The Walking Dead Season 2 Finale Recap: A Real Barnburner

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It’s The Walking Dead Season 2 Finale, Episode 13, entitled “Beside The Dying Fire”, not to be confused with the title of one of those Soul CD compilations from a late-night infomercial where every other song is Luther Vandross’ “Here And Now” scrolling by in yellow and you’re like “oops, stayed up til 8 am again!” and you go to work on negative .01 hours of sleep. It’s not that fire. It’s a zombie fire.

The episode opens with a visual explanation of how that horde of 8 trillion zombies congregated and got to the farm, starting with walkers eating a horse carcass who abandoned the horse to follow the sound of a helicopter, then followed more and more sounds until finally their swelling numbers heard Carl shoot zombie-Shane and they turned towards the farm. So, the walkers prioritize following noise over eating food that’s right in front of them? I thought they followed noise because noises usually lead to food? And wouldn’t they have had to stop and find food somewhere along their journey towards the noises? And also wouldn’t they have heard Andrea shooting Daryl days earlier, or Daryl shooting Dale the day before, or Shane’s gun going off, or the motorcycle, trucks or RV engines that are constantly whirring, or the sound of the dining room table being perpetually set?

Ahh, whatever. Trying to keep up with the inconsistencies in this show is as useless as Hershel trying to keep the walkers off his land:

That said, please welcome to the finale EIGHT TRILLION WALKERS:

Rick and Carl notice the Million Zombie March and quickly begin to sprint back to the barn. Daryl and Glenn then arrive back at the house (one nanosecond after Andrea wants to leave to go after them), and the group goes outside and sees the horde of zombies descending onto their land, and they really don’t seem to care that much? Like, I know they’re all slightly dehumanized and killing walkers is second-nature to them, but when Hershel and Co. glimpse the unprecedented Supreme Walker Mega-Horde, they’re like “Yup, got another Code 1 on our hands. Commence protocol of driving around and shooting an insignificant fraction of them then being inevitably overwhelmed. Everyone try to hide behind the sh*tty characters!”

The group is a little spooked that Rick and Shane aren’t back yet, then Lori suddenly gets a lot spooked when she realizes that Carl isn’t in his room because SHE NEVER SUPERVISES HIM EVEN THOUGH THIS IS THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE:

Our friend Alex Zalben started a Tumblr called Get Out Of Here Carl, a site devoted entirely to Carl wandering into situations he shouldn’t be in, and it is great and very necessary. Fortunately, after letting her son wander into 8-10 life-threatening situations, Lori has a long-overdue epiphany:

Rick douses the barn with gasoline, leads some of the walkers inside, and has Carl drop a lighter down onto them, setting dozens of walkers ablaze and leading to the very cool afore-posted shot of the barn collapsing into flames:

Daryl assumes that Rick set the fire and sends Jimmy in the RV to go rescue him, and Jimmy pulls up, allows Rick and Carl to jump on top of the RV and escape, then a bunch of walkers break into the RV and eat Jimmy very graphically. Sorry, Jimmy! In another life, you would’ve made a fine nameless Star Trek ensign on an away team.

Keeping in mind that a single scratch can turn humans into walkers, Rick, like everyone else, seems to be taking the threat of the 8 trillion walkers a little on the casual side:

At this point, everyone could just hop in their accessible vehicles and leave before getting obviously overrun, but instead, their plan is to drive around and shoot zombies in the head from moving vehicles, which is simultaneously pointless and near-impossible, then guide the remaining walkers away with their cars. Fortunately, no one on this show EVER MISSES A SHOT EVER. Literally not one gunshot this entire episode fails to hit a walker directly in the head, including every shot fired from Glenn, T-Dog and Andrea out of a moving car window. I don’t profess to be an expert in marksmanship, but I have played a lot of N64 Goldeneye, and shooting a moving 6×12 inch target from a moving vehicle with ONE HUNDRED PERCENT accuracy… I’m just gonna end this paragraph here cause we have a lot more stupid Photoshops to get through.

Hershel declares that he can’t leave his farm – “It’s almost sorghum season!!!” – and in his newly-morally-shattered mind decides to just take on all the walkers with a shotgun like one big awesome arcade game bonus stage:

As shortsighted and borderline-suicidal as Hershel’s decision is, he actually beats the zombie horde for a good long while:

Meanwhile, irreplaceable fan favorite Patricia gets eaten by a walker too. I know her name is Patricia because I looked it up to make that joke.

Patricia Heaton? More like, Patricia EATEN! (If Patricia was Patricia Heaton.) Ooof, I know. We’re almost there, guys.

Carol (remember her?) sees the two other pointless characters die and knows she’s probably next, and gets cornered by a splinter cell of walkers up against a fence. Fortunately, the far less-kill-offable Andrea arrives to save her, but gets tackled by a walker in the process and the other group members thinks she’s being killed, but she manages to squirm away and escape off into the woods, and Carol manages to scramble away separately:

Finally, with no end to the zombie horde in sight (what is this, an episode of Horde-ers? The humor from the Patricia Heaton joke has now risen as a soulless undead shell of itself!), the group members each begin to individually realize that their only hope is to bolt the farm and hope to reconvene later, which is exactly what should’ve happened from the get-go. As soon as Rick and Carl were accounted for, the group members should’ve divided up, agreed on a meeting place, driven away, and met back up a day later. Never mind the fact that dumbass Hershel wants to protect his large and weirdly-prominent graduation photo in his entryway – GET OUT OF THERE! I know you’re the main characters so you probably aren’t realistically as concerned about dying as you should be, but one instance of slight contact with one of the several-hundred creatures descending upon you will end your life in unimaginable horror.

Just a simple plea to the characters heading into Season 3.

Everyone escapes the barn in various groups except the two Lost ‘background island people,’ and the next fifteen or so minutes of the episode centers around the different factions (Rick, Carl & Hershel, Maggie & Glenn, Carol & Daryl, and Lori & T-Dog) discussing whether or not to go back for their missing comrades, and everyone has differing, equally valid reasons for their intuitions. Carl can’t leave his mother behind, Hershel has nothing left to live for, Maggie and Lori each feel obligated to rescue their missing friends, T-Dog and Glenn both think it’s pointless to turn back to search for people who probably won’t be there, and so on.

All of this discussion is then instantly nullified when all three vehicles in succession join back up with Rick on the highway, and the group is entirely restored (sans Andrea). Oh good! The convenientest. Apparently, Walking Dead finales also possess an Oscars ‘wrap it up’ light.

Andrea, meanwhile, has been running away from walkers all night, then finally picks her spot and turns to fight three of them and successfully slams this excellent walker’s head into a tree:

She destroys a couple walkers, but finally gets pinned down by a third one, and just when it looks like the episode might actually throw a meaningful death into three consecutive episodes, Andrea is rescued by this mysterious figure:

The briefly-introduced character is Michonne, a prominent figure from the Walking Dead comics (played on the show by Treme’s Danai Gurira) who survives by carrying two de-everythinged walkers chained to her at all times. During AMC’s Talking Dead, producer Robert Kirkman confirmed that she’ll be playing a prominent role in Season 3, which sounds intriguing, but we’re not there yet. Back to everyone magically finding each other!

The group continues down the road in their Swingers-esque three-car procession, until Rick notices that his car is running on fumes and they’ll have to stop for gas, even though they’re completely out in the open:

Rick denies Maggie’s request to just go get gas now before the sun sets, because he doesn’t want the group to split up any more (if there’s one thing these dudes love more than superfluously making loud noises, it’s splitting the f*ck up). This gives the group a chance to take stock of who’s missing: Those two nobodies (even Hershel’s like “Meh, no biggie”), Andrea, who they aren’t positive is alive, and oh yeah, Shane! Whatever happened to Shane, Rickster?

Rick semi-dodges the group’s question by tying up a Season 1 Finale loose end, admitting to the group that Dr. Jenner from the CDC whispered in his ear that everyone is infected with the walker-virus:

This explains why Randall and Shane each came back as walkers despite not being bitten: Anyone who’s killed without having their brain destroyed will come back to life as a walker. Rick says he kept the info to himself because Dr. Jenner seemed crazy and might’ve been wrong, but the group is furious at Rick for not sharing this information earlier, which seems exceedingly reasonble of them considering it almost got Glenn and Daryl killed, and only Ben Linus is allowed to reveal game-changing information incrementally without justifying himself.

Having temporarily ducked the Shane question, Rick steps aside for a brief “stare off into nothing” moment that people really love in movies and tv because it’s a great way to get two characters talking alone, and Lori compassionately joins him, then coldly withdraws when Rick finally comes clean about the Shane incident:

Here, for once, Rick actually isn’t to blame, but Lori’s shocked and confused feelings cloud her ability to see that Rick essentially had no other option than to kill Shane, and her reaction is likely compounded by her own guilt from having basically warned Rick that he and Shane couldn’t co-exist. The general group animosity towards Rick begins to pile up: His decision to stop for the night, his decision not to tell everyone the Jenner info, and the dangerous implications of his willingness to kill Shane have all turned the group varying degrees of skeptical towards their de facto leader, and it all reaches a critical mass when they hear a sound of movement in the trees and Rick underreacts (a first).

The group members flatly question Rick’s leadership, in a very interesting unconscious tribute to the late Mr. Shane:

Finally, Rick explodes and snaps back at everyone with an angry, simultaneously rambly but emphatic speech about how he is the group’s leader, he’s always been the group’s leader, everything he does is for the group’s well-being, and if anyone doesn’t like it, THERE’S THE DOOR! [Points at blade of grass]

Rick is very emotional, and at one point throws in the phrase “Democracy is over,” as well as a few other strange choice lines:

Despite their newfound skepticism, no one in the group leaves or snaps back at Rick, including Vice Potential Leader Daryl. Rick’s blowup does manage to make Carl cry, something that running from a million zombies trying to eat him couldn’t do, and he glares at his father with a Carlface truly worthy of a Season Finale:

And for the hell of it, here’s that Carlface as a Desktop Background (click for Full Size):

Rick has re-asserted his power for the time being, though he’s completely abandoned his earlier insistence on compassion and patience, and he’s completely dropped the Dale-promoted illusion that the group’s current situation in any way resembles functional human society. As much as I do make fun of this show – and to enjoy it, you really do have to ignore 20-30% (sommmetimes 40 or 50%…) of the stuff that happens in any given episode – I do want to see where the show goes now that Shane is gone, a Shane-ized Rick is leading a lost group in a world where a legion of 30 rival humans is also out there, plus a walker-carrying swordswoman will reveal herself, and Hershel’s boring farm has been mercifully torn to pieces.

So where does the show go from here? PRISON:

Not a bad last shot of the season. Though I would’ve preferred a final, shocking close-up of Hershel’s dining room table, FINALLY set…

Walking Dead Season 2 Finale thoughts? Thoughts on Season 2 as a whole? Did these last two episodes turn things around a bit after a slow start, or do the stupid things still overwhelm the positive things? Favorite / least favorite parts? Stuff we missed? Eulogies for Patricia and Jimmy, fiction’s greatest characters? Leave everything in the comments, it’s your last chance to vent for quite a while.

Also, thanks to everyone who’s followed along with these recaps all season and kept the comments thoroughly entertaining. The genuineness and accuracy with which you’ve all pointed out stuff in the show that bugs you absolutely entertains me to no end. Yayyyy!!!! WE MADE ITTTTTTTT!!!!!!

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