The second season of The Walking Dead comes to a close. Click “More” to see our SPOILER-filled review for the newest episode of The Walking Dead.
S2, Episode 13: Beside the Dying Fire
We learn the horde of zombies that are making their way to the safety of the farm actually came from the city. They followed a helicopter flying over Atlanta. When they got into the outlying woods around Herschel’s farm, they hear the gunshot that killed Shane. When Carl and Rick are walking back to the house, they turn to see the horde bearing down on them. When Daryl and Glenn return to find that Rick and Shane haven’t come back, Lori asks Daryl to find the duo, but they soon realize that the walkers are slowly invading. The rest prepare to defend the farm while Rick and Carl hold out in the barn. They start a fire to roast as many walkers as they can while the others use the vehicles to take out as many as they can before using the vehicles to lure the walkers away. Using the camper, Jimmy gives Rick and Carl a way out of the van, but at the cost of his life when he’s overrun by the horde and eaten.
When the time for evacuation comes, Carol, Lori, Patricia, and Beth head out to be picked up. Herschel ignores Lori’s call and tries to cover their exit, but Patricia is mobbed and killed by the horde. Each vehicle is summarily mobbed with dozens of zombies forcing some to have to deal with the elements outside of the relative safety of a vehicle. Just as Herschel is about to be taken by a walker sneaking up behind him, Rick comes to his rescue. Rick, Carl and Herschel drive off not realizing Andrea is left behind. The last to leave is Daryl who watches the barn burn. He hears carol crying for help and he picks her up on his bike.
Rick, Carl, and Herschel go back to the highway where the season began in hopes that the others will know to meet there. Just as they decide that it isn’t safe and they can’t stay at the highway, the others arrive. They take a headcount and discuss whether or not they can afford to go back for Andrea. Daryl recommends moving on but staying on the side roads to avoid another herd. When the group stops to try to find shelter for the night, the truth about the the virus comes out. Rick explains to the group that Jenner told him the virus that is creating the walkers is already carried by the living. Any death would create the walkers. This also leads Rick confessing to Lori that he killed Shane. This, of course, doesn’t sit well with Lori even though Rick explains the situation fairly clearly. Later that night, Rick tells everyone that he did indeed kill Shane and tells the others if they want to leave, that’s fine by him. If they stay, he makes it clear that this group will no longer run in a democracy.
Andrea, still alive and on the run from the horde of walkers is about to finally give out when a hooded figure with two leashed walkers saves Andrea with a swift cut from her sword…
This entire second half of the season had been building steam since the show returned. Each episode felt like it was building to something that seemed to be just out of reach for the viewer to truly grasp. Readers of the book could only guess at what the next thing would be, but now that the series had taken on its own life and deviated from what the readers knew enough, even we weren’t hitting our guesses on the nose. Really what this episode did was completely validate the first half of the season. You know, the half that was considered slow, boring, and, to some, even uninteresting. If the first season set up the idea of this crazy world that featured characters that each viewer could identify with at some level, this second season definitely set up the idea that there is no safety even if a walker wasn’t readily available. Now that they came in a gigantic, farm-conquering horde, the show hammers home the idea that there is an external threat and if Shane and Merle, or Tony, Dave, and/or Randall weren’t exactly people you could trust or want deciding any kind of fate of anyone in your group, the environment itself makes the world almost impossible to inhabit.
And here is where we can see the true colors of the characters involved in this series. All their experiences, all the things that have happened to them on a personal level, and their base personalities are laid bare. T-Dog is a complete coward. Lori is still a complete bitch (but has a good point in making the coward turn the truck around). Rick is realistic but headstrong (and also evolving as a leader). Daryl is incredibly loyal. Carol is crazy. Herschel is questioning his faith, but still tempered by it. Andrea will fight until there’s nothing left. I’ve always said this is a series built around the survivors, how they deal with the world, and how they handle things when the chips around down. This is an episode that really plays to that strength, even when Rick makes his stand as a leader and finally gives it to the group straight. He’s not going to be a Shane, but dammit, everyone has to support the decisions he makes. It might have come off crazy, but it might have been exactly what he needed to do to re-establish his status as the leader – a role, I might add, that was thrust upon him when he didn’t ask for it.
Of course, the episode’s true strength of playing to the characters’ personalities is set against the zombie invasion. Oh yeah, those things that all these people are surviving against. Yeah, they came back in force. You definitely cannot say this episode wasn’t exciting. Around every corner, coming from all directions, the walkers close in on the survivors. Even the way they shoot the escape is nerve-racking. The tighter shots on the characters made me wonder if the camera pulled back or if the character turns and shifts focus, will there be a walker right there to take a bite out of them? It’s the type of stuff that you really want a good horror movie to do. You want that constant case of the goosebumps because you can’t always see the things that might just be just behind your back. You could be looking one way while the monster is coming from the other direction. Just seeing hundreds of walkers storming the farm was chilling. This was a place of near serenity. A paradise with food and shelter. The shot of the walkers in front of the burning barn was the classic, proverbial burning of paradise. It was the perfect summation of the season as a whole. There is no such thing as true safety. The characters views on what to do with Randall a few episodes back proved that civility has broken down. The world has completely changed. For all the perceived safety and seemingly peaceful setting the farm offered, the fall of that “paradise” is even harder for the group to take.
There is no one character more changed at the end of this season than Rick. I’ve touched upon the harder edge he takes with the survivors at the end of the episode. If hearing that he knew all along that the virus was already alive inside each and every one of them was enough to see Rick in a new, somewhat negative light, I’m sure most of the shaken and scared survivors weren’t sure at all how to take that he’s no longer running the group as a democracy. In some ways, they probably needed to hear that. They needed this guy they trusted all along to stand up and make this clear. I’m also sure, in some ways, they don’t really want to see him go “darker” and would much rather see the more compassionate man he was. Killing your best friend might naturally put a compassionate man on edge. You certainly can’t help but to think that if he would have explained these things in a time that didn’t come right after a gigantic gaggle of ghouls took everything away from you that they might not have had such an assortment of feelings on the subject as they did. I’m pretty damn certain that Lori would still have reacted as badly to her husband killing a guy who likely knocked her up when that same guy was more than ready to kill said husband, but I digress. Ultimately, it’s a step in a direction for Rick that will clearly play out of season 3 and adds a new level for our hero, and the rest of the group, to deal with.
Longtime fans of the book probably collectively shit themselves when a very unexpected character arrived to save the day for Andrea. Yes, the totally badass Michonne makes her very first appearance… AND with her two walker pets leashed behind her! For me, her appearance was ruined when I stupidly looked to see who the hell was texting me during Walking Dead Time, but even though I knew she was coming, I still let out a yelp and literally applauded when I saw her standing over the shocked Andrea. I can’t imagine I was the only one. People who don’t know this chick will have lots of fun getting to know her next season.
And finally, we end on the shot that most of us wanted… Where are the survivors going now? The answer is literally on the horizon as the season, and this steroid-pumped episode finishes on a shot of a darkened and abandoned prison. It is the answer to Rick’s desire to find a place to “hunker down” in and fortify, and while they will likely be every bit as stationary there as they were at the farm, all we’ve learned about another character who has already been cast for Season 3, I’m sure there will be plenty of issues for our characters to deal with.
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|Rick really stepping up as a leader, even if it was a little crazier than expected. Superb action and excellent cinematography to keep the viewers on the edge of the seat. A last shot that was just what I hoped to see. MICHONNE!!!||I gotta wait until October all over again.|