The Walking Dead

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The Walking Dead Review: Taking Lives

by at . Comments

Let me start off by saying that I enjoy The Walking Dead. It's a show unlike any other and it's a lot of fun to watch the characters struggle with life no longer as we know it, amped up by the terrors of a zombie presence.

And as much as I've liked the new direction of the show and have still found, for the most part, the episodes to be a relatively entertaining hour of television, the second half of the season needs to feed off that adrenaline kick induced in the final moments of the episode.

There has been a certain slowness and storyline dragging that's kept season two from truly thriving.

Rick and Hershel

It really wasn't until Shane stormed back onto the farm with his gun bag and alpha dog attitude about killing the zombies (pretty much nearing the end of the episode) that a high level of tension and movement took place. I wasn't entirely sure what was going to happen and kept thinking the show would end with the zombies breaking free from the barn in typical cliffhanger fashion.

But that wasn't how "Pretty Much Dead Already" concluded.

Rather, Shane went into full on rabid dog teaching mode with hands-on demonstrations.

First, there was his multiple gun shots to the zombie Hershel was holding to prove they aren't alive, before walking up to it and plugging a bullet right into its head. Shane was definitely making a loud and clear statement.

Then, instead of talking about what to do with the barn full of zombies for countless more episodes, Shane took action and (couldn't he have killed them from up top instead of opening the doors?) released the walkers. Wow, the amount of bullets unloaded seemed endless in a display that felt like a game of Duck Hunter. I know we weren't supposed to feel sorry for the walkers, but man, they were like lambs to the slaughter.

Each glimpse of Hershel as he watched the killing left him more and more shaken. He's hit his breaking point and it will be interesting to see where he and his sanity are headed.

However, the final twist of the night was the reveal that Sophia was a walker and had been in the barn the whole time. While not the most shocking revelation, it was impactful. She meant something to these survivors. They knew who she was and while it was easy to kill zombies with no name or connection, a little girl with a rainbow T-shirt who used to be a part of the group obviously hit home.

Which of course meant that Rick was able to put back on his leader pants and do what no one else could: he finished her off for good. Obviously, a hard choice to make and perhaps it will be one that pushes him further toward the ideas of the survival-hungry Shane.

I have to recognize director Michelle MacLaren, who also directed the season one episode "Guts," for the largely cinematic feel of the episode. From the sweeping shots to the constant movement of the camera focused in on the characters, there were emotional and action filled moments that felt more exciting. The simple angles of Rick shooting Sophia or the camera rising to expose the entire group in front of the barn brought back a vibrancy and entertainment that I hope can continue.

The Walking Dead thrives on the ideas of fear and need to survive. The first half of season two truly lacked any real danger and that's why it dragged on and became bogged down with characters making bad choices (Glenn in the well, anyone?).

Herhsel's farm was in this bubble of protection, full of supplies and food. Everything simply worked out easily. There was no real struggle to survive, no dealing with what to eat, where to sleep, who to trust. There was a complacency that focused more on mini dramas rather than what the story should center on: dealing with the end of the world and attempting to maintain a sense of morality and humanity when the rules no longer apply.

That's what made the first season so interesting. While I enjoyed the transition to the farm, it's time to take another one. Hopefully, some goal that isn't trivial will drive the story and the characters forward and towards the tension, drama and scariness of before.

If anything, the midseason finale did manage to close a storyline - and, potentially, the stay at the farm overall - in a way that felt solid and complete. There was no real cliffhanger or teasing besides the obvious: after a zombie bloodbath on one of the safest places on earth, where does the show and the group go from here? I'll be eagerly awaiting to find out.

What did you think of the episode? What did you think of the first half of the season? Why is February so far away? Sound off below!

Review

Editor Rating: 3.8 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (202 Votes)

Sean McKenna is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.

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I agree parts of this season have been slow but still good. And they had to look for Sophia, she was part of their group. I was shocked when she came out of the barn but with her being missing so long it made sense. Shane has gone nuts. I think killing Otis knocked him over the edge. And there was no need for him to do it. I too think the baby is Shane's and not looking forward to the "I'm pregnant and there are zombies" storyline.
Stephen - World War Z is an excellent book. I was so sorry when I finished it. And so realistic. I recommended to everyone who loves this show.

Realdiehl

My biggest question after seeing Sophia was if the farm folks knew who she was. My thanks to TIFFANY for clearing that up. That explanation works for me. @JOHN: When Carl first sees the Walkers in the barn He's looking down from the hayloft he had climbed up to. Made it appear like he was looking down into a pit. I'm looking forward to the second half of the season. I'm most anxious to see if tonight's final moments lead to some sort of battle between Rick's group and Hershel's (For you spoiler folks, I'd prefer to see for myself what happens). Thanks for the excellent reviews, Sean Mckenna!!!

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Ok, so here's what I think. Otis being the "manager" of the zombies in the barn, interrupts a zombie having a go at sophia. He manages to save her, but not before she has been infected, being so small she dies and changes before he is able to get her back to the farm. But being so little he is able to put her in the barn fairly easy, without too much trouble. Goes back to his business of hunting, since this seems to be a fairly common task for him. And of course w nearly killing Carl and the craziness, he puts it out of his mind, and then is dead before he can tell anyone else. So no one knows she's in there, or for that matter how many he has "managed" to capture and lock up, ever increasing the risk to those living on the farm. And as for the character stories, the filmmakers have it right. I'ts important to remember that this is about living people and not so much about killing, killing, killing. The contrast between the plot of human story line, versus, a tv/video game spectacle of gore, violence, or how much blood can be spewed on screen in a 1 hr time frame, helps emphazise the reality and appreciation for when it does get intense. Without the contrast, viewers would loose appreciation for what they are seeing. I you want more blood and guts, go back to playing your mindless video games.
S

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Love Daryl, favorite character, Shane on the other hand, I think has lost it. Absolutely cannot stand Andrea. Loved the last 10 min., was glad to finally put a close to the sophia story, Loved it Rick was the one to take control once again.

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@sbaileydev IM ONE SMART FEMALE LOL :)

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One should always remember that title The Walking Dead could also refer to the survivors as in Dead Men Walking. All the little conflicts between and within the group are about how much of their humanity they retain and how much they sacrifice for the sake of survival. Too much and what is the point of surviving? The Zombies are both their nemesis and a metaphor for what they have become - reborn but literally lacking as much humanity as before - more or less. For this reason I find it occasionally annoying and frustrating but ultimately intriguing. What would I do in their place? Because the Zombies are "the other" it took this episode and Sophie's reappearance to remind us of the constantly thin dividing line between the groups. As Hershel might say: "there but for the grace of God go I" or "Don't bite off more than you can chew".

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I thought the first time they saw the walkers in the barnd they were in a whole below then all of a sudden they were right ther in the top of the barn

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@ Che Che, I love Shane too and agree about him being the voice of reason in a war against extinction. However, I don't think Shane is the only one. I also feel Daryl has some true survival skills. On the other hand, I can't believe they all haven't gotten infected since Daryl uses the same arrows to hunt as to kill zombies. Curious if Otis found the little girl hurt in the woods [the same day she went missing], and perhaps brought him back to the house for medical help. The CDC guy said it can take anywhere from 2 minutes to 2 days for the zombification process. Perhaps Hershel thought they would give up, and he could wait around for a cure. I think this next half of the season, we will see Hershel give in to an old alcohol addiction, Darryl and Shane team up against Dale, and Andrea gets pissed off that Lori is pregnant with Shane's baby.

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I think that Sophia coming out of the barn will tie into what the Doc at the CDC whispered to Rick. (SPOILER for the COMIC) In the comics, everyone is infected, you just have to die and you come back as a Zombie. Having seen no marks on Sophia, it doesn't look like she was bitten. She may have eaten poison berries, broke her neck, whatever. This is where Rick tells what the Doc whispered to him before they left. He said the were "no Surprises" with their blood work. He was looking for sort of immunity, or someone that escaped the infection to try to find a cure. But who knows really. So much has changed from the comics. Sophia is still alive (outliving both parents), Shane gets gunned down by Carl very early.

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The user ohmygodjohntravolta pretty much gave an accurate spoiler, but I noticed it was removed from last week's review. Anyway, I skipped through most of this episode because of this, I was like "can we cut to the chase?" That's the problem with spoilers - I hope what he/she said was just fan fiction. I've read the comics so I wasn't quite sure how close Season 2 was going to stick with the graphic novel. Anyway, I'm glad they finally dispensed with all the mini-dramas, they were dragging the storyline. I personally love Shane, he's the harsh but true voice of reason. Everyone else still hasn't come to terms with the reality of the new world "order", just like their hopeless search for Sophia (which has cost far more lives than necessary) and their false sense of security at Hershel's farm (which again has been more costly than safe due to Hershel's duplicity concerning Sophia's whereabouts and the walkers in general). Plus Lori's guilt about her torn feelings and being pregnant was getting on my last frickin' nerves. "Move along people! Nothing to see here. Move along!!"

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