The Walking Dead S2, E12, Finale: “Behind the Dying Fire”

With “Behind the Dying Fire” we’ve come to the end of another bumpy season of The Walking Dead. There have been a few high points, a decent amount of mediocre points, and a half ton of crappy points. But we survived more or less intact, if not short a few members and a little shy of sane. Much like our motley crew. So, how did it all go down? When the final credits rolled, did the show manage to keep up its winning streak?

Yep. Sorta. Kinda. I mean, well… *sigh*

Rick and Carl led the mass horde of walkers back to the farm and decided that the best course of action was to burn down a barn and everyone else at the farm be damned. Meanwhile the rest formulated a ridiculous plan that not surprisingly fell apart about two seconds after they got onto the field. Chaos ensued. Everyone went running every which way, some of Hershel’s kin were eaten alive, and Andrea was abandoned. Poor forgotten Andrea went on walkabout in the backwoods and nearly met her maker a few times. The rest of the group magically reappeared simultaneously at Sophia’s forgotten supplies stash and then went on a drive in a random direction (T-Dog muttered something about heading east, as if arriving in a heavily populated coastal area will be the answer to all their problems) until they – more accurately Rick – ran out of gas, leaving them seemingly stranded in the middle of nowhere.

Did I mention that a badass with pet zombies and samurai swords showed up and saved Andrea? Because they did. And that was awesome. So very, very awesome.

Look, without rehashing every single argument I’ve made before about the problems the show has with creating realistic – or even just moderately believable – scenarios, not campy dialogue, and characters with actual personalities, it’s really difficult to break down the finale. I know we were supposed to be upset that the gang was forced off the idyll of Hershel’s farm, but, frankly, I’m glad to see it go. Just as glad as I was when they moved off the snore factory that was the highway. They can’t go back and rebuild; that farm is over and done.

My bigger concern is that they get to that place behind the dying fire (it appears to be a prison…) and end up spending another half season talking about broken groups and civilized societies. With Dale and Shane dead, Andrea MIA, Rick doing his best impersonation of Jack from The Shining, Carol taking over Lori’s role as the group cipher, T-Dog saying stuff, and the emergence of a mysterious hooded figure, the group dynamics are certainly more in flux than before. It’ll be much harder to settle back into the old routine. Not that I don’t have faith the writers will still figure out the best ways to piss me off. So here’s hoping burning the barn to the ground is the fresh start the writers need to get themselves back on track.

As for the characters in this bloody little melodrama, man, I just don’t know where to begin. Okay, we get it, Glenn and Maggie sitting in a tree K-I-S-S-I-N-G . Cute, sweet, blahblahblah. Glenn summoned the courage to open his heart. So? What does that mean in the grand scheme of things? That, what, they’re going to stick together and keep having sex? Yeah, and? Or take Lori and Carol. Lori spent all but the last three eps opposing every opinion regardless of what it was or what “beliefs” she claimed to hold not five minutes before. Irritatingly, she only seems to care about her son’s whereabouts once she’s already lost him. Maybe if she wasn’t just the absolute worst she’d keep better track of him in the first place. Carol didn’t even exist except to wail aimlessly about finding Sophia. Now both chicks have gone full on Lady Macbeth, Lori on Rick and Carol on Daryl, and now I totally hate them both. Lori used the same reasoning on Rick to convince him to kill Shane that Rick used to justify his murder and she has the gall to be repulsed by him. And yes, Carol, you are a burden. You are nothing but a waste of resources. Maybe if you, I dunno, did something useful instead of doing the lamest running away from zombies ever recorded on television people wouldn’t look down on you so much.

Speaking of the devil, good job, Rick. He had everyone on his team and then turned around and morphed into Shane. I get his transformation. His best friend tried to kill him. He murdered his best friend in cold blood. His son shot his best friend. Their paradise went up in flames and blood. People died. Everything’s gone to shit. It stands to reason that he’d grow colder. It’s an interesting turn, although given what is coming in season 3 (WINTER IS COMING) I’m not sure how long they can sustain it as anything other than a redemption arc. In which case: lame. Rick also revealed what Jenner whispered to him at the CDC in the finale of season 1, that they already carry the contagion. I don’t understand why he kept mum about it. It’s something important enough that they should’ve known. He gained nothing by keeping it secret, and lost so much when it finally came out. They would’ve figured it out themselves eventually anyway.

At least T-Dog had some lines again. I really like that dude. The man who hasn’t been allowed any lines for nearly two whole seasons actually has a personality. Who’da thunk it?

Also, shut up Carl. You are stupid and stop talking and go away.

Final thoughts:

  • “It’s my farm. I’ll die here.” “Alright. It’s as good a night as any.”
  • “We’re alive. We made it. Okay, I’m sure they are too.”
  • “Christ promised a resurrection of the dead. I just thought he had something a little different in mind.”
  • “I just wanted it over. I wanted him dead. I killed him.”
  • “This isn’t a democracy anymore.”
  • I jumped the gun last week and forgot that the TV characters didn’t yet know that you get turned when you die, not just when you get bit.
  • Hey, TWD writers, cut it out with the time jump cold opens. DO NOT WANT.
  • Um, so the believability of a swarm of zombies just wandering around because of a random helicopter makes less sense than the zombies getting freed when the mud dries up (a la the comics). But it is certainly more interesting to watch.
  • Ah, the irony. Hershel barricaded the hell out of that barn to keep the zombies in and now Rick and Carl are trapped inside.
  • Those people are the greatest sharpshooters in the world. Not only can a kid hit Shane in the head with a handgun from 50 yards, but the rest of the gang can get a dozen headshots while speeding around in the dark on uneven ground hanging out of car windows.

Alex Brown is a research librarian by day, writer by night, and all around geek who watches entirely too much TV. One of these days she will go out and have a life, but until then she’s just going to sit here and watch Jonathan Creek reruns, so there. You can follow her on Twitter if you dare.

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