Monday, March 19, 2012

The Walking Dead Season 2, Episode 13: By The Dying Fire

Well, Season 2 of The Walking Dead is now behind us. It wasn't a perfect season; there was way too much talking and not enough zombie action early on and the gang spent far too much time rooted in one spot. But there were also some awesome and intense moments, mostly in the last few episodes, that helped make up for the lulls.

When the show started back up in October I really didn't expect they'd be spending the entire season stuck on Herschel's farm. I know the characters saw the farm as a refuge, but I saw it as a storyline quagmire. As long as they were on the farm it felt impossible for the plot to progress.

They finally got off the farm in the season finale, but from the closing seconds of the episode it looks like they're going to be holed in the prison all next season. Ah well. C'est la vie.

Something I forgot to mention last week: In addition to reanimating its victims, the zombie virus also apparently alters their facial features. When Zombie Randall attacks Glenn and Daryl, he already has the sunken eyes characteristic of all walkers, after only an hour, two tops. Same thing with Shane. Rick kills him and less than five minutes later his eyes have begun sinking in like a typical walker. That virus must work fast!

On with the highlights!

• So the zombies attacking Herschel's farm apparently followed Team Rick all the way from Atlanta? Those are some determined walkers! I don't think we really needed to know where they all came from, but I guess the producers thought it necessary to show us. I guess they were worried we'd wonder why hundreds of zombies suddenly showed up at the farm after it had been zombie free for months.

•  A couple episodes back Carl was playing with the zombie that ended up killing Dale. Now we find out that his shooting of Shane is what attracted the zombie herd to the farm (although to be 100% accurate, Shane also fired off a round before he died). There's a lot of blood on that little monster's hands!

• The zombie attack on the farm was definitely the highlight of the season. Everyone was shooting zombies as fast as they could and they just kept coming and coming, like waves crashing on a beach. For once Team Rick had some decent tactics: luring the walkers inside the barn and then lighting them on fire, mowing them down from their moving cars, etc.

• There's no doubt about it: Rick Grimes is Herschel Greene's personal Satan. Before Rick came along, Herschel was living a relatively peaceful life with his family and friends on his magically protected farm. Then Rick and his crew show up, and in short order Otis is killed, Herschel is forced to confront the unpleasant truth about his dead wife and walkers in general, he falls off the wagon, one of Rick's crew encourages Herschel's daughter to slash her wrists, two of the people under his care are killed, he loses his farm... I wouldn't blame him one bit if he picked up a gun and shot Rick right in his sh*t-stirring head.

• Jimmy and Patricia, we hardly knew ye! I was pretty sure most, if not all, of Herschel's redshirt "family" were going to exit the show-- with the exception of Maggie of course. I'm honestly very surprised that Herschel himself survived. I fully expected him to go down with his farm.

Herschel went through quite a transformation throughout the season. When we first meet him he's a quiet and humble scripture-quoting patriarch who honestly believes the walkers are just "sick" and can be cured. By the end of the season he's abandoned that belief and has become a kick-ass action hero. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. Bad Ass Herschel is infinitely more interesting that Peace-Loving Herschel.There's probably a message in there somewhere about how the brutality of the world changes a person or something like that.

• I'd like to know where Herschel bought his Nev-R-Out™ brand infinite round shotgun. He fired off about 57 shots in a row before we finally saw him reload. I freely admit I know little to nothing about firearms, but I'm pretty sure that's not possible.

• Unintentionally hilarious moment: Rick shoots a zombie that's about to attack Herschel and sprays brains all over the back of his silver haired head. It stayed there for the rest of the episode too!

• I was very surprised to see that T-Dog survived this episode, since he's had about 4 lines all season. And why does he keep wanting to go east? They're in Georgia, right? Georgia, the southern state that borders the eastern coast. I guess they could be on the western side of Georgia, but it doesn't seem like they could go too much farther east. Maybe T-Dog thinks they'll be safer with the ocean at their backs. One less direction for walkers to attack.

I was also expecting Carol to be written out since she's the most useless character there is, but that would probably be too obvious. Plus she needs to stick around long enough to tame Daryl.

• So now we know what Dr. Jenner whispered to Rick at the end of Season 1: Everyone's already infected with the zombie virus, just like in the comic. Odd that Rick chose not to tell anyone about it. His reasoning (that Dr. Jenner didn't seem to be playing with a full deck) made a certain amount of sense, but he still should have told the gang and let them make up their own minds about it.

• OK, I was wrong about Randall's group showing up. Really wrong. Boy was I wrong. And I was wrong about Merle being the leader or at least a part of the group. It's just that they talked about this dangerous group so much and made such a big deal out of them that I thought for sure we'd see them. So now I'm altering my prediction: next season we'll finally meet Randall's group and they'll turn out to be a scouting party of the Governor's.

• Wow, Shane must have passed his craziness onto Rick. He definitely seems like he's starting to lose it, telling everyone the group is no longer a democracy. Foreshadowing a confrontation between Rick and the Governor, perhaps

• Then there was the highlight of the episode, and maybe even the whole season: just as Andrea's about to get eaten by a walker, she gets saved by... Michonne! OMG! Pure awesomeness. I think I had a little nerdgasm when she showed up with her sword and her zombie bodyguards. It was an amazing scene ripped straight from the pages of the comic. We didn't even get to see her face and it was still a cool scene.

When reading the comic I was never quite sure how to pronounce her name, if it was Mish-Own or Mish-On. Thanks to The Talking Dead I now have confirmation that her name is indeed pronounced Mish-Own.

• To top it all off, at the end of the episode we get a nice crane shot that reveals... the prison! Just like in the comic! Squeeee! Season 3 is gonna be awesome! It's gonna be a long wait until October. Quick, someone loan me their time machine or put me into an 8 month drug-induced coma!

Now it's time to present my Season 2 awards: 

The Neverending Story Award
The Search For Sophia. It was a boat anchor of a subplot that just would not end. Every week I'd hope they'd find her; not for Carol's sake but for the audience's. It was a grueling storyline to have to sit through, but the writer's redeemed themselves by giving it an amazing ending that more than made up for it.

Worst Hairstyle Award
Shane Walsh and his hillbilly skinhead coiffure.

Runner Up: Carol Peletier and her faux Jamie Lee Curtis man-cut.

Silence Is Golden Award
Theodore Douglas, aka T-Dog, who spent the majority of his time on the farm in the background, uttering about ten sentences all season.

Maybe T-Dog is being silent on purpose. By staying out of the spotlight and laying low he probably gets passed over for a lot of Rick's incredibly dangerous missions. Rick invariably picks the chattier Glenn, so maybe T-Dog's figured out how to hack the system! 

Grossest Zombie Award
It's gotta be the bloated waterlogged zombie trapped in Herschel's well. That thing was just plain nasty. And when it split in half, I thought I would plotz! 

Most Annoying Character Award
Hands down, it's Lori Grimes. From her hot & cold running feelings toward Shane, to her insistence that Andrea should stop guarding the farm and do some laundry instead, she's the one character that most deserves a punch in the throat.  

Best Punch To The Gut Moment
After Team Rick massacres the zombies in the barn and Zombie Sophia slowly shuffles out into the sunlight. What a devastating moment. It made the interminable Search For Sophia plot line worth it. 

Biggest Threat That Never Materialized Award
Randall's mean and ornery gang. A lot of time went into building up this ruthless collection of rapists and serial killers as the ultimate threat against the safety of Team Rick, and then... nothing. My guess is that they're saving them for Season 3, but who knows? 

Dumbest Action By A Character Award
Lori Grimes again, for her decision to take a drive through the zombie infested countryside and then flip her car over a couple of times. Was there a point to that subplot? It went absolutely nowhere, it had no bearing on the storyline and there were zero consequences arising from it. My theory is that that particular episode came up short and they needed a few minutes of filler to pad it out to a 45 minute running time. 

Best Uncomfortable Moment
When Rick and Co. were confronted in the bar by Dave and Tony. A superbly written and acted scene full of almost unbearable tension. You weren't quite sure what those two guys were up to, but it was clear that it was nothing good. 

Worst Diagnosis Ever Award
Herschel Greene, for his bizarre belief that the walkers in his barn are merely sick and can be healed with the right treatment. This despite the fact that most of the walkers are missing parts of their faces or bodies and smell like the rotting corpses they are.  

Best Zombie Kill Of The Season
Wow, there were so many. I think I'd have to go with Rick's Zombie pig pile in "18 Miles Out" when he sticks his gun into a zombie's mouth and shoots through the back of its head to kill one behind it. 

Most Extensive Resume Award
Herschel Greene again! He's a family man, a farmer, a veterinarian who can treat humans like a war medic, a biblical scholar, an ex-alcoholic, philosopher and a crack marksman!

Runner up: Otis. Ranch hand, Emergency Medical Technician, hunter, beloved husband, zombie wrangler and guitar player.

It's gonna be a long hard wait for Season 3!


  1. I agree, Bob. I would prefer the tone of the show to be more like Mad Max/Road Warrior meets Kung Fu the series, with the characters coming & going, moving forward Nomadicly in a constant effort to stay alive. Camped in one spot all the time may lead to an early death for the series if the creators aren't careful.

  2. The comic book does the same thing-- they were at Herschel's farm for about a year's worth of issues, then they moved on and lived at the prison for a while, then they moved on and set up house in a fortified subdivision... the comic is very episodic like that, so I guess the series is following suit.

    It's probably also cheaper to have them stay in one place for a whole season. If they're out exploring then they'd have to depict a different post-apocalyptic environment every week.

  3. they said on the talking dead they actually WERE going to kill off herschel, by having randall escape and kill him, and have rick and shane go out for a search party, but they decided it would work better for shane to kill randall in could blood. i thought that t-dog, carole, beth, and herschal would all by goners for sure in the finale.

  4. Damn it yer right ! Sucks that budget is always a deciding factor. I imagine in the comic book a 'year' was the perfect amount of time to explore the concept, and was really compressed into a smaller time frame than a year-long publishing schedule.

  5. "It's gonna be a long hard wait for Season 3!"
    Truer words were never spoken. I loved the awards you doled out, too funny!

  6. Where did they pronounce the name Michonne? She didn't speak at all, did she? I thought that was one of the most awesome shots in the episode, btw!

  7. @Anonymous: They said her name afterward on The Talking Dead.

  8. Bob Canada--Georgia isn't on the east coast per se; it's almost entirely landlocked except for one small bit in the South that has Savannah, one of the lone coastal towns that exists in Georgia. Up near Atlanta (which I'm guessing Herschel's farm is in a rural area not too far from Atlanta), it's a GOOD four-hour drive on the freeways, and that's not considering the post-apocalyptic environment they might have to deal with (rows of stalled cars, dead people, herds of walkers traversing the highway paths) trying to get there. Maybe T-Dog was talking about Savannah, or maybe even Florida, a further drive, but with LOTS more coastal locations...

  9. @boofdah: You're right that Atlanta (if that's where they're near) is a good ways from the ocean, and it would be a hard trek there. But as for Georgia not being on the coast-- when I look at a map I'm seeing a good 80 to 100 miles of coastline there.


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