After a very long hiatus I’m once again glad to say to everyone hello, I’m the Doctor. I’m here to hel… Wait, no, that’s not right.
I knew it would take a lot to get me to come out from my self-induced coma of “I’m too busy” to start writing again about the wonders the idiot’s lantern holds. After watching the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead I was finally poked and prodded enough to sit here and put my digital pen to paper.
Let me say up front that I’m kind of upset with The Walking Dead for taking seven episodes to come up with an installment that I finally felt was worth my time. Don’t get me wrong, I like the show, however it has been pushing the limits of my patience. There’s been a whole lot of talking this season and a whole lot of walking. There hasn’t been a lot of action, though. A lot of this season had been the equivalent to the fishing scene from last season where Andrea and Amy compare their childhoods. There’s something going on for us to watch but it doesn’t endear me to the characters and it doesn’t move the story along. That’s been almost this entire season for me thus far.
What I consider to be a great example of this show not really going anywhere this season was the episode where Daryl was horse tossed into the river and had delusions of Merle. Somewhere during that spill Daryl went nuts and had his inner Merle tell him he was soft and needed to, in essence, nut up. Having your inner Merle lecture you somehow makes you go crazy and make a zombie ear necklace. So what happens when you heal up? Apparently you just get grumpy and not a whole lot else. So what was the point of it all?
Imagine my surprise and delight when the last episode finally had action, conflict, dilemmas and interesting revelations. Shane started to surface more as the savage survivalist that he’s been coming into. Rick had to acquiesce to Hershel in order to keep his group safe and Dale had to face off against Crazy Shane. This episode was like we had Walking Dead light for six episodes and suddenly we were given Walking Dead concentrate.
Now’s the point where I get really spoiler-y so if you still haven’t caught the episode come back later.
Knowing that we were up against a mid-season finale we all knew there was going to be a shocking revelation and the most obvious would be that Sophia was now a zombie. It made perfect sense that she would be because she’s been gone for six episodes and regardless of how scared and lost she may have been it just doesn’t make sense that she would keep wandering further away. If she were a zombie she’d move even slower, right? So where was she?
The obvious answer to that question is that she would be in the barn. I never thought zombie Sophia would be in there because I figured someone would have spoken up about the fact that there was a little girl in there as well as the other town folk they knew so she couldn’t be in there. When she come shuffling out right after the zombie shooting game was played out I screamed, “Bullshit!” and started getting resentful at such non-sensical and blatant audience manipulation.
Thankfully I watched The Talking Dead and my anger was quickly cooled because Robert Kirkmann, writer of the comic and show, explained to me the one simple line that I missed. Hershel tells Rick that it was Otis, the guy that Shane shot in the leg to make him a zombie buffet, was the one who used to pull the walkers out of the muck. Otis was caught up in the effort of trying to save Carl’s life and made zombie chum before anyone had a chance to talk about missing Sophia. Had Shane worked with Otis to escape rather than offing him then our rag tag group may have had known a lot sooner the truth.
The other thing those last ten minutes did was to actually make us sympathetic to the zombies of the show. Rick’s gang had no problem sinking rounds into the heads of the barn walkers when they hadn’t known them when they were alive, but the moment poor innocent ex-Sophia came shuffling out the entire group froze. They couldn’t take action because in that moment they finally saw things from Hershel’s viewpoint. Everyone didn’t see another walker, they saw the little girl they’ve been searching for. In that moment they forced Rick to have to clean up their mess in a bizarre parallel to the opening scene of the first season.
So now we wait until February to find out the ramifications of Shane’s actions. Based on the first half of this season I’m optimistically cautious of the second half of the season. I’m hoping they give us more than five mediocre episodes and one bang up season finale. Who am I kidding, I’ll be watching every single episode regardless.
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