Entertainment Magazine

Review #3735: The Walking Dead 3.1: “Seed”

Posted on the 17 October 2012 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Bronzethumb

Written by Glen Mazzara
Directed by Ernest Dickerson

The second season of AMC’s “The Walking Dead”, for all its popularity, suffered from a glut of navel-gazing. There was so little action — not even zombie-killing action, but merely movement of the plot — amidst the philosophical debates and love triangles that were stretched way too far. The distinct visual style and great performances were absolutely worth tuning in for, but a kind of lassitude was setting in by season’s end, which was only invigorated by a firm promise that characters, plots and ideas from the comic would be a bigger part of season three.

Review #3735: The Walking Dead 3.1: “Seed”

Fast-forward several months, both in-universe and in reality, and it seems the show is doing just that. The plot of ‘Seed’ has the gang of post-apocalyptic survivors on the run, hemmed in by walkers, running low of supplies and with Lori’s pregnancy about to come to term. It seems like a miracle when they stumble across a prison with intact walls, and Rick believes that seizing it will be key to establishing a long-term home — but doing so means marching further and further into danger. It’s a plot that seems so in line with everything the show has done before, yet somehow it works so much better than any episode since the pilot.

That same balance of ingredients is there. The zombie battles are short, violent and portrayed with a stark realism: camera trickery and music is used sparingly, and the end result is less of an exciting action sequence and more a scene of characters fighting for their lives. There are more of these battles in this episode, but it’s not gratuitous, instead coming off as natural growths of the story and the characters. Rick in particular is planning out a big campaign of zombie fighting and already encountering obstacles, and this emphasis on laying the groundwork for the season to come is a big part of why this episode feels different.

The character beats are good; not as subtle and intricate as when Darabont was running the show, but they’re definitely good and they give us a chance to connect with characters we didn’t necessarily like as much in seasons past. Take Carl, who has been something of a load around the show’s neck since its beginning. By ‘Seed’, he’s evolved so far past that, and once viewers have stopped seeing him as merely a person-shaped obstacle to be overcome every episode, they can appreciate his lighter moments and the ones that speak to how traumatic it’s been growing up in a zombie wasteland.

Most of the character beats are in this same vein. If they’re not a subtle background event that, when examined, speaks volumes, they have to be ripped from people in moments of great vulnerability, and the actors are all great at these scenes. Lori’s run-on confessions to Hershel have a tragic earnestness and both actors are fantastic. But Andrew Lincoln has managed to take his game to a whole other level, unrecognisable as the meek, nerdish guy from “This Life” and “Teachers”. It’s not just the physicality of the role, it’s the way he’s portraying these turning points, these decisions with moral implications and life-or-death consequences. It’s a very internal process that’s playing out and yet we understand it, which is a huge credit to the Lincoln’s talent.

This doesn’t even cover Michonne’s proper introduction as a compassionate yet thoroughly dangerous individual, or how tense and high-strung both the episode and the audience will get over the course of the running time. There’s an energy to “Seed”, of a kind we haven’t seen from “The Walking Dead” in a long time — not a roller coaster ride of non-stop excitement, but a good meal, full of different flavours, mixed and blended into a compelling whole. It’s more than just a promising start to the season: it’s one of the most promising episodes in a long time.

Score: 9/10

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