‘Seed’ gets underway by establishing that even though the prison was revealed to the audience at the end of ‘Beside the Dying Fire,’ the group has spent all winter jumping from house to house, more or less tending to the everyday requirements of survival. The jump in time works by granting the assumption that everyone has had sufficient time to process Shane’s death and to work out whatever problems may still linger between them – at least to the point that their squabbles are no longer as big a threat to the group as the walkers. It also makes Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) being pregnant a far more immediate issue to deal with, and helps explain why Carl (Chandler Riggs) appears to be two inches taller and can gun down walkers as efficiently as his father. Most importantly though, whatever happened during the winter made the group a far more cohesive unit, which is conveyed only by the fact that they’re still alive, but also by how quickly they make use of the prison.
The clearing of the prison yard and cell block, followed by the search for supplies, are the most substantial set pieces that ‘Seed’ has to offer, and they manage to provide plenty of gruesome moments and jump scares to keep things thrilling. The episode also establishes that the state of Rick and Lori’s relationship has been taxed to the point that he barely speaks to her, and when he does, it’s in a terse, matter-of-fact tone. Rick hasn’t gone off the deep end like he seemed he was about to while addressing everyone at the end of last season, but whatever transpired over the winter has earned him enough recognition that even Carol (Melissa McBride) mentions to Daryl (Norman Reedus) the group wouldn’t have survived as long under the guidance of Shane. It shows that although time has passed, the influence of Shane is still significant beyond more than the unasked questions about Lori’s pregnancy, and it also serves as a small victory for Rick, setting up a new direction for the series under his leadership that will hopefully consist of more than watching every argument as it unfolds amongst the survivors.