Walking Dead Season Finale: S02E13 Recap & Review (Spoilers)
Walking Dead Season Finale Recap: 'Beside the Dying Fire' (S02E13, Season 2 Finale)
Zombies: every day they're shufflin'. And snackin' on corpses... until they're enthralled by a passing helicopter. (Wait, what, a helicopter?!). Thus begins the zombie stampede that is ultimately drawn to the sound of the gunshot that killed ZombieShane. Also, thus begins the Walking Dead Season Two finale recap, which is overrun with spoilers.
The walker stampede saves Rick from having to tell Carl how Shane died. Rick and Carl have some bonding time by luring the zombies into the barn, and then setting the barn on fire. The only flaw in their plan: the two humans are still in the barn as it's burning. Thank f*ck Hershel's son rolls up in the Winnebago, just in time to get killed. This way, the writers make it through the entire season without writing dialogue for this guy.
By the way, It's amazing how the survivors have gone from shooting at tin cans to displaying Bad Boys 2 levels of marksmanship.
Meanwhile, Hershel is basically Rambo, killing more walkers in one scene than the rest of the characters in the entire series, combined. Maybe because his whole family, save Maggie, is now dead. (I think... the writers have been crap at detailing Hershel's family.) [No, his other daughter lived, too. Jimmy and Patricia, though... sorry.]
Goodbye, Hershel's Farm
To no avail: the farm is basically lost.Andrea gets left behind after saving Carol's ass. At least she has a duffel bag full of guns. Maggie and Glenn also vamoose. Rick and Carl give Hershel a lift, And Daryl, who looked happy to see the barn burning, races back on his Nazicycle to extricate Carol ("I ain't got all day!").
If it's any consolation, survivors, the footage of swarming walkers on the burning farmstead is spectacular.
The Survivors Regroup
Dawn. Maggie breaks down when Glenn tells her that they won't be workin' on her farm no more. He tells her he loves her. Awww.
Rick, Hershel and Carl end up on the road where the survivors first lost Sophia. As they argue over whether or not to look for Lori, the other survivors roll up, well, except for Andrea. The group learns for the first time that Shane died the night before, but they don't know how.
The group heads east, leaving Andrea to her own devices. Hey, they learned from the whole Sophie thing.
Meanwhile, Andrea is running thought the woods, followed by walkers. Good thing they're not runners. She pulls some Double Dragon moves, but then starts shooting.. until she runs out of ammo.
A walker is about to kill Andrea.. but wait! A hooded figure with a samurai sword and two walkers in chains cuts the zombie's head off. Bam.
[Spoiler: this is Michonne- she's pretty badass, as you'd imagine, what with the samurai sword and the two zombie slaves.]
We're All the Walking Dead
The convoy stops at a tactically shitty spot, as Rick's nearly out of fuel. Rather than do something smart like send Glenn or Daryl for fuel, Rick wants them all to spend the night in the valley. He's kind of losing it, going off on how he wants to build a safe place for them all to live.
This is when Rick drops the bomb: they're all infected. Jenner (the CDC guy from Season One) told Rick that anyone who dies becomes zombified, whether or not they're bitten by a walker. Rick didn't believe it until he saw Shane turn.
Yeah, about that. Rick tells Lori how it all went down, and Lori's face tells a whole story on its own: "Well, dang. I'm the one that put them both up to this..."
Rick says, "I wanted him dead". Rick tells Lori that Carl put ZombieShane down. Lori has a tough time with that. Well, at least now she knows where her son was while she was running around going, "Caaaaarl!" back at the barn.
That night, Rick basically loses his shit. When asked to scout out a strange noise in the woods, Rick opts instead to monologue about how he killed Shane, and about how he busts his ass to keep them alive with his [stupid] decisions, and that, if they stay with Team Rick, then "This isn't a democracy anymore". Wait, like it ever was?
As the episode ends, we get a wider look at where the survivors have found themselves: not too far from a spooky-looking prison, dot dot dot.
As far as individual episodes go, this was the best of the season. Not just for the human-on-walker violence. Not just because of the fire. Not just because of Michonne. What made this episode good is that stuff actually happened. We had both the survival story and the family-dynamic story moving forward.
Also, not too many conversations happened more than once, and T-Dog had more than three lines. Indeed, if the rest of S02 was this tight, the season would only have needed six or seven episodes, and not 13.
Walking Dead Season 2 Overall Review
To be honest, The Walking Dead is, in my opinion, only compelling in its concept and production values. The acting is mostly very good, but we'll never know for sure because, and this is the main problem, the writing sucks.
What makes the Walking Dead graphic novel series so brilliant is that its protagonists, in the midst of an impossible situation, make the best possible decisions with the information at hand. Those decisions then go horribly wrong for various reasons.
The Walking Dead TV series is the opposite: characters do the most idiotic things possible, just to pad out the storyline. I'm also hoping that the inconsistency of the "infection" that caused the zombie outbreak is dealt with: Shane reanimates almost immediately, but not Randall's friends, the guys who menaced Rick, Glenn, and Hershel in Nebraska? Also, the survivors have seen plenty of dead, non-zombie bodies since the series began.
Also, the writing team appears unable to juggle its characters. Be honest, now: did you know that Hershel had another surviving daughter besides Maggie, before the tacked-on suicide attempt? And that he has a surviving son, too? Did you know their names before they became walker chow?
As for T-Dog, why was he an extra for the entire season, just so Shane, Rick, Hershel, and Lori could have the same arguments over and over and over again?
I won't be the first or last to say this, but each episode, with few exceptions, contains around 80% filler ("Where's Carl?", "Rick can't keep you safe!", "Shane is crazy!", "Don't tell me what to do, Dale!", "It's my farm, you'll live by my rules!", etc.) and maybe 20% plot advancement, if we're lucky. The reveal with Sophia in the barn was really powerful, but was it worth wasting half a season? Nope.
That's what's so frustrating about writing a review like this: I know how crap the writing is, but I can't stop watching.
Okay, to backpedal a bit: it's a testament to Jon Bernthal's and Sarah Wayne Callies' performances that Shane was the guy you loved to hate and Lori is... well the one you just plain hate.
Norman Reedus' Daryl is a fan favorite for obvious reasons: he's the badass representative for the audience, just as Steven Yeun's Glenn is the nice-guy: Daryl is who we think we'd need to be in order to survive, while Glenn is who we'd probably like to be.
Basically, even though the writing on this show is shithouse, the production values are shit-hot. The Walking Dead is easily the best-looking show on TV right now, and the most ambitious in scope by far.
Will There Be a Walking Dead Season 3?
The Walking Dead was renewed for a third season, which will contain 16 episodes. Hey, zombies equal viewers: AMC claims that The Walking Dead is the most successful show with adults (age 18-49) in basic cable TV history.
Hopefully some new writers will be brought on for S03, or the current writers will take classes, or something. It would be awesome if S03 moves with a bit more... determination.
Oh, and what about that helicopter from the opening scene? What about Merle? Somewhere out there, a one-handed Michael Rooker is looking for payback.
Also, hopefully we'll get to meet The Governor. If you don't know who that is, don't google it. Spoilers.