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'The Walking Dead': Did the midseason premiere bring back the show's momentum?

'The Walking Dead' returned for the rest of its third season last night after a midseason finale that seemed to bring the drama back to life. Did the new episode keep the characters moving forward?

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Meanwhile, the situation back at the prison begins to get tense as two of Tyreese’s team, Allen (Dan Thomas May) and Ben (Tyler Chase), propose the idea of overtaking Carl (Chandler Riggs) and Carol (Melissa McBride) and then using their weapons to take the prison for themselves. To their credit, Tyreese and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) argue that that’s not the way they want this situation to play out, and instantly we know something useful about them as characters. Once Rick arrives at the prison, though, the news of Daryl’s absence hits hard, leaving the group feeling more vulnerable than before and forcing Hershel (Scott Wilson) to mention that if ever they needed some reinforcements, now’s the time.

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It’s in keeping with Rick’s arc that his first instinct is to reject every new person’s offer of help, and to look at them as a potential threat, rather than a much-needed addition to his group – which, in terms of maintaining the character that’s been built is a plus. But after the way Tyreese and his group were introduced, and how it really helped make the series feel fresh again, it was something of a bummer to see the character interaction settle back into the stifling sameness of what’s come before. This scenario will undoubtedly play out with the two men working together, and when they do, it will probably be a very successful moment; it just feels as though the first meeting between Rick and Tyreese was a great opportunity to try something new that went back to the start, rather than pushing forward.

Instead, the writers chose to play up the fact that Rick is still cracking under the pressure of keeping these people alive and safe by having him see a vision of Lori – at least it seems like Lori. It’s a confusing moment for the survivors, and rightly so; there’s reason to suspect that an attack by the Governor and the riled-up citizens of Woodbury is on the horizon and the guy everyone has put their unquestioning faith in is suddenly yelling and waiving a revolver around. It’s easy to see this playing into Rick eventually having to put some trust in strangers, but in the moment, it just feelt too reminiscent of the phone call scene that was pulled off far more successfully.

Finally, back in Woodbury, Andrea (Laurie Holden) has to keep the citizens from being shot by sentries as some attempt to abandon the town, and then things get worse after the Governor shoots a bite victim after some walkers make it past the town’s barricades. She makes a quick speech that, despite it’s cloying hopefulness, seems to prevent anyone from trying to leave for the time being, and therefore prevents the need for further violence – against the citizens of Woodbury, anyway. This makes Andrea and the Dixon brothers the undecided factor when the conflict between the prison and Woodbury gets underway. And for Andrea, at least, it’s an interesting position that her character is very much in need of being in.

Although the midseason premiere lacked the energy and the sense of forward momentum that the finale had back in December, ‘The Suicide King’ still alluded to the power of the human vs. human conflict that has been a great success so far this season, and likely will be again in the weeks to come. There were times when the episode felt like it was taking two steps back, but with several episodes left, there’s still plenty of time to start moving forward again.

Kevin Yeoman blogs at Screen Rant.

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