The Walking Dead ends its second season in a blaze with a fan-pleasing zombie-killing spree, the demise of minor characters, the introduction of a new character and by teasing us of what lies ahead.
The prologue of tonight’s episode goes back to the shows roots to reveal the beginning of the herd that eventually reaches the farm. It begins simply with a few walkers in Atlanta chowing down before seeing a helicopter, Robert Kirkman revealed on ‘Talking Dead’ this is the same chopper Rick sees in the pilot, and the walkers begin their two-season journey to the farm, picking up a whole herd on the way, and culminating in the gunshot fired at Shane during last weeks climax. The show does well to attempt to tie everything together or give it a purpose, and this isn’t the only example of that in this episode.
The episode was well structured, with the first half dedicated to living up to the shows name, whilst losing some deadweight characters on the way, and the second half setting up what we can expect from the third season. It takes no time at all for Rick and Carl to realise they’re surrounded by walkers during a post father-son execution chat. Then the carnage begins. The other survivors back at the farmhouse gear up when seeing the herd approach the barn, except for Lori who spends all her time worrying about Carl. Fanboys have no reason to complain after the zombie action we’re treated to.
Rick and Carl work together in trying to kill as many walkers as they can by burning down the barn, which featured my favourite shot of the episode as Rick opens the barn doors and teases them all in, both terrifying and bad-ass. Meanwhile the other survivors cruise around the farm taking out as many walkers as they can. This would be the downfall of Jimmy (it’s a testament to his character that I learnt his name after he died), then again its his own fault for deciding to drive around in Dale’s RV. His death was not in vain though, he managed to help Rick and Carl out the burning barn. Although I was puzzled as to why he didn’t drive away as soon as Rick and Carl jumped on the roof.
The geography of the walkers was a little all over the place, particularly for Hershel, who spent all his time taking out walkers at the same distance for several scenes. He also didn’t seem to notice the group of walkers who snuck behind him and took out whatshername (Patricia) whilst the other survivors decide to flee the farm. Andrea is abandoned after saving Carol from some walkers, T-Dog (urgh, not dead yet) has no choice but to leave with Lori and Beth as their truck is bum-rushed by walkers.
Carol is saved, again, last minute by Daryl, who re-asserted his awesome-ness by cruising around on his motorbike casually taking out walkers. Daryl is fast proving himself to be the group’s second most valuable player since the death of Shane. He still hasn’t lost his redneck roots though, he manages to make a racist ‘Asian driving’ joke at Glenn later on, to be fair its done out of affection. Kirkman teased that his brother Merle may be returning for the third season, I predict we’ll see him as the Governors right-hand man, or left-hand man, I forget which one he severed.
Rick and Carl finally get to the farmhouse to see Hershel, who surely would have been eaten by now, going down with his ship. Rick manages to persuade him to leave and they high-tail it out of there, again leaving Andrea to fend for herself. We then see the farm overrun with walkers, and the burning barn collapsing in on itself.
Season two brings itself full circle as Rick returns to the highway where they had left a message for Sophia. Hershel tries to persuade he and Carl to leave because it isn’t safe and the chances of the others returning to here are slim. Hershel inadvertently gets the episodes funniest line when Rick questions his faith; ‘I can’t profess to understand God’s plan, but Christ promised a resurrection of the dead. I just thought he had something a little different in mind.’ Faith is then restored in Rick and Hershel as the remaining survivors arrive, conveniently enough at the same time. T-Dog took some persuading from Lori to turn around though, who was trying to save his own skin by heading to the coast. Are they trying to make his character unlikeable? The survivors then hit the road again, for the first time since the start of the season.
Meanwhile Andrea is fending off dozens of walkers in the woods with little ammo. The purpose of her solo mission is revealed as a plot device to introduce the shows newest character and fan favourite; Michonne, who is undoubtedly the strongest and most bad-ass female character in The Walking Dead universe. She also arrives in style, exactly as she does in the comics, wielding a samurai sword with two armless zombies (her boyfriend and his best friend) shackled behind her. It was a fantastic and unexpected entrance, teasing the third season for us all.
Elsewhere the survivors, now low on gas, have pulled by the roadside and Rick decides, to much concern, that they will camp there for the night. After being turned to for answers, Rick confirms my suspicion from last weeks review that Dr. Jenner had told him that everyone was infected. This is met with anger towards Rick, and his leadership is questioned. Kudos once again to the writers for ending season two by answering the season one cliffhanger. Rick continues to act unhinged and explains to Lori what happened with Shane. Lori is evidently disgusted, even more so at hearing the details of the father-son double execution.
The cracks begin to show in the group that night as they sit around a campfire. Carol tells Daryl that he deserves more respect from the group and Maggie just wants to leave, this is her first time camping in the open since the outbreak. Rick does his best to keep the group together, refusing to let anyone leave, and finally has an outburst about killing Shane for the good of the group. He then reasserts himself as the groups leader when explaining that this isn’t a democracy, they can choose to follow him or leave. Perhaps this is foreshadowing the ideals of the next series villain; the Governor. The season then ends with closing wide shot of a prison, or ‘the’ prison if you’re a fan of the comics. However this could have been made clearer, a friend of mine thought it was a theme park.
Overall a hugely satisfying end to the season, equal in zombie mutilation as it was drama, and left me wanting season three to start next week. Unfortunately we’ll have to wait until the fall. The good news is AMC renewed the show for 16 episodes this time.