The Walking Dead: Season 3, Part 2 created by Frank Darabont (American Movie Classics, Circle of Confusion, Valhalla Motion Pictures)

Starring Andrew Lincoln, Laurie Holden, Steven Yeun, Chandler Riggs, Norman Reedus, Melissa McBride, Lauren Cohan, Sarah Wayne Callies, and Scott Wilson.

Warning: Spoilers ahead for earlier seasons.

Memento Mori

Recently, the AV Club published a piece on how The Walking Dead succeeds at making death a character. Todd Van Der Werff offered sound reasoning for the artistic concept of the memento mori, the subtly inserted reminder to viewers that someday they might die.

For me, this article offered the framework for understanding why I remain so invested in this series. I’ve mentioned it before in reviews of previous seasons, and I believe I’ll continue to mention it for seasons to come (considering the remarkable ratings the show receives): The Walking Dead isn’t particularly well-acted; it doesn’t have the best writing. In fact, with the amount of death encountering main characters, The Walking Dead doesn’t really give me an opportunity to connect with characters before they expire like the last glimmer of sunlight fading on a desert horizon.

But I continue to watch because this show portrays a level of unmistakable dread unparalleled in television.

The Constant Struggle

The second portion of Season 2 finds the main characters continuing to struggle, attempting to settle down in a walker-cleared prison. Given the security surrounding the facility, this location would be perfect.

Except

The prison sits a stone’s throw from Woodbury, a gated, idyllic small town led by The Governor (David Morrisey), the place where Andrea (Laurie Holden) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) found shelter at the beginning of the season.

Eventually, Rick’s (Andrew Lincoln) crew gets mixed up with the Woodbury residents and tensions escalate when The Governor shows his true colors as a psychopath willing to torture and kill those people not associated with Woodbury.

What’s left of the second half of Season 3 is zombie carnage, boring dramatic dialogue, and death, death, death.

On Demise

I’m not a particularly macabre individual, but the density of death truly is the hook for The Walking Dead. It’s not that I need to be reminded of my eventual demise; I think I’m more fascinated with the oddity of this show’s success. There’s no other show like it.

Typically, people don’t want to watch death without a sense of hope. We watch horror but expect someone to survive; we’re ok with suspense because death is focused.

However, The Walking Dead feels different. Rick is the main character and we can expect him to lead his group of survivalists through this zombie wasteland for at least the immediate future. But there’s no hope for Rick. He will die; he will become the walking dead. And that’s what’s fascinating. We will all die at some point. Knowing this, The Walking Dead has utilized death as a character, a memento mori.

I will continue to watch The Walking Dead because it is the only show that exceeds at portraying dread, fear, and the horror of the end. If these ideas interest you, go watch The Walking Dead.

Verdict: 3.5 out of 5

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