The Walking Dead Recap: Pretty Much Dead Already

Posted on November 28, 2011 by Deaditor 20 Comments


by Marc Patterson

I’ve been reading some comments out there across the ol’ interwebs from various rock n’ rollers in the horror community regarding last night’s mid-season finale of The Walking Dead, and the whole season at large, and I must say, reactions seem to be equally split so far. Some armchair critics have been enjoying the slow-paced drama this season. Others, such as myself haven’t been as enthralled. Those who have been enjoying the show seem to brush off us so-called “naysayers” by claiming they don’t need the constant onslaught of action and gore. Well, I’m here to set the record straight on that. Neither do I. What I do need though, is good storytelling, and that’s been the primary target of my excoriating criticism this season. There’s been a severe lack of good storytelling. Lucky for those viewers who share my disdain, last night was a pleasant switch of pace.

Before I get into the breakdown, let me ask you all though – what did you think of last night’s finale? Personally? I thought it was the best episode of the season thus far.

Yes. I’ve been perturbed by the slow pacing and the underdeveloped characters. I’ve been annoyed by the cheap gimmicks and sloppy writing that has milked every minor plot point out like it was epically pivotal. Last night though? It seemed like a return to the original series. It wasn’t the action that set it off, but rather the emotional tension that ripped through the entire hour. It started off lightly enough with Glenn announcing to the group over breakfast that there were walkers in the barn. In the distance, on the porch Maggie urged him to keep silent, shaking her head “no”. On the other side, Dale encouraged Glenn to be honest with his people by nodding his head “yes”. Comedic? Slightly. But the point was made. Glenn had to tell the group. It was going to happen anyway. It might as well have been from the guy who found out.

This revelation spins the group into a mild frenzy. They agree to post a watch on the barn while Rick speaks with Hershel. But talking with Hershel is like talking to a brick wall. He’s not one to be moved. He wants Rick and his people off his land within the week. Rick begs with Hershel not to evict them, that to do so would be sentencing them all to death. Hershel’s compassion didn’t seem to extend much beyond his family on this one.

With Rick at an impasse Shane takes the bull by the horns and does something he should have done a long time ago. He draws a big ass line in the sand. This leads to a stand-off with him and Lori, him and Dale, and eventually the whole damn group. Not everyone is against Shane though. It would appear that the entire camp is moving towards a hostile mutiny if Rick can’t settle things up with Hershel, and quick.

Now let’s talk about those final moments, because really – that’s what we’ve been waiting on for about a few weeks now. Oh… those final moments – so emotionally charged. There’s been a fierce anger simmering under the surface all season and it finally exploded violently providing a dramatic score to scene that practically had me cheering out loud. But, there’s so much more going on than a simple backlash. We’re inundated with emotions; stunning sadness, vindication, and ultimately shock followed by more sadness. The rapid fire in which viewers were run through the gauntlet last night punctuated the finale like the same hammering barrage of gunfire that pronounced a total change in leadership – for everyone. Like him or loathe him Shane is the man of the hour. This whole series has really been his and last night he got his big shot in the spotlight, and by God – it was a fantastic scene to be displayed.

And I have to talk about that breaking point. It really got set off when Shane spotted Hershel and Rick emerging from the woods with the walkers in captivity and raced down there to stop Hershel at the barn. Man, the look on his face was pure anger and the obvious feeling of being betrayed by Rick. It was as if Rick made his choice and sided with the other team. No question, you knew things were going to get ugly and fast. To be honest, I thought Shane’s moment of pure anger, a near hatred that ran so deep he must have been seeing red, was going to be his demise. I thought, “Oh shit. He’s going to rip open that barn and that’s how the writers are going to off Shane”. Shockingly, that didn’t happen, but something else did. The inevitable end to the search for Sophia. As the walkers poured out and gunfire rained downed on them, shit got real. It got really real when the final walker to limp from the barn was Sophia.

Sophia’s emergence from the barn as a walker, and that tear-jerking moment when Rick finally stepped from behind the crowd and came up to pull the trigger, something only he could do, was purely devastating. It was something none of us saw coming, even though we should have. Jaded comic fans figured that Sophia would soon show up. She lives a long time in the comics, so the idea that she would be killed off, especially at this juncture, was just foreign. It was all set up beforehand though – right in our plain sight. Where’s Sophia? The barn, of course.

How is this going to play out when The Walking Dead returns to television? I have a sneaking suspicion that we’ve now hit a point in the road where the show can take some dramatic turns away from the comic book source material and start to become something free-standing, of its own creation. At this juncture there’s no need to be loyal to any sort of text, not like any of the writers or producers were trying anyway. Part of the enjoyment is being surprised.

When you start to breakdown the aftermath of last night’s crashing finale, there’s more to this massacre than just the clean-up of bodies. First, we’re set with a possible stand-off against Hershel’s family. There’s also the sense that perhaps their whole world is now shattered. Shane blatantly showed them all that these walkers weren’t humans (after pumping round after round through one’s chest). That will destroy their belief system. Hershel’s leadership hasn’t just been questioned, it’s been overthrown and he’s got to deal with that as well. Plus, he has finally has to come to grips that his wife and step-daughter are dead. That in itself could have devastating effects. He’s been living in denial for so long that this rude wake-up call could have any given effect. And one thing is for certain – the writers, having shown no loyalty to “what’s supposed to happen”, can take this plot in any direction now.

Additionally, Rick and Shane have some man issues to work through. Is Shane going to calm down and re-submit to Rick’s leadership, admitting that he went off in a less than ideal way? Or will his new sense of empowerment carry with him and fracture the camp more?

Bottom line? The Walking Dead finally redeemed itself with some of that old school drama and flair we first loved about it. We’re going to have to wait until February to see where things go, but let’s just hope that what we see is a continuation of last night’s episode where deep emotion ruled the hour, and not a series of silly gimmicks stretched thin.

20 comments

  • Annie says:

    I felt like profusely vomiting after it was over. I was sickened and pissed off…so I guess the show did it’s job.

  • Annie says:

    Okay, well…I give the show points for evoking such a visceral response from me, the likes of which I haven’t felt since Vader revealed his paternity to Luke (shut up, I was 12), and I knew they weren’t intent on following the original storyline and nothing was certain, but FUCK!!! I am rapidly running out of characters to genuinely give a shit about. And Daryl…well goddammit, I just wanted him to find Sophia. Finding the girl might have helped him in his own healing process, but tell me he’s not going to recoil right back up into a bitter ball of hatred again after that shit. And fucking Carol, hasn’t she been through enough? Yeah yeah, I know it’s all realistic and unafraid to throw serious punches and blahblahblah, but come on. I am so fucking depressed now I’m eyeing my newly filled prescription for Ambien and feeling the fucking hopelessness.

    I could have watched FOX news and been less depressed.

    • Alpha7 says:

      I heart Ambien. Best drug ever.
      I woke up this morning with Micheal McDonald and Kenny Loggins on my iPod.
      (Shudder.)

  • Alpha7 says:

    It’s been a pot boiler of a (mid) season.
    This was a missed opportunity – the CGI barn slaughter rendered the last 6 episodes useless.

    If the show was set in a comic book world with a comic book background and cartoon colors it would have been great. But it’s not Sin City or 300. Its zombies. In Atlanta.

    The show looked like a Netflix DTD B-movie last night rather than cutting edge horror television. The gore and violence is just as important as the story set up.

  • Alpha7 says:

    Oh. And as far as story continuity goes, has anyone mentioned why target practice last episode didn’t attract every zombi in Fairburn GA?

    • Deaditor says:

      Well wouldn’t it be the sick irony that the ol’ massacre at Hershel’s farm turns into a big dinner time calling bell for all the miscellaneous zombies out roaming the woods nearby? I’ve spent many times on and near shooting ranges. That kind of gunfire will be heard miles away, even with the hills and trees.

      Oh – and the CGI barn slaughter fest? Yes, it should have been better constructed and utilized some mind-blowing practical effects. Great point Alpha 7.

  • Cran says:

    I thought of that too, Alpha 7 with all the gun play lately. And is there some warehouse of more ammo because- they are running through that like water.

    My favorite part of the night was Rick and Shane’s: “Congratulations to you..” and “to you as well…” Awesome. And that makes good tv for me.

    Sophia- sorry but I didn’t think she was going to be found. Didn’t think she’d be a zombie– but just didn’t think she’d be found. Kinda would have liked it had Daryl and Carol got it on- but they didn’t so I had to deal.

    Next off Gilligan’s island I choose Dale. Pick up the Bo phone, cuz it’s Ringing!! ugh. Shane- if they are smart they will keep him around- he’s right most of the time and it pisses everyone else off-so that’s good tv too.

    Not to mention, the fact that I felt like I was watching the Titanic last night- where I wanted Kate to move her fat ass over and all up the skinny kid onto the raft – but she didn’t.. If everyone disagreed with Shane- why did no one help out? Hmmm? No one helped Rick hold back the zombie- and no one helped Shane open or Keep the door closed.

    I think it’s also ironic that Rick has to kill all the kids or rather has chosen to kill the younger zombies- when Lori wants to do it- not such a good idea. But that’s another story altogether.

  • Annie says:

    So, no one’s going to tell me how girly I’m being?

  • Kati says:

    I’ve been always kinda torn on Zombie flicks. I don’t know why. Zombies re the least…’terrifying’ of all those creepes. They are the Hippies of the Horror-World. Sloooow and always hungry.

    There you have your reason for me liking the Dawn Of The Dead remake. Suddenly, those fuckers were running. And they were running DAMN fast. That was when I started to get into the Zombie-thing. (Though it was more the Post-Apocalyptic setting I was drooling over to be completely honest. Anyway, I think I am drifting. Duck.)

    So. I did enjoy the first season of Walking Dead. The second one started off rather slow though. And as soon as they turned up on the farm, Jim Jarmusch took over. ‘let’s just talk about it instead of shooting each other! And don’t forget the drama!’ Basically, the only reason I was still watching was because of Norman Reedus. I was – still am – at a point of disliking all the main characters, Shane the Caveman and Laurie ‘whatsherface’ ….

    Now the thing I actually wanted to PUT into the comment:
    Sophia.
    ARE YOU FOR REAL? So, right after I am done with crying over the shit the writers of MISFITS pulled on Sunday, you do THIS? Yes, I think Sophia out of the picture is a great loss. Just like American Horror Story, TWD LIVES and DEPENDS on it’s secondary characters, since you just feel the urge to shoot the main family in the head and free them from their misery – and ours.

    And I no haz gut Engrish. I haz a sowweh.

  • Annie says:

    Goddamned Krauts, you lern Eeenglish, jah!

    But yeah, I remain uncertain as to whether I will be tuning back in come February.

    PS – 1985, running zombies in ROTLD. Just saying.

    • Kati says:

      HALT! HAMMERZEIT!

      I was not even BORN in 1985. That’s the lamest excuse ever, I know.

      Anyway, blame it on my ADD but Even at the X-Files, I just turned the stuff off after a while. Too much talking, not enough killing monsters. And once again, Laurie Holmes was involved. I’m starting to see a pattern.

  • Annie says:

    Laurie HOLDEN, ya dumb Kraut!

    PS – I love you, Kati.
    xoxoxox

  • Kati says:

    OMG THAT IS THE WORST FREUDIAN SLIP EVER.

    I can spell ‘Covarrubias’ correctly, but then…

    WHATEVER SHUT UP AND DAVID CARUSO.

    <3

  • Annie says:

    I don’t know what you’re talking about.

  • Alpha7 says:

    Laurie Man-hands and Shane Pacino.

  • From a show running practical standpoint you have to kill the kids off. The story takes place in a relatively compressed timeline. It’s been maybe 100 days since the out break but you’re looking at three years of filming, editing and airing for just a season and a half. If the show runs 5 seasons (a safe bet with the ratings it pulls and the fact that AMC has made it on the cheap) any child actor is going to look much different from season to season.

    That made the hunt for Sophia a boring, non-compelling arc devoid of any drama. There was only one way the story was ever going to turn out if only for practical reasons.

  • paul says:

    every episode i’ve been on the practical shane side,the final 15 minutes was cathartic…at last zombie payback.

    then the writers pull a 180 and put me back on ricks side, somwhere ive not been since episode 6..

    i;ve struggled with this show but.. i kept at dexter till last year sooo.

    ps..as a fan of mad men,slow story telling isn’t a problem, only bad story telling..

  • deadmansshoes says:

    you rock inthat assesment!!

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