The Walking Dead is back with its Season 3 mid-season premiere and it was a soft return that featured more arguing more than expected, more internalizing of information that could have avoided said arguments, and Rick’s (Andrew Lincoln) tight knit group beginning to fray around the edges as it loses one of its key members. Daryl (Norman Reedus) didn’t die, but to some, at least Carol (Melissa McBride), he did something worse. There were some good things and some bad moments, and we’ve chosen 10 Focus Points that got us thinking about what’s coming next.
1. Daryl chooses Merle over the group
Awww. Poor, Rick and Carol. They feel like they got dumped on prom night, but did they really expect Daryl to pick them over his blood. Daryl has always felt animosity towards Rick for leaving Merle (Michael Rooker) to fend for himself on the rooftop, and yes, Daryl became his own person by being away from his kin, but if the world was devouring people left and right, most people would choose to stick by their blood, no matter how they are viewed by others. Daryl has that right to see that Merle doesn’t share his same values and may go back to Rick and the group, maybe he can show him the way, but let’s give Daryl a chance here.
I personally like this change because Daryl’s is spinning his wheels playing second fiddle to Rick who is an emotional wreck and the universal love for the character is just a wee bit thick right now. All characters have several layers, baggage chained to their hip, and this is unfortunately Daryl’s. This will be a test for the legions of Daryl fans, but for now the Dixons should be considered wild cards.
This is the first time he’s seen his brother in well over a year, they spent most of their lives together prior to the apocalypse, and survivors are gripping onto what remains they have left of their old life. Merle represents part of that for Daryl. And let’s not forget that Daryl hallucinated/dreamt about Merle and becoming his own man and proving that to him. He’s going to at least share that with Merle away where others aren’t looking to kill Merle the first chance they get. Daryl still believes he is misunderstood. The real question between brothers is: will Daryl still believe his brother is misunderstood at the end of Season 3, and if not would he be strong enough to put his brother down if he was about to harm anyone from Rick’s group, especially Carol?
Daryl to Rick: Don’t ask me to leave him. I already did that once… No him. No me.
2. Allen (Daniel Thomas May) and Ben (Tyler Chase) need to die next
If there are any two characters who viewers are ready to see be fed to the walkers it’s these two? Axel’s (Lew Temple) a little creepy but just institutionalized by being in prison for so many years. What are these guys’ problems? They keep trying to start a coup where ever they go without any weapons, don’t care to gain knowledge of who they’re dealing with (especially Carl), and if these two are so tough, why do they need Tyreese’s (Chad Coleman) approval? Don’t they realize they would have died in the corridors if it wasn’t for Carl (Chandler Riggs)? Ungrateful. These guys are as good as walker bait as far as I’m concerned. Axel too, but these guys first. Please.
Allen: Golden opportunity, a little kid and a woman… a little girl, and a one-legged old man.
Ben: Don’t forget about the convict.
3. A Father’s Touch
To my recollection, this was the first time we saw Rick hold “his” baby and it’s significant because it belts out its biggest cry since being born. It can be so symbolic of so much. 1) for all you Shane fans, it could mean “You’re not my father, don’t touch me!” 2) babies have a way of sensing things, and since Rick was all evil for the several months she was growing, it’s doubtful he ever took the time to talk or embrace Lori during the pregnancy about the baby outside of being sufficiently fed. He stopped saying ‘I love you’ to Lori, and maybe that baby doesn’t feel loved back. Maybe the baby senses all the darkness and pain in Rick and is scared too by him. 3) from Rick’s perspective all I could think of was that this baby is just a liability with his loud cry is a beacon for walkers. Great, as if he didn’t love the baby as it is…
4. The Governor goes Travis Coates
For all of those who HAVE read the comics know how we’re only starting to see what the Governor (David Morrisey) is capable of, but his growing darkness has been amusing, especially since he’s treating walkers, those bitten, and any outsider like they’re Old Yeller and executing them like they just pissed on his front lawn and now the natives in Woodbury are restless because their paradise was more of a mirage than an oasis. Michonne (Danai Gurira) killing Penny-zombie set in motion a lot in “Made to Suffer” turning the politician into the mad man.
Governor: Those people had it easy!
5. WTF Andrea?
For all of those who HAVEN’T read the comics, Andrea (Laurie Holden) is a great character, one of the best in the series. Trust me. But she’s not getting the same treatment on the television show, yet anyway. Still I’ve been fine with most of the choices they’ve made for her, even most of her actions in Woodbury. Since she’s always been at the wrong place at the wrong time to never see how bad the Governor truly is, I couldn’t really fault her there. But it was hard not seeing her try to get Daryl’s attention in the arena fight with Merle. But then to hear how Phillip kept the knowledge of her friends’ there a secret and STILL stay and say, “Don’t drive me out!” What? He gave you your out. Leave, woman! That’s just boggling. And now it’s going to be even harder for her to leave.
6. Michonne on the sidelines
This is one of my few, but big gripes with the mid-season premiere. I felt there were no real standout action moments in this episode outside of Glenn (Steven Yeun) making grape juice out of a walker’s skull. One of the many reasons I like Michonne so much is because she KNOWS HOW TO USE A KATANA. She’s not some survivor who just picked up a bow and arrow and decided to use it untrained because they have no other weapon. Michonne uses her sword as an extension of her body, like a samurai and sure, people keep taking it away from her but that’s going to stop at some point. And in order to use it, she must be active and come into relatively close range, making for thrilling and dangerous combat. There’s something exciting to watch with Michonne because there’s movement on a cinematic level, and I’m beginning to tire of the same camera shot of survivors playing Duck Hunt. Standing straight up and pegging zombies whether it be Daryl with his crossbow or Rick with his guns is like watching people play Maximum Force or Area 51 at the arcade. So Michonne was vastly underused in this episode, remembered mostly for leaning against or being hidden by that damn Hyundai Tuscon.
She is also being incredibly undervalued by Rick. His resources are thinning out and we have a savage warrior, who is smart, and sure, she has a screw loose but she gets off on killing walkers and bad people. Unpredictable? sure. But Rick should look in the mirror on that front. This woman has a valuable skill set in this world; she is smart and stealthy, and compassionate. She may not be talkative or the most forthcoming with her knowledge, but Rick rarely lets anyone get a word edge-wise anyway, making her the perfect addition to the team. I know it’s a foregone conclusion she’ll be embraced at some point in the season, but every moment Rick treats her like a misbehaved child, he gets a glaring stare through the TV after an eye-roll. Put her in the game, coach.
7. Glenn’s Bruised Ego
He wanted revenge, was denied, and felt the rescue mission for Daryl was a waste since the Governor is still alive, Maggie (Lauren Cohan) was put at risk and the Dixon Bros. ran off together. While clearing a truck from the road, Glenn gets in a screaming argument with Rick about the decisions he made, how he took Maggie with him to pull out Daryl. All the while there are walkers in the woods just 1200-1500 feet away. Sure he stood up to Rick, but wrong time, and wrong reasons. His girlfriend body was used as a tool and he was helpless. Based on the preview for this week’s upcoming episode, he might be the only one in Michonne’s corner and that’s more than enough reason to let Glenn brood.
Glenn: You didn’t kill him.
8. A brief conversation with Carl.
An unlikely pairing with Carol and Carl may be a preview of an upcoming relationship building between the two. Since Rick has gone cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, Carol has become the matron of the group and a functioning parental unit to Carl. For Carol, getting close to Carl may keep her from missing Sophia so much. It’s an interesting little chat, made even more depressing since Carl said all he thinks about is how mean he was to Lori. It’s a natural reaction to think about all of your regrets with the departed when they die. Given Rick’s mental state and responsibilities, Carl may need Carol more than he’s willing to let on.
9. The Lady Vanishes
Rick hallucinated Shane in the first shootout at Woodbury and he thought he spoke to Lori in the boiler room of the prison. Now he sees his wife standing on the prison catwalk in a white dress, perhaps her wedding dress? The first two hauntings were nicely executed, if we’re being honest, this one felt forced. This will only make Tyreese and the others to recoil a bit since their first impression of Rick is that a mad man is in charge of the prison. Still, Rick has clearly gone off the deep end and it’s clear the group needs new leadership or at least someone to help. The only one who can get to him is Carl who was told by Lori to take care of Rick in her absence. Time for the little man to step up–again–to help convince his dad that he’s not in a good place.
10. Outmanned and outgunned.
Rick rattled the gorilla cage and soon the Governor will retaliate. Sure, Carl, Glenn and Hershel (Scott Wilson) can hold their own. Maggie and Carol have improved their gun skills, but they’re not as deadly as Daryl, Shane, or Andrea. The Governor has military grade artillery and Rick’s still worried about growing the group because of the inmates. But there was only one truly rotten apple in that group. Another lashed out at the group because Rick left him to die. This problem goes all the way back to Season 2 in the episode, “Nebraska” when he realized the biggest threat in this apocalypse isn’t any walker but other surviving, living humans. Lori’s death and his regret towards her amplifies his problems and is clouding his judgement. Rick needs Michonne, Tyreese and his sister, regardless if they were able to keep Daryl or not.
Hershel: You need to start giving people a chance.
- Daryl gets his crossbow back in a cool way.
- Carl needs something to play with, seriously.
- What’s for breakfast, lunch and dinner at the prison? Ramen noodles.
- Carol and Beth talk out the loss of Daryl.
- Glenn gets tight with Hershel while a rift forms with Maggie. Their separate interrogations at Woodbury continues to a scar on their relationship.
What did you think of the Season 3 mid-season premiere? We’ll look for more focus points for Sunday night’s episode, “Home” on AMC 9/8c.