Zombie TV Review: The Walking Dead – Pretty Much Dead Already

Okay, wow. So The Walking Dead sent us to the mid-season break with a pretty explosive episode. A lot of the different plot threads out there came to a head, and a few new ones were introduced. While I liked the episode overall, there was one glaring flaw that really bugged me about it. Let’s know that out of the way first, and then we’ll get to the good stuff.

The mid-season finale of The Walking Dead Season Two

So, that flaw? Dale. Dale can be pretty annoying at times, especially when he’s dealing with Andrea, but his involvement with Shane has taken this to a new level. I can deal with overbearing, jealous old man Dale, but what I can’t take is “I’m going to take all the guns and hide them in the swamp” Dale.

This is a show about zombies, so you have to expect people to act stupid from time to time, and to make unilateral decisions about important matters without even talking to anyone else. But taking all the guns, wrapping them in a contractor bag, and then marching them out into the middle of the swamp is just insane. I mean, let’s just consider for a moment all the different ways this could go wrong:

  1. Dale could get lost or killed on his way to or from the swamp. Since no one knew where he went, finding the guns would be difficult at best, especially if he fell and dropped the guns into the water.
  2. There could be a sudden attack at the camp, and all their guns are out in the middle of the swamp. Thanks Dale!
  3. Dale, being an old man, could somehow forget exactly where the guns are.
  4. The guns, despite being in a heavy plastic bag, could get damaged from the humidity of the swamp.
  5. Someone else (Merle, perhaps?) could find the bag of guns and help themselves.
  6. Shane could go nuts, and then no one would have the guns to step in and stop him.

So those are some potential issues I thought up in about a minute of brainstorming. There are probably a lot more. On the other hand, what are the benefits?

  1. Shane doesn’t have direct, easy access to the guns, at least until he finds them.

Okay, so one benefit against a litany of potential disastrous outcomes. This leads me to believe that Dale really didn’t think through his actions in the least.

Okay, okay, so I’ve driven that into the ground. On to the rest of the episode, which I quite enjoyed.

I won’t get into each plot in detail, but I will say that I’ve enjoyed the slow-burning Shane gradually getting more and more crazy throughout the series. Tonight that all exploded, starting early on when the group found out about all the zeds in the barn. From there he never really let up. Sure, there were moments of outward calmness, but inside Shane’s head was a sea of insanity. Finding out that Lori was pregnant seemed to be the big pushing off point for him. He was creepy with Rick, obsessive with Lori, and weirdly fatherly with Carl. In Shane’s head, he’s already taking over for Rick, all he needs to do is move a few pieces into place.

Once Shane tracked down Dale in the swamp, there was no going back. He faced down the old man and walked right into his rifle, placing the barrel on his chest and daring the man to pull the trigger. Seizing the weapons, he marched back into camp and started pulling in anyone he could to his side of the argument, and doing a pretty good job playing of the various characters’ need to protect the group and their families.

And then he tried to give Carl a gun, and that was maybe one step to far. People could start to see the craziness leaking through. Luckily for Shane, that’s just when Rick and Hershel appeared, leading a pair of zombies on those things dog catchers use to grab dangerous animals. And, well, you know what happened from there.

We end the episode with Sophia finally reappearing, zombified, from the barn. For all Shane’s big talk and sermonizing about killing the zombies and the futility in looking for Sophia, he can’t pull the trigger. He just stands there, staring stupidly with everyone else. So it’s up to Rick to step up to the plate, doing the leaderly thing by doing what no one else wants to do, but what needs to be done.

So where does that leave us when the show comes back in February? That’s a good question. Shane is obviously trying to shake up the leadership of the group, but Rick reasserted himself nicely at the episode’s conclusion. And then there’s Hershel, who sat on the ground, completely unable to react to what he was seeing. And what about Carol and Daryl, who both seemed to find utility in the missing Sophia. With her “found”, so to speak, where does that leave them? Neither character seems terribly stable, and with their one driving goal gone, I’m really interested to see what these characters do now.

Good mid-season finale. You know, other than Dale’s idiocy.

Grade: B+

One final, mostly unrelated note. On two occasions someone posted spoilers for this episode in last week’s comments. These were picked up by the spam filter and never showed on the blog. I, however, read through them to try to determine if they were in fact spoilers, or just someone’s predictions for how the episode would shake out. I landed on spoilers do to both their specificity and the fact that they covered pretty much everything I would expect to see in the episode. Turns out they were dead right.

So why am I telling you this? First, just in case some other prick does the same thing later on, and it doesn’t get picked up by the filters. Apologies in advance. And second, as a request to everyone not to post spoilers for either the show or the comics without properly labeling them as such.

25 Comments

ZQFMBG

Hello Dave,

I am a big fan of your comics because I really love LEGOs and zombies. Thank you for making these great comics.

I have been reading you reviews for The Walking Dead and I am very interested in it. I have a a couple questions about it: 1. Where do you go to watch them (what channel?)? 2. I am confused about the episodes I saw on Netflix. When I search for the walking dead I find only 6 episodes. Are these the entire first season? And do they have anything to do with the episodes you are reviewing now?

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Dave

Hey ZQFMBG – Thanks for the kind words about my comic. I always love to hear people saying they enjoy it.

As far as The Walking Dead goes, what you’re seeing on Netflix is the first season. It was short because it was kind of an experiment. The network didn’t know if it would work, so they gave it six episodes. It was a ratings monster, and got picked up for a second season almost immediately.

We’re watching the second season now, which is showing on AMC on Sundays at 9 Eastern. Tonight is the last episode of the first half of the season. They’ll have a break for a couple of months, and then pick it up for the second half next year.

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Calicade

They’re milking this Farm to (un)death I swear.
I’m tired of seeing the place and I want the adventure to continue.

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Dave

No, but it threw enough monkey wrenches into the works to make the farm a little more interesting.

Dave

I’m a few minutes behind – I always pause the beginning so I can skip commercials – but good lord, Shane’s nuttier than a pecan log here.

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Meko

I have been saying since the little girl was lost that I wanted her to come back as a zombie, but I didn’t expect it to be quite like that, it was super heavy and twisted for sure! I think that Shane needs to be punched in the crotch or something, cause he is shit bat crazy! Now I just have to impatiently wait till February to see if they get kicked out of the farm!

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Dave

I’ve been wondering all season whether AMC had the balls to kill and zombify the little girl. I’m glad to see that they did.

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angelina

There was so much going on here – will they leave the farm, will Shane claim the baby, will they find Sophia, will Maggie defrost any time soon, will Shane snap already?

I hope that Andrea loses interest in Shane for his temper tantrum. I loved that Maggie gave her consent to Glen to help kill the walkers. I cried when Sophia came out of the barn – i felt the tug of a mom and the irony of the group killing Hershels loved ones and then having to off Sophia.

I’ll have more I’m sure but I’m still in awe of that episode.

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dieta

Who is Shane going to kill in a survivalist rage? We all know that Shane’s in-it-for-himself mode is at once insane and completely rational, given the circumstances. But at a certain point, his recklessness is going to result in a non-walker-related fatality. He’s already confronted Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn), who thinks Shane is a danger to the group. When Shane uttered the title of this episode, “You’re pretty much dead already,” he had a point: it’s only a matter of time before the walkers get everyone. It’s the ones in it for themselves that will live the longest. The next time he’s faced with life or death, he may aim higher than someone’s knees in order to escape.

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Dave

Very good question. I can’t see him killing Dale. As annoying as that character has been lately, he’s far too important a character to knock off so early in the series. Of course, maybe AMC will throw us a curve ball.

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angelina

I really like Dale. I know he seems to have his nose in everyone’s business but he isn’t using anything against anyone yet. He seems to be steering more than manipulating so I really don’t want to see him go yet.

I like your take that Shane is gonna shot someone. I hope he and Rick duke it out and Rick kills him.

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Dave

I liked Dale, but over the last couple of weeks he’s really gotten under my skin. The gun thing was incredibly stupid, but his first confrontation with Shane was weird too. The more I think about it, the less sense it makes to me that Dale would suspect him of shooting Otis. I mean, what evidence did he have that anything like that happened? I sure can’t think of any.

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Dave

Yeah, Dale was the old dude.

Merle was a hallucination, but he is potentially out there somewhere (unless he bled out or got ate by zeds).

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Christian Matzke

I saw Dale’s decision as an act of desperation and I enjoyed it as it highlighted just how screwed this folks really are. They can’t protect themselves from an internal threat anymore than an external one. Dale is the only one who saw what Shane *almost* did to Rick, and I think that alone makes him suspicious of Shane’s story about Otis.

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Dave

I could see his suspicious getting raised by the Rick thing. But him unraveling the Otis story was a stretch for me.

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Christian Matzke

I agree, though Shane certainly did become more erratic after the Otis thing. Go back to Otis’ funeral and you’ll see Dale giving him the hairy eyeball from the get-go.

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zombiemutts

“On two occasions someone posted spoilers for this episode in last week’s comments.”

Also note there is a season finale spoiler out there now…I will never understand why inconsiderate asses
thoughtlessly post stuff like that. We don’t watch shows or read books for the ending, we do it to be entertained as it unfolds.

Reply

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