Published Oct 08, 2013To overcompensate for complaints of slow pacing levied last season by viewers keener to see heads burst than minds expanded, the third instalment of The Walking Dead on the small screen barely pauses to catch its breath. It's a plot-heavy, action-packed sequence of events from the source comic's most dramatic story arc. There are so many significant moments and new characters introduced that the few extra episodes afforded the creators this season aren't quite sufficient to alleviate the sense that everything is a hurried dash through bombastic narrative moments at the expense of organic character development. It makes for relentlessly exciting viewing, granted, though the leaps in logic are lager and motivations less clearly defined as a result. With the ragtag group of zombie apocalypse survivors finding a semi-abandoned prison to call home, following the destruction of Hershel's farm, the timing was perfect to settle into a rhythm of stories dealing with Laurie's pregnancy and the trust issues associated with admitting new members to the group. While these both happen, the show runners accelerate the timeline to bring Rick and the others into conflict with the Governor. David Morrissey's reading of the iconic comic book villain is inspired and the decision to slowly reveal his psychosis makes perfect sense for television. Conversely, how the show deals with his adversarial relationship with sword-wielding badass Michonne (Danai Gurira) isn't very satisfying. In fact, a large part of the issue with this season is how little the stoic zombie slayer gets to do other than decapitate biters and scowl. The character is so implicitly likeable though (who isn't a sucker for a strong, mysterious female killing machine?) that she's still a joy to behold in action, but where before there was rationale, now there is nothing more than gut instinct to her initial malicious dislike of the founder of the community of Woodbury. Much of the story this season is divided between the two groups, focusing on the campaign of disinformation leading to their violent conflict. The writers are able to juggle these perspectives quite ably; it's individual character decisions that feel abrupt sometimes without a greater contextual framework. Despite clumsier overall handling of complex sociological themes, the show is still compelling. This is aided in great part by the continual sense of instability. As always, none of the characters are safe and regular readers of the comics are in for as many, if not more, surprises as television-first fans. The bonus content for the Blu-Ray edition of Season Three is heavy on production features. And why shouldn't it be?