“When there is no more room in hell, the dead will walk the Earth.”
Though a line popularized by George A. Romero’s seminal horror masterwork Dawn of the Dead, it applies no more less fittingly to AMC’s The Walking Dead, and particularly the first episode of season three which hints that more than one type of hell is about to be unleashed.
Despite record-shattering ratings, many fans (and numerous detractors) cried afoul at some of the choices made by season two and its more rudimentary, day-to-day, episodic approach that was big on human angst and relatively sparse on zombie carnage (save, of course, a few noteworthy instances of en masse bloodshed).
The first season of The Walking Dead was immensely economical, as at only six episodes long (including the spectacular 67-minute series opener) Frank Darabont’s first peek had no choice but to thrust us headfirst into its world – new characters and a stylistically distinct imagining of the apocalypse in all.
Season two was a considerable departure from the pacing and aesthetic style of the first, trading grungy cityscapes for the lush rolling fields of Hershel’s (Scott Wilson) farm. Along with this temporary utopia came security (at least surface level protection – the barn *cough cough*), and ultimately, less slaughter and more day to day tasks and encounters of the human variety. Not many zombie properties will feature egg collection.
I would be prejudicial towards my love of zombie lore if I said that many of the problems pointed out did not come to my attention. Yes, the season lacked a compelling central driving force, yes Chandler Riggs’ Carl leaves something to be desired in the acting department (so do Rick and Lorie’s parenting and supervision of the lad) and of course, yes, a number of character decisions and motivations come off as perplexing at best.
I would also be pandering to those masses if I said that these noted qualms weren’t anything but mere hiccups in what was still a stellar season of television. As much as a adore films like Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake and 28 Weeks Later (I love the original too, but bare with me) if The Walking Dead was as continually as relentless and gore-saturated as those films, it would all grow very monotonous and very quickly.
What made the high points of season two the high points were not just that they were well-executed and emotionally wrenching instances of carnage, but rather that the acts (or even episodes) that preceded it were so slight – the calm before the storm. The Walking Dead is worth watching for the human side of the end of days, not singularly for lurching walkers latching onto throats.
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