Summary: The walkers descend upon the farm. Everyone fights to save the farm but it is overrun and they all leave in groups. Jimmy and Patricia are killed. Andrea is thought to be dead and ends up left behind. She encounters a woman with a sword. The group meets up at the highway and go off together. Rick starts hunting for a new place and the group starts doubting him. Rick snaps and reveals that he killed Shane. Lori is horrified. Rick also reveals that they are all infected. Rick makes it clear that he is in charge and everyone will have to listen to him.
The Good: I enjoyed this. I thought it was an exciting finale which thankfully allowed the characters to leave the farm in exciting fashion. While I don't think it makes up for the extended time we spent at the farm, it was at least a fun climax to the story.
I thought the teaser sequence was well-done and provided a cool origin for the walker herd which descended upon the farm. I like the irony that the helicopter, a symbol of hope for the survivors, ended up bringing death and disaster to the farm, forcing the survivors on the dangerous road once more.
The action scenes at the farm were tense and exciting with a greater sense of urgency than any other scene this season. I was at the edge of my seat, enjoying the focused pacing and tension on screen which is a feeling that I hadn't really felt since the season premiere's walker herd. If it weren't for a lot of little inconsistencies which detracted from my experience (see: The Bad), this would have likely been my favourite walker set-piece in the show.
The best parts of the episode in my opinion were the moments following the big action scene. The storytelling was really good in these moments. I really liked the idea that somebody would be left behind in all the chaos, so seeing Andrea alone and struggling to escape was a joy for me to watch. It was scary to see her left all alone, running away from walkers. I'm intrigued by this new character with her swords and walkers chained to her (see: The Unknown).
Glenn and Maggie had a good moment in the car as Maggie was shell-shocked, driving away from the farm without any idea what to do. I really liked how Glenn took control of the situation and also helped Maggie calm down, finally showing us that Glenn is a strong-willed guy. The story of Glenn has been botched this season as he has been described and portrayed in different ways, but here his storyline came together nicely.
Rick's speeches towards the end of the episode were really great. His anger towards the group felt warranted and had some great layers of storytelling. Rick just killed Shane, and expected that maybe now he can lead without having to worry about somebody pitting the group against him. However he sees everyone questioning his decisions anyways, nobody trusts him and everyone seems to be treating him as Shane does. This causes Rick to snap, angry that killing Shane has achieved nothing, and he unleashes his anger, declaring that the group is not a democracy anymore and he will be entirely in charge (a Ricktatorship?).
These discussions also led to the big reveal that everyone is infected, which is a very good development. Not only is it a dramatic reveal, but it also helps explain why walkers would be such a threat as anybody who dies will turn into a walker, bite or not. Furthermore, I think the reveal served as a great catalyst for Rick's transformation at the end of the episode, bringing up conflict with everyone is the group, and further increasing the doubt surrounding Rick's leadership.
I am beyond happy that the group is back on the road again. The desperation and fear that everyone exhibited while on the road, scared that walkers could attack again was really good. There is a certain vulnerability surrounding the group now that they don't live in a safe haven, and I think it adds a lot of drama and momentum to the show. I hope that we get to see the group on the road for several episodes in season 3. Lastly, I thought that the lingering shot on the message for Sophia was really effective, accentuating the emotion of the group losing the farm.
The Bad: I was annoyed that nobody important died in the walker assault. The "big" deaths were Patricia and Jimmy, characters who have said maybe 20 lines between them both. For this to have been a more memorable spectacle fitting of "The Walking Dead", there really should have been more significant character deaths.
The actual action had a ton of inconsistencies in it which I am going to list out now. Glenn was in a moving car with a shotgun, yet he somehow gets headshots from quite a distance away with perfect accuracy which is completely unbelievable. Apparently everyone became professional gunslingers off-screen. While on the topic of shotguns, Hershel appeared to have activated the infinite ammo cheat to fire 20-30 rounds from his shotgun without reloading once. Jimmy pulled up to pick up Rick and he apparently left the door unlocked so that walkers could come in and kill him easily. Rick fires a gun right next to Hershel's head to kill a walker, something that should be deafening, yet Hershel hardly reacts to it. Rick, Carl and Hershel leave the farm on foot and somehow reach the highway long before the others who had vehicles, which is ridiculous. Also, Rick's group can outrun the walkers but Andrea is somehow unable to get away safely despite leaving mere minutes after them. These moments detracted from the action and stacked up in annoying ways.
One specific moment I want to single out is T-Dog's random idea to go to the coastline. He is so determined to do this, yet I can't recall him mentioning a desire to go east a single time prior to this. Furthermore, T-Dog has had nothing to do this entire season, so this just feels like a failed way to give him something to do. I wish he had an actual story to justify his role in the show a little more. Furthermore, I found T-Dog's sudden decision to go east and declare that they are all alone even though they saw nobody actually die to be unintentionally hysterical. I was laughing when T-Dog declared this which I'm sure wasn't the intended effect of the scene.
The most annoying moment in this episode was Lori's reaction to Rick revealing he killed Shane. She seems supportive at first but then Rick reveals that Carl put down walker Shane which horrifies Lori. Then she inexplicably refuses to talk with him for some unknown reason. Oh man. First of all, why is she mad? Is it because he killed Shane? A few episodes ago, Lori was actively telling Rick that Shane was dangerous and insinuated that he had to do something about it, yet she acts like he is evil for killing Shane. This makes no sense. Was it because Carl killed Shane? No chance because that is all Lori's fault for not watching her own son ever. So I'm left puzzled as to why she reacted like this, and I continue to despise Lori's character for not making any sense and being downright unlikable in every scene she is in.
The Unknown: So there is definitely a helicopter going around. Where is it going? Whose helicopter is it? Is there a civilized community somewhere?
Who is this mysterious woman that Andrea found? Why does she have walkers chained to her? Were they people she once knew?
Where do the group go now? What's next for all of them?
Best Moment: Rick revealing that they are all infected before he explodes in an angry speech. A great moment of pay-off after Rick's leadership had been questioned for a full season.
Character of the Episode: Rick.
Conclusion: This was a very exciting and enjoyable season finale with some really powerful and memorable moments. But some action inconsistencies and a continued weakness in Lori's character brings down the score, and prevents this episode from being as good as it could have been.
Every way to look at it, season 2 was a step down from season 1. The pacing slowed down to a crawl in the first half of the season, and while the back half was better, it still didn't hit the highs of season 1. The slower pace, lowered budget, poor character development and writing inconsistencies didn't help the season at all. However, I still believe it was a good season, and the back half did deliver in a lot of ways. While the first half only really offered two or three good moments, the second half had something memorable happen in every episode. I thought the Randall story and Rick/Shane story provided more momentum and flow than the Sophia story and the farm conflict story did in the first half of the season. In the end, this was a step down, but the show remains enjoyable and I have high hopes for season 3.
Summary: Rick decides to cut Randall loose. He and Daryl are supposed to go out but Rick chooses to stay when Shane tells him that Carl needs somebody to talk to. Shane takes this opportunity to smuggle Randall into the woods and kill him. When the group discovers Randall is gone, Shane claims that Randall got his gun and escaped. The group go hunting for Randall. Rick pairs up with Shane. Shane plans to kill Rick but struggles to go through with it. Rick waits for an opening and then kills Shane. Carl sees this. Shane comes back as a walker so Carl shoots and kills him. A nearby herd hears the gunshot and head towards the farm.
The Good: I liked a lot of the set-up scenes. I particularly liked the group planning scenes as everyone came together to discuss the future of the group living on the farm and addressing the difficulties that winter will create. While I'm not sure that the budget will allow the show to do so, I would love to see a zombie apocalypse story in the winter as a fresh change-up. There were some nice character moments too. Glenn and Andrea reminiscing about Dale was solid, if a bit cheesy, and I really liked Hershel kindly giving Lori his bed. His character has went through a very good transformation.
Shane's plan to take out Rick was tense and dramatic and it gave the episode some good momentum. I really liked his scene in the barn with Randall as he got to show the extent of his unhinged nature, debating what to do with Randall before coming up with the idea to kill Rick as well. I liked the way he planned to trick Randall into telling him the location of the camp before killing him, but the scene wasn't executed very well (see: The Bad). I also loved that Daryl immediately seemed to figure out that Shane's plan made very little sense, which is consistent since Daryl also figured out that Shane killed Otis.
The ending of the episode was pretty good. I thought Rick and Shane's confrontation delivered a strong climax for not only the episode, but also for their entire storyline. Shane committing to killing Rick with his plan was a huge development and I could believe that he's so far gone that he would do this. But better yet was his inability to pull the trigger on the hill, being unable to put away his best friend for good. That made Rick's decision to kill Shane all the more significant and powerful, as he did something that even Shane couldn't do to keep the group safe. Andrew Lincoln's acting was tremendous in this scene and I thought his performance certainly sent it over the edge into greatness for me.
The final cliff-hanger was excellent. After spending a whole season on the farm, it looks like there will finally be some hell coming in the season finale. I look forward to seeing what will likely be a huge fight to save the farm.
The Bad: This episode had a crazy amount of inconsistencies and weak moments though and that really damages it.
First of all, Shane's plan to kill Rick is pretty bad in all honesty and isn't executed well. He decides to trick Randall into believing that he's joining him before killing him. I presumed that he faked this to get Randall to tell him his camp's real location. But this failed because Randall said the camp's location before Shane even expressed a desire to join him! So if he can spill the beans so easily, why didn't he say anything when he was being beaten bloody by Daryl? It's a huge oversight which annoyed me. Furthermore, if it wasn't Shane's intention to get information out of Randall (it's possible), then he should have just killed him in the woods.
Additionally, there are so many inconsistencies with the search for Randall. For one, Rick needed to go with Shane alone for Shane's plan to work which is already taking a big gamble. Furthermore, Shane needed to hope that nobody discovered Randall's body, and he clearly didn't bother to hide the body. Hell, he didn't even hide the ties which were binding Randall! Shane does a really poor job of sticking to his plan.
One really bad scene was when Lori came to Shane to apologize to him. First of all, why on Earth did she feel the need to do this? It made no sense that she would wait this long to say something to him. Furthermore, a few episodes ago she thought Shane was dangerous. So why would she think it's a good idea to send mixed signals to a dangerous man who tried to kill her husband? It's a shockingly dumb decision for her to talk to him and I can't find any reason for her to do it. It was just a poor scene.
There were a lot of weakly executed moments too. Carl killing Rick felt like a comic book moment put to the screen. Carl hasn't shot a bullet before, yet he can shoot Shane perfectly in the head? Plus, Carl just had to make it look like he was going to kill Rick because there needs to be more drama. And apparently Carl can just sneak out whenever he wants even after Dale's death. Is Lori just the worst mom ever? It's a massive plot device. Additionally, how did Carl catch up with Rick and Shane after they left. They left in the evening and it was night by the time Carl found them. And we know that Shane was walking Rick in a random direction, so they weren't really combing the land to find Randall. Furthermore, why wouldn't Shane just take Rick to where he killed Randall and kill him there? Then it would be easy for him to come up with the story that Randall killed Rick before Shane killed him. There are more inconsistencies too, but I can't be bothered to list all of them out. A few inconsistencies can be overlooked, but when they stack up like this it becomes a real problem.
T-Dog hardly has any lines this season, yet the writers still couldn't resist the fact to give their token black character an "oh hell no". Seriously?
The Unknown: How did Shane and Randall come back as walkers without getting bitten? Were they infected somehow?
Best Moment: Rick killing Shane was the stand-out moment here and was pretty powerful.
Character of the Episode: Shane.
Conclusion: This episode was a powerful and exciting climax, but it was executed extremely poorly. A lot of the hard work was undone by bad writing and inconsistent storytelling. While the story has picked up nicely for the season finale, I can't help but feel that this episode was a disappointment.
Summary: The consensus is to kill Randall but Dale begs for a day for him to convince others to see reason. He goes to everyone, but they don't listen. The consensus is still to kill Randall. Carl goes rogue and tries to kill a walker. He fails and the walker escapes. Rick goes to kill Randall but is unable to do it when Carl arrives and tells him to do it. Dale walks away on his own but is attacked and killed by the walker that Carl was unable to kill.
The Good: This episode was another one focused on the Randall story, and because of that it felt stronger and more enjoyable. The focus on Randall paid off from the first moment when Daryl was interrogating Randall with violence. It was dramatic and effective, and I enjoyed it.
The Randall focus provided a good conflict to examine an important theme: the remains of civilization in an apocalypse. This episode becomes emotionally affecting and memorable because of this exploration and the conclusion it reaches: that civilization is dead. This is such a dark and depressing direction to take the show, and it works for the most part.
The exploration stems from Dale who tries to fight for Randall's life. While I had my problems with that, (see: The Bad), I thought it was a solid storyline. I particularly liked that Dale's conversations allowed us to see how a lot of the other characters are dealing with the Randall situation, also giving us insight on where their current morals and relationships lie. I thought this was particularly effective with Daryl and Hershel who both got good lines to make them more likeable and show more of their personality without being annoying. This was much better character development than what was happening in the first half of the season.
This does build to a great climax too. I enjoyed the group discussion as everyone felt in character as they discussed, but it never really stood out as a particularly great scene of drama. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't special and at first I was underwhelmed with how simple it was, as it didn't feel like a proper emotional pay-off. But thankfully, the story was much stronger than that. First there was a great scene where Rick finds he can't pull the trigger after he saw what the new world is doing to Carl, which was a strong scene carried by Andrew Lincoln's great performance. It was a good piece of storytelling and it seems to have made Rick pull back on his Shane-like instincts which I imagine will reopen the conflict between him and Shane as Shane has most certainly noticed Rick's current weakness.
But then it all led to Dale's death scene at the end. While that scene was flawed as well (see: The Bad), it felt like a huge deal and a significant moment, one which I wasn't expecting. It will likely be a cataclysmic event with a greater significance than Sophia's death since Dale stands for the humanity in the group, yet now he is dead. Carl will already be facing the consequences of his actions now that he has noticed the walker that killed Dale was the one he encountered, so that's already one significant development. I imagine we will be seeing more in the next episode, which will likely build up something big for the season finale.
Lastly, I really liked the Glenn and Hershel scene. It was a nice little scene which I appreciated.
The Bad: Unfortunately Dale bugging everyone got annoying and repetitive fast. I mentioned how all the other characters got good development, but Dale did not. He was a broken record for the whole episode and I really wish that they had saved his arguments for the big argument scene to make that moment feel more important. Sadly, by making Dale annoying, it also hurt the emotion I felt when he died.
Carl's story wasn't very good either. While it is hard to demonstrate what a young kid would feel during an apocalypse, I feel like what we got wasn't very good. For one, it's hard to relate to Carl and sympathize with him, making his story feel very awkward. If I can't get emotionally engaged, the story is already not working. Furthermore, Chandler Riggs isn't doing a good job of playing Carl, and poor acting takes away a lot of the story being told. Also, where the hell are Lori and Rick? Do they never watch their kid ever? Every single episode Carl goes off alone and these two never seem to learn. It's awfully convenient that they are such awful parents and it is already becoming a plot device. What makes this worse is that Rick is presented as a good father, considering the lectures he gives Carl, and yet he doesn't seem to take care of him. It's worse for Lori though who literally does nothing for an entire episode and yet she still can't watch her son for more than 15 seconds.
Dale's death wasn't staged very well. He was walking in an open field where he should be able to see and hear everything. There's no way a walker can just sneak up on him like that. Furthermore, I find it tough to believe that the hands of a walker could just rip him open the way that they did. Sure, it was dramatic, gruesome and affecting, but it does stretch believability.
This episode was dark, brutal and depressing. While it certainly did do its job of making me feel something, it has left me feeling hopeless and depressed. The problem with this is that I don't care about many of the characters or stories in the show, mostly just a select few. This show has been relying on brutal misery to keep us invested and I don't think that makes for a great TV show. That's how this episode affected me more than anything else, and I don't think that's a good thing because I'm not properly invested in the story. If this keeps up, emotions like these are more than capable of driving me away from a story if I'm not completely invested in what's happening.
The Unknown: How will Carl react to Dale's death? What will his guilt be like? He is certainly a very unpredictable character at the moment.
What was the significance of Andrea siding with Dale about Randall's fate?
What happens to Randall now? I don't imagine that Shane takes too kindly with Rick's decision. Could they be heading towards a huge confrontation in the season finale?
Best Moment: Rick choosing not to kill Randall and being forced to face who he has become was a great moment. It was surprisingly subtle and I really enjoyed it.
Character of the Episode: Rick.
Conclusion: This was a big and eventful episode for the show and it has provided the most difficult mixture of good and bad to base a score off of. The episode was memorable and powerful, but was also poorly executed at times and unrelentingly miserable. Its strengths managed to also be its weaknesses and I'm left rather confused by how I feel about the episode and the show as a whole. I do feel more positive emotions than negative ones though, so I will give this episode a solid score, and I hope that the series finds a way to build off of this in a good way.
Summary: Rick and Shane go 18 miles out to dump Randall. Rick talks with Shane about what Lori said to him and they make peace. Randall is left but he reveals he knows who Maggie is. Shane tries to kill him but Rick wants to think about it and they end up fighting. Walkers stumble upon them and Shane is cornered. Rick leaves with Randall but comes back to save Shane. Rick and Shane make peace once more but Shane doesn't agree to anything. Beth is suicidal and tries to kill herself but realizes she doesn't want to die.
The Good: This episode was focused and I really appreciate that. Characters were the focal point here and the show has desperately needed that. The conflict with Rick and Shane was the strongest for sure. I really enjoyed their conversations as Rick did what he could to ensure that Shane is no longer a problem. I thought Rick was a great friend here as he raised logical points to both understand Shane and get him reigned in so he isn't such a threat anymore. I also loved that Rick connected Shane shooting Otis to his murders back in "Nebraska", which is a logical way to show that Rick understands Shane's method of living. Better yet was their conversation later as Rick tells Shane that he needs to believe in him, playing off of their argument earlier. The best part of this however was Shane. Shane never agrees to Rick's claims, insinuating that while he may be quiet, he likely isn't just going to lay down and let Rick lead. This was great storytelling and I thought that the metaphor of the walker and the song which played at the end did a great job of highlighting this conflict.
I also thought Randall was great in this episode as he did whatever he could to try to survive, but ultimately ended up revealing too much which almost cost him his life, forcing him to change up to begging for them to leave him so he wouldn't die. Randall's fear felt real and added to the episode.
The zombie assault was really tense as usual as the show continues to hold its sense that anything can happen. I was excited by the flash-forward early in the episode as it made all of the interactions at the school way tenser because it felt like any little moment could trigger the arrival of the walkers. The fragmented storytelling worked here and it added a different source of tension that we are used to, making this episode stand out even more.
The fight between Rick and Shane beforehand was good overall. I love how Randall served as a catalyst to get them fighting and it added to the drama and tension which was already established. There were a lot of nice details as they came to blows and I thought that it was logical that the both of them would end up trading blows after what was said to each other. Furthermore, I love that their conflict extended into the walker assault as Rick nearly left Shane for dead. This show is unpredictable enough that I bought into the idea of Shane dying here which is really good.
I also liked the small touch of Rick being smart with killing walkers and Shane following up on this by using the trick himself. It was a good piece of storytelling.
The farm story with Beth was fine too. I like the exploration of suicide in this world, as it was better than the brief look with Andrea earlier in the series. I thought the conversations which all of the characters had did well to extend their characterization a little more and making me understand them better, though some of the stuff was flawed (see: The Bad).
The Bad: There were several issues with the walker action scene sadly. For one, it's hard to believe that the walkers were just hanging out in the school and couldn't escape until window was broken. Surely they would hear the gunshots and come out. They have the ability to break glass with enough force, this has been seen before. Furthermore, the actual action was pretty weak. The episode had just re-established that scratches are deadly, and yet there are many times where Rick could potentially have been scratched and none of these moments are played for drama, nor are they addressed. That took me out of the action. The rest are all nitpicks. One walker who went after Randall apparently forgot how to use legs which was stupid and awkward as it crawled after him. Lastly, there was one awful sound effect as Rick punched Shane, making it sound like his head was smashed open which was really bad. One or two of these moments are okay, but when they are repeated, it becomes a problem.
Lori and Andrea's argument was really dumb, even though it gave us a better understanding of their characters. Lori is impossible for me to like or even sympathize with at this point as she has proven to be a selfish, insulting, and petty woman who does a crap job of parenting her own son. I hate her and I know that's not how I'm supposed to feel about her. Here she comes off totally insensitive and stupid as she attacks Andrea, but I feel like the opposite was intended. The show has done a bad job with its female characters, and having them do laundry while the men do the survival stuff doesn't help with anything.
The Unknown: While I thought the opening was effective in this case, I'm not sure that the episode was better with it. While the tension was really good and exciting, I feel that there may have been more tension if we weren't expecting the walker attack. I'm not positive about this though, hence its position in The Unknown.
Where has Hershel gone? I almost put this in The Bad as Hershel seems to have vanished completely for the convenience of the plot, but I'll hold out as maybe there will be an answer in the next episode.
Best Moment: The walker assault was pretty exciting, but I enjoyed Rick and Shane's second conversation after the assault even more.
Character of the Episode: Rick.
Conclusion: This was another good episode which examined the conflict between Rick and Shane which has been this season's strongest element. While this was certainly flawed and didn't live up to its full potential, I still thought it was very good and the second best episode this season.
Summary: Hershel, Glenn and Rick find themselves in a tense shootout with Dave and Tony's friends. They try to escape but are almost killed. Walkers arrive and the others leave allowing the three to leave. The other group leaves a man, Randall behind as he impaled his leg on a spike. Rick rips his leg out and saves him, bringing him back with plans to let him go alive in a week. Shane finds Lori and brings her back. When they get back, Lori learns that Shane killed Otis and Shane's disillusioned love for her grows. Rick's group returns and Shane immediately takes issue with Randall. Lori tells Rick that Shane is dangerous.
The Good: The action sequence throughout the first half of this episode was excellent. The scenes were shot very nicely in the quiet darkness, adding to the tense atmosphere and the sense that our three protagonists were truly trapped. The action scenes were very exciting and were certainly better than most storylines in the first half of the season. I also really liked the moment where Rick spoke up and openly begged the guys to just go on their way. His reasoning was clear and Andrew Lincoln's acting was terrific to ensure that the dialogue felt earnest. It shows us that Rick has struck a fine balance between his colder and kinder sides.
The story of Randall is a very good one as well. The actual process of Rick, Hershel and Glenn saving him was super exciting (see: Best Moment) and was a great climactic moment to end the confrontation at the bar. But better yet is the fact that Randall is the next major storyline for the show, and he is much better than Sophia from the first half of the season. The rift in the group about abandoning Sophia wasn't properly explored, but Randall is much more threatening and central to the plot, which makes me hope that we will get more here. What we got in this episode was already really good as Randall's arrival immediately shook the group, especially Shane (unsurprisingly). This also allowed Hershel to get a good moment where he let out his anger towards Shane, telling him to be quiet while also allowing him to stay on the farm.
Shane had a terrific episode. He started by bringing Lori back to the farm by logically telling her that Rick was already back, which was both smart and in-character. But the character of Shane gets better as he has a one on one scene with Lori, showing how disillusioned he is and how much he has changed as a person since the apocalypse happened. The scene was genuinely unsettling and creepy, and also added more stakes to the show as it seems likely that Shane may be heading towards his death in the near future. I also really liked the detail that Lori figured out what Shane did with Otis after he lied to her about Rick. It makes Lori appear to be smarter and also continues to build conflict between her and Shane. The final scene with Rick and Lori was good too as Lori essentially laid down everything that Shane has been doing, almost telling Rick that he has to do something big about him.
I liked Daryl's outburst as well. While I don't exactly care about him and Carol (see: The Bad), the scene was written well and both characters felt real and had clear motives. Daryl needed to let off some steam after he couldn't save Sophia and Carol didn't want to lose the one other person she has a connection with.
The Bad: Lori and the walker early in the episode had no tension. It was obvious that she wouldn't die there so it was hard to be interested. Furthermore, I thought it was stupid that Lori would still keep looking for Rick afterwards. Shane lying to Lori is meant to be another cruel thing he did, but honestly it made so much more sense than everything Lori has done so far. I found myself agreeing with Shane, which I don't think was supposed to happen.
Also why didn't more people go looking for Rick? It was night by the time they went to get Lori. Surely Rick would have been back much earlier, so shouldn't people actually have gone. I'm also tired of people going alone in an apocalyptic world. Nobody would do that ever.
Some of the character moments felt a little flat in this episode. I still don't care about most of these characters and it still hurts the show overall.
The Unknown: Daryl referred to his dad when he ranted to Carol. Is there a bit of history there that we are yet to learn about?
Can Randall be trusted? Will there be consequences for Rick taking him or will he just be abandoned?
Best Moment: After Randall fell and was left behind, Rick, Hershel and Glenn tried to save him in a tense and terrific scene. The tension was made palpable by the sense that there was limited time until the walkers overrun them. But there was also natural conflict as Rick and Hershel wrestled with their values of human life as they debated on killing him or saving him. It was fascinating, and for such a quick scene, it worked really well.
Character of Episode: Shane.
Conclusion: This was flawed like everything else but was really good overall and ended up being one of the better episodes this season.
Summary: Beth goes into shock after what happened. Hershel goes to a bar to drink. He wants Shane off the farm. Rick goes with Glenn to bring Hershel back. Lori gets impatient and goes herself but gets in a car accident. Rick talks with Hershel who is still upset. Two men, Dave and Tony walk in and want to find a place to stay. Rick doesn't trust them and he ultimately kills both of them.
The Good: This was another slower episode, but this one had more of a purpose as it explored the fallout from Shane's assault on the barn in the previous episode. The pacing worked as we got to explore very different reactions from the three central characters, Rick, Hershel and Shane.
Shane's reaction was the least explored, but I still liked it a lot. There is a lot of discussion surrounding Shane's actions and the camp is torn on whether what he did was right. I like this idea as it doesn't paint Shane as just another villain and instead proves that what he is doing is just a harsher way of surviving, and judging by how Rick changes in this episode, it's even possible that Shane is somewhat in the right here. Where he isn't in the right however is with how hot-headed he is as he continues to attack Hershel, evidently not caring about Hershel allowing them to stay on the farm.
I liked Hershel's reaction to learning the truth about the walkers. It felt real that he accepted how foolish he was being, and it also helps endear us to him by having him seem less like a moronic and stubborn old man. I enjoyed his arguments with Rick as well as they highlighted his grieving and how angry he is with himself for all of the mistakes he has made and how much he has failed his remaining daughters by hiding the truths of the world from them.
Rick's reaction to what happened was terrific as well. He has embraced the darker part of himself a little more after realizing that Sophia was gone the entire time and Shane was right. It opens his eyes and he realizes that he has been a poor leader for wasting so much of the group's time. While Shane certainly isn't the perfect leader, Rick needs to add some of Shane's philosophy to his leadership and by the end of the episode he does exactly that, transforming his character to a more interesting and aggressive leader.
The final sequence of the episode was tremendous and was easily the best part of the episode. The show has struggled with character in the past, but drama has never been an issue. This episode featured some of the best tension-based drama yet as Rick converses with Dave and Tony. The presence of guns adds the tension and the obviously crude nature of Dave and Tony proves to us that they can't be allowed on the farm at all. I love the way that Dave and Tony find their way to the truth by exposing Rick and Hershel's on-the-spot lies to get what they want. It was fascinating to watch and featured some of the very best dialogue that the show has ever produced. I also loved that we got to learn more about the rest of the world. I loved hearing about things like the islands which could be safe and Nebraska which just deepens our understanding of the world.
The final moments of the episode were great though. The sheer sudden nature of Rick shooting both men in cold blood, undoubtedly murdering them, was a great way to establish his change in character. It was a terrific moment for character as well as drama, making it the perfect climax for the episode.
The Bad: Lori is the worst character on the show and I don't like her at all. Here she makes what is probably the stupidest decision ever to go after Rick. To put into perspective how dumb this was, Rick and Glenn didn't even have enough time to reach Hershel, and Lori is already asking people to go after them. Yes, she is so awful she doesn't even do anything herself and only asks others to do her work. Furthermore, she is going after Rick to tell him to bring Hershel back... which is the reason he went out to begin with! So Lori leaving has no purpose whatsoever. And to make matters worse, she actually leaves on her own. She leaves Carl alone and just drives, doesn't even know where she is going because she needs a map, and then she gets into a car accident like a total fool. This is hardly compelling and is frustrating to watch. Then add on the fact that Lori insults Daryl for not wanting to go through with her idiotic plan. Seriously, I don't think you could make a more detestable character if you tried. I don't blame Daryl for getting frustrated at her because I have had enough of her by this point.
I don't like how inconsistent the show is with how walkers behave. Apparently Beth's mom wasn't dead as she attacked Beth in this episode, so why was she lying around and not moving? Why and how do walkers do that? Lou didn't just collapse and stop moving, yet Beth's mom did for whatever reason.
The Unknown: Dave and Tony said they had a camp. Where is this camp? Will we be seeing them later?
Best Moment: The ending sequence was one of the show's best scenes so far.
Character of the Episode: Rick.
Conclusion: While Lori's stupidity hurts this episode, this was very strong overall and did well to follow up on the major events in the mid-season finale.
Summary: Glenn tells everyone about the walkers in the barn and everyone is upset, especially Shane. Rick tries to make peace with Hershel so that his people can stay on the farm. Dale tries to hide the guns from Shane but Shane tracks him down and finds them. Rick helps Hershel bring more walkers to the barn. Shane sees this and freaks out. He arms up everybody and they slaughter all of the walkers in the barn to Hershel and Rick's dismay. Sophia is revealed to have been a walker in the barn the entire time and Rick kills her.
The Good: This was an excellent mid-season finale. The story felt really important here and the scenes had a real sense of urgency to them, unlike all of the previous episodes this season which have felt lackadaisical and almost meaningless at times. This episode picked everything up and the whole episode had a much better flow overall.
I've been critical of this show's dependence on one on one conversations this season as I felt they have been too jarring and pretty poor for character development. Thankfully, this episode actually started with everyone together and ended with everyone together, giving the scenes a greater sense of importance due to the change of format from earlier. Furthermore, every conversation had a sense of purpose and felt significant to the story. Rick and Hershel hit a breaking point in the relationship between the two groups so they are forced to settles their differences. Shane and Dale have a tense confrontation to play off of their distaste for each other. Shane and Lori get to discuss the possibility of the baby being Shane's. All of these scenes had a purpose to them and they were also longer scenes, making them fit into the episode much more organically than previous conversation scenes. This change has helped the show a lot and I really hope that these one on one conversations are used more sparingly later in the show.
This episode was outstanding for Shane's character. He has a fascinating role in the series as his morals directly oppose the protagonists, yet he isn't treated as a villain, more like a rival. It's been fascinating to see Shane slowly get darker as the series goes on, becoming more willing to make the hard decisions to help the group. What I like most about this development is how Shane is actually proven right by the end of the episode. The walkers are dead and dangerous, even Hershel must agree to that now. Sophia was gone and it was a waste to spend so much time looking for her. By proving Shane right, it seems that the next half of the season may explore Rick being forced to accept Shane's way of doing things a little more as it does seem necessary for survival.
The most important part in keeping Shane relatable to us is that we understand why he does everything. And we do get to see that which is very fascinating. We see him getting frustrated by a number of things, so that final ten minute sequence becomes the moment where Shane finally snaps under the pressure. He has had to put up with being hated by Lori and Dale who actively try to stop him, he has to endure Rick making the wrong decisions and now he has to endure Hershel endangering all of the camp. It's frustrating for Shane, so when he sees Rick and Hershel bringing in more walkers to put in the barn, he snaps, leading into a tense and terrific final sequence where he finally gets to make his point (see: Best Moment).
As far as specific scenes go, I really enjoyed Dale and Shane's confrontation. It was subtly tense and scary as Shane looked more unhinged and dangerous as ever, and with no witnesses around, you could never be sure about what happens to Dale. But the scene takes off with its great thematic exploration as it looks at the idea of how valuable your humanity really is in a post-apocalyptic world which is a concept I would love to see explored in greater detail.
The Bad: A few scenes stood out as not that great, but nothing here was awful. I wasn't a fan of Daryl and Carol's scenes as their relationship seems to have evolved a bit too abruptly for my liking. I also didn't like Glenn and Maggie's scenes as their relationship has evolved in such a ridiculous and unrealistic way. I was also confused by Glenn's explanation about forgetting how dangerous the walkers are which didn't make sense for his character at all.
The Unknown: Did Hershel know Sophia was in the barn the entire time? Surely he would have known. Why did he keep it secret from the group?
Will Hershel kick the group off the farm in the mid-season premiere? I doubt that he will want to keep them around after what just happened.
Best Moment: Those final ten minutes were truly fantastic. As slow as this season has been, it has been trying to tell a story the whole time. The final sequence brought every storyline together and paid it off in such a brilliant way. We got Shane's descent into losing his humanity hit a major point, we had closure on Hershel's argument that walkers are human and we also got to find out what happened to Sophia in a great twist that I wasn't expecting. The scene was a great catharsis and a terrific way to end the season, by closing out every major storyline from the farm which has been stretched out so long.
Character of the Episode: Shane. This was his episode all the way through.
Conclusion: This was an awesome mid-season finale which was the best episode of the show since its pilot. There was a lot of pay-off here and it nearly makes up for the weaker episodes which preceded this one.
As for this half-season, I thought it was disappointing for the most part, especially after such a strong first season. The middle section was stretched out and weak, and the entire run could have likely been condensed into 4 or 5 episodes. However the start and ending were very good and it reminded me that this show has the potential to be something special. Hopefully the next six episodes of the season live up to the potential.
Summary: Glenn tries to keep his secrets but ends up telling Dale everything. Lori struggles to deal with her pregnancy and keeps it a secret. She takes abortion pills but throws them up. Rick finds out and isn't pleased but he gets past it. Shane and Andrea go for gun training and Andrea becomes proficient with a gun. They have sex.
The Good: I liked the opening scene. It was creepy and harrowing in the way that this show has begun to specialize in as we got to see the chickens sacrificed to feed the walkers in pretty grim and brutal fashion. It was a good way to start the episode.
Glenn's attempts to keep the secrets were pretty entertaining and funny, and it was nice to see an episode called "Secrets" live up to the title. I thought that there was some decent tension from all of these characters keeping secrets. I also really liked Dale who has slowly become a sort of leader as he essentially has three different confrontations where he tries to keep the two groups in balance and all of them were pretty good, particularly the final one with Shane (see: Best Moment).
Shane was very good in this episode though. His character is wildly different from everyone else due to his aggressive nature and that adds a lot of potential for conflict. I also like seeing this new gun trainer version of Shane which helps highlight how Shane is able to live with himself after killing Otis, which is by cutting himself off emotionally so he doesn't feel guilt. I felt that his relationship with Andrea was done fairly well and it all organically led to them having sex in the car.
The Bad: Unfortunately I didn't find this episode to be particularly significant. There doesn't seem to be a sense of importance to many things in this season. Take what I just praised, Andrea and Shane, and you realize that this episode doesn't seem to have very much of interest to it. While it's nice to see the two characters grow, we still don't understand them very well nor do we understand what significance their relationship has on the overall plot. This removes all of the momentum the series has while the pacing slows and the show feels like it's running in circles and killing time until its mid-season finale in the next episode. The Sophia story has suffered from this too, as her recovery no longer feels important since it has been drawn out for so long and is hardly talked about anymore. The show has lost the only sense of urgency it developed in this season.
Also, the show seems incapable of writing female characters. Lori's storyline wasn't good at all and failed to make me like Lori. I understood her dilemma, but it's essentially the same thing being discussed from before about children in a post-apocalyptic world. It's redundant and bland, and it doesn't help that Lori had already conquered the emotion of wanting to just kill children so they don't have to endure this world. It doesn't make me sympathize with her to see her regressing in her character arc to a struggle she already dealt with. Furthermore she is hypocritical and downright awful to Rick, who comes off as sensible. The show has done nothing to make me care for or even like Lori.
Worse though is Maggie who continues to flip flop with her emotions even more than Lori who is supposed to be the pregnant one anyways. Maggie is like a child with how she instinctively reacts to everything with no thought and only emotion, making her feel miscast or miswritten. I didn't like her verbal attack on Lori at all as it did nothing to make me understand Maggie more than I do already, and her claims that Glenn is a leader came off completely wrong and difficult to believe.
The biggest offense this show is making right now however is in how dull it is to watch. When you watch other shows such as "Breaking Bad" or "Game of Thrones", there is visual beauty in every episode and how its constructed. Be it the cinematography, acting, directing, and more, those shows always stood out with the elegant nature of the show. This show completely fails at all of that. With the exclusion of the brilliant makeup, this show is really dull to watch. The first season didn't have this problem as there were always numerous breathtaking shots and moments, but this season has been painfully bland to watch. I can't recall a single memorable shot from these last few episodes. It's like there is very little care for making scenes look good and we only seem to get generic shots and transitions which feel jarring. It stands out even more in slower episodes like this one where not a whole lot happens.
The Unknown: What is with Hershel's belief that walkers are sick? Surely he must have seen one of them die before coming back. It is an interesting standing on walkers though and I'm certainly curious to see how this will create conflict within the group.
Best Moment: Shane threatening Dale was the most tense and dramatic this episode got. Shane has been the best part of this season by far and has remained compelling.
Character of the Episode: Shane.
Conclusion: This episode was a very middling one. Some good things and some bad things. However the show does have a greater problem where it is failing to progress the story along satisfyingly. We need this to be fixed immediately so that the show can start living up to its potential like in season 1.
Summary: Daryl goes out to look for Sophia and finds a clue but he falls off his horse, down a cliff. He has visions of Merle and is able to climb back up. Rick and Shane come into conflict about their differing views. Hershel isn't being told enough about what is going on around the farm. Glenn goes to the barn to have sex with Maggie but discovers that there are walkers inside.
The Good: The Daryl focus was pretty good and helped this episode avoid being a dud. We got to sympathize with him and take a character journey with him, developing him more and allowing us to understand what is truly in Daryl's heart. Now we understand that he's tough and gritty, with a good heart as he doesn't turn on Rick despite his inner ramblings with Merle. By having Daryl deal with this struggle and overcome while becoming a better person, we have become invested in his character and this show has finally appeared to crack characterization for one character.
The action scenes were pretty good too. I enjoyed the walker action scene not for tension (it's obvious Daryl will escape) but because of how it demonstrated Daryl's grit and ability to fight through whatever is thrown at him. It was a great way to get us to support and like him.
The Rick and Shane scenes were really good. They have an interesting dynamic as friends with wildly different methods of survival. I thought that their argument was really good because I could understand both sides and both guys felt like real people arguing about differing opinions. Thankfully this story feels like it has meaning too as this conflict feels important and meaningful with potential ramifications to the story coming when both guys end up blowing up at each other. I wish the other scenes this episode had that same purpose (see: The Bad).
I like the ending reveal with the walkers in the barn. It finally gives this season something to increase interest and maybe get the show rolling again.
The Bad: Unfortunately a lot of this episode doesn't feel important at all with 95% of it being filler. Nothing here advanced the plot with the exception of the ending reveal. The Hershel, Glenn and Lori storylines don't accomplish anything new from the last episode and that is very poor and showcases how much the show has slowed down, which has not played to any of the show's strengths in the first season.
A lot of these pointless storylines aren't good. Glenn and Maggie is pretty dumb because the show is treating Maggie like a 15 year old instead of the adult she is supposed to be. Furthermore, I still have no clue what her character is supposed to be, which makes it tough for me to care for her relationship with Glenn. I don't care much for Hershel's storyline of not being told anything either. It's obviously setting up the fact that he turns on his guests but it's not being done in a logical or interesting way. Lori's story doesn't progress at all and is pretty bland as well. Honestly Daryl's story is pretty much filler too because it doesn't move along the story at all.
There was one great dramatic scene where Andrea almost kills Daryl because he wobbled in like a walker. That had serious potential and it actually almost convinced me that Daryl died which is pretty impressive. Unfortunately, the scene was ruined because everyone was idiotic. First of all, it's just one walker which means that they have plenty of time to wait until they kill it, so why not tell Hershel? I hate that the group doesn't care for Hershel except Rick. Do they not realize that he can kick them out if he doesn't like them? Everyone seems foolish for pushing their luck and taking everything for granted which you would think would be the one thing everyone doesn't do seeing that they are in a zombie apocalypse. Additionally, I can't possibly buy Andrea shooting. What does she hope to gain? Why? It's stupid and it better lead into a storyline between Andrea and Daryl or it all becomes pointless drama which accomplishes nothing and only wastes our time.
The show is still reliant on these one on one conversation scenes and it's getting tiresome. There needs to be better ways to manage multiple characters.
The Unknown: What is Merle's fate? Where is he now?
How will Daryl feel towards Andrea shooting him? Will he have hostilities now?
Best Moment: I'll go with Daryl cussing out Merle and making it to the top of the cliff.
Character of the Episode: Daryl.
Conclusion: This was another meandering dud of an episode saved by a good Daryl storyline. The show needs to pick up again because it hasn't capitalized on season one appropriately.
Summary: Otis' funeral is held. Daryl continues to search for Sophia. A walker is found in a well and the crew tries to remove it but it gets cut in half and contaminates the water. Glenn and Maggie go to a pharmacy and have sex. Glenn gets a pregnancy test for Lori and she tests positive. Hershel wants Rick's group off the farm but Rick convinces him to reconsider.
The Good: I liked the follow-up with Shane as he was put on the spot during Otis' funeral. He clearly feels uncomfortable and perhaps a little guilty, so he isn't completely gone as a human. His mannerisms have changed a little bit as he's become more quiet and to himself ever since what happened. His character arc is obviously building to something.
I liked the pharmacy scene a lot. It was a welcome bit of humour and levity as a mistake from Glenn results in sex, in an organic and entertaining way. On a show as dark as this, the lighter moments are invaluable.
I liked the way the episode set up plotlines early on in individual scenes. After just one scene, the pharmacy mission, Hershel's conflicts with the main group and Shane's isolation from everyone except Andrea were introduced as conflicts to be explored in the episode.
The Bad: Unfortunately the episode didn't do a good job exploring these conflicts, as none of them end up accomplishing anything which felt important or meaningful. The character development was very low here as all scenes ended up being two people talking about the story. That isn't character development and it shouldn't be treated as such. It renders the setups moot when there is little to no pay off for anything.
But I want to focus more on the two people conversations which I think really destroyed this episode. The pacing was awful as there were probably something like 10-20 different scenes where just two characters would have a short conversation with each other and then walk away. To make matters worse, these scenes consisted of characters making a point and then leaving, allowing no room for character development or organic dialogue. It was repetitive, jarring and tedious to watch. In the end we were left to follow 5 different storylines through 30 second scenes which have little to no meaning.
There was one terrible storyline in this episode too and that was the well walker. So there is a walker sitting in a water well who has been there for god knows how long. Yet the crew decides that the walker would contaminate the water if its killed so they need to get it out. What? First of all, the water is surely contaminated by now just from the walker being in there, so who would take the risk of drinking that water? It should have been deemed contaminated immediately. Second, why send a living person to get it out? That's risking a life for no real important cause for the sake of crappy drama which feels forced into the episode because otherwise there would be no walkers in this episode. It's a stupid plot line, and it doesn't even go anywhere since there is no character development and the walker ends up contaminating the well anyways. And to rub salt in the wound, Glenn defies physics to get the rope around the walker, which I don't buy in any way.
We need to know more about walkers as a whole. The walker in this episode was apparently able to survive without nourishment in that well, and I don't understand why. We need more information to understand how walkers work so that we are more familiar with the stakes of the show.
So many storylines feel pretty dull. The Daryl/Carol, T-Dog/Dale and SHane/Andrea storylines don't interest me much d they didn't progress much at all in this episode.
The Unknown: Is Lori's baby Shane's? That seems ripe for some drama down the road.
How are these walkers able to survive? Why dot hey need to eat if it's not necessary for their survival? Also, how did that specific walker get so fat? Or was it just a fat human who died?
Best Moment: The pharmacy scene was probably the best part about this.
Character of the Episode: Daryl.
Conclusion: This was a weak episode. Not much happened and it was awkward and tedious to watch. It's okay to slow the pace down and stop plot movement, but there needs to be character development. Unfortunately, this episode has nothing for character or plot, making it genuinely boring.
Just a university student who loves to watch TV. And criticize it like hell.