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The Walking Dead: Beside the Dying Fire

Hershel: “It’s my farm.”
Rick: “Not anymore.”

Nothing like a huge herd of zombies to make you give up on your property rights.

This was a somewhat satisfying season finale. It was obvious that the days at the farm were numbered. The way they dealt with the herd was actually quite clever. I had visions of them holed up in the farm house under siege, especially after what Hershel said last week about laying in supplies in the basement. Daryl was right, though: a herd that large would just tear the house apart. I’m not sure why driving around in trucks and trying to kill them was any better. At least it gave them the mobility to escape when they needed to. It might have been better if they had been just as prepared to run as to hide, but as they say, hindsight is 20/20.

We didn’t lose any of the main characters this week, but our little band is certainly diminished and even more broken than before. Rick has definitely slid off the deep end and Lori isn’t offering a life line. I have never been one of the Lori haters that seem to abound, but I just wanted to punch her in this episode. Seriously, she is going to hold Shane’s death against Rick? She wanted Shane dead. Yes, Carl ended up shooting him, but if he hadn’t, she wouldn’t have her happy little family anymore. Carl can't be her baby anymore.

What will the group do with Rick? He didn’t tell them about what he heard at the CDC, but if they were in any state of rational mind (they're not) they would understand that they really didn’t want to know. And as Rick said, he didn’t know whether to believe it was true or not. We now know that everyone is infected but I’m not sure that changes anything, except the fact that it is important to make sure that when someone is dead their brain is destroyed. As it is, we are all already infected with the seeds of our death. We’re all going to the same place eventually. Unfortunately, in the world of The Walking Dead, some of us are just going to get up and start walking again.

Rick's killing of Shane is another matter. He was one of the group, even as unstable as he was, and he had allies. Even Rick can't decide if he was justified or if he should blame himself. He knew what Shane was doing and feels he could have stopped him, but Rick knows that it was only a matter of time before Shane tried again. Carl didn’t know about the shooting, but he does now. How will he reconcile that? His mother certainly isn’t helping. Again, if I was part of the group, I would understand that Rick was acting in self-defence. Shane was a danger and he was only going to get more dangerous. I think Hershel and Daryl understand this, but I’m not sure about the rest of the group. I was glad that Rick finally had it out with the whiners. It’s easy to blame the person who is leading, and not so easy to lead yourself.

There were some great moments: Carl’s face hidden as his dad asked him to take responsibility for their lives; the barn burning as a symbol of their safety going up in flames; Hershel standing alone, taking out walkers as he protected his land; Glenn finally telling Maggie that he loved her; Daryl scooping up Carol just in time; the reunion on the highway; Andrea managing to survive until some sword wielding angel with pet zombies on chains saved her life.

There were also some not so great moments: the women running from the house with only Lori carrying a gun (grab a kitchen knife for goodness sakes); Jimmy being eaten in the RV (close the door next time); Glenn and Maggie talking in the car while it was still running (gas is scarce, right?); Carol yelling at Rick to do something (seriously?).

Overall, the biggest anxiety for me during this episode was whether the group would get back together or not. I was going to be really annoyed if they didn’t reunite them until next season. Instead, it looks like our group has a new place to call home. It looked like a prison. This really isn’t going to be a democracy anymore, I guess. I have a feeling that there is going to be a new leader and it won’t be pretty. I am now going to go fully experience my Walking Dead withdrawal. It’s going to be a long time.

Bits and Pieces

Gross things I could live without:
1) The zombies eating the dog.
2) Jimmy getting eaten.
3) Patricia getting eaten.

Did the walkers follow the helicopter? Do they just get pointed in a direction and sort of gather up and keep moving until something stops them? (PS: There is civilization somewhere. That’s the second helicopter. PPS: Or is it the first one and it just took the walkers this long to get to the farm?)


Hershel: “This is my farm. I’ll die here.”
Daryl: “Alright, it’s as good a night as any.”

Daryl: “C’mon, I ain’t got all day.”

Rick: “You’re a man of God, have some faith!”
Hershel: “I can’t profess to understand God’s plan. Christ promised a resurrection of the dead. I just thought he had something a little different in mind.”

Hershel: “You’ve only got one concern now, just one: keeping him alive. Nature may be throwing us a curve ball but that law is still true.”

Rick: “I just wanted it over.” (I don’t think he just means Shane).

Rick: “There’s got to be a place, not just where we hole up but where we fortify, hunker down, pull ourselves together, build a life for each other. I know it’s out there. We just have to find it.”


  1. Great review as always. I'm happy with it, but I'm a little confused at some of the character's reasoning, particularly toward Rick for killing Shane. He had no choice? Wasn't it self defense since Shane was going to shoot him if Rick didn't go first? I did like Lori's reaction, especially when she learnt of Carl's role in it all, it seemed like a realistic reaction of a mother in that situation. Not her reaction to the Shane thing though. Seriously, what did they expect?

    The thing I'm most excited to see resolved is the weird sword wielding woman and Andrea (I'm glad she survived, she's always been one of my favorites).

    I'm glad that Maggie lived also, you can never have too much Lauren Cohan.

    My death predictions were wrong too. I said Hershel and Carol would go, and I was wrong. The first 20 minutes were unbelievably exciting though.

    Very excited for season 3 now, I just wish it was sooner. I imagine it'll be a September return?

  2. "Hershel: “I can’t profess to understand God’s plan. Christ promised a resurrection of the dead. I just thought he had something a little different in mind.”

    It is a sign of my own sick nature that this was my favorite quote.

    This was a rough episode to watch, but still a very good one. I like that The Walking Dead lets its characters make bad decision and act like idiots. I make bad decisions and act like an idiot most of the time.

    However, smallish feminist quibble: around the campfire, all the womenfolk were like, "Hey, betray the group! Abandon the bromantic urge! Prioritize me!" And all the menfolk were like, "I value the sanctity of the whole over your pragmatic Machiavellian scheming!" So much of the "character development" on this show breaks down along gender lines.

  3. I thought it was terrific, too. Very edge of your seat. Do you think the "not enough zombies" crowd got enough zombies this time? :)

    Daryl was terrific, and he's still my favorite character. Hershel really moved me, the way he just stood there and defended his home, but still listened to reason and left when he had to. I was so happy that Maggie and Andrea made it, too.

    Hershel's line about Jesus was my favorite, too.

    Thanks so much for a season of terrific reviews, Doc. You're awesome.

  4. This was a great season finale.

    Maybe I do need zombie mayhem to enjoy the show....

    I don't like book Lori – too whiny. I do kind of like TV Lori, since she seems to be kind of a human villain right now. Maybe TV Lori is bi-polar? She's the one who manipulated Rick into killing Shane, but is disavowing her part in it. Rick is too clueless to see that he was manipulated. I doubt the TV show is going to take Lori down a dark path, though.

    I was worried for Marita Covarrubias, running through the woods as she was, but I was ecstatic with (and big THUMBS UP for) Michonne's (the Hattori Hanzo katana "wielding angel with pet zombies on chains") entrance. She's one of the strongest characters in the book.

    I wish we would have learned a little more about Patricia and Jimmy. During the interminable "SEARCH FOR SOPHIA" storyline, they could have explored or even given more than a handful of lines to both of them, so at lest their deaths would have had an impact.

    The show should follow the LOST template – half flashback (or maybe a quarter flashback) to the characters' lives before the apocalypse, so we can learn something more about them "before" and the episode padding (which drags episodes down) won't be as noticeable or as detrimental to the narrative.

  5. Ok, I just have one question and I can't wait to find an answer (any ideas?)
    The pet zombies were on flexible chains... What prevents them from biting even if they can't use their arms? can they be trained then?

  6. "Marita Covarrubias."

    HBR, I love you.

    Banastal, the answer to your question can be found in the comments thread of this article: http://www.tvline.com/2012/03/the-walking-dead-season-2-finale-season-3-spoilers/

    However, let's keep it out of the comments here, as it is a comic book spoiler, albeit just a tiny one.

  7. Josie, thanks. I still say they need to be intelligent to not try. No rigid attachment makes no sense... (I hope this is not considered any kind of a spoiler)

  8. Banastal, that's perfectly vague. And I agree--I wonder if there's something else that makes it work.

  9. The zombies on the chains have no lower jaws.

  10. :)

    Laurie Holden will always be my beloved Marita Covarrubias.

    Ms. Holden is killing it as Andrea, though. Andrea is the strongest female character on the show. Even without MIchonne's intervention, I could see Andrea having gotten out of that situation on her own, without it being contrived or "unrealistic."

    I'd like to see Andrea (once she and Michonne catch up to the rest of the group) take a leadership role, in the void left by the deaths of Dale and Shane and in the (seemingly) broken trust the group has in Rick. Andrea has both Shane and Dale inside her. Exploring that dichotomy would be fascinating.

    I'm also hoping the writers are a bit more daring in Season Three. I've read up to #60 of the comic, so I know where that story goes. I hope they don't shy away from the darkness.

  11. Wow, great comments! Thanks. The quote about Jesus was also my favourite. Just Hershel, keeping it real :). I understand that Lori might be upset that her son had to kill the walker that used to be Shane but she might also notice that her partner is falling apart. The gender role stuff really annoys me but my friends keep pointing out to me that it is the south. Are there no feminists in the south? Or women who want to stay alive for that matter? I seem to be having a lot of post-apocalyptic conversations these days and most of my women friends are considering taking up archery! Love that I get to have these conversations about this show with other people who love it.

  12. Reminder: please keep comic book spoilers out of the comments thread.

  13. Michonne!!!!!!!!!!!! My favorite character!!!

    If she's played right, all those gender role issues will go down the drain. And if the prison storyline is half as good as it is in the comics, season 3 will be mind-blowing. Can't wait.

    HBR, I don't think they'll be able to go as dark as what we've read, considering the darkest part of all would need more children than what they have now.

    Jimmy should get a Darwin Award.

    One quibble: their aim was just too damn good! It's like they had a video game cheat of unlimited ammo and auto-aim. Most were headshots. Not only is it unrealistic, but it also takes away some merit from Andrea, who's the real sharpshooter of the team.

    One thing I haven't discussed so far because I fear it would be a spoiler. It is shown very early on in the comics, but I thought it could still happen in the show: Dale and Andrea were a couple in the comics. (They worked better as a couple than Rick and Lori, BTW.) Since Dale died, I think they're going to assign the relationship aspect to Hershel. Again, it's all speculation. Poor Jeffrey DeMunn, he didn't get to kiss beautiful Lauren Holden.

    This has been a great season for your reviews, too, Doc. Some were more entertaining than the episodes themselves. I'm looking forward to reading your reviews for season 2 of Alphas.

  14. Oh, I just discovered Scott Wilson (Hershel) and I share a birthday!

  15. Well I was totally wrong about how this episode would play out, but in my defence I didn't know they could all pull off flawless and repeated headshots using pistols from inside a moving car against moving targets. In the dark. Or that Hershel would have infinite ammo for his shotgun. Did anyone count how many shots he fired before he finally reloaded? He must have had the capacity upgraded by the Merchant from Resident Evil 4.

    I did enjoy the episode a lot though, and I have no idea about the comics or who that sword wielding character at the end was.

    Who was flying that helicopter at the start?

  16. The gender role stuff really annoys me but my friends keep pointing out to me that it is the south. Are there no feminists in the south? Or women who want to stay alive for that matter?
    Aren’t Southern women supposed to be strong willed?  Look at the ladies from DESIGNING WOMEN, which was set in Atlanta.
    Julia Sugarbaker and Mary Jo Shively would never let Rick or Shane or any man be condescending to them. Neither would Suzanne. Charlene – maybe.
    My beloved Suzanne was a crack shot with a weapon.  She’d have been blasting walkers left, right and center.  Then she’d hand Shane the gun and say, “that’s how you do it. Not get out my way, I’m going to find Sophia, because I need some rest and none of you will let me rest until this kid is found.”  Suzanne would have returned with a living Sophia – who would have been clean and manicured with big hair – and then she would give Carol a makeover.
    Lori would make a terrific villain. Sarah Wayne Callies has it in her to play a good villainess. I’ve mentioned it before, but her strongest moment on the series to date, was her manipulation of Rick at the end of (I believe) TRIGGERFINGER. I’d love to see more of that Lori – pulling the strings.

  17. Seriously HBR - I would love someone to do the scene you just described - even just for youtube. What a hoot - thanks!

  18. Wonderful review.
    I really enjoyed the finale. I thought it was quite apocalyptic and thrilling (particularly the stunning attack on the farm which had me out of breath).
    I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who was pissed off by Lori. Seriously has she forgotten her death-whispers into Rick's ear a few weeks ago? I can't decide if the character is supposed to be schizophrenic or it's just shoddy characterization.
    Finally, I too found myself stressed out by the fact that the writers looked like they were going to keep the group separated until next season! I don't think I could have handled the wait so I'm quite happy we got them together again. I literally sighed out loud in relief when they all arrived on our favorite highway.
    And why didn't I see that damn helicopter everybody is talking about! How did I miss it? Was it in the beginning when the Walkers were leaving the city? So bizarre. I never miss stuff so important!
    Oh and loved the comment about the show following the LOST template. They should definitely do that as I've love to see more flashbacks of their lives before.

  19. This is how a zombie series should end their season finale. On a note of total uncertainty and dread, following the large living vs. living dead battle, of course. I knew it would be badass, I just didn't think it'd be this badass.

    The zombie perspective was interesting. And I wonder what's going on with the helicopters and that building (I think it was a building) in the distance at the end.

    What I most noticed is how vastly different the group is now than at the beginning of the season, individually and as a whole. Rick being the most obvious. He's clearly going through the same mental breakdown Shane endured, but being that he's Rick he's not handling it quite as well. He's right about everything to be sure, but, like Shane, the way he's expressing it could be his downfall. I do agree that this group needs some serious boundaries, as universally insecure as they are.

    The individual scenes of everybody getting away were very well done.

    And glad Daryl has finally accepted his role as second in command. Not by any means a henchman.

    Things don't look well for the group come next season. Desperate, divided, stranded, doomed to infection, low on ammo, surrounded by walkers. Oh yeah and Andrea is in the hands of... a Sith Lord? I know he saved her, but those chained and maimed zombies don't scream sanity. I swear I thought she'd be saved by Randall's crew; I doubt the guy with the katana is on their side. Didn't think I'd be most intrigued with Andrea's plot by the end. Glad she lived though.

    This show is still freaking awesome, and I have certainly enjoyed your reviews and the comments. Can't wait till season three.

  20. One thing puzzles me - if everyone is infected and anyone who dies becomes zombies, why were there dead bodies in the cars on the highway at the beginning of the season? They weren't walkers as they were not moving, and there were no signs of wounds to the head. They were just dead and rotting in their cars - does anyone have an explanation?

    1. Thats a very good question..i hadnt put that together..hmmmm

  21. Otherwyrld,

    The writers say that, if you look carefully, all the people in the cars had head injuries and thus were not zombified.

    (I leave it to someone else to see if that claim holds up.)

  22. Doc, I've really enjoyed your episode reviews for S2. You do a wonderful job of highlighting and delving into the thematic issues and moral dilemmas posed by the show. Since I'm in it for the human drama and not the zombies, I really appreciate reading a thoughtful review that gets into the philosophical meat and the character journeys. (And your commenters have been incredibly thoughtful, too!)

    I thought this was a great season. Slower pacing wasn't an issue for me because I was burning through the episodes in big chunks (although I did have a period of adjustment after the premiere). I really enjoyed watching everyone struggle with trying to hang onto hope and their essential humanity in this post-apocalyptic nightmare.

    Rick's arc has been particularly compelling this season. In S1, it was all about shock and processing and trying to find a solution. Now that Jenner has stripped away the possibility of a cure, it's been fascinating to watch Rick slowly come to terms with what it takes to protect those you love, and his realization that he can't find an idyllic hideaway and hope to restore some semblance of normalcy. Hershel thought Rick broke after having to put down Sophia, but I think it was having to kill Shane to protect his family, only to have Lori recoil in horror from him, that really broke him. I loved his little meltdown at the end, when he vented some of his frustration and agony over his seemingly unappreciated effort as group leader. It's heartrending to watch him lose his hold on his sanity and his humanity, but it is certainly making for good television.

    After finding Lori fairly tolerable at the start of the season, and truly feeling for her agony over whether to save Carl and keep her unborn baby in this harsh new reality, I got rather annoyed with her in the back half of the season. And she pissed me off in the finale. She's the one that whispered in Rick's ear that Shane presented a clear danger that he needed to address! She all but told him to kill Shane! And when he did --- essentially in self defense --- she pulled away from him like he was some kind of monster. It actually fit perfectly with what we've heard about her behavior before the zombie apocalypse --- badgering Rick to express himself, only to get pissed about what he had to say --- but it was still infuriating to see her offer him no support in that moment. He tries so hard to make the right decisions and to protect her, their son, and their little group of survivors, and she (and some of the others) just seem to resent him for it. No wonder he's breaking!

    A few other season highlights: Maggie (and Glenn)! Daryl offering Carol the Cherokee Rose. Andrea finding the will to survive and the drive to protect herself and those she cares about. Sophia walking out of the barn (I knew it was coming, but it still wrecked me). Hershel's comment about expecting the resurrection to play out a bit differently. :)

    Again, Doc, thanks for the thoughtful reviews. They've been a nice way to spend some time pondering the episodes after binge watching!


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