The Walking Dead Midseason Finale Recap: Better Off Undead

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It’s The Walking Dead Season 2, Episode 7, entitled “Pretty Much Dead Already”, and it’s the Midseason Finale – I’m not sure that’s an actual thing, but if the Season Finale brought us a hilariously exploding CDC, I imagine that this week’s partial finale will feature a somewhat-chuckle-inducing, half-exploding Hershel farm? Close, actually!

The episode opens with Glenn “The Inverse Secret” telling the entire group about the barn full of walkers, though he does manage not to ruin the ‘Lori pregnancy’ secret and also resists telling everyone about the time he masturbated into Dale’s hat. The groupies react to the news with predictable differences of opinion; Rick, being the diplomat, wants to give Hershel a chance to explain himself so the groups can continue co-existing. Shane, being a guy who wants to shoot barns full of things at any opportunity, wants to shoot the entire barn full of walkers, and for good measure, he also wants to leave the farm because Sophia’s “Pretty Much Dead Already.”

Carl is personally offended by his father-figure’s sudden hopelessness, and reacts by really vulgarly ripping on Shane:

Maggie is so upset with Glenn spoiling the barn secret that she shoves an egg in Glenn’s hat – a reference to a bit from the classic 20s silent comedy The Eggtowne Trolleys – but Glenn manages to save face by explaining that after seeing what the walker in the pharmacy tried to do to her (with no regard to their sex-plaque that he put up), he realized that he was putting her in greater danger by not telling the group about the barn. Glenn’s dramatic speech turns the tide and they kiss again, keeping Glenn and Maggie well on their way to sweeping the 2012 Believablees:

Rick goes to have another chat with Hershel, who continued his trajectory of growing more indefensibly passive-aggressive by the episode – it’s almost as if the actor playing Hershel wants the show to stop filming him and move on. Rick brings up the barn full of live zombies, like a big ol’ Curious Cat, and Hershel responds with his whole “they’re people” spiel and tells Rick he wants their group OFF MAH LAWN by the end of the week:

I enjoy how offended Hershel is that people keep daring to question why he keeps a barn full of live, fed walkers on his property at all times, and that it’s just so annoyingly inconvenient for him to have to explain such a thing. He’s basically adopted the Chief Wiggum mindset:

Rick tells Hershel that he’s mistaken and that his perspective is clearly warped by his lack of exposure to the outside zombieworld and his personal attachment to his zombified wife and son (two points for Grimes in the farm Model-UN debate!), and when Hershel still doesn’t budge, Rick brings out the big guns – or, rather, the very tiny guns – and tells him that Lori’s pregnant, calling it “A blessing in here, but a death sentence out there.” Eventually, Hershel has a very reluctant change of heart, but insists that if Rick chooses to stay, that he adopt their policy of treating walkers like human beings. Rick’s like, “As long as there’s no shaving policy, I’m all aboard the human-train.”

Hershel takes Rick to a stream where two walkers – one of whom Hershel recognizes – have gotten themselves stuck in some sticky muck, possibly because they’re brainless, soulless vessels on a constant rampage for sustenance in the form of flesh, but possibly because they are not that. Who is to say? Rick is not to say. Hershel, Rick, and Hershel’s now less-weird kid have to pull the walkers out of the stream using neck-collars, then guide them back to the barn so they can cruelly prolong their vacant existence.

Rick has clearly compromised his moral principles and his “thing obviously trying to eat me” awareness in order to abide by Hershel’s rules to keep the farm open for pregnant Lori, but the walkers just keep being super dooper obviously inhuman:

Meanwhile, Dale sneaks into the RV, grabs the bag of guns, and tells Glenn to “go fetch him some water” while he keeps watch. This doesn’t make sense, because why would Dale cover Glenn’s watch while Glenn got him water, and not just go get the water himself while Glenn stays on watch? Fortunately, this doesn’t lead to a walker attacking the camp during the short time when Glenn is off watch, as we kind of expected, but it still seems a little too Glenny, even for Glenn. Or was Glenn totally in on the plan, and picked up on Dale’s subtext? That would almost seem too NON-Glenny for Glenn. Either way, he’s not being Juuust Right Glenn. Which was usually Wrong Glenn. Good change, Glenn!

A short time later, Shane strolls in looking for the guns, and Dale’s motivation becomes clear: He’s off hiding the guns, and he left while Glenn was getting the water so Glenn couldn’t instantly spoil where he went. Shane intends to shoot the walkers, even after Rick told him about Lori’s pregnancy and their need to stay at the farm. However, even though Shane’s decision to kill the walkers does appear partly motivated by the cold, detached logic that’s kept Shane alive til this point, it seems more like a deliberately self-destructive act designed to both assert power over Hershel and to potentially ruin a place for Lori to deliver the baby that she tells him “will never be his.” So yes, apparently Shane did shave off his last remaining strands of empathy back in that shower scene.

Shane quickly finds Dale, who’s totally caught with his hand in the gunnie jar, and when he tells Dale to hand over the guns, Dale draws a weapon on him and defends the bag. Perhaps I was expecting too much zaniness from the midseason finale, but I really did think either Shane or Dale was gonna get shot in that scene (more likely Dale), but the conflict dissolved believably, with Shane calling Dale’s bluff, getting him to hand over the guns, and with Dale sheepishly adding “You really are made for this world.” Shane was gonna have that phrase printed onto business cards, but that would’ve been a post-apocalyptic waste of time.

Shane returns to the farm and starts handing out guns to his loyal followers, giving weapons to Daryl, T-Dog, Andrea, and even handing one to Grizzled Carl:

Shane’s doing his own version of those 1950s propaganda newsreels for kids that would be like, “See? Even these young lads are pitching in for Uncle Sam, catchin’ Communist junebugs in their freedom jars! Lookin’ good, boys!” (Read that in an Olde Timey Voice. Actually, read the whole Recap in an Olde Timey voice. Now it’s almost readable, right??)

Just as Shane approaches the barn, Rick and Hershel return with their stupid stream-stuck walkers, and it’s all cards on the table time: Hershel still thinks they’re people, Shane still doesn’t think they’re people, and Rick continues to ignore everything he’s witnessed in the hopes of keeping a compromise. All the while, the zombies keep SUPER BEING ZOMBIES:

Shane erupts, “If they were people, how can you explain this?” and shoots Hershel’s rescued walker in the chest five times, and when it continues to live, he finishes it off with a headshot. (Did Shane’s explanation scene remind anyone else of a really dark version of the Ace Ventura “Would a real woman…be missing these???” scene? 90% of you? Ok, great.) As violent and abrasive as Shane is acting, he’s clearly right, but Rick urges him not to open the barn so he can massacre Hershel’s zombie-family in front of him.

No one stops Shane, and he opens the barn and begins shooting the walkers as they emerge, then the rest of the group joins in (sans the shocked Rick and the doubleplusshocked Hershel), and within moments, all the walkers in the barn have been Shaneified (the shooting version of that term, not the penis one):

Suddenly, from within the barn, there’s a creeping sound of one more walker. Aaaaaaaand it’s Sophia. AWESOME!!! You found her, search party! Just a great job by everyone.

Sophia stumbles into the light, and she’s either a zombie or she’s been severely made-up for a needlessly artsy magazine cover shoot:

How did this happen, exactly? Did Sophia sneak into the barn to hide, and got bit by one of Hershel’s walkers, thus basically costing Hershel a lifetime of guilt? But if that were so, how did the walkers not just completely devour Sophia? Or did zombie-Sophia wander onto the farm property and Hershel secretly stashed her and intentionally didn’t tell the group? So many questions left unanswered by that damn Lost finale.

Carol breaks down crying, but the group remains still, terrified by the development but more terrified by the collective acknowledgment of their only option. Finally, Rick steps forward, grabs a pistol, and takes aim:

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is your Midseason Finale:

Walking Dead Midseason Finale Thoughts? Reactions to the big Sophia reveal? Thoughts on Season 2 so far as a whole? Comment now, cause the show’s off until February 12th! After this week, when you think of other Walking Dead inconsistencies, you’ll just have to text me.

(All pics via AMCTheWalkingDead.com, except that real Vanity Fair cover)

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