, and though a prison would obviously not be the first place you think of as “safe,” it does necessarily contain defensive measures, not to mention supplies and weapons. The safe/danger dichotomy is played up nicely in the scene where most gather in song in front of a soothing campfire whilst zombies roam just beyond the fence. This is less of a question and more of a, “That’ll do, pig. That’ll do.”
Finally, Michonne! This show really needed your garish brain-slashing bravado. Sadly, we see very little of her thus far, except a scene where we learn she’s apparently been traveling with Andrea this whole time (a clear departure from the graphic novel). And the riot gear! Oh, the sweet, sweet riot gear. You will come in handy later. It’s pretty clear Rick, Glenn, et al have had lots of practice, and we actually have real teamwork for once. Were more zombies killed in this episode than in all previous combined? If the goal was to root out all hiding zombies, why is everyone so stealthy, especially in the interior of the prison? Wouldn’t it be more prudent to be as loud as possible to draw the zombies towards where you will be smashing their skulls with tire irons?
My husband at one point asked, “how could there be zombies locked in their cells?” They were locked in when the prison guards were killed and/or left, they died of starvation and/or thirst, and then they reanimated as zombies. The Walking Dead making…sense?
Here’s another one: “Why are they so concerned about zombie bites, if they are already all infected?” Because the zombie bite spreads harmful secondary infections that rapidly lead to sepsis, and obviously loss of blood can hasten death. I realize Hershel’s less-than-hygienic amputation would seem contradict this, but the loss of his leg is so central to his character that I’m willing to overlook this minor plot hole.
Lori introduces a question I hadn’t considered, which deserves attention. What if her baby is stillborn, and it is infected, wouldn’t that mean it’s now a zombie? INSIDE HER. Or what if she dies during childbirth, since after all there is no modern medicine to help her through it? Wouldn’t she then turn into a zombie? Would she try to eat her baby?
More importantly, how does Lori keep her hair so luxurious amidst malnourishment, blood splatters, and showerless days?
Overall the premiere of season 3 brought with it welcome plot advancement yet eschewed much of the over-wrought (and confusing!) writing from the first two seasons. Did you notice how comparatively light the dialogue was overall? Sure, the episode was mostly expository, but in this case it’s warranted. If the graphic novel is any indication of what’s to come, we’ll be seeing a lot of the prison, so get used to it. I’m glad time was taken to establish it. Lastly, it would seem I actually had more answers than questions for The Walking Dead. Is this how it’s going to go for the rest of the season? Are things truly going to make sense? Will my insider knowledge of the source material prove too spoilery?
Check back next week when we learn who these schmucks are!