Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Case of the.... The Walking Dead - Season 2

As I said in yesterday's Season 1 column, I will be posting my thoughts on The Walking Dead season-by-season.  Today, I will be discussing the extremely thrilling season two!  As previously noted, there will be spoilers for anything that happened during the second season -- but ONLY for the second season.  Click the link below for my thoughts on season two!

Continue reading "A Case of the....  The Walking Dead - Season 2"....

While I found season one very exciting, it was during season two that I found myself saying, "Whoa, pace yourself, guys!"  A friend at work today told me that he heard the show got off to a slow start, and I couldn't disagree more.  Perhaps it was because of the accelerated rate in which I watched the show (I might feel differently if I had to wait a week -- or more -- between episodes), but I couldn't believe how much happened within a mere 13 episodes.

So here's the story:
While season one saw the survivors mostly on the road and on the run, this season stationed the characters on a farm with a strict, hardworking family after Carl had been accidentally shot.  Also, Sophia goes missing in the woods, leading the group to spend several episodes searching for her in the woods.  Glenn begins an on-again, off-again romance with the highly attractive Maggie, daughter of Hershel (the farmer whose house they're camping outside of), who we also discover is hiding walkers in his barn.

We also see the continued descent of Shane, who becomes more violent and unpredictable by the episode.  He murders an innocent man in order to save Carl.  He makes veiled threats and uses intimidation towards the elderly Dale.  He has very angry and aggressive car sex with a disturbed Andrea.  His hot headed temper nearly gets them kicked off of the farm on more than one occasion.  He decides to murder another innocent man on the off chance that he might reunite with his group and send them after their camp.  And, finally, he conspires to kill best friend Rick.  "Descent into madness" may be an understatement.

Oh, and we also learn that everybody is infected with the zombie curse.  Which means that you don't need to be bitten or scratched by a walker to turn into one.  No matter how you die, you're returning from the dead, destined to roam the earth and feed on humans.

Overall thoughts:
I loved this season.  The visual of them being on this angelic farm with this old fashioned family was an incredible contrast to the horrendous world around them.  It was also great seeing them come so close -- but not quite achieve -- a happy, normal life.  You so desperately wanted them to have that, yet it kept getting torn from them.

I also loved seeing what direction each character went as the pressures of this world kept bearing down on them.  Some characters, like Dale and Glenn, didn't allow the brutality of this savage new world to compromise them.  No matter how difficult it seemed, they always tried to do the right thing and to protect their group from harm.  Other characters, like Rick, hardened somewhat.  The Rick of season one risked his life to return to a roof to rescue a guy who was a real detriment to the group.  The Rick of season two lied to a group of desperate survivors about their camp, despite their perilous situation.  Then there was somebody like Daryl, who stood up to the plate and became a real hero.  Meanwhile, there were people like Shane and Andrea who were beaten down by the horrors of this world.  I talked about Shane above, but I personally found Andrea even less likable.  She was really nasty and mean to pretty much everybody.  And her unwillingness to see that Shane was a maniac bothered me as well.  The only thing that made me like her again was that she stood up for Dale at the end of the season.  Aside than that, I couldn't wait for her to get hers.

A whole lot happened, as well.  They did what most shows are unwilling to do when they killed off a kid.  After several episodes of searching for Sophia, we came to learn that she had transformed into a walker and was actually inside the barn the entire time.  Lori also confessed to Rick about her affair with Shane, only to learn that Rick already knew about it.  This led to several tense moments throughout the season, including a parking lot fist fight and Rick's consideration to leave Shane for dead.  Ultimately Rick had a change of heart, although he would later be put in a life or death situation with him at the end of the season.

The climactic battle between the survivors and farmers (now together as one group, which made me happy) against a legion of walkers was pretty incredible, actually.  At this point, the show had already established that they're willing to kill off ANYBODY, so you truly had no idea who would survive.  And it was so violent and bloody!  You'd actually see and hear the walkers taking huge bites out of these people, even tearing off limbs.  And there were so many of them!  I truly had no idea who would live and who would die.

I was pleased that, for the most part, all of the characters found each other at the end of the season finale.  It's easy to forget that these characters not only don't have cell phones, but they don't even really have access to land lines.  If they get separated, there's really no way for them to find each other.  Due to the attack of the walkers, everybody was thrown in a different direction.  Rick, Carl, and Hershel were in one car.  Maggie and Glenn were in another.  T-Dog, Lori, and Beth were in a third.  And Daryl and Carol were on his motorcycle.  Yet somebody from each mode of transportation thought to themselves, "Let's return to the highway where Sophia went missing."  And because they all jumped to that conclusion, they were able to reunite.  It was a subtly touching moment in an otherwise brutal hour.

Except Andrea.  She was left behind because that's what happens when you're nasty to people.

Breakout character:
Another tough one, but I think it comes between Daryl and Hershel, both because of their compelling character arcs.  When Daryl was first introduced in season one, he came across as a slightly less angry, racist, and aggressive version of his brother Merle.  However, he seemed to turn over a new leaf in the season finale.  When T-Dog (the very man Merle beat and ridiculed) tore his forearm open, it was Daryl who came to his rescue and ultimately saved his life.  His truly selfless side came to fruition when Sophia went missing.  He put more time and effort into her recovery than anybody, and in the process built a close and sweet relationship with Carol.  His mean streak after discovering that Sophia had been infected was unfortunate, but thankfully short-lived.

Hershel was an equally intriguing character.  When he was first introduced, he rather selflessly saved Carl's life after he had been shot, and continued to offer pasture to the group of survivors even though he only had a sense of obligation to the Grimes family.  However, you could just sense that things were too good to be true and that SOMETHING would happen to ruin this happy little group.  Would Shane blow it?  Would Hershel grow tired of the group constantly breaking his rules?  You knew things wouldn't end well.  For the most part, I was wrong, though.  Yes, Hershel did eventually ask them to leave -- but he ultimately changed his mind and even offered them a place in his home (instead of making them camp in his farm).  I thought it was sweet how he grew to care about everybody (particularly Glenn and Rick's family) and I was thrilled that he survived and ended up joining the group with the rest of his family (those that survived, anyway).

It was actually kinda neat seeing Hershel stand alongside Rick and Glenn in the bar against the other human survivors, seemingly just after threatening to kick them off his land.

Significant deaths:
Where do I start?  You know how I said that this series surpasses shows like Lost and 24 with their willingness to kill off main characters?  Well, they earned that reputation with season two!  To a lesser extent, we lost several of the characters that we had begun to care about on the farm, such as Jimmy and Patricia.  But we also lost several characters that were around from the beginning, like Sophia, Dale (super sad face) and friggin SHANE!  That's right, they killed off Shane.  Don't get me wrong -- I loved it.  The character drove me crazy and I couldn't wait to see him get his.  But this was basically the equivalent of Jack murdering Sawyer on Lost.  Killing off the second billed character in the penultimate episode of the season simply does not happen on virtually any other TV show.  That is major, major stuff.

While not necessarily as significant, seeing Dale die was most certainly the saddest death until that point, and is quite possibly the most upsetting death of the entire series.  All things considered, it was a nice way to write off his character, though.  He went down fighting (figuratively) as he stood his ground on his feelings that they should not execute an innocent human, and in the end the person he cared for most (Andrea) saw the er of her ways and stood by his side.  Surely made me dislike Carl for the remainder of the season, though.

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