“The Walking Dead” came back season 3 Sunday night with a wordless opening scene that identifies how much time has passed not by any dialogue but by how pregnant Lori is – very pregnant indeed.
Another sign that six months has passed: the wariness of each survivor as they search a home for food and possible shelter while killing a few walkers in the wake. Wearing a cowboy hat, Carl is clearly taller, older and more confident with a gun. T-Dog (who is played by local actor IronE Singleton) is pretty dexterous with a fire poker, too.
Thanks to Daryl, an owl, found at said home, is now considered a meal. But to show how itinerant they have to be, a bunch of walkers are seen coming up the walk and they have to escape yet again.
And we’re off to the races! It was a riveting opening hour interspersing bursts of action with quiet moments, punctuated by a shocker in the end. (SPOILER COMING SOON).
Rick and Daryl discover a prison that Rick considers (ironically) as a possible sanctuary. In a scene that felt less foreboding and more amusing in its video-game quality, the survivors artfully kill off at least 20 walkers in a prison yard, providing themselves the most space they’ve had since Herschel’s farm, as Carol noted. That night, they even have a campfire with singing and fleeting moments of normalcy (even as zombies wander behind the fence.)
But Rick is looking ahead for the safety of the team. Ammunition is running low. Food supplies appear limited in the prison yard (which, I was told during a set visit, had been cast parking last season.). He figures given the make up of the walkers, the prison went down fast and means there might be a treasure trove of ammunition, medicine and food available inside.
So they quickly kill off more zombies in the yard area that leads to the building, space inside. There’s even a moment of relative levity when Maggie figures out how to kill zombies in riot gear. They ultimately find a cell block that they use as sleep quarters for now. They also stock up on ammunition and weapons.
Lor is worried about her baby’s health, given the lack of nutrition and relaxation she’s had. She tells Herschel she thinks if the baby dies inside her womb, it might become a nasty zombie. Or if she dies at birth, she might try to kill the baby. She has Herschel promise someone kill her again if she dies. She is also worried about Rick, who she thinks “hates me.” I don’t know about that necessarily but Rick and Lori could use couples counseling, which is probably in short supply in a post-apocalyptic world.
The mysterious Michonne gets a scene, too. She and Andrea have survived as a duo over the summer but Andrea is really ill.
(MINOR SPOILER): In a future episode, Michonne and Andrea will find Woodbury, led by the sadistic Governor.
In the meantime, here’s the BIG SPOILER: Herschel, Glenn, Rick, T-Dog, Maggie and Daryl enter the prison’s catacombs seeking access to the cafeteria and the health clinic. But instead, they find more walkers. Unfortunately, Herschel tries to walk over a seemingly dead walker who instead munches on Herschel’s left leg.
I was watching the episode at IronE Singleton’s home in Dallas, GA with 100-plus others, including friends and cast such as Mike Rooker, who plays Merle. MINOR SPOILER: He returns for season three at some point with weaponry replacing his lower arm.
The loudest moment from the crowd came when Rick hacked off Herschels’ leg to save his life before the zombie virus took over his body. This was the episode’s cringing “127 Hours” moment but at least it happened quickly.
Moments later, we see at least four survivors of the prison who are not zombies watching from above.
This is good news! Or is it?