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.


Has anyone been talking about the slow, creeping insanity that took hold of Shane and how it might be tied to the infection? When Shane was stabbed, there were fast flashes of horrific zombie images, and one of the shows creators said in The Talking Dead post-show that they were trying to show the mindset of Shane at that moment. I think Rick is keeping another secret imparted to him by Jenner at the CDC: That the infected living are doom to sink into violent, unrelenting demonic dementia. Also, was it just me, or did Rick's speaking cadence and tone at the end sound a little like Shane's?


I loved it and I can not wait for Season 3


If you regret it why do you post about it so someones else can see it? at least put a spoilers alert


I loved the finale. One thing I regret is reading a summary of the books. Because of that I knew who Michonne was and I knew that they'd end up in a prison. If I never read that, I would have been totally stunned by both of those additions. I also know more and where they go after the prison because of what I read. Not sure if its a good idea to read the books as it ruins the show for you. Anyways, I loved all the action in the first 15 minutes of the finale. I think Lori's reaction was obnoxious but the only way I can understand it is that she was in love with Shane. She finally admitted that when she apologized to him in the prior episode. She obviously loved him, it wasn't just some fling. So even though she wanted him gone, she was suddenly faced with the reality that her husband, and son, killed him. Plus she just found out she's infected and so is her baby, so she had a lot to deal with in a short amount of time.
Rick seems to have completely lost it. Any amount of integrity is now gone, he's in survival mode. That is what the characters lost in leaving the farm, they're back to running for their lives again with no security or peace. Part of his lashing out at the group, I think, was him letting out anger over Lori's reaction to what he told her.
Can't wait for Season 3, in 7 months. Not sure how I'm going to last until then.


I am totally hooked on this show............Welcome to the RICKTATORSHIP!!!!!!!!!! I loved it when he stood up to EVERYONE after reveling they were all infected....... I have to now catch up on season 2.......... Still can't stand Lori and I too didn't realize who Patricia and Jimmy were........ I haven't read all the replies here ....will catch up later......I also haven't read the graphic novels or comics.....don't want to as I think it would ruin it for me............


awesome, awesome finale!! the entrance of Michonne ahhhhhh! Can't wait to see how they develop the next season because it's going to be epic. Loved Rick's fierceness but sooooo disppointed that Carol is still alive. Does that woman do anything but cry and fall into a useless heap?! Andrea I love, she's such a survivor! Not a fan of Lori but I have to say I get her reaction to Rick. I mean she had a relationship with Shane and Rick just killed him, you can't feel nothing about that! Plus she just found out they're all infected so really she's having a zombie/infected type baby anyway and she's horrified that Carl killed Shane who was kind of a father figure to him. I have to say that despite feeling sorry for Carl (being a kid in a horrible world and all) he whines WAAAAAAY too much! Anyway all in all, BRING ON SEASON 3!!!! :)


That sedan still had gas. Im Mexican,i could fit 15 people in there. I hope that person with the sword is Mexican.


Loved the hooded figure. Lori needs to die so does Karl. Why would the group choose Rick over Daryl? Rick is weak and `this ain`t a democracy`-yes-right-until he has to make a decision. Great series-keep it coming.


I don't know if I can handle a withdrawal of the show till fall, this is going to be really hard. Of all the weird shows/movies to do with Zombies this is the only show I love and can hardly wait for more action. I'm excited about the hooded dude, wondering about the chained, armless human zombies. Prison full of more intense suspence of hauntings, zombies and what else? Isnt there someway this show could just carry on straight through to fall? Please!!


I agree with so many of the opinions here. I'm glad they finally ditched the farm and weeded out those filler characters, Patricia and Jimmy. I'm still rejoicing that Rick took out Shane last episode. I really liked how they wrote those scenes in the woods, amazing tension between the two alphas. But there was such rampant STUPIDITY in the finale that ruined my enjoyment of the episode. In addition to all the weaknesses and inconsistencies already mentioned, why do all the characters have such ridiculously crappy peripheral awareness? They live in a world where walkers pop up randomly from anywhere, they've all had the terrible experience of being snuck up on by a walker, and yet it doesn't occur to them to turn around and look more than once every ten minutes. The OMG-there's-one-coming-behind-you-OMG scare is getting old fast. And I agree with Rose 100%. The way the women in this show are being written is infuriating. Andrea has gotten much better, but she started out being one of the most annoying and whiny women of the bunch. Carol remains a stupid, useless pain in the ass. And Lori... I don't even know where to start with her. First she gets herself knocked up by her husband's best friend, then she pits the two men against each other, tells Rick to do something about Shane because he's dangerous and thinks she and Carl belong to him, then freaks the eff out when Rick kills Shane in self-defense (don't get me started on what an awful job Rick does of explaining that Shane *tried to kill him first*). She takes no responsibility whatsoever for her very large part in all this drama. I would honestly feel nothing for her character if a horde of zombies chewed off her face.

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