There have been complaints from some fans that season two of “The Walking Dead” has featured too much yappin’, not enough snappin’ of Zombie heads.
Well (SPOILER ALERTS GALORE for those of you who haven’t seen the episode yet), those fans certainly should be sated after the season two finale tonight. The number of truly dead zombies in the first 20 minutes easily exceeded the first 12 episodes of this season combined. They were every-freaking-where.
Just as Rick tries to explain to Mr. Inquisitive Carl, who had just shot Walker Shane in the head, why Shane was even a walker, they discover hordes of zombies arriving at the farm and run to the barn. Good to know Rick has a lighter (does he smoke?) because he pours gasoline all over the place, lures some of the walkers inside and proceeds to create a walker bonfire.
[UPDATE 4:18 p.m.: Ratings last night were killer: 9 million viewers, 50% more than season one finale and better than season opener of 8.1 million. The 4.7 18-49 rating was better than anything on broadcast TV last night!]
Lori, of course, loses track of her only son Carl for the 87th time. The kid apparently is like Houdini with his disappearing acts. Hershel, who says he will die on his farm like the captain on the Titanic, keeps shooting walkers but like a real-life video game of “House of the Living Dead,” they won’t stop coming. His ammo can’t last forever.
Rick saves him and convinces him to leave his beloved homestead.
Two minor characters related to Hershel’s camp are quickly devoured, folks who were barely extras given how few lines of dialogue they received. First up, Jimmy, Beth’s boyfriend, who saves Carl and Rick by driving the RV up to the burning barn.
Lori, in the meantime, finally gives up trying to find Carl and joins Beth and Otis’ wife Patricia to find a vehicle to escape. But Patricia gets gnawed in the neck by a walker. This one is even bloodier than most as Patricia spurts everywhere as a group of walkers gather around for a celebratory munching.
Daryl, on his awesome bike, plays Rambo, killing seemingly hundreds of zombies without a flicker of emotion beyond determined hatred. The others use their vehicles to escape – except Andrea, who is effectively left behind with weapons and not much else. She runs into the woods, still teeming with walkers.
At one point, Andrea appears to be mince meat but a person with a shroud hiding his/her face kills the walker. He/she has two armless walkers toddling on leashes like psycho pets. Fun! Presumably, we will learn who this person is next season.
Glenn, in one car, professes his love for a frantic Maggie, who calms down a bit. T-Dog starts driving east but Lori (with Beth) convinces him to return to their agreed-upon meeting point: the freeway north of the farm where Sophia had been nabbed. Daryl picks up Carol on his bike. Rick, Carl and Hershel arrive on the freeway and debate whether to stick around because the place is a common walker thruway (though hordes are not apparent.)
Hershel has a moment of self doubt, telling Rick to search for Lori with Carl and leave him behind. He has no reason to live.
“Have faith!” Rick growls.
“I can’t profess to understand God’s plan,” Hershel says ruefully. “Christ promised a resurrection of the dead. I just thought he had something a little different in mind.”
Rick does convince him to stick with Carl and Rick and Hershel decides that saving the kid is worth living, even if his family appears to be gone.
With too many walkers around, the trio are about to leave when the other seven arrive just in time, making for a momentarily happy reunion. (Hershel still has his two daughters Maggie and Beth) Then they realize Andrea is gone and that Jimmy and Patricia are dead.
They start driving, presumably east as T-Dog recommends, for no apparent reason except to get to shore (to meet zombie Paula Deen in Savannah?)
But Rick’s car is the first to run low on gas at one point. So they all stop and decide to hole up in a random spot.
Rick is now Uber Alpha Dog minus Shane. Daryl, the most obvious counterpoint at this stage to Rick, is surprisingly unquestioning at this point.
“We’ll find shelter somewhere,” Rick says through gritted teeth. “There’s got to be a place.”
Daryl mentions how Randall had died without getting bit. “How’s that possible?’ asks Beth. Daryl says Shane killed Randall. “Then the herd got him?” Lori asks.
Rick doesn’t explain about how he had knifed Shane but opts for more relevant information he was given by the poor CDC dude at the end of season one, the information we saw whispered into Rick’s ear but never heard.
“We’re all infected,” Rick says. “Whatever it is, we all carry it.”
Carol says, “You never said anything?”
“I thought it best people didn’t know,” Rick says.
This means unless you get crushed in the brain, get burned to a crisp or are eaten entirely by other walkers, you become a walker.
As Lori tries to comfort Rick, Rick decides to get back to the other big piece of news, guilt weighing heavy on him. “I killed Shane,” he tells her. “He came at me. He killed Randall to get me in the woods. Planned it. I had no choice.”
Lori backs away. “He pushed me and I let him,” he continues in a monologue, staring away from Lori. “After awhile, I knew what he was doing and what he was up to. I kept going… I just wanted it over. Dogging me every step of the day. Acting like I told you and Carl, like I was in the way… I just wanted it over. I wanted him dead.”
Yes, Rick’s primal instincts versus his moral bearings are at odds. Lori is absorbing the news but only gets really upset when he says Carl took Walker Shane down. He is seeking comfort. He reaches out to his wife. She repels him with a look of disgust. She walks away silently. Why so peeved? Did she really love Shane? Is she upset she let Carl sneak out to save his dad?
Night falls. They gather around a fire. T-Dog watches the perimeter with a gun. Carol has doubts out Rick’s trustworthiness, asking Daryl to just leave. “You’re his henchman and I’m a burden,” she said. “You deserve better.” Daryl sticks with Rick.
When they hear a sound, antsy Carol challenges Rick to “Do something!”
“I didn’t ask for this,” Rick says to the group, sounding unhinged. “I killed my best friend, for God’s sake!” Carl looks shell-shocked. “You saw what he was like how he pushed me, how he compromised us, how he threatened us. He staged the whole Randall thing. He was my friend but he came after me.”
“My hands are clean,” he concludes, more to convince himself than to convince everybody else.
Then he gets defiant.
“Maybe you people are better off without me.” He invites people to leave. “You can do better. Let’s see how far you get.”
Nobody moves. “No takers? You’re staying? This isn’t a democracy anymore.” (Lucky Dale isn’t around to question him, eh?)
The camera rises to show to reveal a fort/prison in the near distance, presumably home to season three. Graphic-novel readers (which do not include me) should know better.
By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk