The Walking Dead Season 3 Review “Home”

When I was in college, I took a course in interpersonal communications. In particular, I can recall with a strange amount of clarity a skit I did with a group where we explained the primacy and recency effects. The short version: Primacy effect is when you tend to recall things that come at the beginning of a series, whereas the recency effect is when you recall things that happen at the end of the series. While watching television is mostly a passive experience, that principle of interpersonal communication is used frequently by different television series. Shows will use the opening of their show to get the audience excited for what is to come, or have an ending that will keep people talking around the water cooler on internet message boards throughout the week until the next episode airs. In the case of The Walking Dead, the show spent the final five minutes of the episode attempting to make us forget about the dreadful 40 minutes that came before it. If you fell victim to the recency effect, you may have come away satisfied with what you saw tonight. However, if you recall the aimless scenes which proceeded it, you may wonder what was accomplished by tonight’s episode. The answer is nothing, unless of course you enjoy watching people turning in literal and metaphorical circles.

Daryl and Merle’s excursion into the Georgia woods was an episode long ploy to reveal some more exposition about the brothers and their history. It may seem useful to have Daryl come to the realization that he belongs with the other survivors, but his brother punching him in the face several times and working for the lunatic Governor probably should have been his first hint. At the very least, I am grateful to the Dixon brothers for infusing the show with the only piece of action prior to the final scene. The scene produced the requisite blood and gore mandated by the AMC higher-ups and showcased that Daryl Dixon is really just a good guy who needed the right situation to show it. While Merle’s return to the prison may annoy some, his ability to stir up nonsense may be welcome in a place that is beginning to resemble a certain farm we visited last season.

The prison may be a different set piece for our survivors to work in, but it ultimately serves the same purpose as the farm did last season. People sit around and decide what’s the best course of action, who should lead the group into that course of action, and how are we going to execute the action. It’s an endless debate that’s becoming as tedious as it is ridiculous. The show has set itself up in such a way where Rick will always be the leader of the group. In this episode, Glen takes upon the role of default leader, but he’s never presented as a serious option to lead the survivors. He’s merely the best thing they have until Rick returns from chasing Ghost Lori in the woods. Given how far they’ve strayed from the comics already, why not play around with the group power structure? What makes Rick Grimes a leader worth following at this point? He may be the best tactician in the group, but when he starts having Ghost Lori cover your six, wouldn’t you rather see what Glen has to offer? Rhetorical questions aside, the show hasn’t done enough to show the audience what’s so awesome about Rick, and why he is the ONLY choice to lead the group of survivors. Granted, if the plan is to sit around and have a book study on 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader, then Rick is your guy.

While Glen goes for a drive, and Rick goes on walkabout in the high grass, the Governor distracts Andrea with leadership so he can launch his offensive on the prison. At this point, it seems like he’s only offering her the position because it’s the only thing that will get her to stay in Woodbury. That mode of thinking would be understandable if she hadn’t already seen zombie Thunderdome, zombie aquarium, and zombie Penny. Now, there’s no reason for her to be there or him to not throw her into some holding cell and pull his pseudo-rape move on her. I guess having her wander around town asking everyone where the Governor is was punishment enough.

All of this build-up (for lack of a better term) eventually got us to the big action sequence at the end. Since the last two big gun fights have been horribly crafted and executed, it was encouraging to see some positive signs from this gun battle. The truck full of zombies move was clever and some of the action spots looked pretty cool as well. It was still spotty in some areas (How did that guy get into the guard tower?), but it was far better than what had come before it. That being said, the battle did set the record for most shots fired without a hit (minus poor Axel). Plus, it’s hard to discern exactly what the Governor’s plan was. Did he just want to harass them? It sure didn’t seem like he was making a strong move to take the prison. Ultimately, it’s a scene that was full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Given all the forward momentum the show had at the beginning of the season, the decision to get rid of showrunner Glen Mazzara seemed puzzling at the time of its announcement. However, if the final 6 episodes of the season bare any resemblance to the first two back from hiatus, then the decision to let him go becomes a lot more clear. These episodes are not “piece-moving” episodes. They are aimless meanderings. The show’s pace is everything. It’s most successful series of episodes came with the breakneck pace at the beginning of this season. It does not have the characters or the storytelling capabilities to press pause for a significant period of time. Like a zombie who just missed the Latino family on the bridge, pressing forward is the only option.

About The Author

In addition to commenting on all types of TV from Mad Men to dumb reality television, Adam Newland (AKA The TV Czar) works as an educator of young minds. Currently, he is seeing mixed results in both. In addition to fashioning himself the TV Czar, Adam considers himself to be a connoisseur of the narrative drama such as Mad Men, Game of Thrones, Justified, and others. When not attempting to plow through an entire week’s worth of TV in a single weekend, the TV Czar can be found enjoying a trip to the gym and spending time with his wife, the Czarina.