The Walking Dead 207
Reviewer: RC Murphy
The mid-season finale for season 2 of The Walking Dead had a lot riding on it. I’m not talking about character drama, either. This first half of the season needed to live up to audience’s expectations. We were given a grab-you-by-the-throat first season of TWD. With only six episodes to make an impact, the creators and writers drove the plot and us hard, fast, and dirty. The pacing became a huge part of the appeal. With more episodes to play with, the pacing has suffered greatly. And unfortunately, it is turning people away. Episode 7 had to snag viewers attention again before the break. Did it succeed?
They wasted no time jumping into the major issue at hand: the barn. Glenn’s loyalty is seriously tested in his budding relationship with Maggie. He is torn between keeping secrets he’s sworn to by someone he just met, but feels a deep connection with, or manning up and telling the group of people that have helped him survive this long. In the end, I think he chose correctly and I think Maggie understands he did what he had to. She’s beginning to realize Hershel’s way of coping with the changes in the world aren’t the only way to do things. It only took her nearly being turned into a walker at the pharmacy to figure it out, though. Sometimes it takes a close call that rattles your world to see clearly.
The debate between Rick and Hershel about the occupants of the barn brought up a very good question: In a situation like the zombie apocalypse, is it naive to assume that all humans should band together to protect each other? Rick clings on to the hope that despite their differences in opinion, his crew and Hershel’s family can still coexist, all in the name of being safe. But from what we’ve seen, Rick forcing the issue of banding together has caused more issues. Hershel pulls his family and supplies in closer to his chest. He flat-out refuses any help from the other survivors. There’s a line in the sand, or rather a trench that’s filled with the fires of hell. Hershel cannot bring himself to even approach the line and consider the two factions becoming one group. They question his faith, the way he’s done things since even before the walkers came into existence. For someone living on the edge, that is as dangerous as approaching a zombie unarmed. In Hershel’s world it is his way or go away. No one is allowed to question him.
In the face-off between Dale and Shane we see glimpses of the same ruthless attempt to cling to control from both of the men. Unfortunately Dale isn’t a fighter. He will protect. He will give sage advice and be there if you need someone to unload all of your issues on, but he isn’t a trigger man. He tries to stand up for what he believes is the right thing and is cowed by Shane’s overwhelming presence. Does he see logic in the way Shane is handling things? Probably not. Dale isn’t a fool, though. He knows the kind of man Shane is. He also knows he can rely on that cold inner core Shane possesses to get things done, even if it scares the heck out of him.
Someone I thought would always keep that cold core is Daryl. This season has turned my perception of the mighty squirrel hunter on ear. He’s deep. Emotional. Caring. And completely clueless on how to make any sort of relationship with others work. Each time he opens up, he instantly shuts down and reverts to the “old” Daryl. Carol is the only person to consistently see into his heart, but not even she is safe from the out lash of self-loathing Daryl dives in to. He constantly slips back into the mindset likely formed by his lack of a real family unit. Why love yourself when no one else seems to give a damn? Carol cares and makes it very clear he can’t push her away. Will this tentative step towards an actual connection with another person (one not a figment of his imagination) lead to something more?
[Caution: spoilers below. If you have not watched the episode yet, walk away.]
I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about the final scene of the episode. Everything in the last six episodes came to a boiling point. Shane gave all of that anger, frustration, and lack of forward movement a voice. A very loud voice. I may not be on Team Shane, but he did what he thought he had to do to keep the family he wishes were his safe. Could he have gone about it better? Totally. It still had to be taken care of. How many more walkers would the barn have held? Did Hershel honestly think he could keep going for god knows how long simply shoving the undead away under a metaphorical rug? Eventually the rug gets so lumpy you trip and crack your head open. I think Hershel would have gone on until he himself became infected. He was so set in his idea that the zombies are still living that he couldn’t see the danger staring at him.
Even with Shane being the voice of the turmoil on the farm, it ended up being Rick who took care of the most difficult part of the entire season thus far. My own frustration came to a head when Sophia emerged from the barn. They’ve been searching so hard for so long and she’d been maybe a hundred yards away the whole time. When I sat to think about the episode, I had to wonder if Hershel realized that one of the walkers he’d captured was the little girl they were all looking for. Were his protests to leave the barn alone multifaceted? We know he thought he was keeping his “sick” family safe, but had he been hiding the truth of Sophia’s condition as well?
For as many questions as the mid-season finale (finally) answered, it posed a ton of others. Will Rick move his crew off the farm? Can Hershel look past his faith to see the world for how it really is? What will Maggie and Glenn do? I could go on and on with the questions rattling around my head. Which I probably will considering it is a very long wait until February when the second half of The Walking Dead season 2 kicks off.