Written By: John
Welcome to the second half of our “Zombie Double Feature” here on Horror Monday. We’ve already discussed last night’s Season Finale, which means there is only one last subject to discuss, the season as a whole.
There will be no play by play, just the highlights of a jam-packed season that certainly left me ready for more. As always, be ready for spoilers and if you haven’t sat down to watch Season Two of The Walking Dead, get to it! But if you’re as ready as I am, let’s begin.
What We Learned
First and foremost we learned that NO ONE IS SAFE. This is a season that saw little Sophia, Dale and Shane all meet their demise. In a world rife with this kind of danger we can fully expect to see more characters die next year. This is new for a post apocalyptic television show, even the reimagined Battlestar Galactica, a show well known for its edge stayed away from killing off major characters.
Another lesson from this season was that any one who dies, regardless of cause and as long as the brain is intact will turn into a walker. It’s a revelation that may have greater implications as the show goes on, especially since this whole plague appears to be caused by a virus, and we now know that everyone is a carrier.
Most importantly, we learned about the kind of people we were traveling with on this journey. We learned Rick is a reluctant leader who is finally growing into his own. We found out that Shane was merely a shell of his strength, instead tortured by his own inner demons. This is quickly becoming a character study, a rarity in horror.
What Worked Well
The storytelling this year was flat out fantastic. The first half of the season, despite being called “too slow” was merely the build up to a second half rollercoaster ride.
The character growth for some was outstanding. As I mentioned before, we were finally able to connect with much of the characters and it made Dale and Shane’s deaths all that more powerful.
Lastly paying respect to those who have come before you is always wonderful when you do it with class, and The Walking Dead did just that. There were countless homages to George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead during their time at Hershel’s farm, but the best tribute was perhaps the showdown between Rick and Shane, a moment eerily reminiscent of the final shot in Survival of the Dead.
What Needed Help
While there was character growth for some, sadly T-Dog, Carol and pretty much everyone on the farm not named Hershel and Maggie were given little to work with. While I understand this is an ensemble show, I’ve always been of the opinion that you either give all your characters some kind of purpose, or you get them out of the way. Here’s to hoping Season 3 will do something more with the supporting cast.
What Lies Ahead
Our first big reveal was of course the introduction of resident badass and zombie killer extraordinaire Michonne in the season finale, but we also caught a glimpse of the survivors’ next destination, the prison.
What does that mean from a story perspective? Well for one the show continues to stay faithful to the comics but it also entails a season just as brutal and visceral as this one, as stated by Executive Producer Robert Kirkman on the season finale of Talking Dead.
But to me, the best story arc of the year, and the one I’m most excited about, will come to fruition when Rick discovers the little town of Woodbury. It is there that we will be introduced to one Philip Blake, the Governor. If Robert is true to his word about the show keeping this pace, we can fully expect some jaw dropping moments when it comes to this particular villain.
All in all, this was a satisfying season, one that was unrelenting, and one that showed that the show is finally finding its legs and heading toward its stride.
Written By: John
It was supposed to be a place of sanctuary. A place that would at last provide these worn and weary survivors of the apocalypse a chance to catch their breath, regroup and perhaps escape the madness surrounding them. But in the end there was no escape, the dead have found the farm and Rick Grimes and his family and friends are once more on the run.
Last night’s Season Two Finale of The Walking Dead is the first half of today’s “Zombie Double Feature”, and we’ll start off with a recap of “Beside the Dying Fire”. As always tread lightly, there are spoilers ahead.
After a haunting montage of a large herd of the living dead finding their way out of Atlanta and to the outskirts of Hershel’s farm, we catch up to Rick and Carl mere moments after Shane’s temporary death, resurrection and subsequent death at the hands of Carl, Rick is grilled by his son regarding the events leading to Shane’s demise. But before he can answer, the herd of walkers reveal themselves.
It confirms to Rick and shortly thereafter the group the horrible fact we already knew, the dead have found the farm, and all hell is about to break loose.
It doesn’t take long for the walkers to overwhelm the farm and the survivors are forced to escape. But not before losing two more from their ranks as the living dead devour both Patricia and Jimmy and the process of abandoning the farm leaves Andrea on her own and the group split up.
The next morning, the group reunites and takes inventory of their losses before heading out, minus Andrea, onto the road in search of a new safe house. Unfortunately for Andrea, her manner of survival is one without comfort as she is forced to resort to hand to hand combat to fend off the unending waves of walkers, but she gets a little bit of help from a hooded and heavily armed stranger who happens to have two zombie slaves. Those who love the comic know that this is of course Michonne and while her appearance was indeed awesome, she was overshadowed by what was to come from Rick Grimes.
With their supplies running on low, Rick makes the decision to set up camp along the side of the road. With a few moments to finally soak in the events of the last twenty four hours, specifically Shane’s cold blooded murdering of Randall and a subsequent resurrection from it, Rick reveals what Jenner shared with him before the destruction of the CDC in last year’s season finale.
That everyone is infected with the virus.
It is a chilling enough revelation that once more doubt is cast upon Rick’s leadership for keeping a secret such as this. Rick points out that he had no way of being sure that Doctor Jenner was telling the truth, but the group is upset with his decision regardless. It is a moment that goes from bad to worse when Rick confesses last night’s events to Lori, a move that leaves her in utter disgust. It is ironic to say the least, considering that Lori was the first person to put it in Rick’s mind that Shane was dangerous.
But the breaking point for Rick arrives that night, as the group each continues voicing their doubt in Rick’s decisions and some demanding a different course of action outside of waiting until dawn to find supplies. A new Rick introduces himself to the group, pointing out the fact that he has gotten them this far and if they don’t like the way he handles things, they are welcome to try on their own.
No one does, but the change in Rick surprises them all, as does his making public the fact that Shane died by his hands. It is here that the show has finally found its roots from seeds planted last year, that this is a story about Rick Grimes.
This is a tale about an ordinary man thrown into the worst-case scenario. He went from being a respected sheriff’s deputy to being responsible for the lives of the people around him. They pick at him, the push him, but they do it out of fear. Rick knows the odds now; he knows what is at stake. He is also fully aware that these people need a guiding hand, and decisions will have to be made that will leave him in a negative light. He will make those decisions, and he will do his best to preserve his humanity in the process.
Because what lies ahead will be his greatest challenge yet, for the final seconds of the show revealed what all the fans of the comic book series were waiting for, a massive prison, bathed in the pale moonlight. It is this place that sets in motion some of Rick’s greatest challenges, and with the news that next year we will see the ruthless despot/Governor of a town named Woodbury, the challenge of staying a good and decent man while maintaining the group’s chances for survival will be pushed to the limit.
But as Rick himself said in the season 2 trailer: “It’s all about slim chances now, and a slim chance is better than none.”
Written By: John
At some point in all of our lives, we will be faced with the notion of the second chance. Often times the majority of us simply play the game of “what if” and move on. But there are a few in this world who receive the genuine opportunity.
Those are the stories we rarely hear of, and in television land, one that is rarely presented in frank fashion. Last night’s The Walking Dead brought us to the conclusion of one such story, and it is the focus of today’s “Horror Monday”. Be warned my friends, spoilers lie ahead.
Last night’s episode; “Better Angels” presented us with the fallout of last week’s major character departure in Dale. His loss brought lasting impact to the group by alerting them to the growing number of walkers gathering in the countryside and returned the group to their moral center with the decision to release their prisoner Randall.
This episode also featured Carl’s redemption, and even brought about the terrifying fact that anyone who dies in this world will return to life. But all of these plot points were overshadowed by Shane.
After an apology from Lori that reinforced their “love” to be a terrible mistake, and after finding himself no longer trusted by Rick and replaced as his right hand man, Shane finally snapped, taking Randall into the woods to murder him and injure himself before returning to camp to claim that the prisoner got the jump on him, escaped and swiped his gun.
It leads to a frantic search that turns out to be part of a master plan for the broken Shane; to get Rick as far away from the house as possible and murder him, pinning the act on the “escaped” prisoner. It is here that we finally see Shane for who he is, a man consumed by fear.
Long before the dead were returning to life, Shane was a best friend, a surrogate brother and impromptu uncle when it came to the Grimes family. He got by in this life, just like the rest of us do but it is clear now, he wanted something more.
When the end of civilization came, he was thrust into the role of leader, father and lover and relished in it, there was no more living vicariously through Rick and Lori, and he had the good life now. This was not the second chance that he was clearly waiting for, that came when Rick arrived at the camp last season.
It was here that Shane lost sight of his opportunity. No longer was he a second fiddle to Rick; he was treated as an equal. Shane’s opinion was now valued and while overridden at times, he had Rick’s ear.
Yet Shane was never able to see this, instead he saw himself taking the backseat once more, robbed of his value. One must wonder now if all the lectures about making the tough choices in a brave new world were really intended for Rick, or for himself.
Because in the end, Rick is forced to kill Shane, and as a final insult Shane turns into a walker before being gunned down by the boy he saw as a son.
It is perhaps the most heartbreaking death on The Walking Dead to date. While some may view that as blasphemy in the wake of Dale’s death, I stand by it. Dale was an amazing moral center and a good man who sadly was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Shane however squandered away the all-important second chance because he was blinded by his own insecurities and his inability to let go.
Shane now leaves behind a legacy of bloodlust, that will only be overlooked by Rick Grimes, who will forever remember his fallen friend as a simple and good man who merely lost himself in the madness of the end of the world.
Written By: John
It’s Horror Monday over here at “Girls of Geek” and for a few more weeks, the focus will continue to be around my favorite monster, the zombie, and more specifically AMC’s The Walking Dead.
I spent last week defending the show’s slow simmer style and am glad that this week helped reinforced my belief that the show is truly about the finer and better points of being human. But be forewarned, there are spoilers ahead.
This week’s episode, “Judge, Jury and Executioner” revolved around the debate of what should be the fate of the group’s prisoner Randall. He reveals, after a lengthy session of torture at the hands of Daryl Dixon that he is the member of a well-armed group that has been apart of questionable decisions.
With a legitimate threat outside of walkers nearby, and a young local man in Randall fully aware of his location, Rick makes the call to execute the prisoner. It’s a decision that settles poorly with Dale, who finds himself concerned that this course of action will take the group down a very dangerous path.
This is where this particular episode moved into familiar zombie territory, social commentary. Now I personally have no problem with social commentary, I find the best science fiction and horror rife with such content. In this case however, the heavy-handed nature and broad scope of it detracted from what could have been an incredible episode.
In fact the only saving grace of said commentary came from the outstanding and final performance of Jeffrey DeMunn, a.k.a. “Dale”. His impassioned plea to the group, tears included, was a fine piece of acting and a fond farewell minutes before what would become the most unexpected fatality of the season.
For shortly after making his case, and losing, came scenes that brought the episode back from the brink of preachy. Seconds before putting an end to Randall’s life, Rick found a change of heart when his son Carl stepped in to watch a man die, and even called for his father to do it.
The scene was terrifying in its own right, and opens questions as to what kind of young man Carl is turning into. Not only has he witnessed his last childhood friend turn into a walker, he is perhaps an abandoned character, with his father and mother now dedicated to survival. In fact Carl’s actions, including an earlier scene where he played around with a temporarily trapped walker by the edge of a creek brought about the shocker of the night.
Vindicated in saving Randall’s life, Dale doesn’t even get the chance to discover the difference he made before running into the walker that Carl had the chance to put down.
Dale is eviscerated before the creature is killed and the group is left with the horrible decision to put him out of his misery. The episode ends there. It left me stunned, and wondering what to expect from this show going forward. For even at its worst, this is a program that remains true to one word, brutal. With only two episodes to go until the season finale, I think we can all expect moments like this.
Moments that show us a world gone mad, where the good and just will fall, the bad will find a way to survive and the rest, will do everything they can to hold onto what’s right.