Here is the thing about The Walking Dead, it makes no apologies. Where more recent adaptions of the classic zombie tale have been comical or over the top, AMC’s The Walking Dead isn’t really focused on zombies as much as the humans who deal with them. And as audiences are aware, human drama is truly what drives a story, but they love a gratuitous gory shit storm to ease the pain.
Rick is a local sheriff in a small town played by the believable Andrew Lincoln. But he is exactly the kind of hero audiences love. He is a thoughtful, quiet good man, with a few important flaws and a tough exterior that makes for some epic zombie kills. He has an arsenal of guns at his disposal. More than that however, Rick is just a bad ass and with a nice hairy chest to prove it. Despite this, Rick does make stupid mistakes like taking a perfectly happy grazing horse from the country and sacrificing it to the zombie buffet line in the city. His partner Shane complains in the first episode about his girlfriend’s penchant for disappointing him, merely giving us a glimpse into the total douche bag that this guy will turn out to be later. Rick’s wife Lori is unaware that her husband is still alive and is boning Shane out of loneliness and desperation.
And so it is with this simple cast of characters that we await the more grand moments of blood, guts, and the general grotesque. We watch children eat the heart of a horse, mothers wander around their homes trying to kill their families and crawling torsos, desperate for food, dying of a slow and painful suffering while snarling at their would be meals. This tale of human survival reflects the reality of a true zombie apocalypse. Zombies are much more complicated a scenario in this sense than say that of a seductive or romantic vampire. And they seem to carry with them a male audience that is tired of hearing about Twilight or The Vampire Diaries. Men like fast cars, blowing shit up and the agility of a grown healthy male carrying a baseball bat versus a slow, lurching, oozing zombie. Basically, The Walking Dead is fun to watch yet complicated at its core.
Romance and gore did merge this third episode when Rick showed up at camp, reuniting with his wife and son. This seemed shady for a couple of reasons. While it is viable that Shane and Lori were told that Rick would be moved to another hospital and they were not permitted to see him after the virus began, the look they gave each other over the camp fire suggests that Lori may have used this as an excuse to abandon Rick. As indicated in the tent, their marriage was on the rocks prior to this event and even though they may still love each other, it was only a matter of weeks that Rick was in that coma. She seems to get over dead husbands a little too quickly.
Shane knocks the shit out of the drunk husband in camp when he finds out the dude has been beating his wife. This seems to be infused by his frustration with Rick’s return and Lori’s angry protest of his efforts to bond with Carl at the frog pond. More immediately problematic is the matter of cocaine red neck racist asshole Merle Dixon being handcuffed on a roof with no escape. Daryl, his younger brother played by Norman Reedus of The Boondock Saints fame, is just as uncouth and amoral as his older counterpart, but much more attractive. He is sure to have the lasting power that his brother lacks, especially when shooting arrows through skeezy zombie chick’s foreheads. Glenn the rational older gentlemen in camp, did axe some deer eating zombie’s head off, which was also totally bad ass.
Rick feels its his duty to keep his word with the man who saved him in episode one and his young son by meeting them in Atlanta. But he also sees that its necessary for his survival and his sanity to make sure he leaves no man behind. Shane however, is a shadow of Rick, trying desperately to grasp onto whatever power he can, only realizing that he comes second to the trusted respect his camp has for his former partner. By the time the team reaches Merle’s location, its imperative to the story that he is no longer there, but his hand and the saw which rendered his freedom sit in his place. One thing is for sure, Merle will make one asshole of a zombie in the future.