‘The Walking Dead’ Season 2 Midseason Finale Review

Published 2 years ago by , Updated July 18th, 2014 at 9:56 am,

The Walking Dead Season 2 rick The Walking Dead Season 2 Midseason Finale Review

At seven episodes, so far season 2 of The Walking Dead is already an episode longer than the entire first season of AMC’s hit zombie series. After a somewhat mixed reaction to the finale of last season, fans should be happy to note that season 2 still has six more episodes before making way for season 3. So, whatever is delivered with ‘Pretty Much Dead Already,’ the story is far from over.

As far as season 2 is concerned, that is certainly a good thing. At seven episodes in (including the 90-minute season premiere) The Walking Dead writers have taken advantage of the breathing room a 13-episode season has granted them. In fact, they have practically put on a clinic in terms of decompressed storytelling.

Thus far, the catalyst driving our band of survivors has been the disappearance of Sophia (Madison Lintz), who went missing in the woods of Georgia following a disturbingly large ‘walker’ migration. From that point on, the search for the missing girl has led to the introduction of Hershel’s farm (and what lurks in its barn), Carl’s near-fatal shooting and some fresh blood for the series to develop. With the addition of Hershel (Scott Wilson), his daughter Maggie (Lauren Cohan), Patricia (Jane McNeil) and Jimmy (James Allen McCune), one would think season 2 would be a wall-to-wall zombie buffet – but no, in true zombie-story fashion, the most dangerous part of the end of the world is those who have to survive in such a place.

Right now, the spotlight is on Shane (Jon Bernthal), who after the most thrilling episode of the season to this point in ‘Save The Last One’, moved from being a jilted lover with questionable motives, to callous murderer who will sacrifice a stranger (Otis, played by Pruitt Taylor Vince) to ensure his own survival, and the survival of the family he may or may not still wish to become patriarch of.

Through Shane’s conflicts, The Walking Dead has been able to explore (directly, and sometimes indirectly) the inner workings of nearly all of its key members. On one hand, given his apparent acts of heroism, and outwardly calm demeanor when dispatching the titular walking dead, Shane seems a logical replacement for Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), who is more often than not, wracked with self-doubt and an overwhelming concern for his flock – hence the reason a near hopeless search for the missing Sophia continues.

On the other hand, however, the villainy that lurks beneath Shane’s tough-guy exterior not only has left the marriage of Rick and Lori (Sara Wayne Callies) on the ropes, but has also provided the basis from which all other characters may find themselves judged. Sure, certain characters like T-Dog (IronE Singleton) and Carol (Melissa Suzanne McBride) have been hovering in the periphery for much of the seven episodes, but Glenn (Steven Yuen), Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn) and, most importantly, Daryl (Norman Reedus), have all stepped to the forefront in one way or another.

Jon Bernthal as Shane in The Walking Dead season 2 The Walking Dead Season 2 Midseason Finale Review

As polar opposites slowly gravitating toward the other’s spectrum, the arcs of Daryl and Shane have been a great source of interest for season 2. While Shane loses a battle over his guilt for what happened to Otis, and the overwhelming indignation he feels toward Rick for, ironically, returning from the (supposed) dead, Daryl fights his own demons – which, in Daryl’s own way, come from a drug-induced hallucination of Merle (Michael Rooker), telling him to turn against the pack.

While Dale (who has become the unofficial council for the group) is met with Shane’s menace upon discussing his negative trajectory, Daryl, conversely, is shown by Carol that his transformation has not gone unnoticed when she tells him, “…you’re just as good as any of them.”

This quiet moment has not only helped Daryl become much more than a one-dimensional reminder that Merle is still lurking out there somewhere, but also puts into perspective the tragic depths to which Shane has sunk.

It is due to character arcs like this that The Walking Dead‘s second season has so far delivered a more compelling, thought-provoking program than the entirety of season 1.

Throughout ‘Pretty Much Dead Already’, it is clear that whatever fuse Shane had left is quickly running out. Episode writer Scott Gimple and director Michelle MacLaren present Shane’s inevitable outburst as a point of tension from beginning to end. The more Shane presents himself as ready to assume control of the group, the more he appears to lose control over his own emotions. Each scene, from the barn-watching conference he has with Rick – which grants Shane knowledge of Lori’s pregnancy – to the unwise “I’m better than Rick” sales pitch he delivers to Lori, makes the audience wonder if this will be ‘the moment’ fans have been waiting for.

Instead, following another tense confrontation with Dale, Gimple and MacLaren show us just how fragile this group really is. Without the presence of Rick, Shane easily coerces the group into staging a minor coup – which, despite illustrating to Hershel the difference between sick and undead, once again takes us back to that familiar zombie trope of mob-rule being swift and vicious – regardless if it is perpetrated by the living, or living-impaired.

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes in The Walking Dead season 2 The Walking Dead Season 2 Midseason Finale Review

And with the midseason finale, the show delivers not the massive cliffhanger Kirkman had promised was on the horizon, but rather a gut-wrenching denouement to the group’s most pressing concern. That, however, opens the rest of season 2 up to go pretty much anywhere. With the adventures on Hershel’s farm lasting far longer than most had thought they might, the conclusion will undoubtedly have repercussions felt into season 3.

Despite it feeling (at times) like a slow boat to China, the first half of season 2 of The Walking Dead has given us a clearer picture of who these characters are, and what, ultimately is driving them. Rick, Shane, Dale and the others have moved beyond being mere survivors, and instead feel more like characters we expect to see pull through – so that when they inevitably don’t, the loss is made all the more resonant. To this point, The Walking Dead second season has put a premium on character development – possibly to the extent it has overlooked its own plot progression. However, this first half of the season is likely the preamble for a larger conclusion we are all waiting for.

From this point forward, with the regime change surrounding Frank Darabont’s exit firmly behind the series, the next question for The Walking Dead will be how can fans’ expectations for the program to match the comic book it’s based on beat-by-beat be undone by a different style of storytelling? As the new Glenn Mazzara-era takes hold with the remainder of season 2, it will be interesting to see if the pace of The Walking Dead quickens to heed the supposed desires of its audience.

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The Walking Dead season 2 continues February 12, 2012 on AMC.

TAGS: the walking dead

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  1. Let’s face it, if you found season 2 exciting or interesting, then you don’t have much of an eye for great tv. The character development is way too long. The dialogue is extended to the point of being painful, and the scenery is just flat out boring. I love zombie flicks and was so happy to see someone doing quality work it season 1.

    I guess that’s what happens when you fire all the writers of season 1 and have 1 or 2 staff writers who lack zombie vision! FYI, it’s OK to make a lot happen in a season and move the plot quickly along.

    I will, of course, continue watching this boring charade hoping it will get more exciting. But only because I love zombie shows/movies as we all do.

    Congratulations to the makeup and costume people. That is what really keeps it watchable. The realistic look, that is.

    I prey the 2nd half of season 2 will pick up!
    I think a great idea would be to make a spinoff mini series about what happened to the dad and son Rick met in season1(who saved him).
    Use the off season for that!

    Bottom line; people will watch zombie shows, good or bad, because we love them. But if you are willing to spend the money$$$ on the creation, you will get it back ten fold in viewership.

    PLEASE PICK IT UP! I hope the break in the season was for re-writes!

    • Good post, Cristo. Now that the novelty of the zombie apocalypse has run its course, we’re left with a show that has no cohesive story, and a group of characters that don’t seem to be workign towards anything or anyone interesting. People keep talking about character development, but there really wasn’t much of it in the first half of season 2. Seriously, what do we know about the characters now that we didn’t know at the end of season 1? We already knew that Shane is bitterly resentful of Rick. We already knew that Andrea has given up on life. We already knew that Darryl is a redneck who knows how to survive, and we already knew that Rick desperately wants to be a boyscout and continue to hope for something that the show doesn’t even clearly define. There have been no interesting revelations of any kind, such as where the zombie virus came from, if there’s a cure out there somewhere, if there’s a safe haven, is the virus truly the hand of god, etc.

      The bottom line is that the show’s writers aren’t creative enough to come up with anything interesting to give viewers, other than “As the World Turns”-type plot twists, i.e., Lori being pregnant and not knowing who the father is; Dale’s jealousy of Shane and desire for Andrea; Maggie using Glenn as her f%$& buddy, etc.

      Expect viewership to drop in the 2nd half.

    • Whatever. If you DIDN’T enjoy season 2 so far, then you have no idea how great tv is made, and more to the point, how great tv LASTS. If the group was fighting off hordes of zombies every other episode, not only would it get unrealistic, the viewer would get numb to it all real fast. The slow build will always have a stronger emotional pay-off when the inevitable climaxes do come.

      I couldn’t be happier that the writers are taking there time with show. We all know they have a great story for a base, so why rush it?

      • I agree. I feel that I have really had a chance to get to know the charactersalso th and even though Shane was crazy it really allowed me to feel something after tonight’s episode. I also think that it makes the show so much more than just a typical zombie flick. It is the ONLY show that I watch on a regular basis!

  2. I enjoyed season two very much, the jokes, the plot, though slow, I enjoy the suspense very much, Keep up the good work, you excellent producers you!!!! AMC rules!!! Much respect to the team and all the fans involved, if you kill of Glen or Darly, am quiting the show and dedicating my time to cutting the grass outside, with my teeth!!! Dale is awesome too!! yee!!! :D ps I support the revolt, I agree, different times, and keeping the little girl from them and letting the group seek her out in the woods was practically attempted murder, screw hershalls rights, He’s a crook!!!

  3. I have to disagree with many of the reviews I’ve read from the hardcore zombie fans. In my opinion, The Walking Dead season 2 has provided a very chilling and frightening sequel which surpasses the first season utterly. Big bangs? Slow motion, running-through-the-fire sequences? Gore? You can get these in any poorly thought out action movie or low budget zombie film. It is the psychology of PEOPLE, the destruction of society and how it changes people that is truly scary. We see the characters develop, their attitudes change. Shane, once a man who would risk his life to uphold the law, now sees people as disposable or, even worse, as obstacles. Utterly terrifying. Human nature is scary enough. The zombie atacks are just an added bonus. Can’t wait for the next instalment.

  4. What channel is it coming back on

  5. Well, it’s been two episodes since the Midseason Finale… and they are STILL on the farm.

    The action picked up a bit in episode 9… but episode 10 looks like it’s going to be another filler “drama between rick/shane” type of episode.

    To my disappointment, I predict this show will be keeping with the farm all the way until the end of the season.

    • Old post I know, so late to the comments:

      The whole season was poorly written – not due to any “slow buildup” but due to an atmosphere that more closely resembles a daytime soap opera than any good, suspenseful drama. All My Zombies.

      Problem 1: Lori’s constant inability to keep on eye on her kid in the MIDST of a zombie apocalypse. My kid would never run around unattended. Ever. It cost Dale his life (no real loss) and almost cost Carl his.

      Problem 2: Dale’s hypocritical, mind-numbingly dull whining. Thank God the “pacifist” is dead

      Problem 3: Shane supposedly being a villain. He’s the only one who has been acting logically. He’s right about Rick being a liability. The only thing he did wrong was talking to Rick before shooting him.

      Problem 4: Hey, is there a black guy on this show? Do they have to pay him per word of dialog/seconds on the screen?

      Problem 5: Darryl should just get away from these people. They will kill him.

      Problem 6: Almost perfectly manicured lawns – do zombies do yardwork?

      • You said it all man. This season was a borefest instead of gorefest. I’ve heard people defending it on the basis that its a tv show and they need to create drama, but I found myself fast forwarding every time they sat down for a “talk”.

        Hopefully next season they’ll be more mobile and there will be more survival action.

        Hell, everyone likes Daryl cause he doesn’t talk very much and jumps right in to Zombie survival mode. Maybe they should take a hint and make the other characters a lil less chatty and emotional. :/

  6. how i can played for starved for help i will pay be for to play that episode 2 beacause its have a coming soon?? i will pay for that s***!!!!!!!

  7. I hate this show. I wish I never started watching it so I wouldn’t have a sore throat from yelling everyte someone does something stupid. Like everytime Rick Grimes is on the screen. Every decision this so-called leader has made has led them to danger. He’s an idiot. Listen “Hero”, I could do without your efforts.
    Shane has done everything right. The thing with Otis sucked but it was one of them or both of them and that b****, Lori’s son would have died. Ugh, she’s insufferable.
    He has saved her and everyone else time and again while has done nothing but pain on those people…I hate him.
    Daryl really us the only redeeming character on thd show. It helps that Norman Reedus plays him with such character.
    I also think the baby plotline is ridiculous. What person I. Their right mind think that bringing a baby into an actual living nightmare be a blessed gift? Oh yeah! Rick Grimes, the Village Idiot. You should have swallowed uiiooo those pills, girl.

  8. I call them “Love Boat” episodes.
    You know the ones. Every sci fi series has them.
    Star Trek was terrible for them.

    Plot lines where you could take the story and characters, and put them on a cruise ship or any other mundane situation. If I switch on a program set in space or a program set it a zombie apocalypse I want to see plots unique to space or zombie apocalypses.

    I really don’t care if Lori is preggers or who the father it. But I do want to know if it means she gives off a scent that makes the freaks in the barn go mental.

    If they wanted to make series 2 more inventive, for goodness sakes have them do something interesting with the zombies. Have them develop organisation, or a hive, or primitive communication skills. Everyone with a quarter of a brain knows Lori et al simply need to ride it out while the Z’s rot their way to oblivion, whereupon they can live like kings on what everyone leave behind.

    “What kind of world will this child be born into” moans Lori.
    Well I’ll tell ya Lori. A world where there are abandoned houses and cars littering the countryside and enough tools and supplies in the local abandoned Home Depot to keep Rick and Shane off each other’s throats for the next 30 years.

    Give me a break.

    • Totally agree with Carlo on this one. I usually find myself fast forwarding through a lot of the b.s. sentimental talk.

      What I don’t understand about the latest prison episode is why they didn’t just keep leading the zombies to the fence and sticking them through the holes? Why risk the group running in?

      I wish they’d bring in Tallahassee from Zombie Land. Not to sound racist, but how many black women know how to fight with a Samurai sword? Really? And of those how many would still be around post apocalypse? Looks like the show’s trying to be PC by incorporating every nationality or something. Hell, next they need to have the paraplegic gay man to bring in that demographic. Ugh.

      All that aside I’m glad they’re off the farm now (Season 2 kinda dragged for me. Found myself skipping through a lot of whining and suicide attempts, which doesn’t make much sense as I’m pretty sure there would be those absolutely thrilled to run around shooting Zombies). I have a lot of hope for this season, I’m liking that they’re moving more tactical when taking out Zed. :)

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