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These days, there are very few shows that I actively keep up with that are still running. Dexter is one of them, even though I am behind by a season, and The Walking Dead is another. Every other show that I enjoy - or enjoyed at one point - is either finished or I gave up on it for one reason or another (True Blood, I'm looking at you). Granted, there are a few shows that I've been meaning to check out at some point, but as of this writing, those are the only two shows on my personal little list. So, with a new season of The Walking Dead on the table, I once again had to go through the entire routine of avoiding spoilers and avoiding discussions until the show was finished so that I could watch it all at my own leisure, instead of having to "wait until next week" to see the next part of the story. Those of you who have been around the site for a while know that's how I do things, but for the newcomers, I simply can not stand cliffhangers and I have to do it this way to keep my sanity somewhat intact. Finally, the season came to an end just two weeks ago, and thus, I lined up the entire thing for one big marathon viewing... and here we are.
Review by Chad
Added: April 14, 2013
First up, this synopsis is going to assume that you've seen the previous seasons, so if you don't want major plot points from those ruined, avoid this. Also, there will be minor spoilers for some of the events in this season; after all, it's a little difficult to talk about sixteen hours worth of material without giving something away. So, if you're one of those people who loathe even the most minor of spoilers (like me), you're going to want to avoid the synopsis as well.
Alright, so season three picks up right where season two left off. The survivors from the farm massacre - Rick (Andrew Lincoln), his pregnant wife Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) and son Carl (Chandler Riggs), Glenn (Steven Yeun), Daryl (Norman Reedus), Carol (Melissa McBride), T-Dog (IronE Singleton), Hershel (Scott Wilson), and his daughters Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Beth (Emily Kinney) - have discovered an abandoned prison complex that is crawling with zombies, and they decide to clear it out and turn it into a fortress. After all, a building that was designed specifically to keep inmates inside the walls would also do a damned fine job at keeping the zombies out, right?
Meanwhile, Andrea (Laurie Holden) has teamed up with Michonne (Danai Gurira) for the winter after Andrea was separated from her group, with the two of them barely managing to survive thanks to being constantly on the move with little food. Just when things are looking the bleakest, they discover that there is a town called Woodbury nearby with secure walls surrounding it, almost a hundred citizens populating it, and all of the luxuries of the previous life available within. Hot showers, good food, and hell, even barbecues are available here! It almost seems too good to be true, and when the ladies meet The Governor (David Morrissey), the leader of this little town, they start to discover that it very well may be.
You see, The Governor has his heart in the right place: he really does want to provide a safe place for these people, but his methods are a little brutal - and that's putting it lightly. When he discovers that there is another group of survivors nearby who have made the prison their home, it doesn't take long before an all-out war between the two groups begins to brew. Right there in the middle of it is Daryl, because - surprise! - his brother Merle (Michael Rooker) survived his rooftop escape after cutting off his own hand, and he is now The Governor's right-hand man (if you will pardon the expression). Of course, there's plenty of other twists and shocks, but I have to leave something for you to discover on your own, right?
First up, I have to say that this season had me hooked from the opening minutes of the first episode up until the season finale. I plowed through all sixteen hour-long episodes in just a matter of days, and there were times where I found it impossible to call it a night. Perhaps it was a major cliffhanger that made me promise myself "just one more episode tonight", or maybe it was just the fact that the story itself was so damned good that, even without a cliffhanger, I had to "hang" around to see where it would go in the next episode. Just like in the previous seasons, the humans are the real stars here: the zombie menace is always there, but watching the humans and how they interact and try to make it in this world is the real attraction of the show. As also found in the previous seasons, the storytelling here is phenomenal and will consistently leave you begging for more, while simultaneously getting you attached to your personal favorite characters.
However, I did have one tiny complaint about the storytelling aspect of this season, and perhaps I wouldn't even have noticed it if I had watched on a week-to-week basis, but it did seem like some aspects of the story - especially towards the end of the season - were either rehashed or stretched out and padded. There are some scenes that are there simply to repeat something that we have already seen, likely for those who may have missed an episode or as a reminder for those who did see it, while other scenes are simply drawn out in what I assume was an attempt to pad the given episode's running time. I didn't keep track, but if I had to venture a guess, I would say that it really became apparent starting in episode eleven or twelve. It seemed like the show's producers realized that they didn't have enough material to fill out the remaining episodes, but they didn't have enough time to start any new angles, so they just stretched out what they had and called it a day. Don't get me wrong, it's not horrible by any means and it's not like every minute of every episode from there on out was fluff - far from it. There are definitely moments there though, and while I'm not going to slam the season because of it, I will say that it's definitely noticeable.
Again, that is a very minor complaint, and truth be told, it's the only complaint that I could make about the season. I loved the idea of taking over a prison and I also loved the war between our heroes and the occupants of Woodbury, and as a fan of the comics, I thought that most of this was handled rather well. Granted, there were a few things that I enjoyed more in the comics, but there's still time for some of that in the next season - it just might be a little out of order chronologically. Let's just say that a certain character getting a certain something jammed into his eye is nothing compared to what happened to him in the comics, and I hope that we get to see some of that at some point.
I also enjoyed the acting from all involved once again, especially from the newcomer in David Morrissey as The Governor. He absolutely nailed the character, transitioning from smooth-talking gentleman to sadistic murderer with ease, and watching him jump back and forth depending on who was watching him was insanely fun. I also enjoyed Michael Rooker's return to the show as Merle, and I thought that he brought a lot more to the table this time around - previously, he was just an asshole guy that you simply had to loathe, but it's not so simple this time around. Sure, he's still kind of an asshole, but at least he has reasons and motivations, and his character goes through some changes that actually make him sort of grow on you. Of course, the regulars of the show are still just as good as ever, and if your favorite(s) survived the previous season, you'll be happy to know that they were just as enjoyable here. Nobody has lost a step and nobody was phoning it in, so I have to give plenty of praise to all involved. Of course, in true Walking Dead fashion, that doesn't necessarily mean that they will make it until the end of this season - there are plenty of major characters who are killed off, and some of them will definitely shock (and maybe anger) you.
While I will admit that I had that one minor complaint about the season, I still have to give it an enthusiastic thumbs up and I'm still a huge fan of the show. I can't wait to dive into season four and see where the show goes in comparison to the comics, and knowing that I will have to wait roughly one year to do so is almost torture. So, if you haven't given the show a chance yet, what in the hell are you waiting for? This is easily one of the best shows on television today, and while this season isn't flawless, it's still incredible and will keep you hooked. 9/10.
- added November 12, 2014 at 9:02pm
The beginning was pretty slow, but it picked up
beautifully towards the end, even if the final
five minutes were a bit anti-climatic. Still,
looking forward to Season 4.