The Walking Dead: “Pretty Much Dead Already”

Posted on November 28, 2011

Before we get started, we would just like to remind all those people on twitter who are saying that last night’s episode was “AMAZING!!!!!!” that at every point in the episode prior to the final ten minutes, many of those same twitterers were going on and on about how much the show sucks now. We mention this not because we’re butthurt over something on twitter but because yes, those last 5 minutes were pretty amazing, but the previous 55 were just as talky and slow-moving as the rest of the season. One good set piece does not a good TV show make.

Yes, we’re a little cranky.

Season 2 has been, mostly to its detriment, one long, extended philosophical conversation between two opposing points of view: Rick’s hopeful idea that if everyone just keeps their wits (and more importantly, their morals) about them, then they can somehow find/build a decent life for themselves post-apocalypse, and Shane’s rather more pragmatic view that hanging onto old ways is going to kill them all. These two points of view have been reflected in almost every single altercation and conversation since the beginning of the season, whether it was Dale vs. Shane, or Rick vs. Lori, or Andrea vs. Dale, or Darryl vs. Carol, or T-Dog vs. Dale (funny how much Dale figures into the debate), everyone just couldn’t stop stating and restating their positions. Instead of a thrill ride, we got your average mid-level management conference.

But with last night’s episode, this long-simmering conversation was taken to its natural endpoint, except it wasn’t really about Rick vs. Shane. It was about Herschel vs. Shane. Or at least, it was about taking both sides of this debate, hope and pragmatism, and blowing them way out to their most extreme. Since Rick isn’t really capable of being extreme (at least not yet), he found himself, for once, exactly in the middle of an argument. Rick’s always been the avatar of hope for this story, but Hershel represents hope’s most maniacal extreme. His intentions are good, but Hershel is so blinded by the naive belief that things will get better somehow that he’s pretty much thrown all sense out the window. It’s hope without reason, and facing it horrifies Rick almost as much as Shane’s pragmatism without reason. The result of these two extreme philosophies clashing was, well, what always happens when extremists clash: violence. And while the argument hasn’t really been settled, the appearance of the much-lamented Sophia effectively put a capper on it; especially when it was the supposedly weak and naive Rick who was the only one with the steel in him to do what needed to be done.

Yes, those last five to ten minutes really were engrossing, but after it was all over, we found ourselves as annoyed as we’ve always been with this season. Why did we have to wait so long for this? It occurred to us afterwards that Sophia had been gone for so long and the character really only had a handful of lines before her disappearance (Show of hands: Did anyone who didn’t read the books have any idea what her name was prior to this season? Could you pick the actress who plays her out of a lineup?) that the big reveal almost fell flat because for at least a second or two. We weren’t really sure if the little girl emerging from the barn was Sophia or not. All this drama hinging on a peripheral character was a mistake. If Carl had been the one missing then we as the viewers would have felt so much more urgency because both his parents are at the center of this drama and one or both of them is in almost every scene. Had Carl emerged from that barn after all this time then we would have fallen out of our chairs. As it is, we just went “Is that…? Oh. Yeah. That’s Sophia.”

As an aside, Rick’s getting really good at shooting little girls in the face, isn’t he? Maybe it’ll be his thing from now on. You need to get someone in and out of a tight spot? You send Glen. Need laundry done? Carol. Need someone to keep watch? Dale. Need to shoot a little girl in the head? Hey, any of you guys seen Rick around?

Anyway, our point is, we were a little pissed at the show last night for ending the mid-season on such a finely crafted note, because it can’t be stated strongly enough that the show is still in a rut. There was very little sense of urgency from the second the group arrived on the farm, with only sporadic scenes reminding us that as idyllic as the setting is, they’re still living in the post-apocalypse. Without that sense of urgency, the character work they were clearly trying to do during this pause in the horror fell flat. Pregnancy drama and young love have their place in a story like this, but only if you don’t effectively remove the characters from the story. Imagine Glenn and Maggie falling in love in the midst of devastation and despair, instead of cleanly dressed on a sunny day. Imagine the horror of Lori’s pregnancy revelation coming while the group was on the run, rather than while they’re safely camped. Imagine the debates over whether or not to continue the search for Sophia occurring while the group was in real danger, rather than in a series of repetitive conversations held in dining rooms and on porches or while hanging up the laundry.

Or, alternately, imagine if this respite from running really did consist of time spent defining each of the characters, most of whom are largely (and at this point in the story, appallingly) undeveloped. Dale’s a busybody moralist, Andrea’s bitter, Glen is sweet, Darryl is a tough-but-tender redneck, T-Dog is black, Carol hangs laundry. That’s it. That’s all that’s been established about the people in the group who aren’t Lori, Rick, or Shane.

The story of The Walking Dead is not strictly speaking a zombie story. People who have read the books know what we mean by that. We don’t need to see zombie massacres every week, nor do we need every scene to be tense, scary, and disgusting. There’s a lot of dramatic fodder inherent in this setup and with good writing, pregnancy drama and philosophical arguments can propel the story in all sorts of interesting directions. With hindsight, we can say pretty firmly that either the search for Sophia should have been spread out over no more than 3 episodes or that there should have been better-crafted human drama if we we absolutely have to spend so much time on the farm. We want to feel Lori’s urgency or Carol’s despair or Shane’s growing madness (Which would have been so much more effective had it been dialed down quite a bit. He was, after all, correct in a lot of ways. But it’s hard to rally behind such spittle-flecked fury.). Instead, we keep getting told about it.

We still love you, Walking Dead, but you’ve got some work cut out for you when you come back in February.

Things to discuss in the interim:

* Shane has been mostly right about everything. This bothers us.

* But Rick is still the leader because he was the only one who raised his gun and did what had to be done with Sophia.

* Did you notice how Glen looked to Maggie and she gave her assent to start killing the walkers in the barn? Nice moment.

* Did Hershel know about Sophia? It doesn’t look that way. Otis collected the walkers wandering around and put them in the barn. It’s likely he found zombie Sophia, locked her up, went hunting, and shot Carl, which then led to a lot of running around and panic, giving him no real time (or reason, really) to tell anyone that he found an unknown child zombie.

* Either way, Hershel should sleep with a gun under his pillow for the foreseeable future.

 

 

[Photo Credit: AMC]

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  • Laura Michalski

    That’s a great point about Otis being the one who locked up Sophia.  I kept thinking, “if Hershel knows who each of these zombies is, why didn’t he tell Rick and the gang about her being in the barn?!”  Maybe Hershel just didn’t know….

    • http://iamthelizardqueen.wordpress.com Lizzie

      Yes, I appreciated that point in particular, as well.  Last night I was saying, “Okay–there’s a little girl in the barn.  There are people on your property who are looking for a little girl.  Might one not be inclined to put two and two together, there?  At the very least, try to make some casual inquiries as to what Sophia was wearing, that kind of thing?”  But if Otis was the one who found her, that works better.

      • Anonymous

        On “Talking Dead”, they confirmed that’s exactly how it happened.

    • Anonymous

      Okay, but didn’t Otis know before he and Shane went off to get the equipment that the party was missing a little girl? Wouldn’t he put two and two together? Or maybe the barn being a secret trumped giving Carol and company some closure. SO MANY QUESTIONS.

      • Anonymous

        Okay, Otis had just shot a little boy. I’d say his not connecting the girl walker in the barn with the girl they were looking for right away, he gets a pass.

        Of course, if Shane hadn’t shot him, he’d probably had a chance to connect a few dots once the tension of shooting a little kid was lessened.

  • http://profiles.google.com/adj.blair Adriana Blair

    One thing I will say about the “stillness” of the entire season before the big finale of this episode was that it effectively lulled the characters (and the audience) into a false sense of security. I even found myself defending Rick for going along with Hershel’s insanity for a quick second before saying to myself, “Wait…who am I kidding? This is insanity!” Shane is a really polarizing character, but he accomplished what he wanted in last night’s episode. He woke everyone up to the reality of their situation. Yeah he’s crazy, but everyone else is crazy for being so calm about the situation. Shane’s just the first one to let the crazy show itself.

    • Anonymous

      Exactly. When the group saw Rick with the walkers, I could see how ridiculous and horrifying it was to them. Rick? Our supposed leader? Wrangling walkers? I could feel his authority evaporating. And then be at least partially restored after the carnage, when he put Sophia out of her misery.

      But at the same time, even while horrified at what Shane was doing, I totally understood it. I get both sides of this argument, and go back and forth as to which camp I would throw in my lot with. Which I guess is why this show keeps me engaged.

      • http://profiles.google.com/shannonlstewart Shannon Stewart

        I know exactly which camp I’d join up with — none of the above!  I spend a lot of time during this show going, “Why are they leaving these people in charge?!?  None of them have an endgame!”  while my husband pats my knee and goes, “I know, honey… you just need one little zombie apocalypse and you can finally take over the world…”

  • http://twitter.com/giselleascott Giselle Ascott

    Season 6?

  • Anonymous

    One thing I think they did real service to was the sense of security everyone’s been lulled under on the farm.  The part where Glenn tells Maggie that he forgot that the walkers were dangerous kind of summed it all up for me… maybe they didn’t really want to find Sophia because it would mean moving on and getting back to sad, zombie reality.

    Also, Daryl holding Carol back when Sophia ran out of the barn was heartbreaking.

  • Anonymous

    As we have reached the point where Darabont made his exit, I’m hoping that the 2nd half of the season will be an improvement. But yeah the last 5 minutes were awesome. 

  • Anonymous

    I think Hershel did know about Sophia. At the beginning of the fourth episode, when they are starting to organize Sophia’s search, Maggie asks Rick what would they say to Sophia’s mother if they found out the girl had been turned and they had to kill her. Rick says they would just tell her the truth. The camera turns to Maggie who looks like something is bothering her or wants to say something but Hershel shakes his head and Maggie  stays quiet.

    Supposedly, Hershel knew all those walkers when they were alive. I find it hard to believe that no one would notice Otis had brought a new girl and then when a group of strangers came to the farm talking about a little girl missing they wouldn’t associate the zombie girl in the barn with the missing child.

    • http://naturallyeducational.com/ CandaceApril

      You just saved me a whole lot of typing!

    • Anonymous

      I forgot about that look that passed between Maggie and Hershel!  Good catch!

    • http://www.facebook.com/isaiah.tanenbaum Isaiah Tanenbaum

      this also explains why Herschel was so eager for them to leave once they discovered the barn. Beyond, you know, the fact that they would think he was crazy.

  • Anonymous

    Excellent points all around about this episode.  I wasn’t surprised in the least when Sophia came shuffling out of the barn.  And even less surprised when Rick did the killing.  The thing tha distracted me the most in last nights episode is just how damn fine Shane looks in those tight fitting khakis & tee.  Which is an indicator as to just how dull and slow the dialogue has become.  But still, worth mentioning…… Maybe a shower scene is in order soon?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1303837450 Lauren Dorsee Dillon

    I’m in the minority here but I don’t mind the slower pacing. It doesn’t always work but I know the characters better for it. I mean, who knew I’d become so fond of Daryl? I’m still not convinced Herschel didn’t know that the girl in the barn was probably Sophia; only recently the walker barn was a secret he was desperate to keep. I love this show, including its flaws. It’s going to be a long winter wait for me.

    • Anonymous

      i am behind in my reading but i so agree with you lauren.   why do we always have to be in a rush for a great story?  i would rather take my time with it cause before you know it, it will be over.  and yes lauren its going to be a long winter.

  • Jennifer Coleman

    yes, you are correct about how troubling it is that Shane spouts accurate assessments of the group’s condition while dropping walkers but what’s really disturbing is that Sophia, stumbling out of the barn, really reminded of a snarling zombie Kate Moss.

  • http://profiles.google.com/dorothymichael Dorothy & Michael n/a

    It was inevitable that Sophia would wind up a zombie, but I thought it an interesting twist to have her the last one out of the barn. The odds were just too enormous for them to find her safe and un-zombie-fied after all that relentless searching.  My husband thinks the show has turned too “soap opera-ish” this year but I don’t mind the story telling. I mean they had to give the viewers some respite from zombies, didn’t they?  And I did say out loud last night that Shane was right – they had to get rid of the walkers in the barn.  There was no other way. 

    • Mary McClelland

      She survived in the book, non Zombied. Interesting deviation.

      • Mariah J

        She also never went missing for who knows how long

  • Anonymous

    Appreciate the point on the no-zombie DMZ of the farm taking us out of the story, but is there any way it’s not moot as of the first five minutes of the next episode? The only way Hershel doesn’t kick Rick’s group off the farm is if Shane kills Hershel and tries to pull a coup. In the moments after the barn shootout I did half-expect for someone to put a bullet in either Shane or Hershel, because as TLo notes, they represent the two poles of this situation, and now that Shane’s crazy ass just pushed things over from uneasy detente into crisis, the two can’t co-exist any longer. But, okay, say Shane DOES shoot Hershel to kick off the second half of the season: imagine the drama that would spark, the fracturing & reconstitution of the two groups into *at least* two new ones. Only one of those groups will get to stay on the farm–and that won’t be the group the show stays with. (I was going to go even further and say maybe that explains some of the still-thin characters… why develop The Black Dude or The Laundry Lady if the show is going to leave them behind on the farm come February… but I can’t quite see how the show’s most passive characters would score the prize of that nice, peaceful farm.)

    • http://www.facebook.com/isaiah.tanenbaum Isaiah Tanenbaum

      I don’t see why shooting one or the other is necessary (and I haven’t read the comics… yet). Herchel was defeated at the end of this episode, not violent. He was collapsed on the ground. There’s no need to shoot him. But the group does have to leave.

      With Sophia and Lori’s pregnancy being the only two things keeping them there, and the second a pretty weak reason when weighted against their no-longer-welcome presence, I’m looking forward to the group getting a move-on in February.

  • Anonymous

    As a veterinarian, let me just say that my favorite moment was when they used the rabies poles to fish the zombies out of the swamp!

  • Anonymous

    Hi usually like your recaps but I find this one a little grating. I can’t help but feel like your expectations of what you think this show should be are keeping you from enjoying what it is. You don’t need characters to be in the devastated city to remember how terrible life is off of the farm. All of that was established last season and the first episode of this season. I find it hard to believe that anyone watching g will forget about the destruction and dispair. In fact the tension of when is life on this idealic farm going to end? The question of how do you go back to life as it was when you have just experienced hope realized?

    Also I think that you guys are falling into the trap of writing about how you feel about something this morning instead of writing about how you felt last night watching the show. You can’t tell me Sophia’s reveal fell flat because everyone knew it was her! Who else could it have? Sophia has been a main character all season!

    And last. Shane is right most of time and it is supposed to be Nerving. He has lost most of his morality (I say most because he couldn’t shoot Sophia) and he is right

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2VBWWGHZEBKTVQMXE5SO5NCU2I Mich

    i don’t usually troll, but the more i read and hear about the walking dead, the happier i am that i stopped watching after the first few episodes. there was so much emotion, conflict and pathos inherent in the original work, i’ve never understood why they added so many characters and deviated so much from the original source material. i’m usually not one to complain when adapted works don’t stick to the original, i understand the differences between the two media, and that changes have to be made. but graphics lend themselves so easily to film, and the original work was so beautiful, the changes made here just don’t make sense to me. and hate that shane is still alive.
    is there anyone here who’s read the books as well as watched the show? i’m interested in your opinions on the differences, and if they make sense and are worth the changes?

    • Mary McClelland

      My husband feels the same way. As devoted fan of the books he was so excited by the show and almost immediately disappointed by the direction it took. He is confused about the characterization, the incredible slow-moving plot points, and the fact that no one ever seems truly unhinged in the midst of a total apocolypse as Rick just plods along having empirical arguments and thinking about what to do next. He did not think most of the changes were good choices or made sense to the development of the story or in accordance with the world the characters currently inhabit. Anyways, he stopped watching on Ep 3 of this season and switched to Hell On Wheels which is SOOO much better and I highly recommend it! 

    • Anonymous

      I’ve read through the first 30-ish comics, until they leave the place they go to next (don’t want to spoil too much for those who haven’t read). Shane still living is one of the best parts of the TV show for me. The actor is doing a hell of a job making his descent into madness seem real. You may want to catch the last few shows in rerun, the work of the Shane and Daryl characters have been outstanding. I felt the killing of Shane in the comic was very abrupt, they way they seem to be doing it on the TV show (assuming they do it) makes more sense, and ultimately will deepen our understanding of all the characters affected by it.

      The comic and the TV show are both pretty good. I don’t think the comic is the masterpiece that some other people seem to think it is, so I don’t feel the TV show is falling that short of the mark.

    • http://profiles.google.com/shannonlstewart Shannon Stewart

      I haven’t read the books yet, but I kinda like it when the show/movie version goes in a different direction — it makes it more of a companion piece than a badly done rip-off, which is what happens all too often when they try to adhere to the books too faithfully.

  • Anonymous

    All I could think of for most of this episode was:  Damn, Shane is sucking up WAY too much oxygen here.  In fact, his presence, along with Daryl’s (cool as he is) has strongly diluted Rick’s character.  The other characters are representing the more forceful aspects of Rick’s original personality, while he simply serves as a “voice of reason” and devil’s advocate.  Having one complex and somewhat contradictory character would be far more interesting than having multiple characters harp on one position all the time.  I really hope they deal with Shane soon, because I’m tired of him spending half of each episode shouting and glaring and making serial-killer faces at people.  Rick needs to evolve to keep the story interesting, and for now he’s stuck riffing off of the other characters.

    The ending makes up for all of this somewhat.  Can’t believe they I never guessed she was in the barn.  And they actually paid off the dread “Where’s Sophia?” storyline!  Whodathunk.

    Anyway, partial “seasons” sucks.  Seriously doesn’t help the pacing of the show to dole out handfuls of episode at a time.  On with the zombies!

  • Anonymous

    Firstly – it is only halfway through the season. Secondly – Does anyone else see the “lotus eaters” in this season????? They cant run forever (season 1) and there is no place to hide (season 2) To me it is short sighted to say this is a ‘boring’ season. These are people who have their options quickly disappearing around them. This is brilliance!

  • Anonymous

    I agree with everyone that Shane is an unlikable character, however, being a mother I understand his madness last night. He is a strong character and perhaps the final straw to his emerging anger is that news of Lori’s pregnancy. He is probably assuming the baby is his ( BTW TLO I am surprised you did not mention the scenes between Shane and Rick discussing this issue, great verbal and non verbal  exchanges between the two men ) and found this as a reason to take a course of action. Because now it is not just his life he is protecting. I am not a violent person, but, I know I would be in the front line killing off all the walkers to protect my kids. The animal instinct arises out of you

    • Anonymous

      except Lori told him flat-out that even if the baby were his, there’d be no way it’d be *his*. That Shane continues to fail to respect the boundaries Lori began to re-establish once discovering that her husband wasn’t dead after all is one of the clearest indications we have of how dangerous he is. He is batshit and controlling and violent, not a heroic Mama Grizzly.

      • Anonymous

        I agree, but in his mind he is. I believe he thinks he is a hero for sacrificing Otis. And now, one for starting the walker kill-off. He is living in his own world, believing what ever he does is the only right thing to do, and what Lori said to him probably did not register. He is controlling and violent, but calculating, he know what he is doing and that is the difference between crazy and dangerous.

      • http://profiles.google.com/shannonlstewart Shannon Stewart

        See, I don’t think Lori had the right to set that boundary to begin with.  She gets to say that she’s staying with her husband, but if this is Shane’s child, she doesn’t have the right to tell him that she’s going to make it Rick’s because that fits her life better.  It doesn’t work that way — that’s not her call to make.

        • Anonymous

          When there’s no way any of them can know for sure whether it’s Rick’s or Shane’s, it is *precisely* her call to make. Shane gets to stalk-protect her and her kids for the rest of her life, explicitly against her wishes, because there is some chance that maybe the pregnancy is his? And the boundaries (plural) that I was referencing go all the way back to the first reason, including the attempted rape: tell me you just misread me so I don’t have to sit here and type that because she willingly had sex with him at some point doesn’t mean he gets to stake a claim on her body along with her kids, her life, her future.

          • http://profiles.google.com/shannonlstewart Shannon Stewart

            Except there kind of is a possibility they’ll know — the baby may inherit enough from the father to make it clear who it really was.  Believe me, with my oldest, no one could have mistaken him for anyone’s but mine because his baby pictures were identical to mine, and as a toddler, identical to my brother.  My youngest was all of a 90 seconds old before EVERYONE started going, “Oh, he looks just like you!” to my husband.  (Though our daughter is far too much of a mixture to spot:)  Is it foolproof?  No.  But it’s mighty unlikely that Rick’s kid just so happens to look an awful lot like Shane or vice versa.

            And yes, Lori has every right to tell him that he needs to stay out of her life and her future and even her oldest child’s… but she doesn’t get to decide on behalf of the child.  You can’t take away parental rights without consent.  The fact that she had sex with him does not entitle him to a piece of her life forever.  But if it’s his child, the fact that they have a child together does entitle him to share that kid’s life.

          • Anonymous

            Ummm, actually she kind of does.  She’s married to someone else and if Rick agrees that he’s the baby’s father that’s kind of it.  There’s no DNA testing that’s going to happen and, legally, the kid’s born in wedlock and Rick will legally be the baby’s father.

            DNA tests and such come up when there’s an issue of support.  Laurie’s not claiming Shane is the father and she’s not asking for his support.  

            Of course, this all applies when there’s still a rule-of-law.  Since it’s all anarchy, it’s kind of irrelevant.

          • Anonymous

            This is an interesting discussion. Because it shines a light on one of the quietly creepiest issues in this show. 

            Anarchy.  There is no law. No DNA test.  Not even a way to force Lori to say how far along she thinks she might be.  Is there even a calendar?  Whatever a court would have decided before doesn’t matter anymore.  Even Rick put away his badge and is done with it.  It’s the law of the jungle. Or in this case, the Georgia backwoods and farm country. 

            Lori can say the baby is Rick’s AND Shane can still insist it’s his.  She can deny him access to the child as much as she can enforce that.  And Shane can decide to stalk her the rest of her life, unless someone is going to stop/control him with negotiation, violence or banishment.  I’m not saying Shane is right to do so, it’s terrible.  That’s scary creepy stuff but it’s the world Lori lives in.

            Along these same lines of being creepy — that baby won’t have any rights.  Without a government, none of them do anymore.  So yes, Lori can and should decide on behalf of her child.  There is always the possibility someone will take that ability away from her though. Very scary.  

  • Anonymous

    Firstly – it is only halfway through the season.  Secondly – Does anyone else see the “lotus eaters” in this season?????  They cant run forever (season 1) and there is no place to hide (season 2)  To me it is short sighted to say this is a ‘boring’ season.  These are people who have their options quickly disappearing around them.  This is brilliance!

  • MilaXX

    Glad to hear I wasn’t the only person a bit underwhelmed at last night’s mid season finale. I think I get what the writer’s were trying to say in terms of humanizing the Walkers and that there may just be a choice between going full on Lord of the Flies(Shane), being unrealistically hopeful (Hershel) embodied in Rick who was the only one to step up and put a bullet in Zombie!Sophia. Thing is on the surface the last 10 mins of this was really good until I start thinking about it. Even then my first reaction was, “DUH, of course Sophia’s dead.”  After that I start thinking. First of all I have to fanwank that Otis was indeed the zombie collector of the group. (Of course this is confirmed on The Talking dead, but that’s another peeve.) So during the course of what felt like a day Sophia, got bit or scratched by a zombie, turned, was found by Otis, brought back to the barn, and then Otis went back out and shot the deer & Carl. I then start wondering how they get Zombies into the barn without the other zombies pushing their way out. next I wonder if they are supposed to be humanizing the zombie to the point that Maggie knows them by name, even if Otis was killed before he tells them about finding  a little girl zombie then why whoever took over Otis’s duties didn’t notice the stray child zombie in the barn and, you know, mention it to anyone.

    So, okay there’s that. I still think that there are some shows that really could take a hint from our friends across the pond and scale back to shorter seasons. As mentioned Sophia’s saga should have been no more than 3 eps, tops. Then perhaps we could have a bit of character development. T-dog could be something other than the black guy, the women could actually be useful for more than doing the laundry and being damsels in distress. Lastly, I know we live in the age of social media, but I should need to resort to fanwanking, webisodes, The Talking Dead, blogs, twitter or even the comics to know what’s going on. As a viewer I should be able to watch the show and understand what’s happening. I don’t mind having a discussion and talking about subtle things like Maggie’s’ nod of approval to Glenn but the whole why didn’t they know Sophia was in the barn, questioning the timeline thing bugs.

    I still like this show, but they are making it awful hard.

    • Anonymous

      Amen sister, watch more tv to explain the confusion you’re experiencing concerning the tv show you just watched?  Nothing says bad tv scripting more than that.

  • mellbell

    Otis may have been the one wrangling the walkers, but his wife/widow Patricia has been feeding them. She must have noticed Sophia’s arrival in the barn and that it coincided with the newcomers’ search for a little girl. As controlling as Hershel is, if Patricia knew, he knew.

    • Anonymous

      I believe Herschel knew about Sophia.  He also knew what Rick’s group would do to her if they found out she was a zombie so it makes sense he wouldn’t tell Rick with his extreme crazed belief that the walkers are still living people.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1046681022 Paula Berman

        Then he had no right to try to force them out of his place, in effect making them leave behind a little girl they thought/hoped was alive.  That would be cruel to do to Carol, and Hershel of all people should sympathize with someone who clings to irrational hope and can’t let go.

        • Anonymous

          No, because to tell Carol is to tell the rest of her group and Herschel knows what they do to zombies.  His wife and stepson are in that barn.  There’s no way Herschel would compromise their safety, the safety of the people he loves, for Carol’s sake.  He’s not blind to the way Rick & Co. think – that’s why he wants them to leave so badly.  I think deep inside he knows they’re right and can’t face it.  That certainly was evident at the end of this ep.  He didn’t try to stop the shooting.

  • Anonymous

    I am in the minority. I don’t mind the quietness of this season so far or “slow burn” as a friend called it. I feel like there is something infinitely creepy about the waiting and waiting and waiting for something big to happen, the danger of their falling into a sort of normal routine of comfort at the farm. I actually think there has been more character development but it, like the season, has happened quietly.

    We have been able to see Shane’s descent into a sort of madness (depending on your interpretation). We see the conflict within him between the anger and rage and those quiet moments with Carl. We have realized how incredibly off-putting and creepy Dale is whether he is stupidly calling Shane out, being a little too concerned about Andrea, or sticking his nose in Lori’s business.  Daryl has had a rebirth as we have seen him come into his own for the group, the good within him, and his wonder at being cared about by people.  He is actually finding his own humanity in the midst of all of this and that seems to scare the shit out of him. I think the time on the farm has enabled that. I disagree that all we have seen of Carol is her hanging laundry. I think we have seen her going about daily things while trying to deal with losing her child, trying to maintain hope that she will be found, and, after what we can assume was an abusive marriage, starting to care for Darryl. In my opinion, T-Dog is the one character who has not moved forward in any way or been developed during the time on Hershel’s farm.

    I think when we have the chance to sit and watch this part of the season in one sitting, these quiet moments will play out much better and we will see the subtle nuances of character development. I think spread out they feel more dragged out than the actual time-line within the show. I remember feeling this way about Game of Thrones in spots but when I re-watched the entire series OnDemand recently over a two day period, I picked up on so many things that fell through the cracks from the week-to-week watching. 

  • Sarah Tyrchniewicz

    “Carol hangs laundry” – yes, lets please get rid of some of this dead weight. I realize it was more of an impact to zombify Sophia (and thus very predictable… though it was still good), but I mostly want to see all of these characters die. I don’t actually like any of them but Rick, and that’s only sort of. Well, and Darryl. I’d love to see Darryl and T-Dog take on the world. Maybe with crazy Shane. But I really want Carol and Dale to go. Andrea can stay if she becomes bad-ass with a gun and doesn’t whine about it.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1046681022 Paula Berman

      Conversely, I’d like to keep Dale and lose Andrea, but as long as there’s a triangle of some sort to be had there, I bet it’ll be kept going.

    • Anonymous

      I would keep Carol and would have liked to keep Sophia but I’d like to lose everyone in Hershel’s camp, including Hershel.  Buh-bye convenient medical care. Maggie can stay. But I’d rather focus on the core group and get back into somewhere interesting. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1573976444 Kary McGonigal Barrie

    Someone other than Otis must have known that Sophia was in the barn. We don’t know when she got there, but we know that Otis’ wife feeds the Barn Zombies chickens. And nothing seems to happen on the farm without Herschel knowing about it. But I’m trying to square that idea with this: If Hershel and Company knew Sophia was a zombie – why would they keep hanging Rick & co’s departure on “finding that little girl” ?? 

    Also, am I the only one who was wishing Dale would shoot Shane when they were in the swamp?  

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1046681022 Paula Berman

      Totally hoping Dale would shoot Shane, totally afraid Shane would take the gun away and kill Dale.  Dale is still on borrowed time IMO.  Will be interesting to see what happens between Shane and Andrea (who apparently has a reason to live now that she’s getting laid) if Shane kills Dale.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1573976444 Kary McGonigal Barrie

        That scene could have gone either way, right? Dale kills Shane – interesting. Shane kills Dale – interesting (but not out of character, obvs.) And yet, they both walked away bitter and pissed. Less interesting, IMO. 

        Dale apparently has some sort of Spidey sense … I’ll be interested to see if he can expand its powers beyond knowing when people are having sex into something useful….like, say, when Shane is going to cap his ass. 

    • Anonymous

      Kary, was it about finding Sophia? I don’t recall Hershel ever saying that (I guess I could have missed it) but several times he did indicate that he would expect Rick’s bunch to leave when Carl was recovered.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1573976444 Kary McGonigal Barrie

        Oh…maybe you’re right. I do remember Hershel using Carl’s recovery as a timeline, several times. I’m probably mis-remembering that part. Thanks for keeping me honest!! :)

  • Anonymous

    I have problems with this show this season but have been satisifed with the last three eps and wishing the show had more like them.  Yes, the Sophia story was dragged out ad nauseum, but unlike you boys, she seemed more real to me than some of the characters we’ve seen all season on the screen, like poor T-Dog, the token black man who knows he’s a token black man.  There were a lot of great moments in this ep – the exchange between Rick and Shane about Lori’s pregnancy, Maggie and Glenn, Carol and Darryl and Herschel and Maggie.  I agree Rick has been marginalized so far, but my take on it is that he has allowed himself to become marginalized by wishing for this “safe” haven and not creating an actual safer environment for his group.  He’s been lulled to sleep by the “magic” of the farm, which he did mention when talking to Herschel.  Shooting Sophia woke him up again and I hope he’s going to step in and take care of the crazy that is Shane.  Shane is a loose cannon and who’s to say who is more dangerous – Shane or the zombies.  I think it’s a toss up.

    I’ll keep watching.  Even in its present state, this show is much better than most of the stuff on television.

  • Mariah J

    They should have just stuck to the comic storyline…this show could have been amazing, but instead it’s just okay.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1344922354 Eric Scheirer Stott

      I’m wondering if this series will even try to make it to the prison storyline of the comics. There was some major violence going on there, not to mention pedophilia and seemingly non-stop sexual affairs- plus arguments that went on for ever.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1046681022 Paula Berman

    I have to say, I have really complained a lot about the show this season, but the finale was great.  My husband and I had a knock-down, drag-out debate about who was right, Shane or Hershel.  He rightly stated that the security of the farm was greatly compromised by the barn, and asserted that in times of extremity, Hershel has a moral obligation to offer shelter to Rick’s group.  I conceded that Hershel was cracked out in his belief that the walkers could be saved, BUT!  IT’S HIS HOUSE!  He saved their asses how many times, at personal cost, with very little benefit to his group.  He has the right to call the shots on his own place.  Shane, while correct about the walkers, had no right to force Hershel to comply with his worldview in his home.  Don’t like it?  LEAVE.  Establish your own farm.  Is there any reason why a similar homestead could not be set up elsewhere, even nearby?

    OTOH, if Hershel knew Sophia was in the barn, he was totally in the wrong to withhold that info from Carol.  That is indefensible.  If Carol wanted Sophia “euthanized,” as Hershel might see it, Hershel had no right to stop her.  In addition, it was seriously counterproductive to hide Sophia’s zomibification from Rick if he wanted Rick’s group to leave.  No way were they leaving without Sophia, so why not tell?  In that sense, Shane was right to do what he did.  He certainly got them out of the half season long rut they were in…

    I guess Rick & Co are going to be hoofing it again next season, probably looking for their own safe place, and probably not finding it.  I’m looking forward to it more now than I was a few weeks ago.

    • http://profiles.google.com/shannonlstewart Shannon Stewart

      I’m with your husband on this one:)  For a couple reasons:

      1)  Yes, it really is that hard to set up a similar homestead, because you need all of the equipment and resources with which to do so — you can’t just count on finding a house with a generator, for example.

      2) I get that ANYONE could leave if they disagree with Hershel, but he’s leading people who are so shell-shocked that they aren’t protecting themselves. Someone needs to point out to all those other still living humans just how crazy Hershel’s actions are.  And most of them are probably following Hershel because they want to believe that he could be right and their loved ones could come back.  These people need a wake-up call.

      3) Property rights are not protected at the cost of the greater good — if they just want to build a highway, they can take your house.  So insisting that he should get to be a total dictator just because he owns the ground doesn’t hold up.  Especially because their choices are to risk almost certain death by leaving or accepting Hershel’s totalitarian rule.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1046681022 Paula Berman

        1. Get the generator set up and running while you are still at Hershel’s, then transport it.  This move-out doesn’t have to happen immediately.
        2. I disagree that Hershel’s people in any way need Rick’s people.  They have been doing just fine out there, better than pretty much anyone else in the world that we’ve seen.  In fact, due to Rick et al, Hershel’s group lost Otis and many medical supplies.  What have they gained?
        3. It’s not about property rights.  It’s about not being a bunch of spiteful, ungrateful douchebags.  If you disagree with Hershel, show him he’s wrong.  Use diplomacy. Shane may have been right in principal, but he went about it in such a shitty, destructive way that he’s made the situation too toxic to continue. 

        Hershel is NOT being a total dictator.  He and his folks have decided to live a certain way.  They have worked and earned the right to live as they choose.  Rick, Shane and Co do not have the right to barge in there and make Hershel and his family miserable just because they have more guns and people.  That’s barbarism and a different, less justified sort of tyranny.  That’s definitely Shane’s way, but Rick should know better.

  • http://twitter.com/tinapunk Christina

    I loved this Episode. I felt like, Finallllllly, something is happening. Although, like ya’ll said the whole of the episode did feel a little flat. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5LU5C262WB3Z5F4WZ6QGKXLNLE JaneM

    I couldn’t disagree more. Without the set up of all the conflicting tensions the end would have not had the huge impact that it did. The scenes leading up to this moment: Darryl’s scenes with Carol, Carl’s scenes with Shane, the dynamic between Lori, Shane and Carl (Carl being a major factor here), the exploration of the feelings between Glen and Maggie.  All of those things, plus the excruciating mounting tension with Shane, Rick and Herschel caused the final scene to be breathtaking.

    Without all that, they would have killed some zombies in a barn. Like all zombie stuff. Guns and brains.  This is a show about a world, not a show about guns and brains.

  • http://profiles.google.com/emily.w.sings Emily Wilkerson

    The last five to ten minutes of that episode were absolutely gripping.

    It wasn’t terribly important, but that mini-exchange about Portal (“It’s a video game.” “Of course it is”) was hilarious, and it deserved to be mentioned.

    • Anonymous

      Really? Perhaps I’m oversensitive, but I was vaguely irritated by it. It’s like, huzzah! A badass Asian character who mows down zombies and gets the girl…oh wait, he’s still a socially inept gaming nerd. Ah well.

      • Anonymous

        I think you missed the spirit of the exchange, a young man references a video game, something that he enjoyed.  That he enjoyed playing video games in the Life Before didn’t make him socially inept it just showed that despite the world as it is now, the fundamental differences between men and women still shades their interactions.  Of course Maggie, the farm girl/vet’s daughter did a hell of a lot more work around the farm than play video games and her reaction to a video game reference was pretty funny.

  • Anonymous

    For those who may not have seen it, there was a special Walking Dead preview during Hell on Wheels, which seems to confirm that Hershel did not know Sophia was in the barn. The scene appears to happen directly after the massacre, everyone is arguing on the porch and Shane is screaming at Hershel that he must have known. Hershel says he didn’t and that gathering up loose walkers was Otis’s job and he must have put her in there.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joe-Lipsett/611285267 Joe Lipsett

    Didn’t feel quite as passionately negative as you guys, but there were definitely some issues with the episode. Check out the discussion here http://wp.me/p1VQBq-5S

  • http://twitter.com/HotMessHousWife Sammi M

    I haven’t read the books (well, I read the first TPB and it didn’t grab me, so I stopped), so I’m wondering how similar their time on the farm is in the books to how it is on the show, at least in terms of being interesting. Could you guys elaborate on that with minimal spoilers?

    I love that the strongest-opinioned characters are also kind of the craziest, and poor Rick is just trying to find a middle ground. I didn’t even think of how much more affecting it would have been had Carl been the missing/zombie kid… now I kind of wish it was.

    I don’t think Herschel knew about Sophia being THE Sophia they were looking for, although it would’ve been nice if he’d known there was a female child Walker to maybe address it with Rick once Rick mentioned they knew about the barn. Oh, well, too late now!

  • http://twitter.com/Goldielox73 Goldie

    I wish that during the Rick/Shane conversation he’d said “BTW, I know you slept with my wife.”

    I know Herschel is completely wrong in hoping that there’s a cure for the walkers but Zombie!Sophia left me wondering.  She reacted differently than the other walkers.  They came running out of that barn only intent on eating the humans.  She came slowly shuffling out, seeming confused as to where she was.  She didn’t even really try to attack anyone.  Granted, she wasn’t in the barn/infected as long as the others but it made me wonder if there are different “levels” of walkers.  Or if maybe somehow, humans are starting to develop a resistance to zombification?  It couldn’t be because she was a new walker, Andrea’s sister, Amy, woke up an immediately tried to chomp Andrea.

  • Anonymous

    Mixed feelings about the episode.  In general, there’s been more talking than showing when it comes to exploring the issues–show don’t tell, please.  The ending was very effective–not so much because Zombie Sophia was a surprise, but because of the oh-no! factor.  Her appearance forced everyone to confront the whole issue of zombies being former humans and loved ones.  In that sense, Shane was closer to Herschel than Rick turned out to be.  Rick, in some ways, is the realist of the group.  Or at least he is at the end.  You also see that trait in Glen.  I suspect that we’ll see over the course of the series that it’s not the most violent who will survive, but those who adapt.  Rick accepted Lori’s affair with Shane.  Shane, on the other hand, can’t accept that Lori’s life (and baby) are separate from his.  He’s altered by the ZA, but he hasn’t adapted well.

    Despite the ending working for me, though, I’m sorry they killed off Sophia.  The one lone kid (a boy) in the group is a bit more of a cliche to me.  A pair of kids adjusting and reacting and maybe creating their own little world would actually have been more interesting to me–esp. given that the child actors weren’t obnoxious.  Since there seems to be an ongoing theme about the survival of the species, I’d have liked to have seen there continue to be a couple of family pairings a while longer.  Now we just have Rick’s family among the original crew.  Hershel’s family doesn’t have the same issues as everyone’s grown.  

    And, oh yeah, there really does need to be work on the women characters.  But, then, with the exception of Mad Men, that’s a problem you find all over the place.

  • Anonymous

    Hubby called the Sophia thing 5 minutes before it happened.  We were both surprised that we hadn’t come up with that sooner–especially considering that we fully expected them to find her, zombified, in that subdivision.

    That last 5 minutes was pretty great.  I love well-done acting without words…and these folks showed it all in their faces.  I really felt Darryl should have been the one to take care of Sophia, considering how much of himself he had invested in trying to find her.  But the more I think about it, he was in the right place, taking care of Carol.  They were the two that had not given up, and it was right that he should share that grief with her, and keep her from doing something rash.

    The reactions of Carol, Darryl, and Carl are really what made the scene so heartbreaking.  Whatever else, Darabont knows heartbreaking very well, and he showed it here.

    More T-Dog in February, please, hopefully with a heaping dose of Darryl.  IMO, Darryl is by far the most interesting character at this point–beyond even Rick or Shane.  (and maybe I’m a little bit in love with him, but we’ll pass that for now.)

    And Rick’s wife? (I can’t even remember her name, she so annoys me.)  Let’s lose her somehow.  She makes my teeth itch.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1046681022 Paula Berman

      Completely agree about Daryl: favorite character by a lot.  You’re also right about Lori, but I suspect we are stuck with her for the duration.  At least make Andrea disappear!  So annoying.

  • oohsparkley!

    One thing I’ve been wondering about.  Since the Walkers seem to have killed off most of the humans.  Aren’t they going to starve to death at some point – since they supposedly don’t have any reasoning ability?  Another thing – Hershel’s eyes can be really creepy!  They look so dark and demon-like at times.  I’m ready for them to move on.

  • http://twitter.com/turtleemily Turtle Emily

    Having Sophia as a zombie at the end also tied into the pregnancy debate with what’s the future of the children going to be like.

    I kept thinking someone was going to kill Shane at the end, so the twist being Sophia was kinda disappointing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Heather-Waddell/10401341 Heather Waddell

    What I’m really getting from this season is how woefully unprepared the show was for the season extensions and budget cuts they were blindsided with over the summer. I have a feeling that what they did was take every episode they had written and extend it into two, because when I think about how the show would have been paced it feels a lot better if every two episodes were condensed into one. Plus, if you stretch the story out with debates and moralizing, you save a lot of budget on zombie effects. Especially if that moralizing is taking place in a relatively zombie-free zone.

  • Anonymous

    Without ever seeing an episode (I am vampired, werewolfed and zombied OUT) I can;t help but suspect that this blog entry was more thoughtfully written than much of this season. Dang.

  • Anonymous

    I watch this show because I like zombies and when it first came on, I set it to record on my dvr. But I’ve always found it kind of boring even though I still watch it every week…I usually have it one while doing 10 other things.  

    However, the was a heck of a good 5 min last night! I was even drawn to take a break from my cyber Xmas shopping to give it my full attention.

    (Also, re: the recap: it took me a minute to realize the little girl was Sophia too.) 

  • http://janeaustensworld.wordpress.com/ Vic

    I stopped watching the show in the first season. Slow. Boring. Like the zombies.

  • http://twitter.com/sockandaphone Gaby

    Tlo, I usually LOVE your recaps but why are you hatin so much on this show? and during the entire season? your points are totally valid, particularly the “man, these dudes talk ALL.THE.TIME” but ive enjoyed this season a whole lot.

    • http://www.hilonwheels.blogspot.com hilonwheels

      I agree! TLo makes good points but I’ve actually enjoyed the long-winded existential discussions. Slow at times, yes. But still overall good stuff in my book.

      • http://twitter.com/sockandaphone Gaby

        i feel like theyre so disappointed all the time…like the season started a bit slow but im super excited for the rest of the season!

        • http://www.hilonwheels.blogspot.com hilonwheels

          exactly!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=768540908 Badriya Al-Badi’a

    As soon as Carl was done delivering his ‘We’re going to find Sophia, I know she will like it here, it will be her new home” I turned to my husband and said “She’s going to end up in that barn.”  Kind of heavy-handed foreshadowing but the moment itself was still gripping.

  • http://twitter.com/thisiscarlijn Carlijn Kruidhof

    But where’s Dale? Shane probs shot him right? would’ve been way more fun if Dale shot Shane in the shoulder, you know. Not deadly, but enough to change his image a bit. I don’t know, they should shake things up a bit by suddenly killing someone or something or have Shane flip out even more than he did. He’s going crazy right now but still he doesn’t start shooting people or anything. It would be cool if they let Shane go nuts and just shoot a few characters that haven’t gotten much attention lately. 

  • Anonymous

    Otis is an excellent point.  I agree this episode was a bit lame until the last 10 minutes, and as for how “soft” or whatever Shane thinks Rick is, Rick is the one who does the dirty deeds that need to be done.  So back off crazy Shane.  Why can’t people see how out there Shane is?  To close?
    Dale with the guns…really? hiding guns in the woods when there are walkers in the barn.  No sense.
    I do like all the dilemmas, and issues the gang has to make, but it does not have to be drawn out over 6 episodes.  I know big zombie scenes won’t happen every week, but there needs to be better flow and continuity for sure.  
    I’ve held off from reading the comics, but I think I’ll make them my summer reading.

  • Anonymous

    They interviewed one of the writers on EW and they said it would be revealed very shortly when they come back whether Hershel knew that Sophia was in the barn. But don’t read the comments on there, the board is full of idiots that thrive on posting spoilers for those that haven’t read The Walking Dead. I didn’t even think about her being in the barn, but I should have, I found it so annoying how long they wasted on thinking a little kid was going to survive out there that long by herself, it was ridiculous! There’s alot of subplots on here that they are dragging the crap out of on this show way too long. Lori/Shane drama who cares. The blonde annoyed with the older guy playing father figure is another. I was excited for this show in the fall, it definately dissapointed.

  • Scott Hester-Johnson

    Please. I finally got around to watching this ep and 10 minutes out I knew Sophia would be in the barn, poised to make a dramatically delayed exit. Phooey.