Last season on The Walking Dead, the group found refuge on a farm and actually were able to live a fairly zombie-free life for a good period of time. We picked up with them last night, and it seems that life after the zombie apocalypse has not been as good to them over the past few months. They all look tired, sweaty and dirty, and you know things are bad when you ponder the idea of eating dog food. However, within the episode, it seems that once again Rick and friends have found a spot to take refuge and they will be making their new homes within the walls and cells of a prison. While at first this seems like a good idea – there has to be food, medicine, ammo and maybe even clothing, the challenge is actually finding these things in a safe manner. The walls and hallways are confined and there are only so many pathways you can take, and not many ways to escape from a zombie heard, which they found at the end of the episode as Hershel gets bit in the leg. No matter, this will provide a good backdrop for many new conflicts within the group, and with the zombies, and perhaps even the new group of people they find also living in the prison?
Also, this premiere episode really solidified the value of the entire season two for me, which was one that I know many people didn't like. Personally, I thought the fact that they were confined to the farm, actually provided a lot of opportunity for the characters to develop and grow, as they weren't constantly living with an imminent threat from the zombies. While it could have seemed boring, week to week, it now has paid off and in a big way. As this season begins, we know much about the state of relationship and characters within the group, without having to have much exposition. We see that Lori and Rick are obviously on the outs, after they barely talk to each other, but we don't really question this, because we know why. It also makes me wonder how that is going to play in to Rick's character this season and if he will become even tougher than he was at the end of last season as he interacts less with Lori and cannot get over the divide Shane put in between them, or the difficulty he had to go through after killing his best friend.
Another character I really felt an incredible change in is Carl – who I know like to call "large Carl". I mean, how did that kid get so big and grown up so damned quickly? While last season I found it quite annoying when he would wander off on his own on the farm, I think we really saw the evolution of Carl with each of those small events, which eventually forced him to grow up in to a man-child. The first time he encountered a zombie, he couldn't even shoot it to protect himself, and now, he is walking around with a gun with a silencer and shooting them point-blank in the face. If we had we not seen him go through these struggles in the first place, it might have been hard to believe he had change so much in such little time, but instead I totally understand why and how he is filling these big boy shoes.
I have not read the comic books, so I don't know much of what to expect from Michonne, but from what I hear she is a favorite character of many people, so I'm excited to see where she will take the story. I also like the fact that we are being introduced to new characters, because the world was feeling a big narrow. This was probably especially necessary, as characters are killed left and right, and I can imagine that we can expect that anyone is fair game to go at anytime. Saying that, I really hope that does not mean that Hershel is the one to go next. I want to believe that after getting bitten and his leg hacked off, there is someway he can live....right?!
While last nights episode was heavy on the action, but light on the dialogue, there was one major conversation that was very important. I suspect it was filled with some foreshadowing, but even if not, served to show the mental state of Lori. Now, she is not only worried that she will be bringing a baby in to this fucked up world, but also, she is worried that she will be bringing her very own zombie in to the world. She hasn't felt it kick for days, and as skinny as she is for being about to have a baby, I can't imagine that is a good sign. She also tells Hershel that if she does, in fact, begin to birth a zombie baby, he is instructed to immediately kill her. However, it could be very interesting how this turns out, because if Hershel is as hurt as he is (or even dead) it is not likely that he will even be present at the birth. Therefore, will anybody else know Lori's wishes. Also, is it terrible of me if I hoped that she might not survive the birth? I'm not as upset at her for putting Shane and Rick at odds, as much as I'm upset at her for being mad at Rick for having to kill Shane. He had no choice, and the fact that she still seems to be choosing Shane over Rick just upsets me.
Now, I cannot leave out talking end the discussion of this first episode of the season without talking about the zombies. Thank goodness there are actually a lot of them to talk about! I think there were more zombies in this episode than the entire last season, and it was nice to see how effective the group has become at taking them out. They had a plan to get inside that prison, and Rick's leadership is really paying off, and I'm glad to see he is really starting to be trusted by everyone, includingCarol. (Side note: does anybody else hope that Carol and Daryl eventually have really awkward sex?!) I also must note that, the first shot that starts on a close-up of the zombie's eye and pulls out is simply incredible. It was so fascinating, because it really showed how the walkers have an otherwordly quality to them, while still possessing all of the essentially human body parts. It really made me stop and think of what a creepy and weird world these characters are being forced to live in, especially now that they know that this gene and potential to turn in to this lives inside of everyone. It was chilling and scary and probably my favorite moment of the episode.
Here is the best news coming out of the premiere…its ratings were huge. It was the highest rated drama telecast in basic cable history and was higher than any broadcast so far this season on network or cable. Those numbers are staggering and really show the possibility that cable networks could eventually replace broadcast television. Most importantly, it means it is likely we will likely have many seasons of The Walking Dead to come. I know this one has just begun, and personally, I already can't wait for more.