The Robert Kirkman machine continues to carve its' way through the entertainment world, creating the high water mark for television dramas as well as the comic book industry. Never before have we seen such high numbers (14.2 million!) for a television drama, and certainly not for a "comic book show!" Why has The Walking Dead garnered such a high level of fan appreciation and followers -- because it's that damn good!
Breaking the shackles of just another "cult classic", TWD has worked it's way into the hearts of more than just the fans of the original source material. Though the comic fans are ravenous about the show (especially me!), it is the drama/horror fans that have really added to the extremely high viewership. And for those fans, I give you a comparison between the comic and the premiere episode of Season 3.
(Editorial Warning: Spoilers "Dead" Ahead!)
Episode One deemed, 'Seed', begins after the harsh months of winter have come and gone. Our group seems to have fallen in line with Rick's, "This is not a democracy" speech from the season two finale and they look hardened, weary and Lori is more than a little pregnant! Foraging from house to house has become the status quo, but Rick will not allow this group to degrade themselves any lower and knocks a can of dog food from Carl's hands before he can taste it. As walkers begin to become more present around the house, the group leaves silently - more reminiscent of a military outfit than a family.
This is where we see the first separation from the comic and show. Even though the worlds and situations are the same, there isn't that emotional detachment between the group as there is here. There is still the "family" feel to the group, even as they become used to the killing and actually excel at it, it has never become so militaristic. It is fantastic that the writers have incorporated this edgier feel to the show, and for finally making Carl the complete badass he is in the comic!
Next, Rick and his right hand man, Daryl (a character that I so wish was in the book!), stumble upon the prison while hunting for food. This originally takes place in issue 13 of the book. But, as The Walking Dead: The Official Magazine (to be released Oct.23) states," Season three will be, at least in part, covering issues 13 through 48," so, we are bound to see amalgams of storylines throughout the season.
As the group hacks and slashes their way through the labyrinth of fences surrounding the prison, we can see that their prowess with weaponry has improved exponentially. Wielding pipes, hammers, hatchets as well as guns, they are conserving their bullets for the most of dire times and relying on "wetwork" instead to dispel the undead. They seem ready and relatively healthy to take on whatever may come their way. Something that is not present when first we see Andrea!
The fan favorite, Michonne, has helped Andrea stay alive through the winter, but it seems all her work is for not. Michonne rumages through a drug store to find anything. She silently decapitates two walkers with her katanna before grabbing some packages of asprin off the floor and heads back to a small building near by. As she walks through a discheveled hallway we get a first glance at a weakened Andrea. Andrea is extremely sick and tells Michonne to leave her here to die, she doesn't want to be a burden any longer. The stoic Michonne tells Andrea that they will have to move on in a few days, and last we see of them, they have loaded Michonne's zombie companions with their gear and are headed out into the world. This is a great dynamic for these two characters to be in. This meeting never happens in the book. Michonne was always a loner, besides her boyfriend and his best friend -- her pet walkers! She was introduced to the group in issue 19, where she saves Otis from some walkers and follows him back to the prison. Since Otis is already dead in the show, this "Thelma and Louise" style story is a great way to build up both of these characters that are two of comicdom's favorites.
Back to the prison! Rick's "hit squad" enters the perimeter of the prison and slaughter walkers by the dozen. Just as they are feeling confident about clearing the section, riot gear wearing walkers emerge from around the corner! This is some of the most gruesome make-up effects I have ever seen on network television! The peeling off of the gas mask on the riot walker was so visceral, so disgusting that it only made me crave more! After feeble attempts to stab through the riot gear, Maggie plunges her machete up through the bottom of a walkers jaw to stop him. Her jubilant reaction to her handiwork was outstanding! After they clear the riot walkers, the group enters the prison.
Rick's squad clears a cell block, finds keys to the inner areas of the prison and bring the rest of the group into their new home. Exhausted, they find cells to bunk in and settle in. Their is a great "Padme/Anakin" moment between Beth and Carl that reveals how far the Carl character has come since the last season. He is confident and deadly, making him project himself more as a protector than a child. In the book he is as lethal as any of the adults, but he also has Sofia to keep him grounded. Without Sofia on the show, maybe Beth will become his center, although the age difference is a little creepy!
Also, this is where we see the great divide between Rick and Lori. Rick is deeply removed from anything Lori has to say about the baby. He is the leader of this group, but no longer the loving husband. Does he blame Lori for the duel between himself and Shane? It is more than likely that he is afraid of losing her in childbirth and needs to distance himself from her to focus on the survival of the group. We also see a great conversation between Lori and Hershel. She confides in him that she hasn't felt the baby move in a while and is concerned it is dead. She wallows to him about her fears of labor and the likelihood of she or the baby becoming walkers. She finally pleads with Hershel that if she or the baby turn, that he would kill them. This was an truly troubling scene and was a fantastic addition of emotion to the show.
Finally, the next morning, Rick, Maggie, Hershel, T-Dog, Glenn and Daryl all enter the bowels of the prison. During their search, walkers emerge from everywhere and the group gets separated! Maggie and Glenn hide in a room until the walkers have passed but they are lost from the rest of the group. Franticly, Herschel calls out for his daughter and is bitten in the leg by a walker that has been sitting on the floor! Panicked, the groups reconnect over the screaming Hershel and drag him down the hall as walkers emerge from everywhere. They bust a lock off a door, stumble inside and barricade the door. Rick looks at Hershel's leg and decides that it must be removed in order to save him! Grisly effects abound as Rick hacks off the bitten area, and Hershel passes out. But, all is not over! Besides the walkers outside, there is a new issue to contend with. Daryl tells Rick to get down as he draws his crossbow upward. It seems they have entered the prison's cafeteria and there are still prisoners here. Alive!
Outstanding first episode, that ampted the action up to eleven and the emotional duress through the roof! I was very surprised about Hershel being bit, especially since it was Dale that had his leg amputated in the book! More amalgam storylines abound and I couldn't be happier! This show has become the pinnacle of drama television, forget the courtrooms and special crime units, life in a zombie filled world is where all the best stories can come from!
As the season progresses and the Governor makes his presence known, the emotional aspect of the show will become heightened. There are things that happen in the book that I do not know how they will be allowed on network television. The Governor is an extremely twisted man and fans of the book are worried about how he will be used in the show. Well, from what Robert Kirkman has said, the fans need not worry. He has this to say about one of the most vicious characters in comics today," ... the threat of violence posed by the Governor, has not been diluted for TV!" With that said, hang on folks, it's going to be one intense season!