Oh thank god. Or thank whatever demon sent the zombie plague to Earth on AMC's The Walking Dead, because last night's season three premiere blessedly built on the action of the season two closer and ratcheted up the jangly tension even more. Might this mean that we're finally done with this show's tedious treatises on the nature of leadership roles and faith and all that boring, heavy stuff? A little of that goes a long way, but so very much of the last two seasons have been spent on non-zombie philosophizing, so much in fact that we came close to abandoning the show a few times along the way. But something about it persisted and so did we, and now we're reaping the rewards of that loyalty, hopefully.
Exhausted and grimy, but also efficient and machinelike, our core group of zombie survivors has been on the run all winter, trying to avoid massive zombie herds which they track like elephants on the Serengeti. The gang seems changed now that they know they're all carrying the zombie virus or whatever it is; emotions have boiled down to simple survival, with hope becoming a practical day-to-day concern instead of a bigger-picture wish for deliverance. They're better like this, frankly. Even fragile Carol has toughened up and is firing an assault rifle and making cute with Daryl. Team leader Rick is still having problems with his pregnant wife, Lori, but the trouble is muted, devoid of its melodrama, becoming simply a cold, bare fact. On the run as they are, these people don't have time to get very soft.