TV Review: The Walking Dead 2.7, "Pretty Much Dead Already"

"Pretty Much Dead" managed to strike all the right chords, hit all the right notes and truly give us a finale that was (mostly) worth waiting for.

rating: 4

We were hit with some pretty hard realities this week. After the potential that glistened on the surface last week, it was nice to see a bit more forward mobility and a sort of implicit new direction. It's a matter of transformation for the whole group, they all came into the season one way and they're all coming out different people. "Pretty Much Dead" managed to strike all the right chords, hit all the right notes and truly give us a finale that was (mostly) worth waiting for. I think the show might have finally realized that the age old idiom is true: actions really do speak louder then words. Those who have been following along with me this season have probably noticed that my biggest complaint was that there were too many over-sentimental speeches about the complexities of living in a post-apocalyptic world. The moments were the series really shined this season was when the characters were forced into a situation where all they could do was react. It is in those moments where we get so much more insight and its a better indication of their personality then anything they might say. Now, let's take tonights episode, which more or less followed the same tensions that have been running through the whole season, addressing them without fully resolving them. At the very beginning of the episode, Glenn decides to tell the whole group about the Walkers in the barn. Ultimately, this sets off a chain of events which sees Rick square off against Hershel, Darryl and Carol go at it, Glenn confront Maggie, Dale reprimand Andrea, and Shane fight with just about everybody. And it was all set up really well. As a self-contained episode, there were plenty of ups and downs, but blood was boiling just beneath the surface and was brought organically to a momentous climax. Nothing felt forced, everything just kind of fell into place. Now, why is that? Well, because the characters are in close corners and they have nothing to do but bounce off one another. Dale, for instance, decides to take violent matters into his own hands and hide the guns. But of course, Shane is more veracious then Dale ever could be and quickly catches on. Earlier in the season, when Shane killed Otis, I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, chalk it up to survival instinct. But it is more then clear now that Shane is a cold blooded killer. He's gone from agressive survivor to ravenous mutineer. It has nothing to do with what he says to Dale, or the accusation Dale throws back at him. It's all about the look in his eyes as he pushes his chest into the barrel of Dale's gun. Shane isn't a man with nothing to lose and ready to die, he's a man so on the edge that he's willing to do anything to look out for number one. I for one even question his good intentions for Lori and Carl, it seems to be more and more just a facade, or maybe just left over sentiment from a time forgotten (season one). Either way, his actions this week made his position very clear. He will do whatever it takes to make sure that what he wants done gets done. Because Shane makes the hard calls. Right? Well then there's the episode's final scene. I was really blown away by how quickly everything went to shit. Shane incites a coup d'etat right at the moment when everything seems to be smoothing out. I really can't say I blame him, and the group is quick to come to his side. Hershel, Rick and the now armed group converge on one spot, ready to fight for their safety. But I wasn't truly impressed until Shane pops off a round into the head of the Walker that Hershel is "leading." At that moment, the group pretty much falls silent. They all take their stance, ready for Shane's next move. Shane has at least convinced them that they can't be safe with the Walkers in the barn so they stand with bold conviction and pick off every last one of them in the barn. But Rick is left helpless, he's still struggling with the Walker on the end of his rope. And hell, hasn't this been Rick's position all season. He's been tied down, physically and emotionally and has lost control of the group. He had to stay by Carl, then he was weak because of his blood transfusions, then he refused to leave because of the search for Sophia, and ultimately, his forthcoming child. It was no surprise to see him on the sidelines, incapable of doing anything but watch events that are out of his control. And then Sophia walks out of the barn. And everyone takes their final positions, their true selves come alive in that moment. Darryl drops his gun to protect Carol. As much as he is a hunter, he's a guardian more then anything, and he will do whatever it takes to keep the people he cares about safe. But it's Shane who tucks his tail between his legs and finally shows his true stripes. When the cards are in his favor, he has no problem killing in the name of what's "right." When faced with a hard reality though, he's completely immobile. It is Rick who pulls his gun and Rick who pulls the trigger. As helpless as he may have been this whole season, Rick is built for the post-apocalyptic world. He's the only one that is truly prepared to make the hardest decisions and to act on them. That last shot, as Rick stares down the barrel of his gun at Sophia, was uniquely powerful. All the hopelessness, the loneliness and the lost morality that is built into the series broke through Rick's eyes. It was a finale that I think makes the series worth sticking around for. But I don't know, what do you think?

Jay is a pop culture addict. When he's not consuming aforementioned addiction, he can be seen sleeping. For some more insights and film news and recommendations you can follow him on Twitter @CriticalJayD Or you can add him on Google+