The Walking Dead: Beside the Dying Fire

If last week’s penultimate episode was the best the series has done to date, last night’s season finale isn’t far behind. Instead of meandering around, living a this-is-way-too-easy-for-a-zombie-apocalypse life on Hershel’s farm, our band of survivors is forced into action as the arm of walkers that was shown at the end of last night’s episode descends upon them.

Thanks to the opening sequence we learn that the bullet that put down Shane from little cowboy Carl’s gun would be the trigger for a walker invasion. Little did we know that Shane’s actions last week would inadvertently lead to the destruction of the farm and the deaths of two more people, however minor a character they may be. Shane’s death hangs over the episode like a poisonous cloud, finally landing on the remaining cast in the episode’s final few minutes. More on that later.

As the trove of undead invade the farm, our heroes scramble for guns and their vehicles, with the main players from each camp surviving, plus Hershel’s blonde daughter that no one cares about. While everyone else escapes in a car, Andrea isn’t so fortunate and blasts and stabs her way off the farm and into the woods where we’re introduced to our first twist. After falling down and being pinned under a walker, she’s rescued by a hooded figure with two armless walkers attached to his wrists by ten foot long chains.

While driving away from the farm, not knowing who survived the attack, Rick, Carl and Hershel provided me with my favorite scene of the night. As Rick speeds away the camera zooms in on the faces of the youngest member of the group, Carl, and the oldest, Hershel. The looks are similar, Carl hurt and shaken, Hershel longing for what used to be. It was a wonderful contrast.

Back to Shane’s death. It’s not until Rick walks away, after the group gets upset at him for not revealing that Jenner told him everyone is infected with whatever it is that turn’s people into walkers, that he finally admits to killing Shane. It’s a private moment between him and Lori. He gives her his motives, every detail, and even tells her Carl is the one that put Shane down. For some reason that upsets Lori to the point she won’t even let him touch her. She’s been insufferable for weeks now and this reaction only adds to it. Her reaction seems like it was Rick who died, not Shane. She did admit feelings for Shane in a round about way last week, but my goodness. After making camp along the highway a noise startles the group, prompting Maggie to plead that the group should keep moving even though it’s pitch black and one car is out of gas. That was preceded by Carol telling Lori that she doesn’t feel safe with Rick leading anymore. The women on this show are downright intolerable at times. Maggie’s plea sets Rick off, prompting him to admit in a fiery tone that he killed Shane for the good of the group as well as his own survival. To the omniscient viewer he’s telling the truth, but not everyone in this group may believe him.  He also dares them to leave, dares them to go against his orders. Of course, no one does because they’re either too scared or realize he’s right. “If you’re staying, this isn’t a democracy anymore.” Rick states in a very matter of fact tone. Shane was always telling Rick how he needed to be more assertive, make quicker decisions. With this decree it seems he’s done that.

While on the highway debating their next move Rick talks about finding a place to not just hunker down in for a short while, but fortify and survive in. “There has to be somewhere.” he says. After his democracy speech the camera pans up slowly, revealing a very large, and seemingly very secure, compound roughly tw0 hundred yards from their camp. Something tells me that will definitely play a role in season three.

These final three episodes have been excellent, hopefully they’re a great stepping stone to continued success for Mazzara and Co next season.

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