Woah. They turned up the gore and violence, for sure. After the last episode, "Killer within", we just continue this way and see Terminator Rick dismember the zombies some more. But let's go through this step by step. The episode picked off just where we left the last time: Rick crushed on the floor in agony, Carl with a baby in his arms, Michonne and Andrea still at grips over whether to leave or to stay. The first reaction of the gang in the prison is one we can all relate to: after something so devestating, take your mind off it and do something useful.
|Not an option he enjoys.|
Darryl and Maggie instantly drive to next kindergarten on Darryl's bycicle, hoping to find something the baby can actually eat. This is a problem I didn't even realize existed in the last episode, where the devestating loss of Lori, T-Dog and Carol drowned out all other concerns. Speaking of Carol, the group has surely given her up for dead, even dug a grave for her, but we never saw her body. Barring sime disagreement between the producers and the actors, this seems weird. Did they find her and bury her? Why didn't we see Darryl saying goodbye to her or something? There is a scene in which he fondly places a flower on her (?) grave, but it feels damn odd. Is Carol dead or not? You wouldn't really know by what you saw.
|Bonding over digging graves.|
Anyway, back to Darryl. He really changed. When he takes the baby and feeds it, fondly calling him "little ass-kicker", all the rest of his former redneck persona seemed died for good. It's an ongoing thing with season 3, but until now I put it aside thinking that he just fell in behind Rick as he once fell in behind Merle and Shane. But the eight months on the run seem to have changed him, too. Where everyone else became harder, he became softer. This seems a bit weird, but it's perfectly in place with character. There is no need to act tough anymore, not in this group. Everyone knows you're worth, and when the world requires - really requires - you to be tough all the time, you have to ease up in between, coming from such a level of toughness as did Darryl. The same is true for Merle; his falling in line behind a strong, autorative figure also softened him up considerably.
|Meet the Super-Nanny.|
Plot-wise, not that much happened in the prison this episode. We see them coping with what just happened. The whole episode spans only the rest of the afternoon until sunset. There's much emotion with it, and berserking Rick gives us the bloody gore splicing through zombies in his rage. Contrasting against this were the scenes between Darryl and Maggie in the kindergarten. The tension and feelings were painted beautifully against each other when they slowly went through the kid's stuff and needed to be ready to put down a zombie every second. Really well executed, one has to say. The only one to fall a bit short in this episode is Carl, who gets one moment when asked about the name for the new baby, but so far, we don't know much about him. It was enough until now to show the new badass-Carl, but in the next episode they need to urgently adress just who he is now, or the experience of his mother's death will remain meaningless.
|Slightly longer hair and meaner eyes don't count as character development.|
That takes us to Woodbury. There's a littlebit more happening this episode, but the scenes continue to disappoint. I have to admit, I never warmed up to Michonne as a character. The show never gave her enough personality to care about in my eyes. She just has a mean look all the time, staring down everyone, bumbing into people on purpose and snuffing around. Her "this place isn't what it seems to be" routine starts getting a littlebit old, and while I understand the narrative need to have a character swallow all that is presented to have a contrast to the one doubting everything. But why like this? Andrea has a long history of bad decision and bad judgement. Why add on the pile again? I will never again take her seriously like this. And Michonne is just a walking stereotype until now.
|In the initial script, her role was called "chick with Katana".|
Plot-wise, we get some additional information at least. Obviously, they are conducting experiments in Woodbury, capturing zombies for the geeky scientist guy. The Governor has yet another dark secret besides his heads in aquariums, keeping around his daughter turned zombie. We don't get any inclination why he does that, but we also learn that people disabled zombies to keep them around for sports. The whole problem with this Woodbury-storyline is that nothing they do there openly (not counting the Governor's obscure hobbies) is that unreasonable. Still, Andrea and Michonne are both appalled by it for no real reason. Keeping zombies around for research is the most clever thing one can do if you have a scientist and a lab. And using them for sports isn't that unthinkable one year into the zombie apocalypse. Hell, the reasoning the Governor gives to Andrea is sound, but she acts as if these were the first zombies she ever saw.
|Let's party, bitches!|
So far the episodes of season 3 have been a mixed bag. I really love the prison storyline, which has some sensible character development, a high stake tension, a confined, interesting scenario and people interacting with each other in a meaningful way. So far, Woodbury falls short an most of these categories. While being confined with a finite set of characters, it presents itself as kind of a mystery thing-y, like detective Michonne has to find out what's really going on and to solve the crime. I just don't think that the general tone their striking in these scenes should be the one the show is going for.