AMC's wildly popular survival-drama The Walking Dead returned on February 10th with a whole new flavor of crazy. If you've been following the show since it's beginning, as many ravenous (ha, get it?) fans have, you've seen lawman Rick Grimes go from ex-coma patient learning the rules of a post-apocalyptic world, taking charge of a group of survivors, and boldly declaring that they wouldn't have a democracy anymore (by the end of Season Two). Season Three saw the group arrive at the prison where they created a home, and the beginning of the battle between them at the neighboring town Woodbury, run by the shady Governor.
After the mid-season break, it's clear we're seeing darker time than ever before. Rick has lost his wife during childbirth, gained a baby girl that already doesn't like him, has a whole slew of visitors trying to live in the prison (It's Tyrone, comics fans!) and has to deal with the ever-present worry of what the Governor will do next. And oh yeah, Rick's crazy now.
At the end of the episode “The Suicide King,” Rick sees a ghostly figure—his wife Lori, in a flowing white gown. The episode ends with him screaming his head off at the apparition, thoroughly freaking out his own people and the visitors to the prison.
The next episode, last night's “Home” showed the repercussions of Rick's slip with reality. He starts seeing Lori outside the gates to the prison, and he foolishly follows her out there. At one point he admits he's just chasing a figment of his imagination, but knows he's missing something. Meanwhile, Glenn is trying to be the hero of the group and is becoming more reckless.
Impact: It's a peculiar move to make your main character go crazy. Rick was usually the solid, ruling force for this band of survivors—one of the few moral people left who could take a firm stand and do what was right for the greater good. The seasons of the show have led Rick down a progressively darker path. Everything is less black and white, more shades of gray. Season Three, Rick's character took a drastic nosedive. One can only wonder if Rick is no longer the protagonist of the story, but a new villain. I'm interested to see how all this pans out.