Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Walking Dead - Fall Finale

AMC's The Walking Dead just aired its fall finale. What a long, strange trip it's been.

Our intrepid band of zombie apocalypse survivors has slowly been coming apart (a little too slowly this season), mostly over the handling of The Search For Sophia, Carol's daughter and Carl's friend, who went missing after the group encountered and evaded that awesome Zombie Herd (TM) on the highway in this second season's opener.

Shane (Jon Bernthal), he with the chest which makes Arnold Schwarzenegger openly weep, is going into uber-survivalist mode: he will do anything - kill anything and anyone - that stands in the way of his safety, and of those under his protection. Of course, this philosophy directly conflicts with the views of his best friend Rick (Andrew Lincoln), the show's star and the erstwhile leader of this ragtag group, who still believes in notions like civilization and respect for other people's viewpoints and property. Rick and Shane will ultimately come to a reckoning - a "Come to Jesus/George A. Romero" moment - and I believe that's gonna be a brutal, ugly thing (which is great for a post apocalyptic survival horror-drama).

I blame the firing of Frank Darabont for the meandering this show has taken in its second season. The first season only had six episodes and then-showrunner Darabont kept the plotting nice and tight. Season two has twice the episodes (13 eps, actually) but they appear to have stumbled a bit with the transition from Darabont to current showrunner Glen Mazzara. The search for Sophia and the stay at Herschel's farm has taken up the most of the entire first half of the current season, with a lot of that "spinning our wheels, going nowhere" feel during much of it.

How many times did they have the scene of the gang gathered around a map on the hood of a car mapping out search grids as they attempted to locate Sophia? It could be its own Internet meme. Plus, Lori's whole "I might be pregnant but I'm not going to tell my husband storyline" was drawn out so much I thought they might finally resolve it after she gave birth to the kid and he or she went off of Post Zombie College.

The last ten minutes of the fall finale, "Pretty Much Dead Already" almost, and I mean almost, makes up for the slow plotting and pacing that came before it, with Shane going bugnuts (he made a lot of sense in that scene - and Bernthal was great) at the barn and those utterly heartbreaking final moments (my jaw was on the floor).

The Walking Dead is perhaps my favorite show on right now, but I sincerely hope that the plotting gets tightened up for the last six episodes of the season. If this episode is any indication, they are on the right track.

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