19 March, 2012

Walking Dead 2.13 - Beside The Dying Fire

A strong finish makes the second season of The Walking Dead feel less uneven, plus a few great details set up an amazing journey for Season 3. Oh, and we are finally leaving the farm! More thoughts below:

A great finale can make or break an otherwise average season and turn it into the stuff of legend or simply hour number 13. This finale did the former; it made a bumpy season feel like it had a purpose the entire time and provided some promising leads to follow up on that will keep viewers hungry for the next chapter over the long break.

Picking up right where things left off last week we see a massive heard of zombies heading towards the farm to threaten our band of scattered survivors. The resulting escape and the torching of the barn might go down as one of the most memorable moments of the this season, and it reminded us why this show is great both dramatically and visually. I particularly loved the way the show blew apart the group safety model by splitting everyone up in the most dire of circumstances without any means of communication. The show has slowly been destroying the comforting idea of the group's safety and forcing the survivors to come to terms with the reality that they are living in a dangerous world that threatens their very existence. The burning of the barn along with the gruesome deaths of two known (if not necessarily significant) characters put the final nail in the coffin of security; on top of the all too recent incident of Dale's death. I feel like this is the show I have been waiting to see since day one.

When the remaining survivors finally meet up on the road it's a relief, but their conversation is also colored by the realization that things have changed dramatically. On that note I also enjoyed the visual cues of often having the zombies sneaking up on, or behind the survivors; as though they constantly need to be looking over their shoulder. The group is now facing the realities of being on the move, like leaving behind fellow members (Andrea) and supply issues (running out of gas idiots!). Speaking of Andrea, I was thrilled by her character in this episode. She finally seems to have turned into the confident, all around badass, I've been waiting for all season. Her exhausted run through the zombie filled forest also set up the entrance of a new character ( I won't spoil the name for anyone, but it is easily found on the interwebs). This scene was my second favorite of the episode after the barn burning and to say I'm excited to meet this character next season would be an incredible understatement.

Rick's revelation that everyone is infected with the virus was a big move forward on the zombie mythology front, and his survivor buddies were clearly upset that he had kept it from them for the past couple months. I was a little upset with their reaction considering it was clear that Rick was right on this point when he remarked: "what would it have changed?". I was also disappointed with Lori's reaction to Rick's confession about Shane. She was clearly playing both sides of that argument through both Rick and Shane, and for her to be pissed after she basically goaded them both into a conflict was ridiculous.

The final scenes which displayed Rick's new state of mind on things only added to the episode’s overall sense of leaving this season behind. After his constant wavering this season and the endless debates Rick’s proclamations felt like a breath of fresh air, even if they were a bit depressing. The final shot of the prison looming in the distance above the ridge from the small band of survivors huddled around the fire was a fitting and suitably ominous ending to an amazing episode that makes me wish Season 3 was starting tomorrow instead of 6 months from now.

If I had to rate this episode it would be a 99 out of 100

Lots of tense drama and zombie killing action; great plot and character developments; and a wealth of snippets to build the anticipation for next season. This one was truly the complete package. See you all in Season 3!

Notables and quotables:

-Daryl playing the redneck knight in shining armor- rescuing Carol on his motorcycle steed and carrying her off to safety.
-Bear McCreary outdid himself with the music in this episode. The score for the barn/farm scenes was beyond amazing!
-Armless walker man slaves and a Samurai sword are a hell of way to make an entrance.
-I watched this episode with a friend and we kept commenting on the survivors lack of taste in car choices. Except for Maggie and Glenn with the apparently fuel efficient Hyundai, everyone else seems to have chosen the crappiest trucks from 1987 ever. At least we said goodbye to the RV.
-Hershel: "This is my farm. I'll die here."
Daryl: "Alright, it's as good a night as any"
-Glenn: "I love you. Maggie, I love you. Listen, I should have said it a long time ago and its been true for a long time. We're gonna be alright, ok, we'll be alright." -even in the zombie apocalypse I'm a sucker for romance and I love these two crazy kids.
-Rick: "Lets get one thing straight: if you're staying; this isn't a democracy anymore!"- I normally hate Rick speechifying but in this case I almost posted his whole monologue as a quotable.


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  2. OPD,

    Spot on review. Agree 100% with your observations.

    I think I must of cheered on multiple occasions. As a fan of the comic, the iconic introduction of a particular character was epic. Not to mention the other Season 3 tease (hint: the final scene).

    Very strong finish. Looking forward to next season.

  3. It was a riveting episode of TV. I was on the edge of my seat. I'd probably give it a 97 just because I thought the accuracy of their shooting from moving vehicles was way too accurate. But, that's a nitpick.

    This show went from a show I was moving to my "casual viewing" list to a show I HAD to watch live last night in just a few episodes.

    They really set up anticipation for season 3. I like the way the cast of characters is subtly shifting as some die and some get added to the group.

    I feel the same about Andrea. I didn't realize how much I liked the character until it seemed like she might die and I felt sad about that.

    I watched "Talking Dead" afterwards and it's really satisfying to see Kirkland so involved in writing of the series. I thought it was also cool that they admitted they originally were going to kill Hershel, but didn't.

    1. My favorite moment was Glen Mazzara talking about how the shot of the flaming barn collapsing was almost pure luck- unbelievable to hear that the most amazing shot of the episode was pure chance. "Talking Dead" has turned out to be much better than I anticipated at first. It really is a neat combo of cast/crew/writer commentary and fan buzz; along with a wealth of notable guests who actually care about and have thoughts on the show. Plus, Chris Hardwick hosting is a bonus.

  4. I'm happy they had such a strong finish. I definitely had moments this season where I questioned why I had been so excited, and what this was all leading to. I'm glad they gave the fans something to look forward to over the hiatus and hopefully they can deliver a strong start next season.

  5. Ratings were pretty amazing:
    A18-49 rating: 4.7 (by comparison, this put it #3 for ALL of TV last week)
    Men 18-34 rating: 5.7 (#1, with the closest competitor Family Guy getting a 3.6).

    The median age was 35.

    Despite the violence warnings, the show got a 1.3 rating for Kids 2-11. Nine percent of the audience was in that demo--double the percentage that watched Chuck.

    This is family programming.