Last year, I complained about a few of my gigantic problems with season two of The Walking Dead. I also said that if season three didn’t significantly improve, I probably wouldn’t be sticking around for season four.
Well, after watching the mid-season finale, I can say with great joy that The Walking Dead has significantly improved.
Spoilers up till 3×08, “Made to Suffer.”
WAYS THE WALKING DEAD HAS IMPROVED:
1. I don’t want to kill all the characters.
Or maybe that’s not fair. I did enjoy a few of the characters. Daryl has consistently been pretty awesome. Glenn was pretty awesome — he was my favorite character in season one — but his romance with Maggie in season two was boring as hell. I felt Carol had potential — especially in her scenes with Daryl — but she spent most of her time crying about Sofia, which while understandable, does not make for particularly good television. And Shane was sort of fun when he was going batshit crazy, but I was also glad when he died because you can really only have batshit crazy go on for so long before it gets boring.
Everyone else? Tedious, dull, or simply aggravating as fuck.
However this — mostly — changed in season three. For example, let’s look at season two’s four most problematic characters and see what happened to them:
A. Lori and T-Dog are both dead.
T-Dog wasn’t so much of a bad character as he was a glorified extra. I didn’t necessarily want him to be killed off, but if he was going to stick around, he needed to gain a personality or a character background or something. Sadly, that never really happened, but at least his death scene was pretty good.
And speaking of death scenes . . . Lori’s death scene actually made me feel sorry for the character, which I didn’t actually know was possible at that point.
Of course, there are still some problems here. The Walking Dead has taken some heat for killing off T-Dog almost immediately after introducing Oscar, another black character, as if the producers were trying to maintain some kind of quota. I might think that this was merely an unfortunate coincidence if they hadn’t just done the exact same thing this last week with Oscar and Tyrese.
Also, while there were a lot of reasons I didn’t like Lori — namely that she had shitty priorities and bad decision making skills — the fanbase hated Lori so much that they attacked her for decisions that were actually understandable. For instance, people called Lori an awful wife for sleeping with Shane, and the season three writers (obviously pandering for the fans to like them again) had no problem at all with punishing her for that action. Problem is, Lori had absolutely no reason to believe Rick was still alive while she was screwing Shane, so all the hate that she gets for betraying Rick honestly comes off as a little skeevy and sexist to me.
Still, with these two problematic characters dead, I at least don’t have to deal with them and their annoying storylines (or total lack of storylines) anymore.
B. Carl is not a tiny, worthless asshole anymore.
He still doesn’t have a lot in the way of actual character, and he’s still wearing his dad’s hat — which is just hard to take seriously — but he’s no longer saying awful things to women who just lost their children or strolling by himself through zombie infested woods for no godamned reason at all. And in the very last episode, where Carl shows humanity by helping save Tyrese and his band of merry survivors — but also good judgement by locking them up and away from his own people — well, this was a wonderful moment for both the character and the show. Season two was all about Hero Rick — who couldn’t be good without also being an idiot — versus Villain Shane — who was a better survivalist but also a ruthless, crazy douchebag. And in this single moment, little Carl shows that there’s a way to be merciful, cautious, and not a total douchebag, all at the same time.
C. Andrea is . . . still a little annoying, but she’s nowhere near as bad as she was.
Andrea was my least favorite character in season two. Yes, I hated her more than Lori. I wanted to like her, considering that she was the only female who did anything other than talk, but I could never forgive her for one, allowing Beth the opportunity to kill herself, and two, nearly killing Daryl. Also, she was a total bitch.
However, in the interest of really giving third season a chance, I did my best to ignore all that I knew of Andrea from prior seasons and start fresh. And while I think her story line is easily the most boring thing on the show, I at least don’t despise her like I used to. Sure, I wanted her to give Michonne the benefit of the the doubt and ditch the creepy fucking governor. But Michonne didn’t really give Andrea a lot of evidence that something was wrong, either, and I’d bet I’d have a hard time leaving the comforts of Woodbury based on someone else’s gut feeling. Besides, Michonne? I like her and all, but she’s not the best at using her words.
And while I really, really wanted Andrea to find out what the Governor was up to in the mid-season finale, I can at least hope that seeing Daryl (as well as the giant wall of encased floating zombie heads) will give her the push she needs to do some investigating and get the fuck out of dodge.
So, yes. My biggest four problem characters from season two are either dead or on the road to likely salvation. And while there’s still some dead weight on the team —
— almost everyone else has vastly improved. Glenn, in particular, finally got the chance to be totally awesome again.
You have no idea how happy this moment made me.
2. Also, things are actually happening on the show.
I have always thought that a family drama or a procedural that just happened to be set in a post-apocalypse world would make for awesome television. I still believe that. But boy, oh boy, did season two of The Walking Dead totally fail in making a “life with zombies” storyline work. For every rare moment of awesome that happened, there were at least seventeen dull as hell scenes were nothing of any kind happened at all. I know I’m giving the show a hard time, and there certainly have been worse things on television — season two of Heroes, for instance — but if I had to come up with one adjective for the entire season, I’d probably go with “stagnant.”
This is just some of what’s happened in Season Three so far:
Rick’s group of survivors took the prison.
Hershel’s leg was amputated.
The prison was invaded.
T-Dog died saving Carol’s life.
Maggie was forced to brutally c-section Lori without anaesthetic to save the baby.
The Governor — The Walking Dead’s first real human villain — was introduced.
Merle reappeared in all his racist, one-handed glory.
Glenn and Maggie were both captured and tortured (physically and psychologically).
Rick led a party to rescue Glenn and Maggie.
Michonne was introduced and later had an epic fight with the Governor where she stabbed him through the eye with a piece of glass.
Daryl found out his brother was alive, promptly got captured, and is now facing potential execution with him.
My god, there are . . . plot developments! PLOT DEVELOPMENTS!
You have no idea how much I yearn for this in television shows. Particularly this one.
I won’t say there haven’t been a few missteps here and there — I hated Full Belly Zombie for continuity reasons alone, and Rick’s whole phone call hallucination nonsense left me utterly unmoved — but overall, this season has improved so much that The Walking Dead has become one of my favorite television shows right now, and I’m eagerly looking forward to its return in February.