The Walking Dead has turned itself from one of the most promising shows on television to one of the most disappointing, and now all the way back to being one of the most interesting programmes on TV in the span of three short seasons and in the hands of two different show-runners. With Glen Mazzara on his way out, there are precious few episodes left in which to enjoy one of the best runs of any executive of any television program pretty much ever.
It seems like high praise, given the many brilliant television shows that have been on the air, especially in recent cable years, but after watching the forthcoming episode of The Walking Dead, I don’t believe I’m reaching too far in that assertion. Rather than delaying with a flashback, or a catch-up, or something of that nature, The Suicide King jumps right into the moment where the show left off, immediately kicks off action scenes, and does not let up for a good portion of the episode.
However, when the show does let up, it’s for a good reason. One of the big problems the show has had in the past is that its discussions/arguments/whatever were completely meaningless. After all, there are zombies out there eating people, and they’re having pointless debates. There were many palavers and arguments during this week’s episode, but for once they kind of… made sense, I suppose. They were discussing issues, and they were real, relevant issues to the current situation actually happening. More telling, they were speaking in pretty intelligent ways rather than platitudes.
That’s a big credit to writer Evan T. Reilly, one of the better minds in the show’s platoon of writers. He has a good handle on the character dynamics, and he has produced a well-balanced, well-plotted episode that moves cleverly between action and drama as necessary to propel the story along. It’s interesting to see how the characters interact with one another and how they deal with the losses they suffered along the way to get where they are, and how what they’ve gone through presents itself in their current mode of behaviour.
The personality clashes between the two… well, now three group leaders on the show – The Governor, Rick, and Tyreese – are getting really interesting, particularly given Rick’s instability in the first part of the third season. It’s unsettling for the audience and the characters to see Rick, the stable, moral, lets-talk-it-out guy of the first and second season begin to turn into a dangerous dictator type (the Governor, as we all saw earlier this year, needs no help being dangerously crazy). Tyreese hasn’t gotten involved between the two much so far, but he looks as though he’s going to become a major player since, well, he was a major player in the comic series and the show needs to have one legitimate black role model (who isn’t Morgan from S1).
I have some trepidation about the long-term future of a show that burns through creatives so quickly, but for the short-term, I know it’s in good hands. I’m also very excited to see how the rest of the episodes play out, because the first one back serves as an effective table-setter for some very cool stuff on the horizon.