Burn It All Down: The Walking Dead Season Finale
Note: This post will contain massive spoilers that will make your head explode if you read it before watching the finale. I’m just sayin’. Here be spoilers…read at your own risk.
So season two has come to a fiery end.
This season has seen a lot of change, a lot of shocks, and a lot of characters getting dragged all over mud. From the loss of a child who was later found as a zombie in Hershel’s barn to Darryl and his charming necklace of walker ears, they certainly didn’t pull any punches.
When the penultimate episode left off, the Shane situation had finally come to a head. After an entire season of Shane trying to get back with Lori and undermining Rick’s leadership of the group as well as recklessly endangering them on a semi-regular basis, he finally opted for a “trick him into a field and shoot him” approach with Rick. I thought it was interesting that they chose to have Rick put a knife in Shane’s belly instead of the way Robert Kirkman wrote it in the graphic novels, though I can see why.
In the graphic novels, Carl comes across Shane trying to murder Rick and shoots him. Carl, Rick’s young son. As a throwback to that scenario, Carl ended up shooting Walker Shane, which also made for some interesting dynamics.
The finale begins with young Carl facing his father, asking what happened to Shane. A distraught Rick begins to splutter over his answer until he notices the massive herd of walkers bearing down on them across the field.
Back on the farm, Daryl and Glen arrive to tell the group how they tracked prisoner Randall and found him to be Walker Randall — with no bite marks and a broken neck. And with Shane’s tracks all over right by him. Daryl doesn’t need to do any head scratching to make the connection that Shane offed their prisoner, which doesn’t seem to inspire the same panic that I would feel under that circumstance, knowing that right then Shane was off with Rick.
So going back to Rick, we know that Shane’s a goner twice and that there are bunches of hungry walkers heading right at the farm — thanks to Shane’s shot he fired when Rick stabbed him. Ah. Even in death Shane’s workin’ the mayhem. Props.
After weeks of relative safety on Hershel’s farm, this herd effectively stomps that comfort out of existence. Between Rick and Carl burning down the barn full of walkers and Hershel himself stoically popping off caps right and left, this scene is full of mayhem and not short on emotion. Jimmy and Patricia are lost to the walkers — Patricia pulled right out of suicidal Beth’s hands. That oughta cause some trauma. And with hundreds of zombies questing for warm flesh and running right at the sounds of gunshots, it’s no surprise that the group gets separated.
I think this cataclysmic destruction affects Hershel’s folks more than Rick’s group. As Glen Mazzara put it, they got to the farm right before the bulk of the apocalypse happened. It hit the cities first and hard, and it took some time for the rural areas to become as affected. The herd arriving at the farm signified the end of rural safety, and it’s evident that Maggie, Beth, and Hershel all experience some serious trauma with their home being lost to the walkers.
One thing that bothered me about this scene was that Hershel allowed himself to get separated from his daughters in favor of popping off caps in zombies, and he seemed far more upset about losing his farm than the idea of losing his girls. When the group gets separated and chopped into little sets of two and three, Hershel barely mentioned that his daughters could very likely be filling the bellies of walkers. Instead he bemoans the loss of his land. I don’t think they were going for that, but that’s how it played.
The group ends up reuniting (except Andrea, but I’ll get to her later) on the highway where they had previously left supplies for little Sophia, which made me wonder how they all knew to go there. Emotions run high, of course. Goodnight, John Boy. Goodnight, Farm. Hello, giant zombie herd.
This brings up a conundrum for a zombie apocalypse that is all-too real: where do you go? They decide to start driving with no real aim in mind, and it isn’t long before they’re out of gas and forced to stop. With Rick’s personal tension level somewhere around an 11, he looks like he will pop if you so much as poke him, and the group starts jabbing him with their sharp little fingers until he tells them that they’re all infected.
At the CDC, Rick found out that all of them carried the virus, but he wasn’t sure whether he could trust the good doctor’s word until he saw Shane reanimate moments after death. The group is furious that Rick failed to share that tidbit, but I’m with Rick on that one. Until he knew for sure, there was no need for him to freak everyone out, and he didn’t exactly have a moment to call a huddle with that herd tearing through barn, fence, and people alike.
“Hey guys, stop shooting! Gotta tell you something!” Yeah. No.
Rick storms off, and Lori follows to comfort him. Unable to hold it in any longer, Rick tells her the truth of what happened to Shane, which causes a rather inexplicable tantrum on Lori’s part. I understand that she had complicated feelings for Shane, but a few episodes back they showed her as being pretty clear headed with no illusions about how dangerous Shane was.
Okay, so after that they had her go mush-tastic on Shane, which seemed incongruous after he tried to rape her last season, but I’m not sure what they’re getting at for Lori’s character. I feel like her quicksilver changes are sloppy writing, and her nearly feral response to Rick’s confession left me feeling annoyed and rather hollow.
Rick goes back to the group, telling them that they have to stick together, and his popping point arrives when he bursts out and tells them that he killed Shane for them. That they’re no longer living in a democracy. That he is calling the shots, and so there. Nanny-nanny-boo-boo.
That moment was one of the more fulfilling scenes for me watching the finale (I’ll get back to Andrea in a minute). While it was an action-packed hour full of a lot of fun gore, zombie deaths, and serious high-stakes conflict, there seemed to be a lot of deus ex machina at play, from everyone magically knowing where to meet back up to the seemingly gratuitous shifts in character behavior. Rick’s speech at the end got me, though.
His declaration of a dictatorship was bound to ruffle some feathers. The group still remember living in modern America where they didn’t really have anyone telling them what to do. It’s clear that if the world were to end, any survivors would adapt — and personally I’d rather have Rick calling the shots than most of the other survivors. His rules are pretty straightforward: stick together, do what I say. By the shellshocked looks across the board, it’s going to take some getting used to.
Finally, back to Andrea! The group saw her go down under a walker, not realizing that said walker was dead. This woman manages to fight her way away from the farm and start some serious marathon running away. She crashes into the woods, running and running, offing the occasional zombie who ventures too close.
This officially makes her the badass of the day. Andrea stays alive when she had no help. She runs herself into exhaustion, and when she finally gets caught by those implacable walkers, something slices through a walker neck right as he’s about to bite into hers.
A hooded figure. Walkers on leashes. This introduces one of the darlings of the comic book series, Michonne. Combine that with the panning to the prison before the credits roll, and they’ve managed to nicely set up season three.
I’m glad to see the advent of both Andrea finding some serious strength in herself as well as Michonne’s arrival, because frankly, the other women on the show are portrayed as whiny, weak, and manipulative. After Lori’s bipolar episodes in the end of this season and Carol constantly emasculating Daryl for his choice to follow Rick while Maggie freaks out so much that Glen has to drive, I was feeling a little disgusted.
In the graphic novels, the women aren’t much better. They defer command to the men, want to be taken care of, and generally show that Kirkman’s expectation of human behavior is cynical and more than a little misogynistic. I want to see some stronger women on this show, and so far the show has grossly disappointed me.
Writing this has made me realize that I wasn’t that happy with the finale. I like how they’re developing Rick’s character, but I want to see the writers cut away from tropes next season. Show us a world where we can like the characters in spite of their faults, and show us some women with some spine. Please. Or I’ll feed myself to the walkers.
What did you think of the finale? Where do you think the writers will go next season? What do you most want to see from the characters? Was I too harsh on the writers about the women, or do you think there’s room for improvement in how they portray them?
- More Than a Vessel: Women of The Walking Dead (emmiemears.com)
- Review: The Walking Dead – Beside the Dying Fire (comicbooked.com)
- The Walking Dead: “Judge, Jury, Executioner” [Part Four] (dnextraordinaire.wordpress.com)
- The Walking Dead: Season 2, Episode 13: Beside the Dying Fire – FINALE REVIEW (grizzlybomb.com)
Posted on March 20, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged AMC, character studies, emmie mears, Farm, fiction, Glen Mazzara, Lori Grimes, Patricia, Rick Grimes, Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead, urban fantasy, walkers, writing, zombies. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.