The Walking Dead Season 3

January 8th, 2014

I like the fundamentals of the Walking Dead a lot (zombies and extreme cynicism, what’s not to like?) but found the 2nd season, though enjoyable, not without its considerable flaws, chiefly some annoying characters, some treading of water, and a lot of attempts to squeeze drama from extreme stupid.  I’m pleased to say they cut out the dead wood, brought in some strong new characters, and amped up the tension considerably for a largely gripping 3rd season as the Andrew Lincoln-led survivors – leaner, meaner, more hardened, and with ever-dwindling reserves of humanity – take refuge in a zombie-infested prison and come into deadly conflict with the nearby town of Woodberry and its sinister Governor (a chilling performance from David Morrissey).  The dead are less and less the true danger, but the living always to be feared.

There’s still a slightly stagey sense about things – action mostly occurs in a couple of distinct locations with a lot of non-specific woods in between – but those locations have become bigger and more interesting than last season’s farm, at least.  The technicalities of zombification, and why some areas remain dramatically empty, others dramatically infested, are perhaps not best thought about too closely.  But they don’t make Battlestar Galactica’s mistake (or at least haven’t yet) of trying to explain what’s better left as the unexplainable threat, and instead concentrate on the effect on the characters of the constant pressure to survive.

Some of the weaker cast members (including one I thought would be with us for the long haul) are quickly and ruthlessly purged, and a lot of the stupid behaviour has been purged with them, the whole made tougher and more believable as a result.  There’s a welcome return for redneck troublemaker Merle and a great addition in emotionally stunted neo-samurai Michonne.  Some of Andrew Lincoln’s moral quandaries do feel somewhat contrived (if your struggle is between a realistic option and a moral one your realistic option has got to actually make sense), but in general the show is admirably hard-headed, unpredictable, unsentimental, and savage with its cast and audience.



Posted in film and tv by Joe Abercrombie on January 8th, 2014.

13 comments so far

  • Bruce says:

    TWD seems to be getting better and better after the dirgey 2nd season.

    On another zombie based note I just read a great zombie book, similar the TWD it’s more about the living than the living dead,The Reapers Are The Angels by Alden Bell. Give it a go!

  • Binary Worrier says:

    “(if your struggle is between a realistic option and a moral one your realistic option has got to actually make sense)”

    At the risk of asking for spoilers (I’ve seen it) which options are you talking about? The choice given to him by The Governor?

    Consider as well that Rick was for most of the season, more than slightly cracked, loo-laa, away with the faries, taking a reality sabbatical, or however you want to phrase “mad in the head”. He certainly wasn’t firing on all cylinders.

    The one event that stood out for me was when Rick, Michone and Karl drove past the hitchhiker without a backward glance. I knew that would have a deep and lasting effect on Karl and help concrete his burgeoning lack of humanity.
    I thought it was very out of character for Rick, but was possibly inserted to make Ricks “deliberation” of The Governors offer more realistic.

    I love TWD but it really twists my melon when I see an encampment of survivors that haven’t even tried to erect fortifications. A 5 foot high wall would solve sooooo many problems.

    My two cents 🙂

  • James says:

    Yes a great tv show! For some reason I can forgive the predictable episodes and plot devices because it is such compulsive viewing. Series 4 has started well and is surpassing series 3!!

  • James says:

    Yes a great tv show! For some reason I can forgive the predictable episodes and plot devices because it is such compulsive viewing. Series 4 has started well and is surpassing series 3!!

  • SuzyQ says:

    Stop watching tv and get busy with the writing Mr. Abercrombie. Just a suggestion from someone who is trying to be patient waiting for your next series.

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    Binary Worker,


    Yes, the choice given him by the governor. It seemed Rick correctly assessed the Governor’s trustworthiness, knew from Merle he was a stone cold psychopath, and was pretty sure he’d never honour the deal, indeed he said as much to Hershel. By giving up Michonne he’d weaken the group by losing one of their best fighters, cripple his leadership of the group by how pissed off half of them would be about it, at best strengthen the governor’s hand by caving, and at worst risk falling into a trap they could all see coming. The rational case was for not giving her up, let alone the moral one. Massively out of character for Hershel to even consider it, as well.

    I liked the thing with the hitcher, though. I think it played into the wider arc of Rick losing his humanity after losing his wife, feeling he had to be utterly ruthless to prevent more deaths, seeing the effect that had on his son, seeing what an utterly ruthless leader looked like in the governor, and finally deciding to retain his humanity and take in the old and useless of Woodberry. Entertaining the possibility of giving Michonne up would have worked well enough in that process, had there been a reasonable argument for giving her up. It just didn’t strike me that there was.

  • Lewis says:

    I largely accept your point, I feel with a little more imagination they could have made the decision harder than it was. I suppose that the only counter too that I would make is that it does work given the fact that the Governors state of mind isn’t exactly reasonable.

  • graeme says:

    I love TWD although I’d of loved it more if they stuck a bit more to the graphic novels ( although I don’t think it would be as popular) season 3 was good but I felt the finale was some what an anti climax. But what it does do is set it up for season 4 which so far has been the best season! I won’t say no more………

  • Yeah, I liked the third series much more than the second.

    On the hitcher, what I got from that was not so much Rick’s diminishing humanity as the stark contrast between his refusal to help someone who was begging for it and his great efforts to try and help another person who repeatedly refused (and may have been beyond help).

  • Roberto says:

    What a coincidence, I stopped watching TWD season 2 and started reading the First Law. The Season 2 is so stupid, they waste tons of episodes dealing with that little girl lost in the woods. And then the stupid farm, and then the stupid kid didn’t die after the haunter shot. There are some annoying characters, and some terrible actors. The only good thing are the actual zombies.

    Joe should write a novel about Zombies, it would be superb.

  • Dangerboyjim says:

    Big fan of the show, it keeps getting better.

    It is littered with things that just make the mind boggle. If it was me in that prison it would be an impenetrable fortress by now, and the inside wouldn’t still look like a prison. I’d have got all the best furniture from a 100 mile radius, loaded it up with canned goods and turned the prison gym into a nightclub. If they are not making their living quarters better and safer, what the hell are they doing all day?

    I wouldn’t step foot outside without being fully armoured and carrying a plethora of sharp stabby things. And one is there still only one person with a crossbow? And one sword? clearly they are awesome weapons. Why hasn’t everyone got them?

  • Bill says:

    I actually got quite attached to the Governor when he was on his brief and ill fated path to redemption. It was as though when the little girl he pseudo-adopted told him of the leak in the ceiling of the camper he realized that there was a leak in the whole damn way things were supposed to be. Then…shit got real.

  • Morgan says:

    Honest trailers: The Walking Dead

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