“Things aren’t over.” — Glenn Rhee
The ratings numbers for the mid-season premiere of The Walking Dead was again shocking critics and fans both. Ratings for the show just stupefies critics of the show who can’t seem to get a handle on why this show has gone beyond popular and into pop icon status. By now we can honestly say that the show’s writing will never reach the status of other current popular shows like True Detective, Game of Thrones or that of Breaking Bad. Yet, the show continues to appeal to millions of fans not just in the US but worldwide.
The Walking Dead is basically a horror soap opera that’s airs on a basic cable network. But each and every week the show airs a new episode it beats everything put up against and more than holds its own with NBC’s Sunday Night Football. It’s a show that has had and continues to have issues with it’s writing and some of its characters, but for some reason the whole affair resonates with the millions who wait with anticipation for each new episode and news to appear.
Even detractors and strong critics of the show (some of who, vehemently hate the whole thing’s success and popularity) manage to still watch the show if just to poke fun and tear it down. It’s almost as if by doing so they can find that secret ingredient as to why the show remains so popular and successful.
Tonight’s episode focuses on the rest of the prison group who fled their sanctuary after the battle with the Governor’s forces. Last week it was more on the fleeing Rick, Carl and Michonne and their journey from the brink of despair to at least a semblance of hope and acceptance. We begin with the duo of Daryl and Beth who fled the prison on foot.
It’s an odd pairing that puts together one of the show’s most badass and pragmatic characters with one of it’s most hopeful (at least now with Hershel Dead). It’s a cold opening and section of the episode which includes diary readings by Beth of her renewed faith and need to continue to live after the group arrives at the prison. Once again we see the ghost of Hershel looming over all the survivors like a shade trying to give them hope to live for the next day despite the travails and horrors they’ve just left behind and still looking forward to.
The same goes for pretty much all the little groups who made it out of the prison. We see each and everyone of them not just fleeing for their lives, but also trying to get find a reason to continue on. With Tyreese and his group of Lizzie, Mika and Baby Judith it’s to continue on if just for the sake of keeping the girls alive. His road seems to be the toughest with three little girls to keep safe which makes his reaction to seeing Carol alive (at this time Rick hadn’t told Tyreese about Carol’s confession in regards to Karen’s death) was one of relief.
With Sasha, Bob and Maggie we see a trio dealing with the events they’ve just fled in their own ways. Sasha seems to be the most pragmatic with wanting to keep moving forward, scavenge for food and find a shelter. On the opposite end of the spectrum we see Maggie still dealing with the murder of her father (Hershel) and not knowing if her younger sister is still alive and, worst yet, if her husband (Glenn) made it out. It falls to Bob to find a middle ground between the two women’s agendas. Ironic considering that Bob, in the first half of the season, who was always unsure whether he truly belonged in the group and if his own personal demons meant he was a liability (yes and, to a degree, yes also). When they come across the prison bus that Maggie thought Glenn was in full of zombies and its passengers either turned or devoured one could almost see the light of hope fading from Maggie’s eyes. So, it was such a relief (again finding relief of any kind seems to be one of tonight’s theme) when Glenn wasn’t on the bus in one form or another.
Then there’s the final section of the episode where we find out that Glenn definitely survived the attack on the prison, but was left behind (due to the fact he left the bus to try and find Maggie during the battle) all alone in the ruins of their former sanctuary. He doesn’t know whether anyone else made it out and if his wife was amongst them. For a moment when back in their cell room he breaks down and seems to want to just shutdown and not deal with this new world anymore, but once again his time spent with Hershel brings him back from the brink.
Even new to the gang, Tara Chalmers, looks like she’ll fit in with Rick and his gang. She seems to survive when everyone else around her dies. Tara also harbors her own demons with the biggest being her participation in attacking the prison and getting pretty much everyone in her group killed. She’s troubled and hurting emotionally which makes her a perfect fit for Rick’s group.
Yet, the episode tonight all ended it’s three different sections with a sense of hope. The biggest being news that a new sanctuary might just be close enough for them to find shelter and safety once more. The biggest reveal of all in tonight’s episode is the arrival and introduction of three new characters whose impact on Rick’s people may just be as important and game-changing on the show as it was in the comics.
With the group slowly finding their bearings it looks like the apocalyptic battle that sent them all in different directions wasn’t the end. Things are definitely not over for Rick and his people. Will this new sanctuary hinted at in tonight’s episode become a new Woodbury or will it be something that Rick and his people can turn into something even better than the prison. The prison was sanctuary but was never an ideal place to restart whatever form of civilized society the survivors were hoping for. Maybe this new place they’re headed to will be that place.
- Tonight’s episode was written by Matthew Negrete & Channing Powell and directed by Tricia Brock.
- At least now the question of what happened to baby Judith has now been answered.
- Lizzy looks like she’s turning out to be the very proper sociopath.
- We get some resolution as to what happened to Tara’s sister, but only through Tara’s recollection of her being swamped by zombies after killing the Governor.
- Some very fine work by Greg Nicotero’s wizards over at KNB EFX with the zombie kills and flesh-eating (I think these two things are part of why people continue to return to this show despite detractors and critics yelling to everyone and no one why it’s stupid to do so).
- Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce to you all Sgt. Abraham Ford, Rosita Espinosa and Eugene Powell played respectively by Michael Cudlitz, Christian Serratos and Josh McDermitt.
- Talking Dead Guests: Alanna Masterson of The Walking Dead, Joe Kernen of CNBC Squawk Box and Jim Gaffigan