A study in leadership in The Walking Dead premiere
In the usual tradition of ‘The Walking Dead’ premieres, the season 3 launch was immensely satisfying on many different levels.
When you take on a leadership role, you automatically accept much more than just a position of command. There’s so much more that goes with it. Yes, there’s the satisfaction and triumph of a decision (evident by Rick’s glee as he realized the prison was soon to be theirs) but there is the responsibility, the criticism, the burden and the second-guessing oneself as well.
Rick has taken his leadership role on The Walking Dead to a very interesting level. He’s used his “Let’s get one thing straight: If you’re staying, this isn’t a democracy anymore” line and up’ed that ante to a virtual dictatorship. What he says goes. No ifs ands or buts about it.
Throughout the season 3 premiere, Rick held sway over the group with an iron fist. They know who’s boss and follow his lead to the letter. (And no, I do not consider Daryl refusing a prison cell only to bed down for the night elsewhere as an act of insubordination. Daryl’s Daryl and he’s going to do what he wants … we all know that. Besides, it made perfect sense for him to take that “perch” position as his resting spot so he was free to assist in protecting the group in the event of any danger. Rick knew that as well.) Deep down, however, everyone knows Rick is pushing his weight around for the better of the group. So, much as he may appear to be a gigantic ass about things, they know they have the right man for the right job.
Now … on a personal level, this leadership role has opened a monstrous rift between Rick and Lori, widened greatly by Lori’s actions of several months passed when Rick confided to her about his and Carl’s actions. Because of her reaction — aided by the fact neither of the two know whose baby Lori carries, his or Shane’s — the distance he’s put between he and his wife is the huge elephant in the room both of them must contend with. Rick has decided to deal with it mostly with silence, separating from her and, in effect, punishing her. And it’s working. Lori still has that seething fire inside her, but the emotional loss she’s experiencing alongside the doubt and fears she has about her unborn child are niggling at her continually. They’re eating at her thoughts, compounding that doubt. And don’t think for a minute Rick doesn’t realize this silent attack is a pretty effective manner of supplication that he simultaneously realizes he’s extracting from her while refusing to yield to her. It’s a haunting sort of mental torture he’s inflicting, but many would say Lori had it coming. Just desserts, so to speak.
This new dynamic that’s presented itself with the long-awaited continuation of TWD’s saga is an interesting one. It makes for outstanding situational drama and I’m completely on board with it. Executive producer and showrunner Glen Mazzara was responsible for writing the premiere and he shot a pretty spiffy offering at us to get the ball rolling. I thought the wordless opening of the show superbly powerful and a terrific introduction going forward in the series. He even injected a comedic situation that had me guffawing, crass though it might have been. (As Carol was making advances at Daryl about the possibility of “the wild thing,” the following exchange took place: Daryl: “I’ll go down first.” Carol: “Even better.” Seriously … tell me you didn’t snort at that response.)
We got a further introduction to Michonne in this episode, too, showcasing her impressive skills. I can’t help but wonder if we’re going to get the opportunity to delve into her character to a greater degree than the comic went into. In the meantime, it’s become her duty to look after an ailing Andrea. (Why is Andrea sickly? Michonne picked up aspirin off the floor which she gave later to Andrea, but that didn’t give us much of a clue why she’s in the condition she’s in.) And soon we know the two of them are going to come into contact with the Woodbury community.
Things are cooking along at a pretty hefty pace. The group is simply surviving day-to-day, having given in to the realization their situation necessitates safe harbor first and foremost, exceedingly so with Lori’s condition rapidly advanced. There’s no compassion when it comes to jabbing walkers with tire irons or forcing knives into the backs of their necks — this is about doing what needs to be done to win a modicum of comfort they may have found in the discovery of the prison.
We got plenty of harrowing action and visuals (Hello! Walker “face peel” to keep it looking young! Whoops! It needed to be terminated, so that peel was unnecessary!) and story, not the least of which was the shocker while exploring the prison depths. (There’s Rick, reluctantly — but necessarily — hacking off Hershel’s walker-bitten leg in an effort to save him. And wow, the immediacy in which he was able to do that! If that doesn’t cry out what changes have taken place in contrast to when he was first introduced to this new world, nothing does. Still, just as quickly, he had to gather his breath and his thoughts and consider what he had done. There’s still humanity there.) Plus, there’s the discovery of “denizens” other than walkers holed up in the prison as well.
Fun times in the post-apocalyptic South.