The Walking Dead is over! Well, the first season, and the second is on the way. And with the possible exception of the fourth, I’ve really enjoyed them all. As new series launches go, this must qualify as a successful one, in terms of both fan opinion and cold numbers.
Ratings in the states have trended up with each new episode, so all Darabont and company need do now is bring this in for a landing. Can they make it stick?
Oddly, after an entire season spent out in the open, the finale takes the characters underground for a bit of downtime, before deadly danger once again rears its head. New chap Doctor Jenner reveals why he’s unhinged, and we see the kind of bunker-based action antics you might expect in an episode of 24.
On the one hand, I admire a show that can shift genre so drastically, yet still seem consistent. It bodes well for future episodes, and I look forward to Rick and friends settling down to raise cattle for the bulk of season three. On the more immediate hand, it wasn’t exactly a great episode of 24. The huge explosion which only damaged things that weren’t needed for the plot was the most obvious example.
The appearance of a handy grenade out of nowhere was another lowlight. But I did feel suitably wrenched at the emotional climax, so it wasn’t a complete failure, just seemed more contrived than the earlier, better episodes.
Character Over Substance
The interplay between the characters during their brief spell of calm was enjoyable, especially the chance to see Darryl the redneck not being antagonising, as well as progression in the Rick/Shane/Lori triangle. I loved the opening flashback, as it softened my earlier criticism of the Shane storyline by revealing he might not have lied about believing Rick dead.
And as well as leaving that open, we see no sign of the storyline I expected to tie off the season: Merle Dixon, and his possible role in the camp attack. Toying with our expectations is laudable, but the CDC material was a bit incongruous. Still, it leaves them plenty for next year.
In short, a few wobbles, but I still enjoy the assembled actors, as well as the tone of it. Hopefully we’ll get back to the raw survival vibe in season two, rather than veering into more generic action. And if you need something to scratch your itch during the lengthy wait, why not take Rob Hinchcliffe’s suggestion and read the comics?