After a Season 1 marathon last weekend and a replay of Seasons 2 and 3 this weekend, The Walking Dead will return to AMC with a new episode on Sunday, February 10th. It’ll be a great relief for fans. The hardships of winter and the disappointments of the holiday season double suck when you can’t even get your zombie fix.
The Season 1 marathon on Super Bowl Sunday featured a lengthy teaser from the upcoming Governor-ordered fight to the death between brothers Merle and Daryl Dixon. Not since the Civil War have Americans been so interested in brother-against-brother conflict. The outcome of the fight is sure to be one of the highlights of the mid-season premiere. The producers of The Walking Dead have promised us repeatedly that no character is safe, so there is fan anxiety attached to the fight. We stand to lose yet another main character. If Merle dies, nobody will care. If Daryl dies, there is a Facebook group that proposes we riot.
The death of T-Dog bothered fans of The Walking Dead, but the mourning was brief. Folk hero T-Dog was damned near scenery, truth be told. He had five minutes of lines in Season 2, even less in Season 1. Daryl’s death would impact the show in a much bigger way. Fans don’t like Daryl just because they like him. Daryl has become the heart and soul of The Walking Dead.
I didn’t really understand how it was that Daryl had wormed his crossbow-wielding, white-trash, man-of-few-words way into our hearts until I watched the Season 1 marathon this past Sunday. In the early days of the show, Rick took pleasure in his family. Glenn seemed to enjoy his transformation from pizza delivery guy to zombie slayer. Everybody hopped on the chance to get drunk. The group had reasons to survive.
By Season 3, not so much. Rick could barely look at Lori before her death. He has glanced at his new baby maybe twice, and he gives his son, Carl, orders and not much else. Carl struggles to take on adult responsibilities because there isn’t anything else for him to do. Glenn has acquired the ultimate hot farmer’s daughter love interest in Maggie, but their love is earnest and dutiful and doesn’t look like it’s any fun at all. Carol, eh, she’s still cleaning up the other character’s messes. With the joy gone from life, people have started doing everything they do on the show because they have no other choice. It’s backwards evolution. The original characters from Season 1 who’ve made it to the prison aren’t getting more complex. They are turning into mice.
In the middle of these miserable, desperate people, we have Daryl Dixon. Before the walker virus, the best Daryl could hope for in life was a trailer home and a live-in girlfriend to knock up. The zombie apocalypse has given Daryl a place of trust in a group that wouldn’t have admitted him in the pre-walker world. His nothin’-to-lose bravery and his got-nothin’-better-to-do tenacity allow the character to take on lost causes (the search for Sophia) and to spend time worrying about what really matters. Daryl is often the only character to acknowledge the other survivors’ grief, and his “Little Ass Kicker” greeting of dead Lori’s baby allowed the other characters to feel something better than despair over her arrival.
Daryl Dixon is the anti-mouse of The Walking Dead. With the other characters running around on a wheel, doing things because they have to, Daryl does things because he wants to. He has grown, not dimished.
The character of Rick Grimes gets the most camera time on the show, but, make no mistake about it, Daryl Dixon is the hero of The Walking Dead. I really hope that the producers won’t kill him off just to prove that they can.
If you have DISH TV, you were screwed. The third season of The Walking Dead started last night. Not only has DISH dropped American Movie Classics, but AMC took every possible opportunity during the premiere of The Walking Dead to tell us that people with DISH were missing the premiere of The Walking Dead. DISH TV subscribers, you have to be feeling good about yourselves, today! Although you didn’t see it, so you don’t know that AMC pooped on you all night. Until I just told you, now. Or unless you’ve gone to The Walking Dead AMC website, where you will see right up there that it’s NOT AVAILABLE ON DISH.
On with the show…time has passed since we left the survivors from Hershel’s farm sitting by the roadside, all out of faith in their leader, Rick, and totally screwed. We can immediately tell that time has passed because Lori’s pregnancy is showing. Either that or perpetually bony actress Sarah Wayne Callies has broken down and eaten a meal consisting of more than a Ritz Cracker.
The show did a good job in the opening scene of showing us that everyone has changed. No whining. No fighting. No moral quandaries for everyone to stop and discuss before they can break and enter and kill zombies and plunder a house. Until…a slimmer, older, but not taller, Carl finds some tasty dog food for the obviously starving group to eat. That is where Rick draws the line, wordlessly letting us know that HIS. PEOPLE. WILL. NOT. EAT. DOG. FOOD. Yay! Rick still has some of his totally ridiculous principles intact. Things haven’t changed THAT much.
I don’t want to post a lot of spoilers for the DISH TV subscribers who will have to catch up on Hulu. And I’m too lazy to recap the entire episode. I will say that Daryl Dixon seems inexplicably fatter (Norman Reedus, what have you been eating?). Carl’s head has somehow grown into his father’s hat, although the rest of him hasn’t grown at all. Rick has smarted up and he seems to now hate Lori as much as the rest of us do. The characters still make stupid decisions aplenty, like rushing into situations without having any idea what is ahead of them when they actually have the leisure to make some noise from safe places and find out. I’m afraid that the setting of the prison isn’t going to be that interesting. The creators have promised that it’s virtually going to be a character. It’s going to be a really damned grey character, if that’s true. I’m also concerned that the creators have given up any semblance of artistic integrity at all and have decided to react to fan cries of, “We’re bored with the farm, kill more zombies!,” by pummeling us all through Season 3 with the killing of zombies.
On the plus side, my favorite soap opera, The Walking Dead is back, and I can’t wait to see Michonne and Andrea make out!
Of course I’m trying to sell you something, so check out my ebook! Zombies, a bearded lady, and an illegal pet, all on the inside!