The Walking Dead, Season 3, might have started out with a bang, and each episode since has delivered an explosive catalyst for the next week, but the writers are really pushing character development. The growing depths and complexities of the characters is thrilling and is only solidifying our connections, as viewers, with the cast. The hopes and losses of the tribe are becoming our own.
In general, we’ve been so wrapped up in the day-to-day activities of the characters that we’ve forgotten that they were people with complex lives prior to theoutbreak.
Take Daryl, for example. His character arc is perhaps the most interesting. He’s gone from subordinate redneck pushed to be a mean motherfucker by big-brother Merle to badass redneck with a heart of gold. And while last week he showed exemplary calm and took leadership in a time of crisis, this week he showed heart, compassion, empathy, and pain on a level equivalent to Brad Pitt in as his character asked, “What’s in the box?” And he did this not once in “Hounded,” but twice.
Daryl has strayed far from Merle’s influence and the inevitable clash between the two will undoubtedly be epic.
Rick, on the other hand, took a Shakespearean detour into madness this week. We didn’t completely fall for the phone call trick, but it wasn’t until Hershel’s expression when he held the dead receiver to his ear that our collective “This isn’t LOST, is it?” doubts were confirmed. It’s interesting to note that even in madness Rick still was thinking about the safety of the tribe as he tried to negotiate the phantom group from the other side to take them in.
As with much of this episode, Rick’s venture into and out of madness felt hurried (about as hurried as Andrea jumping in the sack with the Governor). Granted, the madness was just a tool to get Rick to come to terms with his guilt, grief, anger, and whatever else a recently widowed and new father experiences, so that we could have our old stalwart of righteousness back to lead the tribe — no therapy necessary. If, Season 3 were longer, I would have enjoyed seeing the writers toy around with the madness a little more.
By contrast, Michonne is a character that’s getting developed slowly. We barely know anything about her, aside from the fact that she’s a katana-wielding badass. She also learns quickly, is extremely adaptable, and has good instincts. She survived, as Merle put it, the red zone to encounter Glenn and Maggie on a formula and ammo run. Does this mean that our prison tribe is in the red zone?
Michonne’s part in “Hounded” was hugely significant, as the two worlds of Woodbury and the prison have now crossed. And Michonne brings knowledge to the tribe, the same knowledge that Merle has brought back to the Governor. Certainly, Rick, Daryl, and the others are not going to sit idly by with Glenn and Maggie having been abducted. Worlds won’t just cross, they will collide in an all-out war. At this point, it’s hard to say who has the advantage. On the one side, Woodbury has seemingly unlimited resources, but the tribe has the element of surprise, and a prison, which provides holding cells and fortification.
To close, let’s think about the characters and their development: As we learn more about them and we see new traits in them, are we seeing echoes of their former lives coming forward? Or are these new personalities developing in a new world? We know what the answer is for the Governor: he has seized the new world as an opportunity to start from scratch.
Rock Hard \m/