A weekly recap of (almost) every gory detail in the latest episode of “The Walking Dead.”
The first half of the second season of “The Walking Dead” concluded in much the same way it began: with the unfortunate firing of a gun.
Actually, make that the unfortunate firing of many guns. Really, the final moments of the last episode before the AMC series’s December/January hiatus played like a fireworks finale on the Fourth of July, assuming your Fourth of July celebrations typically involve zombies and a pile of corpses.
As we attempt to process our feelings about those corpses, let’s explore the most important developments/questions from tonight’s episode of “The Walking Dead,” an installment dubbed “Pretty Much Dead Already.” Proceed with the knowledge that spoilers (and zombie carcasses) lie ahead. And by all means, please post comments to share your reactions to the episode as well as predictions regarding the rest of season two, which begins airing Feb. 12.
Previous “Walking Dead” recaps:
Glenn announced to the group that there are walkers in the barn.
Despite the fact that Maggie stood on the porch and shook her head at Glenn in a manner that clearly conveyed “If you tell everyone about the zombies in the barn, you are so never getting laid,” Glenn proceeded to tell everyone about the zombies in the barn. (To recap a key point from last week’s recap: Glenn is really terrible at lying.) As a consequence of this revelation, everyone freaked out and started arguing really loudly right outside the barn in a walker-disturbing way, and Glenn wound up with a rotten egg squashed on his head by Maggie. So, in summary, mission accomplished.
In a later scene, Glenn explained himself to Maggie, at which time he noted that her recent near-death-by-walker experience reminded him how dangerous the infected truly are. “I’d rather have you p***** at me and alive than liking me and dead,” he said. That may be the most romantic statement ever uttered on “The Walking Dead.” And it resulted in Glenn getting a big smooch from Maggie.
But was honesty the right call? I think Glenn owed it to his fellow survivors to let them know the barn contained, uh, tenants. However, I am not sure he needed to share that with the entire group. The trigger-happy Shane, for example, probably should not have been trusted with this information. In retrospect, Glenn should have told Rick and Lori privately and they could have decided how to handle it.
Lori acknowledged that her baby might be Shane’s.
Lori had previously insisted to Dale that her unborn child is Rick’s. But the truth is, she doesn’t know that for a fact, something she finally acknowledged when Hardly Sane Shane* informed her that Rick told him she was pregnant. (Sheesh. And here I thought “All My Children” was off the air.)
“Even if it’s yours,” she said to Shane, referring to the baby, “it’s not going to be yours.” In other words, the bloodline is irrelevant, because Lori plans to raise this child as hers and her husband’s.
The entire first half of season two was about what kind of future exists in a post-zombie-pocalypse world. (More on that later.) The fact that Lori isn’t even sure whether her baby is the child of a hardhearted, often ruthless cop or a compassionate but often indecisive cop is one more indicator of how uncertain that future is.
(*Note: Hardly Sane Shane is my new nickname for Shane, a nickname that I feel accurately captures his total lack of calmness and rational behavior. Also, it rhymes. And rhymes rhymes with Grimes. So this dorky nickname really ties the whole “Walking Dead” room together.)
New and improved Carl Grimes: now with cursing and deputy sheriff’s hats!
While Carl is definitely the son of Rick Grimes, it appears that attitude-wise, he’s truly Shane’s boy.
The kid has completely recovered from his gunshot wound, so much so that he was apparently up to doing math problems. (See, this is why Lori Grimes is totally supposed to have another child. Look how good she is at home schooling.)
Carl also had no reservations about donning his daddy’s deputy sheriff’s hat and informing Shane that not continuing the search for Sophia would be B.S. (Carl used the non-abbreviated version of that word. He not only has his father’s blood in his veins, but also, apparently, tiger blood.) And he looked completely willing to take that gun Shane handed him later in the episode, and probably would have if his mother hadn’t intervened. Yeah, this seems like something that could become a problem during season two, part two.
Rick’s narrative arc suggests that there is no place for faith in the world of “Walking Dead.” Or does it?
In the first episode of this season, Rick Grimes stood in the front of a church and asked God for a sign of hope. What did he get in return? The sight of a beautiful deer, a living creature whose presence led to his own son getting shot.
To be honest, though, that may not have been the sign. Perhaps God decided to test Rick instead, to present him with a savior (fine, a veterinarian who is willing to do major surgery on wounded boys) who has faith in the future of humanity despite the obvious odds against it. That man, of course, is Hershel, harborer of zombies and believer in both God and showing some sensitivity toward the walker set.
Hershel’s role as a symbol of faith came through loud and clear in this episode, first when he was spotted casually reading the Book of Luke over lunch (specifically the eighth chapter, which contains the parable of the sower) and again when Maggie quoted his advice about “loving one another as I have loved you.” (That phrase also comes from the New Testament; it was spoken by Jesus at the Last Supper, as noted in the Book of John.)
The CDC situation — let’s call that science — indicates the walkers can’t recover. And all physical evidence does, too. But the human spirit and a belief in a higher power — let’s call that faith — suggests that perhaps shooting zombies in the head is not the most spiritually evolved of choices. Based on what happened in this episode, it’s easy to understand Hershel’s point of view. If people you loved had turned flesh-hungry, you might not be so willling to give up on them either. (Zombies — they’re just like us ... except grosser!)
Based on what Rick chose to do in those final moments of this episode, howver, it appears he decided that there is no saving the souls of the zombified. After grieving after the shooting of his own child, Rick made the tough call to shoot another child, namely — spoiler alert — Sophia. He was finishing what he started, in a way, since he was responsible for Sophia getting lost in the first place. But, despite his willingness to help Hershel capture more walkers, Rick also demonstrated that when pressed, he will put safety first. I am not sure that was the wrong decision. But it is interesting that the decision carried so much weight, much more weight than it carried way back in the pilot when Rick shot a little girl and we all thought nothing of it.
This particular call seems like one that will be especially difficult for Rick to justify as he tries to instill hope and positivity in both Carl (aka Lil’ Shane) and his soon-to-be-born baby. (Aside: who wants to bet money that if Lori has the baby, it will be a girl and they will name her Sophia?)
Would everyone be better off if Shane had left?
Remember when HSS (abbreviation for Hardly Sane Shane) planned to break off from the group and go out on his own? He dropped that plan after Carl got hurt. But wouldn’t everyone have been better off if he had?
Con: They might not have gotten the medical equipment they needed to save Carl.
Pro: Otis would still be alive.
Con: Andrea would not have become empowered to wield a gun and grab Shane’s ... um ... never mind.
Pro: The walkers in the barn might still be alive. Although maybe that’s a con. Oy, I’m so conflicted about the mass walker murder at the end of this episode. Mainly because...
Sophia is a goner.
The poor girl’s fate was pretty obvious. Given the issues with the walkers, it was clear that when Sophia was found, Rick and co. might have a tough choice to make.
Still, that didn’t make it any less heart-breaking when the preteen lumbered out of Hershel’s barn — yet another of those zombiefied souls he had saved — in that grubby rainbow T-shirt and seemingly too walkered-up to realize that she was looking into the eyes of friends and her own mother.
In case you didn’t notice on first viewing, there was a moment early in the episode when Shane tried to loosen the barn lock and a zombie lunged toward the door. That zombie was Sophia. And Shane immediately reached for his gun, which didn’t happen to be in his holster at the time.
If he had shot Sophia then, he would not have realized what he had done. But as this episode ended, it was clear to absolutely everyone that Rick, and by extension, the group, had chosen day-to-day survival over hope and their own lives over the now destroyed lives of their loved ones. Fa la la la la, la la la la...
So what did you think of this halfway point “Walking Dead” finale? And how have you felt about season two thus far? Post a comment below.