Many have noticed a giant shift in quality between season two and season three of The Walking Dead. It may have something to do with a change in the creative team behind the widely popular AMC zombie series. The original showrunner and series developer, Frank Darabont, left the series early in season two, leaving the show fumbling for a while as it tried to find its footing. Result: way, way too much time twiddling thumbs on Hershel’s farm. Darabont was replaced by The Shield veteran Glen Mazzara, who wanted to take a different approach to The Walking Dead.
In an interview with THR, Mazzara talked about the problems of The Walking Dead when AMC brought him on as showrunner and how he wanted to move the narrative and give audiences something more than a series of people killing zombies. Mazzara says:
As soon as I became showrunner, I felt our horror element demanded this style of accelerated storytelling. If you have a good twist, move it up instead of saving it and building to it. Throw it at the audience when they—and the characters—least expect it.
Most shows experiencing this success wouldn’t be trying as hard as we are—trying new things, adding major characters and new storylines and altering the kind of stories we tell. It makes people say, ‘This isn’t people killing zombies every week.’
You could tell the difference at the very beginning of season three. While it started off with a very quiet scene, it was also packed with emotional resonance, pathos, and, of course, bloody and delicious zombie genocide. Seasons one and two often just rested on the series’ wonderful premise, whereas season three has really delved into a world where traditional rules or ethics are, at best, difficult to life up to, and at worst, outright dangerous. While the series still has its problems, The Walking Dead has grown in quality and stopped beating a dead… zombie.
The Walking Dead continues with its season three on February 10th on AMC.