The second season of The Walking Dead has been split into two parts, one of seven episodes and the other of six. To be fair, such trickery is more common in the US, with shows often taking a hiatus over the holidays – the zombies are just having a few months off instead of one.
So, will this episode keep us tided over until they return in February? Let’s see.
Ever since the second episode of this batch, the surviving gang have been loitering around the farm of Hershel, playing out their arguments under trees and very slowly moving towards a confrontation with their host based on his attitude to zombies. And Asians.
In fact, this slow revelation that Hershel is not the friendly old Samaritan we might’ve first thought has been well-handled. It also provides us with a useful counter-point to Rick – yes, our stubbly hero is clinging to the old ways, but he could be a lot worse. Look, here’s an example.
Meanwhile, Shane’s tenuous grip on sanity is loosened further by the discovery of Lori’s pregnancy. And I doubt any paternity test infrastructure survived the zompocalypse, so I can see how he might be upset. This continues to be one of the best-handled storylines, so much so that his total snapping towards the end almost seemed plausible.
And then, of course, the last scene in which Sophia makes her, um, comeback. It seemed inevitable that she was dead, simply because there were few other endings that would’ve been satisfying after so long, but the barn element, and the execution of the reveal, made it work nonetheless.
On the other hand, little else has been resolved. I hope the next episode does something active about the Hershel/Rick conflict, rather than trailing off to more sitting around in fields. And people should start treating Shane differently after that outburst, too. Oh, and there were parts of the episode that didn’t work. I think we’re meant to be rooting for Dale against Shane’s lunacy, but his swamp wander just made him look foolish.
Nonetheless, it was a good, resonant ending that finally brought a sluggish run of episodes to a climax. It wasn’t particularly pleasant or cheerful to watch, but I think it’s time to give up getting that from this show. Coming in February: Someone starts eating survivors in the night. People think it’s zombies, but it turns out to be cannibal Merle.