As I reflect on the last eight episodes of The Walking Dead, the only word that comes to mind is "wow". I truly had no idea what a treat we were in for this year, and when the credits roll every single week I'm either wiping sweat from my brow, clutching my chest or taking deep breaths. This show is exhausting to watch and absolutely worth it. The "slow cook" approach that Seasons 1 and 2 took have now paid off in full, and we are all reaping the benefits of the best show on television. But what made this first half of the season so great? Let's take a closer look.
The Good: The biggest surprise of this year? Character development, at least when it comes to the primary cast. Finally we are getting to know this group inside and out. We have a better idea of who they were before the plague, and who they are becoming because of the circumstances surrounding them. It's made the show just that more compelling and it is raising the stakes as we deal with the dangers of Woodbury. Speaking of that tiny little town, it is a welcome change of pace to what we have seen in the series thus far. I know, a lot of folks watch it for the kills and for the gore, but Woodbury is a nice break from all of the blood and guts, at least for now. I have a feeling the second half of the season will turn the tables on the two safe havens in the show. Actually, I should correct myself, neither place is a safe heaven when we really get down to it. While Woodbury may provide a little bit more security, it's still dangerous, and the prison was definitely the most terrifying place on the show this year, and it gave us some of the show's greatest moments. I am of course referring to the blood bath that cost Lori and T-Dog their lives. Their loss was easily the hardest part of the season to watch, only because their deaths were completely heartbreaking. I don't want to say that Dale and Shane deaths weren't tragic in their own right, Dale's death was a complete surprise and left a void for sure, and let's face it, Shane was building toward the end, but there was finally growth in Lori from the raging bitch she was last year and there were those hints of reconciliation between her and Rick and well T-Dog was T-Dog. But you take all of those elements, throw in the wonder that is the Governor and this first half has been spectacular.
The Bad: I don't have too many complaints about this year to be honest, in fact there is only one glaring issue; the dividing line between principal cast and secondary cast. While we get top notch work out of the series regulars, the secondary characters and their development, screen time and well everything is a disappointment. The most glaring example of this issue, T-Dog. You all know my anger on how that went down, but we keep seeing it. Milton, Beth, Oscar, Hershel, the list goes on and on of talented actors who have brought so much to the show and now they just sit in the shadows. I've ranted about this before, and it is really is the only issue holding the show back, but there has to be a way to balance out everyone that is apart of this magical piece of television, I can only hope they figure out soon.
The Verdict: The Walking Dead has finally found its groove. Every episode flows and there isn't a wasted moment of screen time. I am always on the edge of my seat and always hungering for more. This is the best season to date by far, and the wait until February 10 is going to be absolute torture.