Rise of the Ricktator: Walking Dead S2 Finale Review
Posted by Alan Edwards
It’s been a long slog through Season 2, one that began with such high hopes and ended with, well, this season. When a show about a zombie apocalypse spends more time on domestic drama, gender roles, and the ethics of becoming pregnant during Doomsday, it makes for slightly less compelling television. Anyway, I’m glad the season is over. If Season 3 began tomorrow, I’d be completely unable to watch it. Maybe having some time and perspective will open my eyes to the creative team that is layering such subtext and melodrama into a rich tapestry of… yeah, uh, we’ll have to see.
Here we go. When last we saw Carl and his stupid hat, the kid had wandered off and watched his dad shiv Shane after talking him down from shooting him. Then the zombies came pouring out of the woods. Remember how last week I said not to worry about where this magical horde came from and why they were milling around 300 yards away from a house full of their favorite meal? Well, the show didn’t listen. Instead, they decided to show us where they came from. Atlanta. See, they were eating something when a helicopter flew by. Apparently the meal in front of them was lousy, because they immediately left it behind to follow the helicopter that soon disappeared from sight. I guess other zombies saw them moving and were like, OK, I’ll see what’s up. Somehow, they managed to avoid getting distracted by anything while swelling in numbers, until they arrived in the woods where they waited around and heard Carl shoot his gun and that made them come out of the trees. They were better off not showing us where they came from, because it’s not like their explanation makes any sense.
But come they do. Rick sees the horde and he and Carl go running off towards the farm. There is clearly a bunch of distance between the horde and them, and yet the closer they get to the house, the more zombies are in front of them, which again makes no sense. Just like time is an issue for the makers of the show (as we’ll see later), distance is just as difficult for them to deal with. I guess they wanted to heighten the drama by keeping them inexplicably surrounded. They might have done a better job if they hadn’t decided to waste 5 minutes painstakingly showing how the zombies got there.
Whatever. Rick directs Carl to the barn where Rick lays a trap, gathering as many zombies as possible inside after spreading gasoline around on the floor. He gives Carl a lighter and tells him to stand in the loft and to throw the lighter when Rick tells him to. Zombies are lured in, signal given, Rick runs up the ladder (which I personally would have done without giving my irresponsible wandering idiot of a son the sole means of springing the trap. These zombies followed a helicopter 80 miles after seeing it for 3 seconds. I tend to think they would have followed Rick if he’d gone up the ladder. Anyway.), and the zombies go up in a blaze.
Inside the house, everyone is awake and wandering around, because it hasn’t been dark long, and yet no one knows Carl is gone because they all want him to die. Darryl and Glenn come back, tell the group about Randall, and express concern that Rick and Shane aren’t back. For some bizarre reason, Lori decides to check on her son. “I CAN’T FIND CARL!” becomes her mantra for the next unbearable ten minutes, which is just laughable. They discover the barn is ablaze and zombies are everywhere. Time for the Running Zombie Battle as they decide to take to the cars, drive around, and distract the zombies from the barn where Rick and Shane must be.
Now for a brief segue, wherein I get all nitpicky as a bitch.
I know the zombie fights are great and dramatic and all that, but the marksmanship displayed during the Walking Dead fight scenes is just laughable. Every character – every single character – is able to deliver headshot after headshot like it’s nothing. Ten bullets? That’s ten dead zombies. Even Lori can drop a couple of zombies 50 feet away with a snubnose .38. Nevermind that pistols, especially snubnoses, are inaccurate as fuck unless your aim and trigger pull are incredibly steady. I watch Top Shot regularly – it’s an awesome show, and I really need to take a break and talk about things I watch that don’t make me swear at the TV, but writing all pissy tends to much funnier than sonnets dedicated to Colby’s teeth and how awesomely white they are and how I would pay hard currency to have that dude follow me around and comment on every mundane thing I do with his trademark teeth-sucking and wild enthusiasm – where was I – oh, I watch Top Shot regularly, and on that show you’ve got fucking expert marksmen, shooting champions and shit, and in a recent episode two of them had to shoot head-sized targets while moving slowly from one side to another. They aren’t being chased, they aren’t in danger of being eaten, and yet these guys connect less than half the time. Shooting a small moving target is fucking hard as shit. Yet, every fucking person with a gun is Deadeye Fucking Dick in the Walking Dead. Lori’s birdy little wrist would snap from the recoil of that gun. Yes, I know it’s TV. Yes, I know that’s how they do it in TV shows and the movies. It’s still ass. It would be a lot more tense if they weren’t guaranteed to hit every fucking thing they “aim” at.
OK, pedantic rant over.
So the group goes for the vehicles. Glenn and Maggie get Shane’s Hyundai. T-Dog and Andrea get the shitty red pickup. Darryl is on his motorcycle. And of course, the sacrificial lamb, the nameless 17-year-old kid that shows up periodically gets the RV. All by himself. Lori, Carol, the Cutter, and Otis’ wife stay in the house until…it’s safe… to run to the cars? I’m not sure what they are doing. Herschel declares “It’s my farm!” and plans to stand outside shooting the dead with his shotgun. We see them driving in circles, headshotting the shit out of everything. Darryl tells the kid to take the RV to the back of the barn to get Rick, because that seems like where he’d be, standing on a burning barn instead of running. As it turns out, that’s exactly where he is. He guides the kid to a perfect place for him to get on the RV, which just happens to put the flimsy door to the RV directly in front of the pack that was trying to eat Rick. They turn around and are like, Hey look, dumbass teenager meat, and pile into the RV and eat the kid while Rick and Carl run away. Rick eyes the bloodsoaked windshield and listens to the screams and looks really upset. Well, kinda mildly concerned. Maybe.
The pack inside the house decides it’s time to run for the cars because… the signal… actually, I have no idea why, but they decide to run for it. Carol runs screaming like a crazy person straight for an outbuilding where she can stand against the wall and scream at the zombies coming at her, which was a good plan. Lori is behind her, followed by Otis’ Wife and the Cutter. Otis’ Wife gets eaten because anything off-camera is apparently invisible, despite the fact that there is zero chance they wouldn’t have seen the zombie directly to their right as they run. No zombies to the left, but the Cutter glides OW right over to a couple zombies on the right and screams like she’s surprised. Lori stops to pry her away because she’s unwilling to leave anyone in danger if there is a chance to do something about it. T-Dog pulls up in front of Carol and Andrea gets out to help. Two headshots later, Carol is safe, but no one in this fucking group ever thinks to check their six, so Carol screams again as a zombie comes behind Andrea. Recognizing the pitch and intent of Carol’s scream, Andrea turns and shoots the zombie dead, which carries forward and falls on her. Lori and the Cutter have piled into the truck and all three witness this. Lori, having demonstrated her concern over anyone in danger, immediately screams “she’s down, go go go!” And so T-Dog pulls away and leaves the other two behind. Lori is – say it with me now – an awful fucking human being.
Herschel ain’t gunna give up his farm and decides to stay behind. He’s in the zone. Also, his shotgun has become magically immune to reloading, and so he can just blaze away with impunity. After ten solid minutes, he needs to reload. I think he puts in three shells, which should be good for the rest of the night, and again never looks behind him. It’s a zombie! Of course, Rick appears, shoots the zombie, and tells Herschel that it’s time to leave. Herschel doesn’t want to give up the farm. Now, there’s no reason to assume the zombies are going to stay, since they just followed a fucking helicopter for a week. I would assume they’d probably, I dunno, follow the fucking cars. I’d personally just drive for a little bit, then circle around and go back to the farm. Whatever.
So now everyone scatters. The good part of the show is over. Yes, that was the good part. Andrea realizes she’s been left behind and gives a “thanks you fucking assholes” look before grabbing the bag of guns and ammo and running off. Maggie has a scene where she says she doesn’t want to leave the farm, which was stupid when Herschel gave the same speech 5 minutes ago. The zombies mobbing the car convinces her to give the wide fucking world a try. Rick and Carl and Herschel get in a car and drive off, apparently uncaring about Carol’s piercing screams. T-Dog left like an hour ago. Daryl stays behind to watch the barn burn because, you know, fire, hears Carol, and drives over to pick her up. Everyone but Andrea and the two dead extras are on the road. The show is leaving the farm!
The next morning –
Yes, I said the next morning. Again, the horrible time jumps. At the latest, and I’m being fucking generous here, the group out looking for Randall look around in the dark for 4 hours. That’s insane, but let’s call it that. It’s midnight. That’s when the battle starts. It’s not an hour, but I’ll give them an hour before everyone scatters. It’s 1 am. They are still fucking driving when the sun comes up 5 fucking hours later. What the shit, writers? Seriously. What the fuck are they doing driving for 5 fucking hours?
Christ. Anyway, the next morning, Rick and Carl and Herschel pull up to the spot where they’d left the food for Sophia back when they thought she was alive. Rick is sure this is where everyone will meet up. Carl gets bitchy about leaving his mother behind, Rick tells him to shut the fuck up and go wander around the cars – not sure what he actually said, but that is the net result – and Herschel and Rick debate what they are going to do. Rick wants to stay here, Herschel says it isn’t safe and that Rick needs to get the boy somewhere safe, because he’s got the cure for the zombie plague in his blood. Actually, no, Herschel just thinks it’s uber-important that Carl be safe for some fucking reason. He comes up with the Greatest Walking Dead Plan Ever. He tells Rick to take Carl somewhere, and he’ll stay behind to tell the others where Rick has gone, even though he won’t know that information. He’ll hide in a car and if he gets eaten by a zombie, so be it. Because he’ll be waiting to tell the others where Rick has gone so it apparently won’t matter if he’s dead. It’s so awesomely nonsensical. It’s the kind of plan you tell someone when you just want them to fucking leave you alone. No guys, I swear, I’ll be right behind you. Surprisingly, Rick doesn’t buy into it. They are going to stay there because that’s where everyone will go.
Meanwhile, T-Dog takes a look next to him. He’s got two females of breeding age. Yeah, one’s knocked up, but hey, that’s a problem for later. He’s been marginalized and ignored for weeks. Everyone has avoided him. No one gives a fuck about his opinions. Well, now it’s T-Dog Time. He tells the ladies that they are going east, to the coast, which is what they should have done from the beginning. Poor T-Dog is probably no more than halfway through his fantasy of getting on a fishing boat and driving off with his ladies, ready to repopulate the world with lil T-Pups, when Lori speaks up. Nope, she declares, they are going back to where the group left the supplies for Sophia, because that’s where Rick is going to go. She threatens to jump out, which would’ve made me shrug and say, Go for it, crazy bitch, but convinces T-Dog to turn around. Because Rick would go to where they lost Sophia.
Now, I don’t know why this is. Convenient, I guess. Otherwise, you’d have people wandering around willy-nilly. So instead of that interesting occurence, we’ll just assume everyone is mind-fucking-melded and comes to the exact conclusion. Whatever.
Maggie flips out so Glenn tries to distract her by tell her that he loves her. It’s a poignant and hopeful scene of young love. No it isn’t, but it’s a scene that I had to watch so you have to hear about it. Shortly after that, everyone pulls up to the exact spot at roughly the same time. Yay, serendipity. Everyone gathers together and drives off. They drive for a while, when for some reason the old 1950’s rusty-ass pickup that gets 4 miles to the gallon and only uses leaded gas runs out of fuel. They were in the middle of a fucking traffic jam and never once considered the idea of taking a somewhat more fuel-efficient or reliable or less-than-fifty-years-old vehicle. Because they are a bunch of fucking morons. Rick decides they are going to make camp despite some bitching. Someone mentions that Randall comes back from the dead, and now it’s time to resolve that cliffhanger that we’ve all been waiting on the edge of our seats to learn, the one burning question we’ve been begging for an answer.
Yeah, I’d pretty much forgotten it too, because who gives a fuck?
Anyway, Rick tells the group what the CDC dude whispered in his ear before the place blew up. It’s why they are rising as zombies despite not being bit. Are you ready? This is HUGE.
They’re already infected. When they die, they’ll become zombies.
Wow, that’s amazingly… dull. So, when they die, they’ll become zombies. OK. I mean, if I was in that situation, I don’t need much incentive to, you know, not die. Becoming a zombie after I die is surprisingly not a big burning problem for me. I mean, I’m fucking dead. If I get bit, I die a shitload faster, so I still want to avoid that. My life isn’t any fucking different just because of that. Yeah, I know, in every zombie movie there’s always somebody all like “I don’t want to become one of…THEM” and angsty about it, but, honestly, who gives a fuck? You’re dead. If you die, I’m not going to snuggle up next to your corpse in any case. This is the dullest season-long secret of all time, because it changes absolutely nothing except maybe how they deal with their own dead, which have all been killed by zombies anyway.
Everyone freaks the fuck out on Rick, though. Reasonably, they want to know why he didn’t tell them. He says that he didn’t think the time was right. Glenn points out the times that he discovered relevant information and immediately blabbed about it. Rick says that they had other concerns at the time and he wasn’t even sure if it was true anyway and until it happened to Shane he wasn’t sure (I think he says Randall, but he wasn’t there for Randall, and he watched it happen to Shane, so whatever). Everyone looks at Rick like he’s a world-class cock in the mouth. They’re right. Anyone who’s ever played a role-playing game with someone like that wants to fucking murder the asshole, and that’s a game. Keeping secrets because you think you know best when other people are ready to Handle The Truth is a pure dick move anytime. Having secrets about zombies in a zombie apocalypse just makes you a total douche.
Afterwards, Rick wanders off and Lori follows him. She asks about Shane, and Rick tells her. Boy, does he tell her. He lets Lori know that he knew what Shane was doing, leading him somewhere to do him dirty from behind, and Rick just needed to get it over with, one way or another. Or, Shane was going to try to kill him, but Rick was ready for that too. Lori looks at Rick all weird because Rick is acting pretty fucking weird as he tells the story, which doesn’t make much sense. Is Rick trying to tell Lori that he didn’t care if Shane killed him? Is he trying to say that he was in a way leading Shane somewhere to murder him? Hard to tell. Lori acts all Lori-ish and Rick tries to touch her and she flinches away. She set these fucking guys up to kill each other and one does. Don’t touch me. I get the feeling it didn’t come out the way she’d hoped. She goes to Carl, who she probably assumed would wander off.
Everyone else is around a shitty little camp, feeling hungry and cold and royally fucked over. Maggie tells Glenn and Herschel and the Cutter that they should go on their own. She gets the stinkeye. Carol tells Darryl that Rick isn’t a good leader and that she herself is a burden to Darryl, and that the only viable survivor should go off on his own and, you know, survive. Darryl says that Rick’s always done right by him – so I guess he’s over the fury he had when he found out that Rick left his brother handcuffed to a roof while the zombies came and keeping secrets from the group and all that shit – and that he’s staying. The group seems fractured.
It’s Rick time.
Rick says that fun time is over. He’s the Leader. He didn’t want it – uh huh – but they insisted. Well, now that’s the way it is. No more democracy. Rick is now calling the shots. After all, HE KILLED HIS BEST FRIEND FOR THEM. So the time for bitching is over. The group is now going to do what Rick says. Everyone looks at him like he’s crazy because a) he looks crazy, b) he’s acting crazy, c) what the fuck is “I killed my best friend for you all” supposed to fucking mean, anyway, and d) isn’t everyone already doing whatever the fuck Rick wants anyway? I mean, hasn’t that been the case ever since he showed up? He’s made every decision, changed his mind even after “group” discussions, and decides every fucking nuance of every fucking thing. Maybe he just wants a nice hat and to be addressed as Colonel. He’s acting like… someone… who is it that he reminds me of… oh, that’s right. Shane. He’s acting actually fucking worse than Shane. If Shane had given the speech that Rick just gave, Darryl would have shot him. Instead, Rick’s done alright by everyone apparently and he can get away with this shit. Ugh. What the fuck ever.
So what happened to Andrea?
We see her running through the woods, in daylight, with zombies right behind her every step even though she moves twice as fast, because time and distance are hard for these writers. She’s out of ammo, tries to reload, fight fight fight, looming zombie, when BAM – sliced dead zombie. She looks up and sees this hooded figure wearing weird clothes, carrying a katana, with two armless zombies behind her that she leads around by chains attached to collars around their dead necks.
No, I did not make that up by asking a nine-year-old what he thinks would be uber cool.
OK. I imagine this character is from the comics. Probably very well-liked and popular. I wouldn’t know, because I haven’t read them. But seeing this character for the first time… it just made me roll my eyes. It’s fucking cheesy as shit. Maybe this awesome ninja chick is gonna lead Andrea back to her Walled Fortress of Killer Radhood where she keeps armless zombies at her beck and call as she strides around in black leather and says dramatic things. It seems to mark a very specific departure from anything remotely real and accessible. It’s laughable. It’s awful. And it’s a fitting way to end the season.
God, I hope it takes a long time to come back.