Where will Dead walk in its third season? Our expert offers a roadmap.
So many great TV shows hit their stride in their third year as the cast has settled into their characters, the production team has learned what works and the audience has emotionally invested in an ongoing story that’s just reaching a greater level of depth and maturity. Naturally, with a series as compelling as The Walking Dead, people are expecting big things from season three. And besides the history of other genre shows that suggests three might be the magic number, there’s the comic book source material from which the show is adapted that points to glorious — and grotesque — things on the horizon.
Although Robert Kirkman’s Image Comics title is nearing its 100th issue, arguably its most memorable and respected narrative peak came with issues 13-48, in which Rick Grimes and his group of survivors try to set up a new home in an abandoned prison, only to run afoul of the sadistic Governor, head of a rival survival community in the nearby town of Woodbury. The resulting degradations experienced by some of the characters at the hands of the Governor — and the war that brings an end to our heroes’ hopes for stability in their prison home — still resonate through the comics series today. Now the Governor is about to make his television debut (played by David Morrissey), along with the strong-willed woman with a sword, Michonne (Danai Gurira), who suffers the most at his hands.
In the closing moments of the season two finale, Michonne arrived and the prison loomed over the horizon. Series showrunner and executive producer Glen Mazzara has said this story may play out over the next two years. How faithful will the show be to the nightmarish journey our survivors took on the printed page? Let’s break it down.
While David Morrissey’s performance will determine whether he becomes one of those villains we love to hate, how much of this excuse for a human being’s perversity will we witness? Our prediction is that while the Governor’s penchant for torture and gladiatorial games will probably turn up in one form or another, it’s doubtful the show will depict the truly twisted relationship the man maintains with his undead daughter. Then again, they did shoot a kid onscreen in the series’ first five minutes, so you never know.
The Governor chops off Rick’s hand in the comic book, but would the show want to have a lead actor forced to wear a greenscreen glove for the rest of his time in the series? It’s likely that Rick will suffer less physical and more psychological damage from the Governor. And since we never have seen Rick deal with the full impact of his decision to leave Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker) behind in season one, what better place for Daryl’s older brother to resurface than at the Governor’s side? (Ironically enough, he’ll be the one sans hand for sure.)
As for Michonne, she is without a doubt the most deeply affected by the Governor’s perverse attentions, incarcerated by the villain and repeatedly violated but never entirely broken; she even resists paying back the vile monster with death, stopping short at mutilation. Her scars never fully heal, of course, but just how much of this will they feel comfortable depicting on television? It’s distinctly possible that some hint of what Michonne goes through will still turn up, but it’s likely to be handled with more subtlety. Then again, the impact of such a storyline might depend on not flinching from the horror.
Possibly the biggest question is: Will season three or four be the last for actress Sarah Wayne Callies? As comic readers know, two of Rick’s most devastating losses — and the comic’s most grotesque deaths — occur at the very end of this story arc when the Governor leads Woodbury in an attack on the prison. As the remnants of Rick’s group run for their lives, Lori and their second child — baby girl Judith — die horribly when Lori is blown apart by a gun blast and falls on her baby. Rick continues to speak to an imaginary Lori for some time afterward as a coping mechanism, forcing Carl to step up and lose even more of his childhood in the process.
This would be a devastating finale for the prison arc if it does last through season four, or perhaps Lori’s fate might shift in the timeline depending on the TV show’s narrative needs. Of course, she and/or the baby may not be going anywhere, but one thing is certain: The portrayal of Lori on the television series is not nearly as sympathetic as that of the comic, and her strange 180-degree turn on Rick in season two’s finale, when he admits to killing Shane after she virtually ordered him to do it, not to mention her misogynistic comments in a kitchen conversation to Andrea, have done her no favors. I, for one, will gladly see her lost in the prison massacre… but maybe we can save baby Judy this time?
- Arnold T. Blumberg