So we've come to the end of the first half of the second season of The Walking Dead. That's unnecessarily confusing math, but it's also a great excuse to talk about the season as a whole so far. Let's see where we are...
First off, remember that the first season only had six episodes, so we've seen as much at Hershel's farm as we saw of the entire world in season one. And whether it's the confined setting or the updates to the team of writers, it seems that we all agree that this season is better than the first. Personally, I've gone back and forth, and if we didn't have this website to have conversations on, I'm not sure if I would have continued watching the show, but after tonight I've got to say that I'm glad I'm still on board. Sure, there are some problems, but all in all there are enough fun moments to make up for any of those.
Highlights of the season so far:
Shane is apparently going to stick around. I kept waiting for him to die, to see how this death would be different from the comics but still similar, but it doesn't look like that's happening. Okay. Good to know. And I'm also really glad. The murder of Otis and the scene when Dale called Shane out on all of his shit but lacked the conviction to actually DO anything about it make for great television, and Shane is a great character.
I also love all of the thematic elements around leadership that Shane's survival has brought about this season. The comics don't get into that moral dilemma for a while, and the beginning focuses more on survival and finding safe harbors. In just this one episode, we got to see Hershel vs. Rick vs. Shane vs. Carl.
Carl stepping up has also been a highlight of the season for me. He recovered from his shooting really fast, but whatever, he's a TV character so that happens. I loved seeing him in Rick's hat and I loved watching him tell Shane that he wasn't going to be leaving no matter what.
Andrea is a badass now, and I like that we got to see her learn to shoot. I don't remember that as a big part of the comics, although I haven't reread those in a while so I could totally be missing something. Either way, her learning to shoot from Shane is a great detail. Her grabbing of Shane's cock last week? Whoa! Not sure what to think of that yet, but I do like that it created tension with Dale.
One question, though - all of the potential leaders fighting it out for control say the same thing, and Dale said it when he was confronting Shane last week, too. "I'm just looking out for the group." The "group" that we all know is a hodgepodge of different groups that came together for survival at some indeterminate moment in the past. As viewers it makes sense for us to lump the people from season one together as the original group, but in the post zombie apocalypse world, wouldn't you want to make any new survivors you found part of your group? Hershel's separating Rick's group from his own seems silly to me. Maybe it's because Hershel has only watched the zombie takeover on TV, but shouldn't he be at least a little glad that his daughter has someone her own age to fuck now?
It's also amazing that Hershel is so adamant about his demands to have "Rick's group" leave the farm. Rick is being a gentleman and following all of Hershel's rules, but what makes Hershel think that Shane and Andrea and everyone else will actually say, "Well, Rick's the leader, and he says we should go, so let's head on back out into the world that's overrun with zombies and see if we can survive or not..."? Hershel clearly didn't spend any of his pre-zombie apocalypse time watching movies and planning out what he would do. Poor guy.
And so Shane tries to take control of the group. He opens the barn. He kills everyone that Hershel loved. And then out walks Sophia. DAMN! If I didn't know that she's still fucking alive and pointless in the comics I may have been able to see that coming on the show, but as a reader, it was a total shock and almost made that plotline for the season worthwhile. And then Shane hesitated, and Rick had to be the one to walk up and put a bullet in her brain, taking control of the group once again and echoing the scene from the pilot where we first met our ex-sheriff hero. The girl with the teddy bear was just a zombie extra, and her young age was used as a signal to the audience that "Yeah, this show will let people kill little girls, deal with it," but then we closed out the first half of this season with Rick shooting a little girl that we actually knew. Good stuff.
Sure, there was enough crappy CGI zombie blood to rival the crappy CGI CDC building explosion from the season one finale, but I'm on board for the rest of the season. Hopefully Carol kills herself soon, Hershel gets out of the way, too, and we can find out what's up with that random young dude that's part of "Hershel's group" and then he can die, too. Then I wanna bring Jon Bernthal and Andrew Lincoln to Fantastic Fest 2012 so they can compete in the Fantastic Debates and box each other, just because that would be fun to watch.