Walking Dead Half | Season Opener Review
Catch the Zombie Fever
The long-awaited and much anticipated return of The Walking Dead has finally arrived. The new episode, “The Suicide King,” comes on the back of a real cliffhanger from the half-season finale. All throughout the first half of the season, viewers were counting down the seconds until the Dixon brothers finally reunited. Merle has been a loose end and a major part of Daryl’s inner torment ever since the pilot — the fact that his brother cut his own hand off to free himself (from shackles that Rick’s crew put on him) has torn at Daryl’s conscience since the beginning. What’s strange about it is that these strangers have grown into a surrogate family that Daryl cares for and wants to protect. After everything that has transpired, it was anybody’s guess how Daryl would react to his brother’s return.
This season of Walking Dead picked up just where it left off, only now with the evil and menacing antagonist, The Governor, forcing a brother vs. brother fight to the death between Merle and Daryl. Deus Ex Machina does eventually come to the rescue in the midst of the Dixons’ battle with Woodbury as Rick and his crew managed to save Daryl and his much more unlikable brother, Merle, from certain doom. In the opening sequence, The Governor looked particularly villainous. Great shots of him walking through the smoke, gun in hand, the eye-patch and crazed look on his face. He looked like something right out of a Stan Lee comic book. The Walking Dead crew has definitely put in the work to make him the character he has become. Honestly, I’m impressed by it and sold by David Morrissey’s performance.
I could understand where Daryl was coming from when he told Rick (whom undoubtedly just saved his life,) that it’s “No him, no me.” Even though Daryl’s brother is a total creep, he can’t turn his back on his blood, and Rick should’ve known better than to try and make him choose. Even with everything that’s transpired and how much Daryl has been through with Rick and his people — blood is blood. He couldn’t leave his brother again. Call me crazy, but I think (from Rick’s point of view) that Daryl is worth keeping around, even if it means having to deal with off-the-wall Merle. Yeah, he beat nice-guy Glen to a pulp during that interrogation, but he was simply following orders from the Governor as well as trying to find his brother. Bad decision by Rick (not letting Merle in/Daryl stay) — but hey, it’s tough to make good decisions when you are slipping into insanity (but we will address that later).
The new group in the prison served as an important plot point to illustrate that the stability of Rick’s group is diminishing. After letting Daryl go (by not compromising and letting his brother stay), Rick made another stupid decision by not letting the new people stay (one of whom being Chad Coleman, who played Cutty in HBO’s masterpiece, The Wire). Even though two of the guys in the new group were planning some pretty horrible stuff, Rick and company needed manpower more than ever. The group is probably the weakest it has ever been and things are looking bleak.
Current showrunner Glen Mazzara has really seemed to hit his stride in the season opener; the actors are all delivering, and the dialogue is flowing from scene to scene with authenticity and pertinence to the story. I have a feeling that these next seven episodes could see the most intense moments of the show to date.
The ending of the episode was definitely one of those creepy, spine-tingling moments that Walking Dead has made its hallmark. In the middle of telling the new group that they could not stay in the prison, Rick hallucinated (or saw a ghost, if you believe in that kind of thing) and saw his now dead wife, Lori, in a white dress, lingering in the shadows. Rick then came unhinged and began rambling and shouting. After he pulled out his revolver, he spooked the other group enough to get the hell out of there.
It’s hard to say where this is going, but the overall disposition of the show is turning dark and dreary. Mazzara probably had big plans, but he will be let go after this season. That is one negative thing I can say about this show. As good as it has become, it may lose its edge at the conclusion of this season (when they let Mazzara go). I don’t mean to criticize the network that brought Breaking Bad and Mad Men to the masses, but there seems to be a trend of Walking Dead writers being let go right as they start to thrive. Will Walking Dead survive losing another writer/showrunner? Only time will tell, but with the quality of the opener, at least we can expect that season 3 will most likely be superb.