Horror Ten Spot: 10 reasons to tune in to The Walking Dead Season 3.5!

Jesus Cristo, zombies are still harder to extinguish than an equatorial cockroach horde! No matter how played, how left for dead, how deeply buried, dug up, filled with lead and reburied, zombies still rule the land. Need proof? Look no further than last week's success of WARM BODIES, the critical and financial zombie hit rom-com that topped the box-office. Still not sold? Well, in two days returns season 3.5 of "The Walking Dead" on AMC, no doubt set to generate record breaking viewership. Thing is, with showrunner Glen Mazzara departing after the next 8 episodes, a whole lot of change can be expected for season 4 and beyond. Whether or not the momentum and popularity of the show will remain intact after losing its second showrunner is anyone's guess, but until then, here are my Top Ten reasons to tune into "The Walking Dead" this Sunday. Peep it...(Warning: Spoilers Ahead).


Let's face it, much of "TWD" plays like a heightened soap opera set to the backdrop of a ruinous zombie incursion. And as much as the dynamics of character interplay has become the driving narrative force of the show, let's not forget why many of us began tuning in to begin with. The mothaf*ckin' ZOMBIE ACTION! Now, after an anemic lull in the first half of season 2, producers have wisely listened to fan feedback and ramped up the intense violence in the last 16 episodes or so. Still, there's too much CG blood going on in the show, I really wish they went back to Nicotero's KNB practical FX work. All that to say beggars can't be choosers, and even if impractical...let's hope we in season 3.5 get a humongous helping of gnawed limbs, gnashed eyeballs, leaky tresses, protruding brains and the like.


The Sheriff vs. The Governor...a collision course of alpha males awaits. But perhaps more intriguing than Rick solely squaring off with The Gov, is just how Rick's group will react to, coexist with, or fight against the town of Woodbury. Add to the mix the fact that Andrea and Merle, onetime members of Rick's crew, are now in the town of Woodbury with seeming loyalty to the Governor. How will this all manifest? What courses of action will be taken, initiated by what side? Even those familiar with the graphic novel must know a wrench of unpredictability or two will be thrown in to keep you guessing. What if Rick and The Gov joined forces and forged ahead as a two-man-team? That'd be pretty gnarly, no?!


So Rick's gone postal. Dude's wracked with stirring fever dreams and guilt-ridden hallucinations regarding his dead wife Lori and his fallen one-time friend Shane, and if that weren't disconcerting enough, the Sheriff must maintain his levelheaded leadership role in the group he's come to know and protect. Thing is, the more Rick descends into madness, the more defiant he becomes, and the more his group falls under the fractious "Ricktatorship." How this will all play out has to be one of the most fascinating and anticipatory aspects of season 3.5 and beyond. Will the group put up with Rick's crazy ways? Will Rick prove too unstable to lead? If so, who will assume his leadership role? How will Carl react?


Daryl versus Merle. Reedus versus Rooker. SERIAL KILLER versus BOONDOCK SAINT. A violent brotherly love-hate relationship. What the hell else is there to pine for?! Seriously, Rook and Reed aren't just two of the best actors on the show, their characters kick ass, so to see how their reunion dynamic will play out will be one of the more fascinating things to look out for starting this Sunday. Remember, since thinking his older bro was left for dead, Daryl has become his own man. He's no longer in the shadow of or under the strong arm of Merle, so how will that play out when the two proceed? Will they bail both factions and head out by themselves? Will they decide being apart from one another is actually better for both? The answers will be provided when the two duke it out in the zombie ring at the behest of The Governor.


It's funny to see Andrea go from a harried survivalist with perpetual constipation face...to a smitten, panty-dripping floozy in the suave arms of The Governor. But we all know The Governor is one dastardly bastard, as devious behind closed doors as he is gracious in front of open ones. Of course, this makes for a great hook in the remaining episodes of season 3...how will Andrea react if and when she learns the true identity and agenda of the debonair Woodbury leader? Will she reject his odious ways and lead the fight against him? Or will she sympathize with him and become the Bonnie to his Clyde? More interesting, will she strongly disagree with what The Gov stands for but stay with him anyway knowing his power can ultimately protect her more than anything else?


Oh ladies, just go ahead and give us the titillating interracial shower scene we all want to see! If not, let's hope the show at least explores the potential romance between Andrea and her onetime captor Michonne, a courtship that has teased intimate hints that go beyond a mere Stockholm Syndrome dynamic. I'm really not sure where the relationship heads in the Kirkman comic, but even if there isn't a sexual imbroglio, many questions still need answering between Andrea and Michonne. For instance, will the two stay together after all they've been through? Will Michonne's knowledge of the Governor's true identity help or hinder Andrea's wellbeing? Maybe Andrea will foolhardily deny The Governor's true self and stage a coup against Michonne instead. Should be interesting!


At last blush, Maggie was dealing with the mental, physical and psychological fallout from being aggressively accosted by The Governor. Couple that with her man Glenn's determined plans of vengeance upon the leader of Woodbury, and what, if he follows through, that could mean for the rest of the group...we then have a compelling storyline layered upon an already complex group-dynamic. Maggie has also become less of a damsel in distress who needs protection and more of a steely-eyed soldier, one who can more readily defend herself. Maybe Glenn won't have to help aide her in avenging the Governor. I'll admit, I've never really bought the romance between Glenn and Maggie, but at least their characters are mining some rocky ground.


Just as the first half of season 3 ended with a captivating cliffhanger (Daryl and Merle in the boxing ring), no doubt so too will the official season finale slated to air March 31st. Dubbed "Welcome to the Tombs," we can surmise a new destination, a foreboding one at that, will serve as the backdrop for a jaw-dropping conclusion. Add to such speculation the fact that Ernest Dickerson directed the episode, not only an accomplished filmmaker (JUICE yo!) and longtime Spike Lee DP, but easily one of the best directors on the show heretofore. Dude gave us the sick finale to season 2, "Dying by the Fire," and immediately led into season 3 with the premiere episode "Seed." With Dickerson's track record and the shows penchant for awesome endings, expect nothing less come late March.


If "The Walking Dead" has proven anything, it's that it's not afraid to kill off important principal characters, even if it means losing some of the best actors on the show. The departures of Shane (John Bernthal) and Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn) certainly hurt the quality of acting on the show, but you have to hand it to the writers and producers for knowing what an effect killing the most compelling characters has on an audience. Seriously, who thought Lori would bite the bullet? It's that "nobody's safe" mentality that echoes the tenor of the show's narrative, so you know some mainstays on the show will be getting the axe sometime before season 3 ends. Who do you think it will be? One of the Dixon brothers? Andrea? The Governor? How about Hershel or Tyrese? Should be fun finding out!


One of the great things about "TWD" is the new characters added each season. In the last 8 episodes we've gotten cozily acquainted with such fresh faces as Michonne (Danai Gurira), The Governor (David Morrissey), Tyrese (Chad Coleman), Axel (Lew Temple) and others...the first two being major components of Robert Kirkman's original graphic novel. So, who from the hallowed "Walking Dead" mythology will show up next? While we're uncertain, Mazzara recently confessed they have a few "cards up their sleeve" regarding new characters, with speculation of well known comic villain Negan (pictured) as a possibility of joining season 3.5 and beyond. Of course, with so much territory still to mine with The Governor, such newcomers may have to wait till next year.
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