Is it possible to survive a major tragedy and not fall apart from it? That's only a minor part of the premise behind AMC's hit show "The Walking Dead," which returned with its midseason premiere to pick up right where they left off with surprises happening around every corner.
"The Walking Dead" followed Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) as he tried to lead his group of survivors to safety as they tried to not be eaten by zombies, but he was struggling to stay sane after his wife recently died in childbirth. Luckily, he had loyal friends in Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) and Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson) to keep him in line. Rick also had his son Carl (Chandler Riggs) think off when things got to be too tough for him. Unfortunately, Rick had to handle another series of tests before he could even process his grief because he had to contend with a new villain who was actually a member of the living. This villain was known as The Governor (David Morrissey) who controlled a utopian society close by Rick's new hideout and used his power position for his own dark purposes. This town had included former members of Rick's group, such as Daryl's brother Merle (Michael Rooker) and Andrea (Laurie Holden), who were thought to be dead. Rick also had to contend with the equally mysterious and dangerous Michonne (Danai Gurira) who could either be Rick's newest ally or the one to finally get the group killed once and for all. Will Rick be able to stay sane long enough to beat The Governor or will he die trying?
In terms of questions, this season of "The Walking Dead" has asked viewers a lot of questions and somehow managed to keep them entertained at the same time. The second season struggled with finding the right balance between the violence and the human interest stories. Fortunately, the show has seemed to have found the right balance that allowed viewers to enjoy the sheer gory campiness of the violence as the zombies were killed, while they got to know the characters. The show has also excelled at keeping viewers guessing as to which cast member will meet their maker next. They've proven that no one was off-limits, especially after Sarah Wayne Callies' Lori had a shockingly sad and bloody exit that no one saw coming just yet. This season's biggest revelation was Morrissey's arrival as the show's newest villain who was somehow fascinating to watch even when he did some pretty heinous things all in the name of his selfish needs. Morrissey had a genuine rapport with Holden that will lead to a doomed romance for one or both of them. It's a shame because their scenes were a nice departure from the usual gore and human interest stories from Rick's group. Can't wait for the initial confrontation between Lincoln's Rick and Morrissey's wicked Governor because that scene will definitely be intense from start to finish.
As for breakout stars, Lincoln and Morrissey were at the top of the charts because their characters both danced between a fine line between good and evil. Lincoln's Rick was starting to slowly lose his mind and was having visions of his deceased wife, which could cause his credibility into question in later episodes. He was slowly embracing his power and leaving his humanity behind piece by piece. Lincoln has proved that his flawed hero was still a fascinating character to watch even as he seemed to slowly descend into madness. As for Morrissey, he allowed his character to hide his lethal nature, but he seemed to wear it now like a badge of honor in the form of his new eye patch. As soon as he put it on, Morrissey truly allowed his character's wicked nature to become apparent. Morrissey and Lincoln proved to be headed on a violent path that will only lead one of them standing. Only time will tell to see which one that will be.
"The Walking Dead" premiered on February 10th and airs Sundays at 9:00 PM on AMC.
Verdict: The show that hit a stumbling block in season two is back to its bloody roots and now has a lethal villain to truly rack up the tension.
TV Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)