Stars: Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies, Laurie Holden, Jeffrey DeMunn, Steven Yeun, Chandler Riggs, Norman Reedus, Melissa Suzanne McBride, Lauren Cohan, Madison Lintz, IronE Singleton, James Allen McCune, Scott Wilson, Emily Kinney, Jane McNeill
Writer: Scott M. Gimple
Director:  Michelle MacLaren
Network: AMC, airs Sunday nights 
Original Telecast: November 27, 2011

In the seventh and mid-season cliffhanger episode of THE WALKING DEAD Season 2, “Pretty Much Dead Already,” tensions reach the breaking point and beyond as Rick’s (Andrew Lincoln) group struggles with the prospect of leaving the relative security of Hershel’s (Scott Wilson) farm. Shane (Jon Bernthal) stands up for what he believes and has a dangerous confrontation with Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn), Glenn (Steven Yeun) is tired of secrets even if it means losing Maggie (Lauren Cohan), and Daryl (Norman Reedus) continues to bond with Carol (Melissa Suzanne McBride) over the ongoing search for Sophia (Madison Lintz). But when the barn opens, it’s time to face a profoundly depressing truth – the world has changed, survival is paramount, and no one is safe from becoming the walking dead in one way or another. No one.

Wow. Really, give me a minute. OK…

SPOILER ALERT

When I began watching this mid-season finale, my first thought was that even given its pacing issues, significant drop in zombie-related business, and narrative inertia, the series could win me back by doing what I thought it would never do – resolve the Sophia storyline by revealing that she died and became a zombie. When they delivered on precisely that in the episode’s shattering last sequence, I was so sorry I had even considered the possibility as if my wishing might have made it so. Yet it’s the only way the story could have brought home the full weight of what these people have risked – and lost – in trying to make the transition from the world of the living to the world of the dead. It was also, strange though this word may seem in conjunction with such a plot twist, beautifully done.

I could discuss other aspects of this episode, from the opening gambit in which Glenn opens up to his fellow survivors and later resolves his fight with Maggie, to the well-acted battle of wills between Dale and Shane, to the amazing slow burn that Bernthal begins early in the episode until he is seething with fury by episode’s end and opens the doors almost literally to Hell itself. And when that last walker emerges from the barn, what better image of damnation could there be? Of course there’s also the obvious implication that Hershel knew all along, which only makes the whole situation that much worse.

I could talk about Rick yelling at Shane and calling him “brother,” that Shane’s actions at the end are the culmination of his ongoing attempts to convince the others about the way the world has changed, and that when Rick finally steps out from the group and takes that last shot himself, he is not only reasserting a weakened leadership role but doing so in acknowledgement that Shane’s view is the correct one. I could even mention that this finale ends with a scene that neatly bookends our first meeting with Rick in the opening of the series’ very first episode. But never mind all of that, because this episode’s final scene is so powerful, so unwanted, and yet so right that everything else pales in comparison.

The purpose of horror is to provoke, to force us to look in the mirror (as Shane recently did) and face the darkest parts of ourselves. We can try to hide it, to lock it away somewhere and pretend it doesn’t exist, but eventually it will shamble back into the light of day and force us to face the truth. THE WALKING DEAD has proven with this episode that it not only understands that mission well but that despite the roadblocks that may have affected its real-world production, it is capable and willing to push the limits of an audience’s emotional endurance to fulfill it.

The series returns on February 12, 2012.

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Click on Link: TV Review – THE WALKING DEAD – Season 2  – “Secrets”

Click on Link: TV Review – THE WALKING DEAD – Season 2  – “Chupacabra”

Click on Link: TV Review – THE WALKING DEAD – Season 2 Premiere – “Cherokee Rose”

Click on Link: TV Review – THE WALKING DEAD – Season 2 Premiere – “Save the Last One”

Click on Link: TV Review – THE WALKING DEAD – Season 2 Premiere – “Bloodletting”

Click on Link: TV Review – THE WALKING DEAD – Season 2 Premiere – “What Lies Ahead”

Click on Link:  ASSIGNMENT X’s complete Season 1 episode guide

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Article: TV Review – THE WALKING DEAD – Season 2  – “Pretty Much Dead Already”

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Comments:

  1. The show has lost it’s way. It’s about zombies. Period. In a world of zombies people don’t have the luxury of existential dilemmas. They should be too busy fending off a rotting, re-animated corpse attempting to ingest their flesh.
    If people want never ending interpersonal ‘relationship’ drama & chick flick ‘who’s baby is it’ story lines they can watch Lifetime network. Or Maury Povitch.
    We want zombies, gore and then more zombies and more gore. End of discussion.

    Paul
    • It would certainly be nice to see more zombie action but you can’t have a series based solely on that; there’s a reason zombie movies primarily concern action. I’m happy to see a mix of both in the Walking Dead, even if it feels like the Talking Dead sometimes (the irony of the post-show segment with the same title cracks me up).

      Shane
    • Why don’t you just play Left 4 Dead or Resident Evil? Even in the comics, there are different drama presented by Kirkman. Care to think first before watching a TV series? End of discussion.

      Watcher
    • Then go watch Dawn of the Dead.

      G. Romero
    • No Pual, we do not. If you want gore, go watch a zombie movie. This show is not about the zombies, but the people who have chosen to go on living in a world full of zombies, trying to make meaning of their lives and still find beauty and strength and love – reasons to go on trying. Big Difference.

      Kris
    • Not really about zombies. It could be anything ‘bad guy’ really. It is about humanity facing turmoil. How people and society changes, or tries to change or not, given a sudden change in reality. A survival horror/drama, or psychological thriller, take your pick.

      The last episode of the TWD delivered by factor of ten. Some viewers saw it coming and most probably did not. If you want a zombie killing flick TWD is not it.

      Bryan
    • Sorry Paul but the intent of the comic series (and TV show) is to show the human element of a post-apocalyptic world and to show the struggles and actions that people take to survive. The living are often times more of a danger than the zombies. You’re free to watch Resident Evil if you only prefer gore and no substance…

      Francisco
    • Maybe that’s what you want, but surely the show would become boring if it was just smashing zombies skulls in every episode and when that does happen in an episode it’s more exciting, the show is made better by the development of characters and their relationships with people to create twists in the story.

      Dec
  2. i came buckets when i saw the final scene! OP really delivared!

    AnHorse
  3. ilove this review! i dont agree with Every word but pretty close to it and it sounds excited and impressed about the show! i love this show and have nothing but support for it! so reading this review was awesome!

    tina pace
  4. What I see in this episode is choices,whether the person can live with the choices they make and what kind of person that choice makes them. Shane is good at the easy choices, without any thought about the type of person he’s becoming–although based on a recent conversation he had with Rick, I think that he always chose the easy answers. Rick, on the other hand, feels the responsibiity to make the right choices–the hard choices. Shane didn’t have what it took to finish the job at the barn, Rick accepted the responsibilty that he felt in Sophia’s seperation from the group and ultimately her tragic end. Was he agreeing with Shane about the choice made to open the barn? Maybe, but did Shane handle the situation well? No, he may be the type of person who survives–but at what cost? Dale is correct in his evaluation of Shane in the type of person he is–a person without a soul, not much better than the walkers he so gladly kills. Did he shoot Otis to help Carl? Ultimately no, he shot him because it was the easy choice, to save his own skin, with hopes of making himself a hero in Carl’s mom’s eyes and win her back from Rick. If we lose our humanity–we are already the walking dead.

    deb
  5. If you just want more blood and guts, Paul, rent a slasher flick and leave this show to people who appreciate good, intelligent storytelling. A show won’t last on just what you’re looking for. Talk about simple minded.

    Tony
  6. re:Paul
    The show is not about zombies – period. It’s not about endless gore. It hasn’t lost its way.
    It’s based on the comic and it’s about the struggle to survive, it’s more drama than horror.
    If you want a show that’s all zombie gore, go make your own or watch a horror movie. The show is exactly what it’s supposed to be.

    Sean
  7. Great ending but I do disagree with why Rick took the last shot. I don’t think it was, in a sense, taking up the leadership role that Shane envisions. Rather he reclaimed his leadership position by showing fairness and restoring the final order. That, if the group wants to kill the barn walkers, then they best be ready to kill one of their own.

    KapM.
    • I think the reclamation of the leadership role was only a secondary result of Rick’s action. He displayed mercy and compassion in shooting Sophia, something that Shane doesn’t know how to do. Rick has done this at least twice before – once, when he saw Deputy Leon Bassett and he said, I never liked the guy, but I just can’t let him go on like this (or something like that). Second, when he shot the walker in the park. Mercy and compassion not necessarily for Sophia, but for Carol.

      J
    • i don’t think it was about the group not being willing to kill one of their own, i think they were all just shocked because they’ve been looking for sophia all this time hoping she was alive, but it turns out they had zombie sophia in the barn the whole time! They were in shock. They’ve had to kill their own a few times before, so it’s not like they’re unwilling.

      dc
  8. That was a great way to end the mid season. I didnt expect to dee sophia in the barn. And for th haters on the show, go watch glee u f tards. This is a great show and i hope u know that there are other things besides zombies to deal with, so get off ur periods alright, cant wait for the rest of it. PS Daryl Dixon Kicks ass.

    daryl
  9. Disagree with ya, Paul. The show is SUPPOSED to be about people – the affect the end of the world would have on them. It’s not about “zombies. Period”. If you read the comic, or read interviews with Robert Kirkman, you’d know that.

    Very well written review for a beautiful episode. Bravo!

    Hich
  10. @paul you are truly stupid if you think the walking dead would survive on AMC if the entire show consisted of an hour of zombie killing each episode. people would watch three episodes and get bored. if you want “zombies, gore and then more zombies and more gore” then go watch 28 days/weeks later or go play left for dead or any of those idiotic video games.

    Jon
  11. Nice assessment Deb and I agree.

    On a similar note – I think in the final scene, Shane is simply being Shane. He’s a one way dude – his way or no way – no logic, no discussion, no compassion, no depth (Kinda like Paul – sorry Paul, you like gore, I get it, but don’t be so Shane – there’s room in the show for all of us to get what we enjoy).

    In contrast to Blumberg’s view, I don’t think Shane has ever made a serious effort to convince the others of anything…Shane simply rolls his eyes at Rick’s leadership and makes lame attempts to convince Rick. He’s just a begrudging number two, who rationalizes all of his own decisions and experiences.

    And, in the final scene, the only culmination I saw from Shane was that his pent up inability to lead finally got the best of him when he struck out like the delinquent he has proven himself to be. That is Shane’s MO, when he’s not suffering from delusions of grandeur, he likes to take advantage of others to make himself look good – or look macho – which is one in the same in Shane’s world.

    I’m just waiting for a flashback episode where we see Shane deciding to leave Rick in the bed because Shane deems Rick is a liability “in this new world” (and inwardly realizing Rick would retract Shane’s new found authority/opportunities/lust). That’s where Shane is frustrated, he’s a wannabe, but never quite made the grade – more than likely because he has a chronic pattern of poor decision making, just like all his decisions we’ve seen up to this point.

    Yeziam12
  12. I’m SO very glad that Sophia is dead. I was waiting since the moment she got lost on the highway for that very moment and it was delivered on a silver, diamond encrusted platter. Seeing the cause of my annoyance die like that was almost too perfect. The second that bullet flew through her skull I jumped for joy. She’s finally dead, now the show can actually go somewhere.

    Chris
  13. I saw the scene between Shane and Lorrie as very symbolic; Lorrie chopping carrots with a large knife and at the same time telling Shane that he was not the father of the baby and never would be. This is a classic representation of her cutting off his dick, IMO.

    Jeannie
  14. I notice Paul hasn’t replied!!!! Annoys me when people are so simple minded a bit like a zombie in terms of their views!!! Couldn’t agree more with the review and the comments here!! The Walking Dead is an emotional human drama set against the backdrop of a zombie infestation. If morons like paul don’t enjoy it, so what, go back and watch something that doesn’t stretch your intelligence you muppet!!!

    Gavin
  15. I really like The Walking Dead show and no matter what other people think it is one of my favorite shows on TV. I really enjoyed the ending of the mid-season finale episode. I hadn’t expected Sophia to be in the barn nor did I think that it would be Rick putting her out of her misery. Thankfully I was able to catch up the last two episodes I missed on DISH Online before I watched this week’s episode. Even as a DISH employee, it’s still hard to catch all the shows I like so thank goodness for this website.

    Jesus

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