The Walking Dead Post Mortem: “Seed”
Greetings fellow zombie lovers and fans of CARL GRIMES!?! Wait, wait, wait…there’s no way that just happened, is there? Not only was Carl not annoying in this episode (a miracle in and of itself) he was actually kind of badass, useful to the group, and he never wandered off or cried, not even once! Welcome back to The Walking Dead: Post Mortem! I’m excited to begin exhuming another season of The Walking Dead, and very happy to report that “Seed” was a fantastic episode, one that gives me hope that this season could be something truly special, and perhaps finally elevate The Walking Dead to greatness. That being said, I’ve decided to be less of a fan boy in my approach to reviewing the show this season, and more of an objective critic. I’m not going to be comparing the show to the comic any longer, nor will I champion the inclusion of characters and story arcs from the comic. I want to able to appreciate and assess The Walking Dead strictly as a TV show. I think this will help improve the overall quality of the recaps, and make them a bit more all-inclusive. All right, let’s get down to business shall we?
*I will totally still be doing these behind the scenes asides though.
**This will mark the first season written without Frank Darabont’s oversight. Season 3 is entirely Glenn Mazzara and Robert Kirkman’s baby. It will be interesting once season 3 is completed to compare it to seasons 1 & 2, to see how they all stack up against each other. Based on several interviews I’ve read, Glenn Mazzara appears to take fan feedback very seriously while also understanding that at the end of day, he has to tell the types of stories he wants want to tell, regardless of incessant fan-nitpicking.
There will never be a version of The Walking Dead that completely pleases everyone. There are the fans who only want to watch zombies being killed and will always complain that there are not enough zombies being killed per episode. On the other end of the spectrum, there will always be highfalutin ‘haters’ who say the show is not artistically worthy of being on the same network as Breaking Bad and Mad Men. However, “Seed” goes a long way to proving The Walking Dead can balance action and drama without having to sacrifice one for the other. We meet up with Rick Grimes and company a few months after the events of the season finale as they are raiding an abandoned house for supplies. The opening sequence was one of several in the episode that made wonderful use of silence and film-noir style lighting. One of my biggest complaints from last season was the endless speechifying the characters engaged in. The eerie silence featured in this scene augmented the methodical, and almost mechanical, way these people moved through the house. The group’s zombie killing skills are more proficient and effective than ever, but they’re also more haggard and desperate than ever as well. In these opening scenes, our heroes are weary and in dire need of sanctuary. As luck would have it, Rick and Daryl find an abandoned prison while hunting, but unfortunately, there new-found refuge is crawling with walkers.
This sets up all the conflict and action for the rest of the episode. Rick is determined to clear the prison yard of walkers, and eventually make his way inside where they will have access to food, water, ammo, and medical supplies. The first raid on the prison was a wonderfully executed set piece that allowed for action, ultra-violence, and gave all the characters something to do that moved the narrative forward with propulsion. Their plan for eliminating all the zombies for the prison year was fairly logical for the most part, and I always understood exactly where everyone was during the action, and what they were doing. The next two raids were set in the interior of the prison, and were heavily influenced by both Alien and Aliens; with the slow buildup of tension, the claustrophobia, use of shadow, and not to mention a creeping sense of dread that builds up to an explosion of chaos. Once again, the dramatic use of silence was utilized in these sequences to maximum effect.
There was a kind of video game logic behind the structure of this episode which served it well. There are long stretches’ of action where the characters have to accomplish certain objectives before they can get any further into the prison, and the further they advance towards accomplishing their goals, the more resistance they encounter. They also acquired new guns and weapons to use against the walkers after successfully completing one of their objectives. And, like in some video games, in-between all the action we are treated to ‘cutscenes’ that focus on the characters more than action. The scene in the prison yard at night (and the scenes later on in the cell block) used none of the aforementioned crappy speechifying from seasons 1 & 2, but managed to make us care about the characters by having them behave like normal, realistic, human beings. It was nothing earth shattering, but the Irish folk song Beth and Maggie sang around the camp fire, and Daryl’s joke to Carol about “Little Shane having quite the appetite” were more poignant and humorous, respectively, than anything I can remember from the first two seasons.
The episode ends with tragedy (Herschel loses his leg) and a shocker (there are still living breathing prisoners inside!!). All designed to leave you itching with anticipation for next week’s installment. This was The Walking Dead firing on all cylinders, and I sincerely hope the rest of the season measures up to the quality of the season premiere. My only complaint was how little we saw of the mysterious swordswoman from the finale and Andrea. Both of the scenes featuring these characters were well written and acted for sure, but left me wanting more. However, extra scenes with them would’ve taken away from all the excellence at the prison, so one can hardly complain.
That wraps it up for this week as far as recapping goes, but were not quite done yet. Last season, I ended every recap with a Zombie movie recommendation. This year I’m not going to limit my recommendations to alone zombie movies; I’ll be recommending all different types of horror movies as well. This week I’m going to advise all you horror buffs to check out: Session 9. Like this week’s episode of The Walking Dead, it’s set in an eerie abandoned governmental institution. It also features similarly desperate and downtrodden characters that are plagued by an evil that is preying upon their flaws and weaknesses. It’s a smart and stylish horror film that will get under your skin big time.
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