Episode two of season three of The Walking Dead aired last night and I think they are really making up for the lack of zombies and gore were oftentimes absent last season. There was no shortage of zombie (and human) death and it seems to be a trend that might continue for a while.
However, I think the most interesting part of last night’s episode is the transformation we are really seeing in Rick's personality this season. Up until this point, he has been the rational leader that did his best to protect the group, while making sure to his morals were in tact. He has been very careful about his actions and seemed to be trying to operate in the world as if everything was still normal, and his strong moral compass motivated every action he made. Now…all of that has changed. Rick has become incredibly ruthless, and will split a human's head open without a second thought. Last season, it took him a lot of time and a lot of going back and forth to decide if Randall should live or die. He knew that he was a threat, but couldn't bring himself to actually kill him. Now, a couple of conversations with a prisoner who could potentially be a threat, and boom – he takes a machete to the guy’s head. It was very fascinating to see the complete change in Rick with this action, and how he is exhibiting a new alpha male protector mentality.
I can't help but wonder about the motivation for this change in Rick's personality. Does it have more to do with the fact that they had to spend the last months in a very rough and scary environment, or if this is fall-out from murdering his best friend (even if it was in self-defense)? It is an interesting development, because he is now actually morphing in to a man who thinks and operates more like Shane, which is one of the reasons they were at odds in the first place. I also find it intriguing that throughout last season; Rick was only of the only characters with his entire family in tact. After he reunited with his wife and son, they were functioning as an actual family, which is rare in this world, where almost everyone has lost part of that core unit - as Shane pointed out. However, since Shane's death, and the fact that Lori showed her true feelings and got so upset at Rick for protecting himself and killing Shane, Rick is operating very much alone and broken hearted by the state of his relationship and personal life. I can imagine this has begun to change his perspective and how he is acting in general, and it is visible in how he is handling himself. On the other hand, it might be even more simple than that - after his best friend was about to murder him, perhaps he now realizes he can't trust anyone, and in this tough competitive environment, it is better to be safe than sorry. No matter the cause, I was still pretty shocked when he split Tomas' head open with a machete and ran after the other prisoner and locked him away in the zombie filled prison yard, and am very curious as how brutal Rick Grimes will get.
Although I am happy that Tomas, the leader of the prisoner pack, is dead I am happy a few of them are still around somewhere in the prison, because they provide a very interesting perspective on the whole zombie apocalypse situation. Since they have been locked up with no outside contact and no knowledge of how bad the situation is, they have no idea how lucky they were to have been protected in their cage. However, they are not grateful at all. It shows how differing perspectives can really affect human emotion and actions. They also represent the attitude that many of the characters had in the beginning when they thought they could actually be saved by the army or some team of rescuers, that they all know doesn't exist anymore. I'm curious to see if this story will be taken any farther, and in fact, I hope that it is, as it adds some more depth to the whole prison setting and the entire human condition.
I also felt an interesting transformation in my feelings towards Carl in last night’s episode. In season 2, whenever he would run off and go do something on his own, I would get incredibly annoyed with him. I couldn't imagine that a little boy would (or should) run around in the woods by himself - especially when he had no real means or ability to protect himself. However, last night, when he came back with supplies, and told Lori he had gone off to the infirmary on his own and killed 2 zombies along the way, I simply thought, you are a fucking badass Carl! I'm actually happy they didn't show us this scene, and we just heard about it upon his return, because I might not have felt the same way if it all played out on camera. Instead, I am fully ready and prepared for Carl to show how much he truly has grown up and how he is ready and willing to help protect the group and his family and do whatever is necessary. I also really can't stand Lori, so anytime he stands up to her and wins, results in a moment of cheering in my heart.
We also were not low on tense and horrifying zombie moments, and I must say I don't know that I needed to see zombie underwear and lady parts and I mostly closed my eyes through that section. I know that Carol needs to get some practice to deliver Lori's baby, but I cannot imagine this was a good idea as who knows what could happen at any moment when cutting a zombie body up. Additionally, I think I jumped and screamed out loud when Hershel grabbed Lori, and I couldn't help but wonder how she could have been so stupid. As I mentioned last week, I love Hershel and really want him to survive, but was he really worth the risk of being bit in the face by a zombie, if he had actually died? That could also be colored by my dislike of Lori, but I just thought it was an incredibly dumb move, and I'm not sure if I believed her motivation.
I was a little disappointed that we have to wait another week to see more of Michonne and for The Governor to appear, because I have heard so much about them and am very excited to see where their stories lead. Luckily, it looks like from the preview they will be featured fairly heavily in next weeks episode, so I will countdown the moments until that and until we get to see more ruthless, hardcore Rick Grimes.