‘The Walking Dead’ Season 2 Finale Review

Published 2 years ago by , Updated March 19th, 2012 at 2:09 pm,

Andrew Lincoln Sarah Wayne Callies IronE Singleton Chandler Riggs The Waking Dead Beside the Dying Fire The Walking Dead Season 2 Finale Review

What Happens Next: ‘The Walking Dead’ Season 3 Details Revealed

(This review contains MAJOR SPOILERS for the episode ‘Beside the Dying Fire’ and season 2 as a whole. Stop reading now if you haven’t seen the entire season.)

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What a difference a death makes. As occasionally entertaining as it was to have Shane (Jon Bernthal) around, watching him devolve into an ever-bigger threat toward Rick (Andrew Lincoln), his character was a lot like the walker Carl (Chandler Riggs) found at the edge of a creek: stuck. That metaphor of being stuck in the mud, and desperately trying to move on, pretty much sums up a great deal of The Walking Dead season 2.

Arguably, season 2 will be looked at as the swan song for Shane, whose downward spiral began with the killing of Otis, and perpetuated throughout the season with increasingly obsessive feelings toward Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) and Carl, as well as a need to best Rick at every turn.

But at a certain point the season will be scrutinized for how well it lived up to the expectations set forth by the first season, the continued success of creator Robert Kirkman’s comic book series, and the knowledge that Frank Darabont, the primary creative force behind the series, would be gone half-way through. More than the issue of expectation and Darabont’s shocking dismissal, however, The Walking Dead has its own internal concerns wherein the writers seemed to be struggling to find the essence and personalities of the characters experiencing the ongoing zombie apocalypse.

It was with the last half of season 2 – arguably the last four episodes – where the writers succeeded in unshackling themselves from the intermittent monotony brought about by the serial nature of the show. Case in point: the issue of Randall, wherein the show allowed time to pass that wasn’t necessarily accounted for. This was a major success for what has been described fairly often as a slow, drawn out season. By telling some compelling, full stories in the confines of a single episode, while also hinting at the future of the season and series, these “season 2.5” episodes have breathed new life into this undead series.

REVIEW

By and large, the events of the season’s finale, ‘Beside the Dying Fire,’ play into the idea of having a complete story arc contained within the runtime of a single episode. That’s not to say the episode didn’t leave plenty to speculate on, it certainly did, but those were glimpses of things to question and hold on to during the wait for season 3.

‘Beside the Dying Fire’ works primarily because it keeps the most unattractive part of the program, and its characters, on hold until after it has done the work needed to keep the audience enthralled and excited. To put it bluntly, a massive horde of walkers effectively keeps the survivors so busy they can’t spend an hour displaying how horrible or inconsistent (here’s looking at you Lori) their personalities can be. While the essence of any good story is conflict, a group of people actively working to irritate one another is not enough of a conflict to sustain a series that isn’t called Seinfeld. After taking the long way around, The Walking Dead seems to have realigned its priorities accordingly.

Norman Reedus Melissa Suzanne McBride The Walking Dead Beside the Dying Fire The Walking Dead Season 2 Finale Review

This is evidenced by the fact that Carl didn’t see his father kill Shane, and by Rick not feeling entirely compelled to come clean to his son. By not immediately addressing Shane’s death, and instead getting straight into the walker killing, it acts as a turning point for the series, one where there is a time and place for bickering and discussion, and one where there is not. By having the walkers storm Hershel’s farm, the series is forced to progress and, hopefully, begin to better understand the motivations and reactions of its characters.

The calamity of the situation is as compelling as anything The Walking Dead has so far put on screen, and with the back-to-back deaths of Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn) and Shane, it’s nice to see the show hadn’t lost its stomach for further thinning of the proverbial herd. Jimmy (James Allen McCune) and Patricia (Jane McNeill) arguably had to depart, as their  roles in the series were never really established, and the passing of any recurring character quickly translates into the possibility of T-Dog (IronE Singleton) having something more to do than stand idly by in the background.

With their numbers depleted, ammunition scarce and the safety and security of Hershel’s farm completely jeopardized, the group separates and flees. Rick, Hershel (Scott Green) and Carl are the first to arrive back where this storyline began: the crowded highway on which the group lost Sophia. There is a moment where Rick seriously considers making a run for it with just Carl by his side, and had we not been shown the survival of the others, the scene may have worked out to be more substantial than it really was, But in the end we settle for Glenn (Steven Yuen) taking charge of his relationship with Maggie (Lauren Cohan), which welcomes a stronger presence from Glenn in future.

Once reunited, the group almost immediately decides to blow off Andrea (Laurie Holden) – perhaps proving the valuable lesson they all learned from Sophia’s zombification on the midseason finale.

Steven Yuen as Glenn The Walking Dead Beside the Dying Fire The Walking Dead Season 2 Finale Review

For someone so willing to punch her own ticket at the end of last season, Andrea fights tooth-and-nail to survive, and although she is overwhelmed with exhaustion and nearly consumed by a single walker, she is saved during the heavily speculated appearance of Michonne. Though we don’t see her face, or hear her speak, Michonne’s cameo will likely serve to be the highlight of the episode.

Meanwhile, Rick’s revelation that the zombie infection is universal – you die, you become a zombie, regardless of being bit or scratched by the undead – quickly returns the group to normal and his leadership is once more called into question. Granted, with this group, Rick could have revealed that he was in possession of the Colonel’s Secret Recipe and they likely would have reacted the same way.

Just to kick him while he’s down, Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) responds negatively to Rick’s account of Shane’s death – despite a statement to the contrary that Lori made in ‘Triggerfinger.’ It’s hard to tell if Lori’s wildly inconsistent behavior is a result of miscommunication amongst the writers, or if the urging for her husband to kill Shane was secretly intended to end with Rick’s death instead. For now, we’ll have to assume the latter.

The season finale ends as it began, with a solid tease. The helicopter seen in the beginning of the episode was as intriguing (if not more so) than the glimpse of the prison standing a short distance from where the group had stopped for the night. And with that tease comes a clearer indication of what can be expected from season 3 (and beyond), which certainly works to end season 2 on a positive note.

In many ways, The Walking Dead season 2 worked as two separate seasons, the latter half being remarkably faster paced than the first. As Glen Mazzara is now firmly entrenched as the series’ showrunner, it seems reasonable to assume that the last four episodes will serve as a template for Mazzara’s run – however long that may be.

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The Walking Dead returns in the fall of 2012 for season 3.

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240 Comments

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  1. One more thing i almost forgot. Someone from season 1 will return.

    • I think the character returning will be Merle; Darryl’s brother….minus one hand though

    • i can’t wait to see the showdown between merl and daryl. they’re like the clegane brothers only…rednecks

  2. Loved it.

    But I don’t love small white type on a black background. Please change it back.

  3. My biggest problem with this, and it’s been a problem since the beginning of the season, is that these characters keep getting worse and worse. There isn’t any reason to want any of them to survive. These aren’t positive characteristics in these characteristics that I’d want them to be the future of the post-apocalyptic human race. In fact, for most of them, I desperately want them to be eaten by zombies. Perhaps the two that I cared about in the least were Dale and Glenn. Dale, in the TV show, is dead now and therefore irrelevant. Glenn, in the TV show, like the comic, is a nice guy. You root for him to survive and be happy. The rest are obnoxious, self-absorbed idiots. They don’t deserve to be saved. They just aren’t good candidates for our descendants to come from. If there’s no hope, there’s nothing worth watching and I just can’t get myself to care if any of them survive, with the possible exception of Glenn and Maggie. The rest deserve to be zombie chow.

    • “obnoxious, self-absorbed idiots”

      Pretty much sounds like the human race to me.

    • Yeah,
      Like you said, they don”t deserve to be alive. I can’t wait to see lori died.
      Hate that queen B b****!

    • I disagree with you… even though I do like Glenn, I also like Andrea sure she has her moments.. but if you really think about it, If you were in that situation none of us would be any better.. I think pretty soon Glenn will just snap!

  4. You guys are killing me! My wife thought it was stupid until I coaxed her into watching. Now we both are hooked! You are making it hard to stay in tune with the show waiting so long between seasons. I love the show and just wish there were more….. I live in Atlanta and am really liking that our state is being used more in the movie business. Just wish I was in it as well. It looks so fun to be a part of the entire workings. I have always been a movie junkie! I can’t wait to possibly get in as an extra. I will be watching. Love the show again guys.
    Shaun

  5. I thought this episode was the best one so far. It kept me on the edge, and there was so much excitement when the walkers raided the farm. I have become annoyed with Lori and Car throughout the show, so I wouldn’t miss them if they were to get mangled. They both are way to much trouble. I forget all about T-Dog sometimes, and hope to he becomes more developed in the story. I also like Maggie, and Herschell and was glad that he survived, because I just knew he was gonna die defending his farm. . I like Andrea too, and she is the only real KICK ASS chick on the show so far…Im looking forward to Season 3 and I hope they keep the pace going now that they have more room to come play with different ideas and scenarios. The prison shot was an epic tease…

    • I kind of agree with you about Carl. After I watched the season 2 finale, my first thought was, “When is that kid gonna become a zombie snack??” AND since we’re talking about the only kid on the show, I would like to say that I wasn’t that shocked or sad when Sophia ended up dead. If they wanted us to care so much about her terrible fate, they should have allowed us to connect to her character more in the beginning of season 1. I was shocked to see a “child zombie” as that is always disturbing in movies of this genre, but I wasn’t as torn up as her mother/Daryl/Carl, etc. Just my 2 cents

  6. Love this series

  7. I was beginning to start loosing hope in the series until the last 3-4 episodes. I honestly think the Season 2 finale was one of the top episodes, thus far. I’m so glad they didn’t kill off Andrea (Daryl as well), she is one of the strongest characters on the show; in my personal opinion, they should give her more screen time and push Lori aside, because not only is Andrea a stronger character, she has a far better actress playing her. Overall, very happy. Can’t wait until season 3. Great review!

    • LUV Daryl.

  8. There are a few mistakes they have made, 1 huge one being that rick mentioned to everyone in the group that the virus is in everyone meaning you dont have to be bit, as soon as you die you become a walker and yes the death of shane did backup that theory. Although when rick shot the two men in the bar they stayed dead what i saw anyways. other then that love the show! so real. I feel lori took the news about shane to dramatically there was a point were it even seemed like she told rick he has to go. cant wait for season 3!! if the end is really a prison it was great idea i cant help thinking that there are many ALIVE humans there, prisons ARE designed for things to stay out and keep things in! plus a lot of guards means a lot of guns :)

    • I thought the same thing but if you go back and watch it (Nebraska) again you’ll see that Rick shot the first guy in the head (blood sprays up on the mirror) and he shot the obnoxious slob 3 times, the last shot being to the head. It covers the plot that all are infected and Rick knew to shoot him in the head.

  9. Just to answer the ‘mistake’ ggg made above regarding why the 2 guys in the bar didn’t turn into a walker… Rick shot them both in the head, this prevents them coming back as a walker and also happens to be the only way to kill a walker (i.e, brain damage – whether it be a bullet or blunt instrument). I’m loving the walking dead but puzzled with the reactions from the group when Rick told them how he killed Shane, especially the reaction from Lori. I can’t wait to see what happens in series three and see if Andrea is teamed up with the rival group we heard about but not seen.

  10. I dont think that its the other group of pillagers/rapist that the teen was into. The girl rescuing her looks like some special killer from a knowledgeable group seeing how she use the zombies and maybe some scent or w/e to conceal herself. Season 3 looks interesting and Lori is annoying.

  11. Swords and good knives would be a must in an outbreak. Bullets would be way too scarce the usual gun upkeep of most guns isn’t usefull on the run. I got a real good kaze katana for about 400$ with shipping, its a perfect balance betwen sharpness and solidity for 1/3 of the usual price for such good swords. I suggest http://www.sword-buyers-guide.com/index.html if you’re looking for something REAL and affordable.

    • You’re nuts. You don’t actually think this **** is real, do you?

    • your s***** sword is fake and the product of a false economy.

  12. Why taken all that time to find Sofia just to found her became a zombie? End the season 2 with a very disappointment. To find Sofia dead kills all the hope and excitement in the show. What a waste! Why not let her live. Let us find her survive by her own living in the wood or some place safe would make it much more amuse. Not killing her! So many people but why a little girl? Stupid plot!

  13. Oh, and it is so easy how to survive with these zombie. Just give me a box of matches and fuel. I would kill the whole town full fo them with that.

  14. The finale was kind of crappy if you ask me. It had it’s good parts, the action and Zombie fighting was good but the big thing that ruined the finale for me was the characters’ irrational and inconsistent behavior/personalities. This was very prevalent with their reaction to Rick’s act of self defense against Shane. I couldn’t believe how irrational their reactions were, it was very iritating, especially Lori’s reaction. The inconsistency in the characters’ personalities is very bothersome and is making the show hard to watch and enjoy. With the exception of Rick, Daryl, maybe Glenn and maybe Hershel, not one of the characters seems to have a sense of survival or logic. Maybe they’re just scared and letting their emotions get the best of them, but I figure Rick is a solid leader and does well at keeping them alive, safe, and try to keep them calm. They should all just shut up and listen to reason. “It’s not a democracy anymore” Rick said at the end. I say “It’s about time”. There’ve been too many cooks in the kitchen for way to long now in this show, bout time Rick steps up and puts his foot down. Also, I think the introduction to Michonne was far fetched. The show seemed to do well at making the zombie apocalypse seem very realistic then out of nowhere super ninja comes in and saves Andrea. I’ve never read the comics so maybe this is why I didn’t like that intro of that character, but it just seemed very random and rather silly. Overall, I do think the show is great, I just think the writing and story line is getting rather sloppy and starting to have a bunch of holes. I hope they can turn it around in season 3

  15. Also, I hate Carl, he’s such a poor character. Nothing but a little brat and the kid who plays him is a terrible actor

    • i just want to kick him in his face

    • Carl and andrea both just seem like total D-Bags

      Carl cause he never listens and andrea cause she is a stupid B%$#%

      they both need slow deaths Carl maybe doing something stupid cause he didn’t listen and andrea maybe raped and gutted but thats just what i feel should happen to anyone who tells someone else that they should kill themself

  16. overall i thought season 2 was very weak. it just did not have enough excitement to keep me watching. i kept on watching to find out what happens. and realistically, none of them shouldn’t survived, they all should have died at the barn. especially Andreas dumbass

  17. and another thing, why was the group mad at rick for killing shane? he explained what happened, shane caused his own death. and rick claiming that the group is not a democracy anymore was wayyy out of character. they need to develop the characters better, all the characters feel like they can do what ever they want

    • Dan, that’s precisely it! That’s why people keep saying there are inconsistancies. Because they don’t seem to be appreciating the fact that it’s Rick’s leadership that has kept them alive – the ungrateful pigs! lol

      They all knew (or if they didn’t, where WERE they?!) that Shane was trouble, and so they should have been (kind-of) relieved that Rick had killed him.

  18. I can’t wait until the next season. I have to admit, the second season went a bit slow in the beginning. After they finally found out where Sofia was, then the show started to pick up.
    But I’ve always been hooked on this show. I yell at the television when someone does something stupid or when there is any dramatic irony, I tear up when my favorite people are killed or there is disorder in the group, and I laugh at the snide comments Daryl makes to everyone. It’s safe to say Daryl is my favorite, (second goes to Glenn).

  19. Oh, and it is so easy how to survive with these zombie. Just give me a box of matches and fuel. I would kill the whole town full fo them with that.
    Wwalking dead season 2

  20. I wouldn’t put so much weight on the appearance of the helicopter, I’m pretty sure that was the same one that appeared much earlier and was just used to show cause and effect of how the herds are formed. The walkers see a sign of life and just follow that trajectory until something else distracts them. The herd that attacked the farm had been following the direction of the chopper for a long time until Rick’s gunshot drew them to the farm.

    • @Steve You make a valid point but I have to correct you on one thing though.
      It was Carl’s gunshot that caught the herd’s attention not Rick’s.

      • I agree with fanofthedead

      • You mad? It was Shanes gun that went off as he fell to the ground or something.

  21. I loved it from start to finish looking forward to season 3

  22. Love this series! It always leaves me on the edge of my seat, wondering what’s going to happen next.

    • Same with me… every time I watch, I want to watch the next episode and the next and the next!! The one thing I dont like is the long wait in between seasons.

    • The one problem I had with season 2 is that I wish they found Sofia alive!!

  23. I watched the whole series 1 and 2 and tbh i fell inlove with it, it was amazing and i know it sounds wierd but im actually annoyed because their wasnt more to watch and i carmt wait for series 3 to cone out :D

  24. Come on…quickly broadcast the show…can’t wait to see further next season 3..:)

  25. I was extremely happy with the ending of season 2 and cannot wait for season 3. It was a good last episode, but I was disappointed because I half to wait a couple of months. I am reading The Rise Of The Governor now, just so I will have a preview for season 3. Really pleased with the book as well.

  26. this last Episode was Garbage.
    other than how bad they did the start of the episode(i liked the zombies comming to the farm but they were not Consistent and the fact they killed characters off with the inconsistent zombies that shouldn’t have made it that far without eating hershal in the first place)

    everybody Treated Rick like some kind of monster for killing shane even after it had been Established by Daryl and Rick what shane had done and planned to do(killed the kid to set a trap for Rick)

    the second half of season 2 was better than the first half that almost killed the show for me. but this last episode to me just seemed like it was put together on the fly.

  27. Great show. Great finale. Looking forward to the third season. I’m definitely waiting impatiently to see Merle Dixon and his extremely racist and redneck style rants. I’m also eager to see more scenes involving Lauren Cohan.
    God bless AMC for bringing shows like this and Breaking bad.

  28. I love this show and this is best show ever. I can’t wait for season 3. I love all the characters specially Andrew , he is perfect in his role of Rick.

  29. Can’t Waite till 10/31/12

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