The Walking Dead Season Finale Review: Burning Down the House

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The second season of The Walking Dead has been filled with ups and downs... tense nail bitters and simply stupid decisions... characters you care about and the ones you don't... exciting twists and contrived cliches... and pacing and storylines that often stopped and started like a driver who wasn't comfortable handling stick shift.

Maybe the bumpy road had to do with Frank Darabont leaving the series and the changing show runners and dynamics in effect altering the way the season ultimately turned out. Don't get me wrong, when the show was on, it was pulse-poundingly on, but there was plenty that left me scratching my head and wondering what or even where the story was headed after the complacency of the farm forced the characters into making inane choices for the sake of creating the danger the show desperately needed.

And, in turn, the second half of the season garnered a spark that pushed things forward while reigniting interesting confrontation and situations, even if there were times where it still lacked something.

Ultimately, "Beside the Dying Fire" had a mixture of everything: all the zombie fun you could love, a few surprising twists and some truly confounding moments.

The Walking Dead Season 2 Finale Photo

It was interesting that the show opened up by essentially explaining how so many walkers happened to arrive at the farm. It's pretty clear they are attracted to noise and eagerly follow it to what seems like the ends of the earth; unless that is, another sound makes them turn in another direction. Maybe a bit forced, but it worked in getting the group off the farm and for that I am thankful.

The way that the walker arrival was shot was visually dramatic in following Rick and Carl stumble along in the darkness before panning in front of them to reveal the herd in the background. It was a moment that gave you a feeling of gleeful terror with a realization that everything was about to become chaos.

And chaos it did become with an action sequence that involved a lot of shooting, car driving and fire burning. Yet as the zombie shoot out continued and the barn came to a crashing end (fun to see, but glad we're finally done with the place), even more characters beyond Shane, Dale, Randall and Sophia met their death.

Who were they? I forgot their names when it happened and had to look it up to remember Jimmy and Patricia (yes, Otis' wife). To be honest, I just didn't care that they didn't make it. And it's not as if their characters were so crazy or so obnoxious or so anything that would make me want them to see their end - but rather the lack of any development for them at all. They were merely walker fodder, a chance to show a lot of blood squirting everywhere and zombies chewing them apart.

It's just hard to care about characters with no depth. Such was even the case when Sophia's fate was revealed. I understand sometimes minor characters have to go, but give them something to do, give them meaning, make the audience care when they finally go. I'm sure you'd have far more of a dramatic impact if Daryl died, if Rick died, or sure, even if Hershel died.

There's no shock and no awe with someone when you can't even remember their name, compared to someone you've learned about and watched grow. I can only hope that season three gives the other characters a chance to be something more, to matter as characters instead of turning them into plot devices. Jimmy and Patrica just turned out to be disappointing throw aways because they never even got the chance to be explored. RIP... whoever you were.

Of course, the series - which does boast a large cast of characters -continued to paint the women as overly emotional, unhelpful and constantly causing more problems. It's just hard to want to like the situations they put themselves in or the way that they act. Why would Maggie try and convince Glenn that they should leave the group? Why would Carol tell Daryl that he's just a henchman and Rick shouldn't be the leader? Why would Lori, who told Rick he should deal with Shane, look disgusted beyond belief that Rick killed Shane?

Really, though, the more I watch her, the less I want her around. Lori can't keep track of Carl to save her life, she makes stupid choices like running after Rick, she tries to tell Rick what to do and then she gets overly upset when Rick tells her he killed Shane. Lori just makes me roll my eyes every time she does something. I can't take her seriously because she seems all over the place.

I really would enjoy watching a female character prove herself as strong, stable and helpfully supportive in surviving the zombie apocalypse. At least, Andrea is certainly headed in that right direction after all her positive efforts in this episode.

Is that possible with the fantastically slick introduction of the hooded figure? I hope so. Many fans of the graphic novels will be pleased with this entrance of the sword wielding, chained zombie totting character, and I can only hope that she remains positively bad ass.

As for the male cast, Rick really had the most time transitioning his character towards something colder and more in control. Declaring no democracy will be an interesting turn of events, but it marks a change in the man. I love getting some great scenes with Rick, although I was surprised at the group's lack of backing in terms of their leader. I mean, c'mon, give the guy a break. He's constantly saving everyone's life. I just hope this new path doesn't send him spiraling out of control like Shane. We all know how Shane ended up.

I'm even glad he told everyone about Dr. Jenner's whispered secret. It not only gave the mythology of the show some progress but finally revealed the unsettling truth that you don't have to be bitten to turn into a walker.

Even his declaration that he killed Shane was a great out in the open revelation. Although I really can't understand why everyone seemed upset with his decisions. Finally, someone makes some good choices and everyone gets mad? Why don't we try jumping back down into wells containing walkers? I just hope their disagreement doesn't last long. The survivors need some unification.

But the true final moments were worthy of that season three set up concerning a new location. What is that gigantic building? Is it a prison? Will it be a far better set up then the farm?

It's hard not to like The Walking Dead. Even with its missteps and leaps of faith regarding choices and plot direction, the show proves to be an addicting piece of television. Sure, it wasn't a perfect finale but it did offer plenty of tidbits to prepare viewers for what's to come and successfully closed the doors on Hershel's farm. And what was up with that helicopter...

What did you think of the finale? As always, sound off with your burning comments and questions below!


Editor Rating: 4.2 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (443 Votes)

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


ok so i'm aware the walking dead is a tv show and it is fiction (obviously- considering the show is about zombies) but when rick and carl are trapped in the barn and they set the zombies on fire, carl dropped the lighter into the crowd of zombies, this would most definitely make the flame go out and they would have been screwed! while were at it.. the zombies wouldn't have caught fire that quickly either. i recon this could have been done in a more believable way like setting a stick on fire and manually burning areas of the barn, then letting the zombies in, they're zombies they still would have been lured in by rick and carl.


Agreed, Shane had some issues with being crazy about Lori and Carl. But I think he had to make some tough decisions, ones that Rick may not have been able to make. If he hadn't sacrificed Otis, Carl could've very likely been dead, and possibly both Shane and Otis. He was a man of action, able to make difficult choices that could potentially be a difference between life and death.


Some off you are wayyyy offf let me explain.
A) the unlimited ammo , they dont have it , and they only part I can ever remember seeing it in was when Herschel was shooting te walkers outside the farm house! Even after that andrea checked the bag and showed what was left of the ammunition.
B) Lori is mad a rick, because shane IS dead and he killed him , not carl. Carl shot him once he was AlREADY dead.
C) for those of you wondering why dale didnt turn, IT was BECAUSE he wasnt DEAD yet, and since no one else could do it , daryl shot him, without approval!


This series suffers from weak writing. The dialogue is atrocious and totally lifeless, and as a result I don't care about any of the characters. The only character I find remotely likeable is Glenn, but even he feels like a little bit of an empty slate. The boy Carl is....boring. Even the woman who lost her daughter doesn't seem to inspire sympathy. It's not that her situation isn't horrible, it's just that the character doesn't seem sufficiently fleshed out to make us feel for her the way we should. It's not enough that a character is a child, a jilted lover or an abused wife. You have to imbue them with life as a writer or they're just boring caricatures. I get the feeling that Kirkman knows how to write comic books but doesn't have a clue about how to create onscreen drama. Fire the entire writing staff before next season. I'm a sucker for zombie films but this show stinks.


Also, when Dale was shot, it was not clear (due to the angle of the camera) that he was 'telling' Daryl to do it, by lifting his head towards the gun. And how the zombies crossed into the field would have made more sense if they had shown a larger shot of the area. I think the way the zombies crossed was at an angle to where Rick and Carl were standing, and Carl's gunshot made them change direction. My last two comments are 1.) I love Daryl, if they get rid of him I'll never watch the show again. 2.) Sean, really enjoyed your review. Look forward to reading more from you when season three starts.


Not sure if this has been written before, but I think this show suffers from some bad camara work, and poor timing. Lori's reaction to Rick's comments had to do with the fact that Carl shot Shane - not that Shane was dead. In the episode where Carl learned to shoot a gun, and in another episode, she talked about how Carl's life would have no joy. Shane was Carl's best friend, and very important to him. That Carl had to shoot him fed into her worst nightmare about how her son would grow up. Rick is the one who wanted Carl to know how to handle a gun, and this is what happened.


daryl is my favourite he's so hard and a real "man"
carl is so f***ing stupid. dale died because of him and if he doesn't shot zombie-shane the herd won't attack the farm


I have to agree with the general complaints about the inconsistancies with character development and plot-holes this season ( and yet, I am glued to the t.v. each episode ):
-Lori is dim witted, with little to no parenting skills; certainly not a worthy "first lady". The writers do not seem to have any firm concept of her character beyond that.
- the show gives a pretty pathetic impression of what southern woman are like, doesn't it? (-so far: Michonne and Andrea excepting, of course). I wonder how the women in, say, New York are faring during this !!
- seriously, let's see Carol develop from abused wife to independant survivor.
- Rick is proving to be exceptionally LUCKY, as opposed to an exceptional leader.
- this whole business of being "snuck up" on by groaning walkers is just not working, plus unlimited ammo etc.; believable detailing and character development is what enables an audience to accept a fantastical storyline. Here's hoping that the writers are less sloppy next season, which I am honestly looking forward to viewing. I just hope that TWD doesn't end up going the way of other promising shows like Heros.


Surely if when they die and come back as zombies even if they were'nt bit, then dale will be buried alive as he hadn't turned yet?


I have a question, do these walkers ever get full? Is it possible after a meal they would just sit on the porch or whatever? Also if they don;t get any food, since they are dead can they starve?

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