Warning: There be spoilers ahead
It’s been a few of weeks since Season Two’s 13th episode, “Beside the Dying Fire,” and I’m still trying to process my thoughts on the back half of The Walking Dead‘s S2. If I was going to be trite, I could pretty much sum everything up with a few clever TWD memes. But where’s the academe in that?
With the death of Sophia in Episode 7 “Pretty Much Dead Already,” the morale of the group plummets and we start to see the fissures between the characters and inside themselves open and expand to reveal the ugly weaknesses of a civilization-less humanity. Which is essentially the whole point of the series. That the survivors are actually the walking dead themselves.
There were some seriously dramatic highlights. The kind that elicited introspective emotion and uncomfortable analysis of our favorite characters and subsequently ourselves… and then there were moments where I wanted to scream and throw something at the TV. To rant at the stupidity of it all, but we’ll get to that.
The death of Dale was bittersweet. He was the loudest moral compass of the group. He was the last bastion of humanity, crying out against the devolving of his compatriots. He was a meddler of the highest order. He had a comment for every situation, and often was irritating as all get out, but he was so very important to the humanity of the group. He called against the execution of Randall, he read Shane like a fucked up book, and he had a wicked nose for sussing out intrigue. Which makes his death a bit of a slap in the face. This geezer was smart! So when coming across an eviscerated cow in a darkened field, my bet was that Dale would have known what’s up. Alas, he was disemboweled.
I’ll forgive Carl a lot for his age, but honestly, kid, I don’t remember making this many horrible decisions when I was your age. He must get it from his mother. It’s interesting to see the glimpses of the little sociopath budding in this kid with his desire for weaponry and killing things. Carl’s development is alternately sad and frustrating. Sad that this kid is pretty much ruined for a normal life and frustrating that his mother is doing absolutely nothing to mitigate this.
And Shane… Shane Shane Shane. While he had his moments and was truly an asset to the survival of the group as a strong, skilled survivor, his failing was entirely mental. His already weak character further fractured as S2 continued. His instability quickly spiraled out of control. If Dale was the voice of Civilization, Shane was the voice of Anarchy. He heavily campaigned for the execution of Randall. He openly tried to kill Rick, twice, and almost got himself, Rick, and Randall killed for his rage. Shane’s end game was an orchestrated catastrophe. He murders Randall, who albeit showed his colors as a bit of a shit, and lures Rick to his hopeful demise, only to find that Rick does have the cajones to kill a “friend.” I can’t quite call Rick’s killing of Shane a murder, because it really was a case of self-defense. Shane really would kill Rick. It wasn’t a matter of if, it was a matter of when.
Which brings me to Rick. That poor bastard. Rick tries to do everything right for everyone. And in this, naturally, people are going to get pissed off. Rick didn’t ask to be the leader of this motley crew. He just naturally became the person everyone grudgingly relied upon to save their bacon time and time again and make the decisions no one else wanted to commit to. S2 seemed to be Rick’s realization that no matter how hard he tries shit is still going to suck. And that is a hard pill to swallow. He’s had to do things he’s not proud of and things will haunt him. S3 may be the darker Rick.
I still find myself quietly grumbling that not a single woman on this show has shown a strength of character. A smidge of heroism, sure, the will to survive, yes, definitely some badassery on Andrea’s part, but none that can hold a candle to Rick, Glenn, or Daryl in the “doing what’s right” category. And this frustrates me. Immensely.
Andrea has developed her survival instinct beautifully (finally). She has a confidence and presence as an integral group member that she lacked in S1 and the first half of S2. Her growth from a liability into an asset is sudden and welcome… but she counter balances my appreciation for her survival prowess with being a colossal bitch. A strong woman does not have to equal bitch. One is not dependent upon the other. Andrea’s handling of the sorrow and grief of the youngest Greene daughter is sickening. She plays devil’s advocate and encourages a young girl, who is emotionally lost, that she can take her life and that it’s her choice. And while all of that is true, you just don’t DO that. Andrea and her destructive meddling causes a rift between the group and the Greenes. That being said, it is fun to watch her kick zombie ass without devolving into a sobbing mess anymore.
Lori. I loathe her. Positively LOATHE the woman. She is everything that makes me cringe. If I took the time to enumerate all of her character flaws we would be here forever. The internet is rampant with memes describing exactly how I feel about her. Her complete lack of supervision of her child during the zombie apocalypse. Moronic decision-making skills. Honestly, who manages to make so many bad decisions in rapid succession? Highest among them for me is her pitting Rick against Shane. I want to think Lori’s just stupid and unwittingly gave Shane the peptalk of his life, but Lori herself had just told Rick that Shane would never stop coming for her, that he thinks she and Carl and the baby are his. The only solution is Shane has to go. I dunno what you were thinking lady, but it was pretty damn clear that the only way to stop Shane is to kill him. So why the hell was she so goddamn surprised when Rick killed Shane?! Really, fuck you lady.
Obviously, I’m glossing over so many events from S2 that you’ll just have to add your own thoughts to this thread, but overall the series still held my interests. The characters are forever developing, the ensemble is interacting with each other in new ways, character turnover is pretty freaking high so there will always be someone new and the zombies are still some of the most creative I’ve seen. This series has a lot of life left. We’re just starting to see the dirty, nasty results of human nature when civilization is no more. I’m very much looking forward to Season 3 because of one word… Michonne.