We’re back from the dead with The Walking Dead Season 3, and what a season opener it was.
Last season left us with a compromised farm, the big revelation we waited all season to hear, the death of a fallen (and former) leader, and some haunting final-ish words from Rick: “This isn’t a democracy anymore.”
Now, judging by the size of Lori’s belly, it’s about nine months later and our band of merry zombie killers have been on the move endlessly. From the opening scene, in which the group raids an abandoned house, it’s clear that their case has become one of survival. Their methodical pace and manner in this scene makes it painfully clear that they’ve been living a life of move, kill, search, eat (if there’s anything around), rest, see zombies, move again. But we get a sense that there’s still a quest at hand. But a quest for what? A return to normalcy? The farm was a close second, but as last season’s finale showed us, nothing lasts forever.
The Walking Dead – Season 3 Transformations
Carl has growed up good. He’s among the men in the raid-and-secure mission, and even unflinchingly kills a zombie. He’s also ready to eat dog food. He’s definitely adapting and evolving to the world he will inherit. Although I would have killed the little shit myself last season, he may prove to be an interesting character in The Walking Dead Season 3. However, Rick, quickly grabbing the can from Carl’s hands and chucking it, isn’t quite ready to let his son feast on Alpo. We also see Carl thrust back into his boyhood role rather quickly as he’s left with the women folk when the men go exploring a labyrinth-like prison.
But Rick has undergone a transformation as well. True to his impressionable words from last season, he’s become the ruler, dictator, tyrant – take your pick of adjective. Whatever he’s become, what he says goes, and he doesn’t like being patronized. And while finding the prison and a potential cache of supplies to aid and protect his wife, unborn child, and fellow tribesmen seems to excite him, the disagreement between he and Lori hints at his utter annoyance about having her as a wife and about bringing a new child into a world filled with zombies.
The tribe, that’s what I’ll call the group from now on, has also transformed. Whether through trust and blind faith or through fear and conceit, the tribe appears to follow Rick and his judgement. When Carol, for the benefit of the audience, reflects on Rick’s leadership with Daryl, she states, “Shane wouldn’t have gotten us this far.” Not only does the praise sound like it’s meant to convince Carol herself, but she seems to speak for everyone as the tribe as a whole behaves like subordinates, proletarians, or slaves. From my perspective, when some tribe members gathered around the campfire and began singing gospel-like songs, I couldn’t help to think of black slaves finding comfort and communion with one another through song after a long day of taking orders from their massa.
The Walking Dead Season 3 – Slavery
The slavery imagery is continued with the introduction of Michonne and her two zombies on chains. What their purpose is can only be speculated, but I’m guessing that they’re a form of distraction. Then again, we could be venturing into Romero and Day of the Dead territory where we explore some development of zombie intelligence.
I’m also going to go for a stretch here and say that Rick’s attitude toward Lori and their unborn baby is reminiscent of a slave owner who’s impregnated one of his slaves. He seems cold and mission-oriented in his drive to provide security and safety just because he doesn’t want to be “that” guy.
The Walking Dead Season 3 – Sanctuary
The fact that this tribe of such diverse personalities is still together and functioning, at least on the surface, is a testament to our human need to find communion and safety with one another. The bonds between us are a form of sanctuary, and few things bond us more intensely than prison or a zombie apocalypse. It is a bit ironic that our tribe finds sanctuary in prison, a place reserved for the sinners of our society. However, where prisons were designed to keep inmates in, it’ll be interesting to see how well they function to keep zombies and baddies out. But, as we saw at the end of the episode [SPOILER ALERT], there are baddies who’ve already found sanctuary inside their former prison. I have the feeling that they’re not as cold and calculated (i.e., experienced in killing in the new world) as our tribe is. I do know that Rick will not give up his newfound stronghold without a fight.
Despite the efficiency with which Rick and the tribe kill, it’s at least refreshing to see that Rick is still disturbed and shocked by the blood, gore, and suffering of the living. I mean, we can’t really lose the humanity of the protagonist, can we?
Rock Hard \m/