There are minor spoilers discussed below.
We are finally back to new episodes of AMC’s The Walking Dead. While last season had its moments, my overall take on the second season is that it dragged a little bit too much. Moments of brilliance were constantly overshadowed by moments of tedium and utter stupidity (anything Lori did basically). Worse yet, the writers of the show didn’t really know how to handle the entire ensemble cast, leaving some characters to just disappear for prolonged stretches of time and really offer nothing to the overall plot at hand (looking at you, T-Dog).
I mention all of this because the start of season three feels like a rebirth for the series. Firstly, the show has jumped forward a number of months -- we don’t know how many exactly, but we do know winter is behind our cast because they’re sporting longer hair and beards, in the case of the men that is. Characters are much more hardened now, too, with pretty much everyone lending a hand in taking down hordes of zombies to clear infected areas. This even includes the likes of Carol, and Hershel’s daughters, Maggie and Beth (remember her?).
Secondly, everyone finally has something to do. There isn’t a single character wasted. For many, that is a correction of one of The Walking Dead’s largest flaws. It appears as though the writers of the show, in this specific case Glen Mazzara, have taken the criticism of last season to heart, leading to a season premiere that feels more tightly scripted and focused than the majority of season two combined.
And for those complaining that season two was a bit boring, with far too little zombie slaying action, well, this first episode should rectify that for you. There is so much blood, guts and gore in this first episode. Essentially, the entire episode revolves are our gang clearing out the prison teased at the end of season two to make it a livable environment. What this results in is a lot of zombies getting things shoved through their faces or getting decapitated altogether. The Walking Dead has never been a show aimed at people with weak stomachs, but “Seed” might just be the goriest episode yet. I know there were a few instances where even I was cringing at what I was watching. There are some truly brutal moments here, so be prepared.
Since “Seed” is primarily a familiarizing and establishing of the new status quo for our ensemble cast, there are not a whole lot of surprises to be found (cliffhanger notwithstanding). However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Michonne’s introduction. The fan-favorite character from the comic series makes her official debut in “Seed,” although you shouldn’t go in expecting too much. In fact, a vast majority of Michonne’s moments were released online month’s ago as publicity for this new season. If you’ve seen those, then you’ve seen most of what Michonne brings to the table in this episode.
With that said, Michonne does make a memorable debut, complete with her zombie pets, which should please diehard fans of the comics. But if there is one criticism to be lobbed against Michonne, it’s that she is by far the most “comic book-y” aspect of this show. Michonne strutting around with a katana and zombie lap dogs kind of flies in the face of the grim realism the rest of the episode conveys. But then again, Michonne’s introduction in Robert Kirkman’s original comic felt the same way all those years ago, and we all know everything turned out just fine.
Overall, “Seed” was a fantastic season premiere episode. In fact, I think it’s one of my favorite episodes of the show thus far. There’s a lot of great stuff here, and it seems like the crew working on the series is actually dedicated to correcting what went wrong last season. Every character has something to do, there are no illogical choices made by anyone with half a brain, and there’s plenty of zombie slaying badassery (Maggie FTW!). All in all, this is a rock solid start to The Walking Dead’s third season.
What did you think of the season premiere? Sound off in the comments below.
Erik Norris is a freelance writer for sites such as ComicVine, IGN and CraveOnline.com. You can stalk him on Twitter @Regular_Erik.