One show's third season came to an end last night, while another's began. AMC's The Walking Dead concluded an initially sharp season that gradually turned into something of a disappointing muddle. And then we had the big return of Game of Thrones, which, well, actually wasn't all that big. It was a fairly quiet episode, one that lays the groundwork for what promises to be, based on the books anyway, the show's wildest season. So it was sad to see Walking Dead go, but if we're trading gore for lore (sorry), I think I'm happy with that tradeoff.
The first half of Walking Dead's third season was probably the show's strongest string of episodes yet. Tense and emotionally harrowing, it set up new stakes and locations — the prison, Woodbury — while keeping a firm grip on our original gang. And of course there was the monumental death of Lori, which reminded us that this show isn't terribly afraid to kill off major characters, nor to have their own kid put the final bullet in their head. And Woodbury, with its obviously villainous Governor and heads in jars and whatnot, posed an interesting external threat for our heroes. The safety and community that they had long yearned for came not in the form of a seemingly peaceful last-town-on-earth, but in the chilly, clanking confines of an abandoned prison. And even there it wasn't that safe. The first half of the season didn't let us relax in the slightest, and it was all the stronger for it.