Television Review: 'The Walking Dead'
Published: Friday, February 21, 2014
Updated: Thursday, February 27, 2014 23:02
The wind rustles through the trees of a quiet suburban neighborhood. A lone boy sits on a roof eating a tub of chocolate pudding. The serene background music mixes with the frustrated grunts of a zombie whose arm sticks longingly out the window. That’s right, TV lovers: “The Walking Dead” is back in full swing every Sunday at 9 p.m. with its beloved story of emotions, survival and indispensable gore.
The mid-season finale had a climactic conclusion as the escalating conflict between Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and the Governor (David Morrissey) broke out into full-blown war. Packed with fire power, samurai swords and a hoard of blood-thirsty zombies, the action-filled episode left the audience with a feeling of grave anticipation. The mid-season premiere picks things up where the finale left off, following the journey of Rick, accompanied by his son Carl (Chandler Riggs), and of Michonne (Danai Gurira), accompanied by her signature zombie carrier mules in the aftermath of the battle. For those fans who found the group’s stay at the prison a tad drawn out and monotonous, fear no more! The now-divided group has split ways and makes for town, introducing a whole new set of emotional and survival problems.
“The Walking Dead” continues to live up to its fame for flawlessly hideous makeup designs and just the right number of computer graphic effects. Its many scenes of zombies in all stages of decay leave a lasting impact, never ceasing to amaze its viewers with such gory creativity. Hershel’s now decapitated zombie head is one especially memorable scene, simultaneously evoking feelings of sorrow and nausea. Likewise, the survivors are stripped of the perfectly placed gashes and always clean appearances that have played many of the show’s zombie genre contemporaries. Instead, the characters are portrayed with just the right amount of greasy hair, tattered clothing, and swelled bruising to make their stories believable.
AMC’s intense horror drama is famous not only for its vivid display of cuts and guts but also for its ability to integrate human emotions into such an intense plot, which is epitomized during this episode. For the first time, Michonne’s tough coating is peeled back through flashback dreams and moments of exasperation to reveal a never before-seen vulnerable side. The audience at last gets a glimpse of the past that has hardened Michonne in this post-apocalyptic world, allowing them to more deeply sympathize with her as she furiously beheads a hoard of zombies in order to relieve her stress. Her unfailing zombie-slicing skills are finally given some sense of context, providing Michonne with the character depth that she has previously lacked.
On the other side of town, Rick and Carl’s unsteady relationship is coming to a boil. Left with major injuries from his fight with the Governor, Rick can barely walk. The roles of the father as the caretaker and the son as the innocent child are flipped as both characters struggle to survive together. Similarly to Michonne, Rick and Carl can’t help but to expose their softer traits in the wake of such traumatic events, providing the perfect formula for heart-wrenching father and son scenes amplified by the occasional zombie encounter.
With the group scattered and unable to inhabit the prison any longer, a change of scenery is a welcome inevitability. Judith’s questionable survival is a cliffhanger that has yet to be addressed, leaving the audience thirsty for answers. Whether you’re attracted to the emotional roller coaster of post-apocalyptic family and friendships or drawn to the convincing plot twists of human carnage and zombie guts, the next half of this season of “The Walking Dead” promises to impress.