I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t approaching this season of The Walking Dead with more than a little trepidation. After last season’s sweeping exit of the whole writing staff and the equally stunning exit of Frank Darabont, I wondered how much of Season One’s epic epicness would be carrying over to Season 2. To be honest, after two episodes I was not 100% convinced; this season has had some great moments for far, but with the first full season of the show ahead of it, now is the time when The Walking Dead needs to put up or shut up and prove its worth as a series.
Click on down to see if Part 3 moves in the right direction or not in this SPOILER FREE review.
Unlike some (most) viewers familiar (obsessed) with the comic series, I’ve made peace with the fact that the show was going to deviate from the comic, sometimes drastically. Thus is the nature of creative adaptation. Television and sequential fiction have similarities, but ultimately they function drastically different and telling a story in one medium doesn’t necessarily mean it can or should be told in the same way in another. On top of this, series creator Robert Kirkman being as heavily involved with the show as he is means, amongst other things, that he gets a sort of ultimate redo to tell the story in a different way. To use his years writing the book as an exercise in reflection and to insert a new set of circumstances to see how things could work this time around. Not only does this serve to differentiate the comic from the show (and thereby justify the existence of both), but it keeps audiences of the show that are also readers of the comic on their toes as we lose our ability to accurately foresee the outcome of events.
Which brings us to the current season, which takes advantage of the fact that most of the major world building was established last season and uses that advantage to launch right into several major story lines. The one taking precedence in this episode and the last takes a familiar locale from the second volume of the book, Hershel’s farm, and uses it to tell a drastically different story with it, one with a stunning similarity to a situation from much closer to current Walking Dead comic continuity. This combination of eras makes for an interesting course of events for those familiar with both because in the back of my head I can’t help but wonder if this season’s launch story came about as a result of Kirkman saying “well what if THIS happened HERE” and one of my immediate thoughts following this query was how well the situation fits in with the established personalities and histories on the characters both on the show AND in the comic.
Given that the comic itself was so driven by the depth of the characters and their ability to overcome even the greatest of tragedies (or not), I’m surprised so many comic sticklers are so disappointed with the show. The story may be different, the plot may move toward a different set of conclusions, but this is still very much The Walking Dead. Specifically the actions in this episode of one of the more familiar faces to reader/viewers that, while still a functionally new event, fits very much in line with the history of the character and provides a fantastic underlying plot point that is almost guaranteed to pay off further down the road.
Which is not to say that the season or this episode is perfect by any means. For one, the very nature of the primary driving plot of these last few episodes and by the look of things the next few as well (the search for Sophia) is not the most compelling by any means and is one of those plot points that seems to exist entirely to give the characters something to do. There is no physical imperative to keep my interest in it. Now, granted, the more immediate sub-plot of these last two episodes has been stunningly similar to the overarching one, however we simply see more of that situation (sometimes in vivid detail) and can thus latch on to it a little more. My second major issue with the season so far is the heavy use of God and religious themes that were largely absent last season. While I can justify some religious presence and prominent beliefs during a situation much like this in reality, I feel that having four major characters openly praying within a two episode span is pushing an agenda or at the very least setting up a plot point that I just don’t approve of or even enjoy.Continued below
Overall, I feel this episode is certainly a step in the right direction for this series and sets up some very compelling plot points that have the potential to pay off in some very interesting and potentially familiar ways while also investing very heavily in the development of most (but not all) of its characters. I’m definitely interested in seeing where this one goes.