Review: The Walking Dead: "Beside the Dying Fire" Season 2 Finale, Episode 13

The Walking Dead delivered the ultimate season finale. The first half hour was non-stop action as the survivors killed as many of the walkers as possible before leaving Hershel’s farm and later regrouping on the highway.

Who’s flying that helicopter? Hopefully we’ll get some answers or least some hints in the next season. The first scene answered the question of where did the herd of walkers come from since they couldn’t have been near the farm the whole time.  When the walkers come across a wooden fence, instead of climbing over it they just keep pushing against it until the force of numerous walkers causes it to break. Where are they migrating to? Is this some sort of herd mentality or primal instinct? When Carl’s gun shot alerts the herd, there’s a cool view of the walkers creeping up behind Rick and Carl, unbeknownst to them.

Darryl would make for a great detective to be able to deduce exactly what happened with Randall and Shane by just looking at some tracks on the ground and examining the body in the dark of night. Lori needs to brush up on her Parenting 101 skills. With Dale getting attacked by a walker the night before you’d think she keep a more watchful eye on her son. How could she let Carl sneak out of the house without her knowledge? The scene with Rick and Carl in the barn was really suspenseful and I liked how Rick used his quick thinking and worked with his son to set fire to the walkers and try to draw attention away from the house. It’s a call back to “Pretty Much Dead Already” when the walkers were released from the barn and gunned down. Except now, the walkers are trying to get into the barn. Luckily, the lighter didn’t flicker out before it hit the ground. Gotta love flaming zombies, even if the fire is CGI.

The gun training earlier in the season sure paid off. Hey, if Carl can get a perfect headshot on Shane, they why not everyone else … on a motorcycle, or hanging out the window of a speeding truck? I guess with so many walkers around they really can’t miss ; ). They could have used the truck to run over the herd before realizing how much ammo they were using up. It may not kill them, but if they don’t mind the mess, it would definitely cripple them. Thanks to Jimmy driving the RV to the barn, Carl and Rick were able to get off the roof. Kinda funny how Jimmy was so surprised to find walkers at his door. Maybe he missed the bulletin: the farm is being invaded by walkers … for the last ten minutes! Great seeing his blood spurt on the RV’s windshield, the walkers must have already gnawed their way to an artery.

I thought Hershel was going to die. He’s so stubborn and slow to realize the reality of the new world he’s living in. Loved the shot where Rick pops the head of the walker behind Hershel then grabs him by his hillbilly suspenders. It’s not your farm anymore! I’m actually glad to see Hershel live especially since Dale, another elderly fellow, died not too long ago. Hershel can be a moral compass for the group, sort of like Dale but less preachy. He’s also a more well-defined character than some of the original survivors like T-dog and Carole.  As Rick, Hershel, and Carl speed off in the truck they leave Andrea behind, screaming, “Rick, Rick!”. Eat my dust, we’re outta here! Meanwhile, Darryl is sitting on his motorcycle staring blissfully into the barn inferno when he hears someone scream “help”. I’m glad Darryl saved Carole, since he wasn’t able to save Sophia – he needed some sort of closure. Instead of getting all sentimental or heroic, Darryl plainly tells her “Come on, I ain’t got all day!”

It’s a bit surprising the survivors never had a contingency plan if the farm got attacked. They did have Andrea on watch, standing on top of the RV throughout the past season. But what if she spotted a herd of walkers or even Randall’s group? They should have had food, fuel, ammo and other supplies packed and ready in the vehicles, plus a designated meeting point. Also, they could have planned who would ride in each vehicle so no one would get left behind by accident.

At one point I was really intrigued with the possibility that the survivors would be split up for the start of the next season. It would force the writers to develop each character and give them all a meaningful storyline, instead of keeping some characters in the background like T-dog and Beth. Also, they would appreciate how Rick and Shane were making important survival and moral decisions to keep them alive. However, juggling multiple stories would not be easy and getting them all reunited after a lengthy separation would be challenging.

Fortunately, everyone correctly guessed to meet up at the highway where they left the supplies for Sophia. T-dog probably had more dialogue in the one scene in the truck with Lori and Beth than in the last 6 episodes combined. I liked that Lori was willing to jump out of the truck rather than to leave without her husband and son. Also, T-dog actually had a point of view, “leave them behind!” I’m also glad to see that Glenn finally said I love you to Maggie. When the reunited group discusses what to do about Andrea who is missing, Rick immediately decides there’s nothing to be done which is a full circle (or is it 180 degrees) from the season premiere were they looked for Sophia who went missing. I like how Rick said it, “She’s somewhere else, or she’s dead. There’s no way to find her”. (ie. end of discussion, people!). Andrea … that girl got stamina! On the run and carrying a bag of heavy ammo she’s certainly developed a strong desire to live compared to the first season finale where she wanted to give up and die. Whoa, who’s the hooded person that saved her?? I thought Randall’s group would rescue her but this is a complete surprise! The hooded person has two walkers chained and appears to have made the walkers harmless by cutting off their arms and teeth. Can’t wait to see what happens next season!

We’re all infected! Can’t understand why the group is so resentful of Rick. He wasn’t sure Dr. Jenner was right until Shane turned into a walker. Suicidal & homicidal Dr. Jenner, is not the most reliable of sources. Why worry the group with a rumor unless it could be proven? Not like they could cure themselves.

I’m glad that Rick told the truth to Lori about the complete story of he how he had to kill Shane. Her disgusted reaction is peculiar since at one point she wanted Shane out of their lives. Maybe she was reacting to Carl having to shoot Shane? Still, she should be grateful her husband is alive after Shane plotted to kill him. Why would Carole not believe Rick was a man of honor? Has she been living in a shoe these past few weeks? I like how Rick put his foot down and calls out the group, “Send me a postcard, go on there’s the door. See how far you get! … This isn’t a democracy no more!”. I hope the new Rick is here to stay and we will get to see how this dynamic will play out in the next season … in the prison?

Hershel’s farm was a refuge or a Garden of Eden where the survivors, for the most part, were sheltered from the harsh realities of living in a post apocalyptic zombie world.  Hershel, a man of faith, always believed in the resurrection of the dead, but not quite like this. His biggest revelation earlier this season is that walkers are not alive or curable, but they are in fact the walking dead. Could the same be said for the survivors? How does the knowledge of being infected affect the psyche of the group? Should it change how they live their lives? There’s not much they can do, unless they find out or learn about the source of the infection. Since Lori is infected, how will this affect her unborn child? Rick is not the naive or ideological man he was at the beginning of the season. He certainly has taken on some of the characteristics of Shane, in deciding to leave Andrea behind, sacrificing his best friend and making decisions for the group as he sees fit. Rick is better prepared than ever to lead his group out into the real world, but will it be enough?

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