In this column I examine some of the running themes in one of my favorite shows The Walking Dead. Fair warning: there are slight spoilers, but nothing too serious that gives away anything crucial. This week I'm focusing on the relationship dynamics of some of the core characters, so there are some spoilers in that regard.
This week's title, "Seeds," is reflective of more than just our group's need to plant roots and settle down (and Hershel's literal desire to get back to farming). The relationships between our characters are shifting, and seeds are being planted in both the emotional sense, as we see in the developing love between Maggie and Glen, and a more psychological and darker aspect among other members of the group.
In preparation for the premiere last night, like many others, I re-watched the last few episodes of season two and I noticed something I failed to pick up on last season: slowly and as of now ineffectively, Carol has been trying to chip away at Daryl's loyalty to the group. Telling him he is "just as good as them" on numerous occasions, she is effectively voicing what has privately plagued Daryl during the past two seasons: his own feelings of being somehow "lower" than the others.
Whether that is because in their pre-apocalypse lives he might have been considered "lower class," or because in light of that status he has no problem hunting animals the others would've seen before as inedible, up until now he incorrectly saw himself as constantly having something to prove. As viewers, Daryl's fans can agree this is a warped sense of self on his part, as he is not only a fearsome and brave member of the team but those same "uncouth" hunting skills have time and again proven to the others he is a provider and valuable defender of a grateful group.
It is the group's inability to see Daryl's insecurities and put them to rest by voicing their admiration and reliance on him that Carol takes advantage of. She seems to be trying to get Daryl to break away from the others with her. She uses any opportunity she can to privately question Rick's leadership and while as of now Daryl has rebuked any attempts on her part to drive a wedge between himself and the others, I worry that she is trying to split them apart from a group that has so far helped keep her alive.
Shifting over to the Grimes' family dynamic, we have a fractured marriage hanging on by a thread. Somewhere in the months between the events of season two and the premiere of season three, Rick has removed whatever blinders he was wearing regarding Lori's relationship with Shane and is looking at his wife in a new light. This could possibly be a result of Lori's reaction in the season two finale to the news of Shane's death and Carl's part in it. As Glen Mazzara intimated in our interview last week, Lori is very much feeling like the odd man out -- especially with Carl taking the side of his father. It is unclear whether this is due to his learning about the true nature of her relationship with Shane or a teenage boy's natural inclination to want to be closer to his male role models, but the men of the Grimes family have formed an alliance and effectively shut mom out.
It will be interesting to see how their family ties change when and if Lori is able to successfully survive the birth and deliver a healthy baby. Will Carl and Rick's loyalties shift back to Lori once the baby arrives and they feel the pull of familial responsibility? Or will the baby become a constant reminder of her betrayal, further driving a wedge between them and hastening the demise of an already splintered family?
You can read my full (and chock full of spoilers) take on "The Walking Dead 301: Seeds" at The Donnybrook Writing Academy.