Blogging Dead: The Beginning of the End

Posted: November 3, 2013 in Television, The Walking Dead

As we get into the core of the fourth season, The Walking Dead has risen as one of the best sci-fi dramas on television today. There are no other dramas out there that have been so dynamic and so different from the competition. It has really become a phenomenon, starting from the comics and being re-imagined with some serious production value. As the show continues on, I have decided to post my reactions to the episodes. Every week, there are some rather serious developments and no one seems to really ever be safe. By recapping the series with each new episode, I hope to document the storylines and how the drama will continue to unfold in this post-apocalyptic thriller. But to understand the show, you must first understand the characters…

Main Cast

  • The-Walking-Dead-castRick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) – A former police officer from a small town, he uses his training to survive when everything around him seems to crumble. Rick is also commonly seen as the leader and the person who people rely on for guidance and direction.
  • Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) – As Rick’s son, Carl has had to grow up quickly. He has learned how to kill the walkers and carries a gun and the signature hat given to him by his dad.
  • Lori Grimes (Sarah Wayne Callies) – Lori survived the apocalypse while clinging to her son and hoping for the safety of her husband.
  • Glenn Rhee (Steven Yuen) – Known for his speed and swiftness, Glenn had been a pizza delivery boy before the outbreak.
  • Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) – Daryl is a hunter at heart and maintains a strength of character in his loyalty to both the group of survivors and his brother.
  • Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker) – While seen as a bigot and a loud-mouth, there is no denying Merle’s strength, aggression, and ability to use a weapon.
  • Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride) – Having joined the survivors since immediately after the outbreak and before making it to Atlanta, Carol’s personal strength rises and falls with the relationships around her.
  • T-Dog Douglas (IronE Singleton) – While an original member of the surviving group and involved in some difficult decisions early in their survival, he is a loyal member of the team.
  • Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson) – Father and protector of his farm, Hershel attempts to maintain a sense of normalcy after the outbreak in his secluded sanctuary.
  • Maggie Greene (Lauren Cohan) – As the oldest daughter of Hershel, she serves as the foundation for her siblings.
  • Beth Greene (Emily Kinney) – Struggling with the constant death around her, Beth requires Maggie’s strength to continue to survive in the zombie post-apolcapsye.
  • Andrea (Laurie Holden) – Having been a civil rights attorney before the outbreak, she becomes one of the best shots of the group and a protector of her peers.
  • Michonne (Danai Gurira) – Though mostly mysterious as a member of the group who speaks very little, there is no denying her dangerousness with a katana.
  • Shane Walsh (Jon Bernthal) – Former cop with Rick, Shane becomes a significant protector of the group before Rick rejoins his family and has a complicated relationship with Lori.
  • Dale Horvath (Jeffrey DeMunn) – Commonly seen as the moral compass of the group, he holds a fatherly relationship with Andrea.
  • The Governor aka Philip Blake (David Morrissey) – As the leader of Woodbury, he becomes the man who many of the survivors turn to and relishes in his leadership role.
  • Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman) – A true survivor, he and a small group of survivors wander the dangerous landscape until they eventually comes across survivors in the Woodbury area.
  • Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) – As Tyreese’s sister, he often struggles with trust and anger issues.
  • Milton Mamet (Dallas Roberts) – Serving as the Governor’s right-hand man, Milton has a medical and scientific background that serves helpful for the Governor’s plans.

Season 1

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Summary: Rick Grimes, a cop in a small town, finds himself in trouble when he is shot in a standoff. While he falls into a coma, the worst is actually happening around him. The world is dying as a plague sweeps the populous turning people into zombies. When he finally awakens, he wanders the hospital without coming across another living soul but also not knowing what has happened. When he is finally found by a couple of survivors, he learns what has happened and gets determined to set out toward Atlanta to find his wife (Lori) and son (Carl). After taking a vehicle and guns from the police station, he has to ditch his car and finds a horse to ride into the city. The place seems abandoned until a hoard comes racing after him. Glenn, who spots Rick crawling into an abandoned tank, directs him to safety and connects him with the other survivors trying to get supplies and make their escape. After a fight creates tension in the group, Rick handcuffs Merle Dixon to a pipe on the roof. The group is able to find their escape but T-Dog loses the key and the group abandons Merle.

Riding back to the surivors’ camp outside of the city, Rick is reunited with Lori and Carl and a somewhat surprised/disappointed Shane. The group does okay initially with Rick’s return, but supplies begin to run low and there arises serious concern for their safety. Rick tells the group about the bag of guns he lost in Atlanta during the hoard attack, so they go back into the city to retrieve them.

While initially ambushed, Rick finds another group surviving in the city and chooses to split the guns with them. They also returned to the roof to find out if Merle survived, but his hand had been cut off and there was no sense if he lived. At the time they return to the camp, a herd has attacked the group and killed Andrea’s sister, Amy. Fearing for their safety, the group decides to caravan to find a safe haven. Finding the CDC, they are allowed inside and given sanctuary for a short time, but they also learn how the infection causes people to turn from humans to zombies. When Dr. Edwin Jenner decides to blow up the building, Rick and the survivors have to gather themselves and escape before their opportunity to survive is taken from them.

Reaction: The first episode of the season set up the entire series. The eerie nature of the world after the plague was of the quality of the best zombie films. Rick’s background as a police officer made him a natural leader when he reunited with his family and the survivors, but not everyone was glad to see him. Rick was forced to make the tough decisions and to shut his best friend down in order to maintain the safety of the group. The season focused mostly on the survival of the remaining humans against the zombies. Even when they encountered the other survivors in Atlanta, both groups were just doing what they had to in order to survive. While the conflict that started to develop between Rick and Shane was interesting, the cliffhanger at the end of the season had to be what Dr. Jenner whispered to Rick before the CDC self-destructed (which we later learned was that everyone is infected with the zombie virus).

As a shorter season, this served as the setup for the rest of the series focused mostly on survival against multiple threats.

Season 2

The Walking Dead (Season 2)Summary: As the group continues to travel along the highway, they feel like there is nowhere safe for them to go. On their way to Fort Benning, they get caught in a traffic jam and Sophia, Carol’s daughter, gets chased off into the woods by the walkers. The group goes on a frantic search while Carol continues to break down further into despair and depression. While searching for Sophia, Carl is shot by a hunter named Otis, who chooses to take Carl and Rick back to his farm. In a rough initial meeting with Hershel Green, Otis and Shane are sent to a local high school to get supplies. Shane hurts his leg while trying to escape and sacrifices Otis to the walkers. Hershel is able to remove the bullet and agrees to allow Rick and the survivors to continue living on the farmland outside of the house.

A power struggle continues between Rick and Shane, as Lori is also keeping her possible pregnancy under wraps. When it finally becomes common knowledge, Shane begins to become more and more agitated and distant. Eventually while Glenn and Maggie continue to blossom their hidden relationship, Glenn stumbles onto the barn full of zombies and slowly reveals this information to the group. In a brash moment, Shane open the barn and reveals zombified versions of Hershel’s family and Sophia.

After taking out the zombies, Hershel disappears to a local town, where Rick and Glenn find him in a bar. After convincing him that they need to get back to the farm, a group of other survivors surprise them. Things turn south and Rick kills the two men. Their friends show up and Rick is left to take drastic measures, leading to one of the guys getting injured and being taken hostage by Rick. Carl gets bold and finds a walker alone and stuck in the mud, taunting him and eventually running away. This leads to the walker wandering onto the farm and surprising Dale. While the group had been preoccupied with determining what to do with their captive, they are deeply saddened by the loss of their moral authority.

Daryl and Shane go after the captive, only to find him dead from a broken neck. Shane’s sanity gets called into question, but Rick agrees to go on a search with him anyway. When Shane threatens and attempts to kill him, Rick is able to stab Shane in the torso. When Shane reanimates and goes after Rick, Carl appears and shoots him. The echo of the gunshot proves to be a mistake, as a hoard of zombies descend on the farm. The chaos causes the group to scattered. While a few of Hershel’s family fall victim to the attack, most everyone is able to climb into the cars and get away. Andrea is separated and left to fend for herself. Rick admits to the group that everyone is infected but asks for their forgiveness and desire to remain a leader for the group. The season closes with a zoom out of the area, including a prison in the background.

Reaction: In an attempt to find some normalcy, the farm ended up being a seemingly amazing opportunity for Rick and the survivors. While they had to suffer major loss before they could get a moment to breathe, Carol was forever changed by the loss of Sophia but completely for the better. Carol was a sobbing mess until Sophia was discovered in the barn and she went nearly catatonic. All of this set her up for a larger role in the group as the story progressed. The relationship drama also served to be a major part of this season. Besides Glenn meeting Maggie, the love triangle of Rick, Shane, and Lori finally came to a head with multiple confronts and the eventual showdown. Shane had gotten so significantly aggravated that he was no longer a productive member of the team and was a regular threat to others’ safety. The relationship between the two groups also served as a significant plot point.

While Rick and the survivors were able to trust each other due to their situation, Rick’s group struggled initially to connect with Hershel and his family. It started with Carl being shot and Otis being sacrificed by Shane. Hershel kept the group at a distance, but slowly seemed to warm up to them. The conflict over the barn made for a difficult moment where Hershel wanted to kick Rick and his people off of the farm. Instead, Rick’s protection of Hershel and care of him during his depression led to a stronger bond than they had ever had. Meanwhile, there were a few other characters that go through some major development. The search for Sophia did not just affect Carol but Daryl as well. He was constantly out on searches for her, and he took it hard when Sophia emerged from the barn. Daryl had been edgy in season 1 due to his brother’s disappearance, but he became a positive contributor to the group throughout their time at the farm. Carl attempted to grow up too fast, which led the walker back to kill Dale. Before the incident, Dale challenged the rest of the group in their willingness to killer their captive, refusing to treat him as a human being. Dale’s death hit Andrea extremely hard, as she felt like she lost a father.

All of the safety they felt in this season was short-lived, as their fight became one for normalcy. Hershel was able to provide a safe haven for a short period of time, but there are no guarantees in a zombie apocalypse.

Season 3

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Summary: The survivors continue to stay on the move to keep away from the walkers, but they eventually come across a prison. Inside, walkers have taken over the yard, but Rick and the guys are able to clear them out and move into the prison space. Clearly out cell block by cell block, the group believes that they may have found a new safe haven with fences to provide extra support. While clearing cell blocks, they come across a group of surviving prisoners, but eventually run into trouble with their leader, forcing them to take him out. Meanwhile, Hershel is bitten in the leg by a walker. Rick amputates Hershel’s leg and moves him to a cell bed to recover. While Hershel survives, T-Dog gets bitten on another tour of the cell blocks and sacrifices himself to save Carol.

Meanwhile, Lori, Maggie, and Carl trap themselves in a private room when Lori goes into labor. She forces Maggie to perform a C-section, which ultimately kills her and forces Carl to put a bullet in her head to avoid her returning as a zombie. Eventually, Rick learns of Lori’s fate and struggles to recognize his new daughter. He starts to go mad, leaving Carl, Carol, and Daryl to care after baby Judith. Hearing voices and seeing Lori’s ghostly image, Rick goes mad in front of a new group of guests (Tyreese, Sasha, and others) and goes on a trip outside of the fences.

Outside of the prison, Andrea has been picked up by Michonne and traveling the woods together. Andrea is increasingly getting sicker and weaker, but they come across a fallen helicopter and some unwanted visitors. They are taken back to a town called Woodbury and meet the man known as the Governor and a slightly worse for wear Merle. Michonne does not trust them, but Andrea gets pulled in by the Governor’s charm. Eventually, they learn about the town’s zombie fights and Michonne chooses to leave Andrea behind. During a supply run, Glenn and Maggie are confronted by Merle, who captures them and brings them back to Woodbury. While they are tortured by Merle and the Governor, Andrea is kept in the dark about her friends being held hostage.

Michonne travels to the prison and tips Rick off about his captured friends. Taking a team to Woodbury, they are able to save their friends but lose Daryl in the battle. Daryl and Merle are put up in one of the zombie fights but saved by Rick and Maggie. The brothers go off on their own when Rick accuses Merle of being untrustworthy. While the groups divide for a period of time, the Governor is surprised by an angry Michonne, who is successful in killing his daughter-turned-zombie and stab him in the eye. This puts the Governor on a death mission to attack the prison, while Rick and survivors prepare for the worst. Eventually, Daryl and Merle return to the prison and are brought back into the walls.

The Governor agrees to set up a meeting to discuss the terms of peace when Andrea returns to the prison to deliver the message, but Rick resists giving up the safety of his people and of their land. This sends the Governor into a focused rage. Andrea misses a chance to kill him but does try to escape him. She puts the Governor in danger but ultimately fails to get away. Rick refuses to give into the Governor’s demand for Michonne, but Merle secretly carries out the plan until he has a change of heart on the drive over. Merle attempts to kill the Governor but is killed and reanimated as a zombie. Daryl follows suit and finds his brother leaning over a disheveled body. Killing his brother, Daryl delays in returning to the prison. The Governor’s plan to attack the prison is foiled and the group has to turn back toward their town. On the way back, the Governor chooses to assassinate his people, except for his two soldiers, and disappears. Rick chooses to return to Woodbury to get Andrea, but they find her bitten after she fought off a zombified Milton. Andrea commits suicide, while Rick brings the remaining Woodbury people back to the prison to start a new life.

Reaction: Season three plays it big with higher death tolls and fractured relationships. The roller coaster of Rick was one that goes from strong leader to off-the-rails lunatic to heroic rescuer. Having to make tough choices, like cutting off Hershel’s leg and killing the prisoners, took its toll on him. Seeing Lori’s ghost and hearing the voices on the phone represented the fallibility of all leaders and the susceptibility stress to the strongest of people. Still, Rick was able to balance his insanity and his heroic nature long enough to make the assault on Woodbury and plan their survival against the attack by the Governor. Carl continued to make some poor choices, but he eventually was able to learn his place a bit better (until he indiscriminately killed an unarmed, non-threatening member of Woodbury).

Daryl and Merle finally got some time to play on-screen together and gave viewers a better feel for the differences between the brothers. Merle ended up being a troubled but misunderstood person. While he had the tough exterior throughout most of his story, he had a heart for his brother and the people Daryl deemed important to him. Daryl had to go out on the trip with Merle to figure out that Rick and the others were better family than his own brother. The Governor served as the first real villain of the series (besides the walkers) and was a complex presence. It was not clear how he developed some of his obsessions or where the thought process came from, but he was ready to kill many people to get his way. The comics provide some backstory but the show chose not to do as much of the background story leading up to Rick’s survivors finding Woodbury. Unlike Shane (who was just going mad with jealousy with Rick), the Governor was able to command people around him and manipulate people through both charm and aggressive tendencies. When he went psycho-crazy at the end of the season and then just drove off, it left that feeling that he will return at some point.

The season ending with the influx of Woodbury survivors also left the series with a set of new questions. How are these people going to deal with the sense of security they lost when they left their humble little town? When will the Governor attempt to strike on Rick and his friends? Will Daryl struggle moving forward after seeing his brother turn and having to officially end him? Why not stay in the town and fortify it so they could live more comfortably? Has Rick finally returned to a state of mental stability?

Season 4 (so far)

the-walking-dead-season-4-daryl-michonne-600x399Summary: Having decided to try to withdraw himself from the violence, Rick has resigned himself to some simple farming and abdicating the leadership responsibilities to a council rather than his “Rick-tatorship.” Carl has followed suit and both are living a life without guns, though Carl is still a little antsy to get back to action and carry again. Rick continues to try to be more peaceful, but a run-in with a crazy woman and some challenges inside the prison threaten his attempt at peace. Michonne, still set on ending the Governor’s life, continues to take trips out into the wild to search for him. Meanwhile, the rest of the group chooses to track down more supplies but are ambushed by zombies in a superstore and lose another member of the team. Beth had developed a relationship with a young boy named Zach but his death by walkers does not seem to phase her too much. Back at the prison, Carol is secretly teaching the children how to use weapons, except for Carl’s friend, who collapses in the showers alone and becomes a zombie.

After reeking havoc on one of the cell blocks, the zombified Patrick is taken out and the survivors begin to worry about a flu that seems to be spreading over the people. Without medicine to stop the spread, concern develops and causes the survivors to quarantine those who are ill to a separate block. Carol also has to kill a man who has been bitten, leaving behind two young daughters. As the walkers continue to push on the outer fences and threats seem to arise inside the prison, Rick decides to give up farming, uses the pigs to lure the walkers away, and gives Carl his gun back. If things had not hit bottom, two flu victims are discovered to have been dragged outside and burned by Tyreese, including Tyreese’s girlfriend. Hershel makes a difficult choice to use natural methods to keep people going while exposing himself to the flu. A group, including an increasingly bitter and angry Tyreese, goes on a supply run for medicine but get overrun by a larger swarm of walkers than they have ever seen.

With the group in danger outside of the prison and the Rick learning that Carol burned the bodies of two people stricken by the flu, danger is now lurking from all angles.

Reaction: Season one was about survival from the walkers. Season two brought a sense of normalcy but human threats began to arise. Season three waged a war between survivor groups after the Governor deemed everyone outside of Woodbury a threat. Now, season four threatens the survivors with both an internal and external threat. The flu makes for an intriguing way to revitalize the seriousness of the zombie infection. People are now dying of other means than bites and weapons. The survivors also do not know the severity of the zombie threat that is coming for them. While Daryl, Tyreese, Michonne, and Bob are stuck near the mess, the prison only knows about the direct threats near the fences.

The human threat is also still alive and well. Tyreese is ready to fly off the handle, but so is Rick. The fight the two of them have serves as a point of contention that could eventually split the group, especially with Carol’s admission of her burning of the bodies. Tyreese has exploded once but he will probably lose it once he finds out Carol’s involvement and Rick’s pending reaction to her actions. The Governor still has not made a reappearance, so the threat is still out there. Carol’s mental state could be called into question, but the decision to burn the bodies may not have just been her own. There is a distinct possibility that several important people may not make it to the next season, or the group will be divided and bonds permanently broken.

With the threats never ending, there is much more in-store for Rick and the survivors. I will recap each episode after they happen, so stay tuned for who lives, dies, and is reborn as a zombie on The Walking Dead.

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