The Walking Dead: Seed Review - Mania.com



The Walking Dead: Seed Review

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Info:

  • Episode: Seed (season 3, episode 1)
  • Staring: Andrew Lincoln, David Morrissey and Sarah Wayne Callies
  • Written By: Frank Darabont (developer), Robert Kirkman (series of graphic novels), Glen Mazzara
  • Directed By: Ernest R. Dickerson
  • Network: AMC
  • Series:

The Walking Dead: Seed Review

Scared Straight

By Joel Rickenbach     October 15, 2012
Source: Mania.com

This is a very, very strong start for the third season of The Walking Dead. We see many wondrous things in this opening 46 minute shot- a new opening credits sequence, Carl wielding a hand cannon almost half his size, something very bad happening to someone we like very much, and quite possibly more gore and zombie kills than in the entire second season combined. Make no mistake- The Walking Dead came to play, with an expanded 16 episodes and the story entering territory loved by fans of the comic, this machine of a Television show may get bigger still. We're gonna dig into this thing, so consider yourself warned- there be massive spoilers below.

Before I tear into "Seed", let me quickly tell you where my head is at concerning the show, after all- we'll be surviving the hordes  together for the rest of the season. I started reading the comic from the very first issue, and although I'm a little behind at the moment, I'm still years ahead of the show. I accepted early on that the show will differ from the comic, as the show runners have always said. Therefore, just because an episode deviates from the printed page, doesn't make it a negative in my eyes. I thought the CDC finale of season 1 was an interesting and welcome addition, and I think keeping Shane alive for as long as they did only strengthened the show. The showdown in the moonlight between the two best friends was worth every extra second. Is the show perfect? No, but the good far outweighs the bad, and it's easily one of the most exciting hours of television every week.

"Seed" starts rather brilliantly. The entire pre-credits sequence plays out without a single word of dialogue, yet we are told everything we need to know. This is obviously not the group's first home invasion, and it's clear this way of life has begun to take its toll. The desperation is palpable as Carl nearly succumbs to eating a can of dog food. Speaking of Carl, he's definitely gained some courage in the face of the undead. I love that this show, which grows in ratings and popularity with every new episode, still finds ways to stretch its artistic muscles, and composes a pitch perfect opening short to reintroduce us into their world.
And what a reintroduction it is- anyone complaining about The Walking Dead's pace should be humbled by the clip this episode runs at. As I said above- there's enough action here to please even the most stalwart fans of decapitation and evisceration. A season has passed since we last saw our ragged group of survivors, and they certainly used the winter months to practice their aim and bludgeoning abilities. Once they find the prison, they eliminate an entire yard of walkers with Swiss watch-like precision. This is a good thing, progress is felt, even if we all know the unpredictable undead can take away a tactical advantage in a heartbeat. If their skill with a firearm has improved, their ability to communicate has diminished, at least when it comes to Rick and Lori. Last season we watched Lori shrug Rick off with dagger eyes after she found out what he did to Shane, now it's Rick who is giving Lori short shrift every time she makes an advance. He's still doing everything he can to make sure their baby will be born in a safe and secure place, but he has no time for anything Lori has to say. In fact, they barely even look at each other anymore. Emotionally, Lori has been pretty much unpredictable for the entire show, but her current headspace makes sense given the situation. She is about to give birth, and she is essentially alone, particularly with her fears. They now know that everyone is infected with the disease, but how does that affect a baby that is being born? Could it come full term infected and tear its way out of Lori's womb? Thoughts like these keep Lori up at night, Rick not so much.
This episode is all about structure. From the wandering, nomadic existence the group lived for the past few months, comes fences, walls and towers. Instead of scattering outward, they are determinedly making their way inward. It's almost video game-like in the way things play out. They have to conquer a new area to move on to the next- first the outer fence, then the yard, then the cell block and finally comes the interior maze of hallways. Along the way the encounter upgraded walkers, well, sort of- we are introduced to riot gear zombies. It's a cool moment, as the armor clad zombies are impervious to traditional dispatching methods, even Daryl's ever-reliable crossbow bolts just bounce off harmlessly. Like a rebel snow speeder on Hoth, our group finds the AT-AT's weak spot, and watching them bring down the riot-walkers is good bloody fun. The structure also brings a bit of uneasy tension to everything- sure they clear out a cell block, but "safe" or not, the idea of sleeping in a cell in zombieland is absolutely terrifying.
Michonne is everything you hoped she would be. Danai Guira portrays her with a confident, matter-of-fact feel. There are walkers, she has a katana, the rest is bloody history. I have no doubt the special effects crew worked overtime in the off season making an endless amount of severed heads and limbs. Despite accepting the cruel world she now lives in, Michonne is actually quite caring. She mows down walkers for a small packet of asprin, which she then brings to a very sick Andrea. Her cold steel is replaced with a warm heart, as it's evident she's been caring for Andrea all this time, and refuses to leave her for (un)dead. When and how Michonne interacts with the rest of our cast is something I am very much looking forward to.
So, back to the dark maze at the heart of the prison. For all their calculated badassery, a horde of walkers in a confined space will take the acumen out of anyone, and our group is no exception. The dungeon crawling through the catacombs, lit only by flashlight, is a wonderfully tense scene to end the episode on. Things go to pot incredibly quick, and the claustrophobia will get the best of you. With so many walkers being offered up to the god of mayhem, it was only a matter of time until they took one back, or at least an Achilles tendon. In an interview I did with Andrew Lincoln this past weekend, he said there was a scene they shot that left him so wired and disturbed that he couldn't sleep for hours. The scene doesn't disappoint, and Lincoln plays it perfectly.
I think on its own, this is one of The Walking Dead's finest episodes, and a hell of a beginning to the new season. There's a lot of forward momentum, and very little treading water. I'm hooked all over again. Am I out of my mind? I'd love for you to let me know. Let the discussion begin...

Joel Rickenbach write's Mania's weekly Comicscape column, is a curator of cult cinema at the Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA, and can be heard every week talking film, TV and other geekery on the You’ve got GEEK podcast. Follow him on Twitter and hilarity will no doubt ensue. 

 

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

Showing items 1 - 10 of 35
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CyanideRush 10/15/2012 3:47:41 PM

You're pretty spot on here, Joel. Though my biggest fear is that they have these wonderfully exciting episodes which eat a boat load of their budget, after which they need to have several episodes of just talking. It was a sometime problem on Battlestar Galactica (not that it made the show too much less awesome); I hope it won't be a problem here.

Roqueja 10/15/2012 4:05:03 PM

It was the best episode so far.  This is definately the high water mark for the series.  It was highly anticipated, and it delivered.  I think T-Dog even had a line.  All of the main characters had a chance to shine and develop towards a cohesive unit of the survivors of the apocalypse.  They all gained faith in Rick and his decisions to keep them alive.  The introduction of new zombie fodder over the next couple of episodes could be as good as action scenes if they are done with the impact of Michonne.  I am overjoyed that a series that I like does it right, not by the book right, but a thouroughly enjoying every scene right.

jedibanner 10/15/2012 4:18:19 PM

I liked it too since most of the show was very close to the comic so, very good start indeed.

Chopsaki 10/15/2012 4:24:01 PM

F-U-C-K YA BABY!!!

InnerSanctum 10/15/2012 4:46:55 PM

 I think it definitiely satisfies fans and those who like a number of zombie kills.  What makes it work for me is the quiet, human moments in between.  

I have no problems with the episode, but I hope those new to the series note that this is an unusual episode.  It isn't a video game where you add up a body count (although, you get your fare share in this one.)  It had to happen like this in the first few epsiodes, but please be prepared for a story and character interation again at some point.  Yes, it will slow down...speed up...slow down...just like its original source material.  

JoeArtistWriter 10/15/2012 5:19:12 PM

Great episode, and excellent review.

 

RedHood2010 10/15/2012 5:44:01 PM

Sweet review!  This premiere was well worth the wait.  The opening with no words being spoken provided a volume of what this group has endured and how comfortable they are with what they have to do.  Either they move as one or they waste energy fighting over something nobody can change or do on their own. 

The sequence where the guards came out was a nice visual change, very comic looking or video game looking.

Regarding the ending I asked my 15 year old what he would do with the onlookers who showed up and he said he would attempt to trust them after trying to figure out who was in for what.  I said not me, I don't know if it would be worth the risk.  I don't need to start worrying about another group that has a working brain.  He then played the humanity card on me for just choosing to eliminate a 'possible' threat.  Children.  lol

Can't wait for next week!

DarthBob 10/15/2012 5:44:28 PM

Great episode and an excellent start to the season.  One question though, if everyone is infected then why does a bite turn a character into a walker?

joelr 10/15/2012 6:09:34 PM

@Cyanyde It's a very viable concern. I've seen the next episode, and I can tell you... well, actually I can't tell you. Damn embargoes!

@Roqueja You may be right, this could be the best TWD episode yet.

@InnerSactum Absolutely, people want endless mayhem, but TWD is as much about the quiet moments as it is the killing fields. I've heard from someone, who's name I don't know, that there may, possibly, be some nice quiet character moments in the second episode.

@DarthBob That's a very good question. Maybe direct walker contact acts an an accelerant? Also, your avatar is REALLY distracting.

calhob 10/15/2012 6:55:30 PM

GREAT first episode! Best episode ever, just ahead of last season's finale. And issue 103 of the comic comes out this Wednesday! 

Is anyone else just a bit put off that every shot is a head shot to a zombie. Even with people with handguns from a distance. Or do they fire a lot and only head shots are shown? I would like it more if there were more body shot "misses". That has annoyed me since the first season. 

 

@DarthBob....I'm pretty sure the zombie bite acts like a poison/infection making you really sick with a high fever and everything and kills you. Then after it killed you, you would come back becasue everyone is infected anyway. I believe that is how Kirkman explained it. 

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