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“The Walking Dead” gets a much needed breath of life

By Jack Trainor / Staff Writer

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I’ll admit, I jumped off my couch and shouted shamelessly with joy at the sight of Sgt. Abraham Ford, Eugene Porter and Rosita Espinosa during the conclusion of this season’s 10th episode of “The Walking Dead.” Rumors and speculation following the casting announcements were flying around the web, but it was a total surprise to see them enter the show the way they did, given they aren’t introduced in the comics until a little further down the road.

Now, after a full episode, we still don’t know very much about Eugene and Rosita, who said about five combined words in the entire 45 minutes. But we do know a fair amount about Abraham — both his origin and the refreshing humor that “Southland’s” Michael Cudlitz brings to the character. While we know less about the others, it’s apparent that the folks in charge of “The Walking Dead” are using these characters to breathe new life into a show that’s been running a little bland and predictable since its climactic midseason finale.

As far as first impressions go, Cudlitz nailed it. His ease with the role no doubt comes from his experience on “Southland,” in which he starred as Officer John Cooper. But he doesn’t bring all the seriousness of a dedicated police officer to Abraham’s character, which is wise.

Instead he’s a man that is fully embracing his situation, relishing each zombie kill as he mocks and toys with them before shoving a crowbar into their fragile skulls — and giggles while he does it.

Cudlitz even actually grew out the iconic handlebar mustache, which takes dedication.

The only moment that felt out of character for the gung-ho Abraham was not retaliating in the slightest when Eugene calmly threatens him by telling the sergeant that he is smarter than him. For as dedicated as Abraham is to his voluntary mission, which is delivering Eugene to Washington, D.C., he’s still the prideful undisputed leader of his group.

Josh McDermitt’s portrayal of the awkward Eugene Porter was also well done, but overshadowed by Cudlitz’s performance. Obviously, we’re supposed to know next to nothing about the shy scientist, who is supposedly in communication with someone in Washington, D.C., and who (suspiciously) won’t let anyone else monitor the phone.

What we do know about Porter is that he is intimidated by Abraham, but has a fiery side. After hitting the gasoline tank of their truck while spraying down a cluster of zombies, he calmly threatens Abraham instead of apologizing, despite an inability to defend himself.

Eugene is quiet and odd, but manipulative, which seems to be his only advantage in this new world; it’ll be interesting to see what’s in store for him now that they are without the safety of their armored truck.

Then there’s Rosita, played by Christian Serratos. While Serratos’ character goes highly underused in the comics, I’ll bet that the writers for the show will take some liberties with her character as they did with the Governor last season. She, too, seems timid, but is armed with dual pistols and a permanently sassy expression that suggests she is deadly.

While their future is far from certain, it’s nice to see the show embracing these three mainstays of the comic series. 

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“The Walking Dead” gets a much needed breath of life