The “mid-season” finale has come and things are getting tense. Be warned… Major spoilers ahead.
S2: Episode 13 “Pretty Much Dead Already”
Glenn tells the group that there are walkers in the barn. This ignites a loud debate at the barn that excites the walkers. Tempers flare and order is quickly lost. Later, as things calm down, the group tries to go back to their main objective, finding Sophia, but relationships are strained. The group is splintering into those who believe Rick’s way and those who believe Shane’s ideas or correct. While Shane and Andrea keep watch on the barn, Rick approaches Herschel about the barn and their situation as guests. Herschel makes it clear that he expects Rick and his people gone by the end of the week, but Rick tries to make his plea for staying. Maggie then makes her case for the group trying to help her father see that the world is different.
Later, Herschel goes with Rick to help catch a couple escaped walkers and tells him if he is to stay, he must stop killing walkers and treat them as human beings even if he doesn’t see them as such. Back at the camp, though, Shane is coming unhinged. He talks to Carl about Carl’s desire to stay until Sophia is found – dead or alive. Hearing this, Shane states they have to do everything they can to make sure they can stay which involves taking care of the chores. When Shane goes to find his guns, he discovers they, and Dale, are missing. Shane finds Dale trying to hide the the guns. After getting the guns back, Shane returns and starts handing out guns to deal with the walkers in the barn in the interest of safety. Shane sees Rick and Herschel bringing back the two walkers. Shane kills the walker Herschel has. Shane becomes unhinged and tells everyone how he sees the world. He begins breaking the locks on the barn to let the walkers out. Shane, along with Andrea, T-Dog, Daryl, and Glenn, kills every last walker Herschel kept in the barn while the others simply watch. The last walker to come out of the barn is a freshly turned little girl… Sophia.
This particular episode, for all that the first episode did to look and feel like the comic, felt like an entire arc that we would have seen in print. When reading the comics, we are accustomed to the slow build leading to what is usually an emotional punch. This episode used the slow build the exact same way. All stories come to a single point here. Everything we’ve seen since the start of the season – Shane’s disintigrating relationship with the others and his handling of Otis swells with Dale, Andrea’s stubbornness about not being a victim, Glenn’s relationship with Maggie, Rick and Herschel’s uneasy alliance, and the search for Sophia. All of it comes crashing down as the very thing that has kept the group at the farm and created the tension in the first staggers from the barn. There has not been another episode of the entire series like this one to date.
What’s great about everything coming to a point like this is that the entire episode is built around the idea that we expect a thrilling concluision because it was billed as such. From moment one, the rest of the group finds out about the barn. Immediately following that, Shane’s spiraling anger takes the forefront. So, we wonder what trouble he will start. We know it’s this that will ultimately give us the conclusion we expect, but we don’t know is exactly when he’s going to snap or who (or I suppose, what) he will kill. He goes to Lori to tell her he knows about her pregnancy and expects it to be his. He talks to Carl about doing the “chores”, it’s clear it will lead to the barn, or a direct attack on Herschel. More than anything, this episode clearly establishes Shane as either a villain or an unpredictable element that will probably kill more people than he will save.
When the conclusion came, Shane’s behavior had become such an issue we didn’t know if he was going to take the farm house by force, accidentally kill someone, get killed, or what. We knew he’d open the barn, but as he was single handedly destroying the group’s relationship with Herschel, would we see the inevitable end that we know Shane has in the comic? Would Rick put Shane down? Would he get bitten? What we didn’t expect was the heartbreak of finally finding Sophia. I have to admit, the end was so effective and so well done, I was choked up. It was the perfect ending to such a highly emotional hour.
If there are two aspects of this show that seems to get the most negative attention from people, it’s that it either doesn’t follow the comic close enough, or it’s too much about the people and not enough about the zombies. Once we met new characters last season, and the direction they seemed to be moving in, I knew this series was going to have a life of its own. Readers know Sophia is still a very large part of the comic and she didn’t die and get kept in the barn. Robert Kirman’s comic has taught us that we shouldn’t hold anyone outside of Rick and Carl dear as everyone and anyone could be a victim. While we watched the show and hoped Sophia was alive and well, reading the comics should have prepared us for her not being okay. It really says something when the end of this episode can effect viewers like it did.
As for those who are bored with the human element of the series, I have to wonder what they expected. This is far more interesting than constantly being on the run from zombies. I don’t think I could have watched their version of the series for more than a couple episodes.
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|Tense build to an absolutely fantastically heartbreaking conclusion.||None|