Tuesday, 3 April 2012

The Walking Dead Finale

I’ve been feeling bad lately.  March saw the end of two incredible television programmes; Being Human series 4 and The Walking Dead series 2.

I wanted to write a review of The Walking Dead, honestly I did.  I excitedly sat down and put the last episode of series 2 on and settled back to enjoy.  The last episode was the best of the series but it's still taken me a while to arrange my thoughts.

I've realised the problem; The Walking Dead is just too much.  I could write long essays about the angles, characters, social and gender dynamics and interpretions but they would make for huge blog posts. Still, I apologise for the length of this blog post!

The general consensus is that there was a lack of zombie action in series 2.  While a bit of zombie action is always fun and the zombies are done fantastically, in order for the characters to grow and develop they must build relationships and they do this by talking.  Dialogue is required to make this show a success.
The writing has been shaky, there’s no hiding from it.  There has been upheaval in the writing camp with the departure of Frank Darabont and a cast of new writers.  Only some of the characters are three dimensional, others have just been ignored (T Dog) and there are so few likeable characters. Despite this, The Walking Dead is still compelling watching.

Who is your favourite Walking Dead character? 

My personal favourite is Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus).  This is a character of layers.  The younger brother of redneck, racist, ex-con Merle who we last saw in series 1 handcuffed to the roof of the building.  Daryl risks his life to save little Sophia which was a very interesting character twist open to interpretations, and when she is found to be dead he isolates himself from the group.  He is constantly battling between the need to be by himself (his old life) and acceptance into the group (his new life). 

Despite the potential for a deep, conflicted and likeable character, Daryl suffered at the writer’s hands this series.  He cut himself away from the group, collecting Walker ears and living a freaky, hermit life until Carol strolled over, said a few words and they stared at each other for a little too long.  In the next scene Daryl had rejoined the group and is obeying Rick’s every order.  What?  Was something cut?  Did I blink and miss something?  Or is Daryl more fickle that I thought?

I am intrigued by Carol and Daryl’s relationship and I wonder if that will progress through series 3.  Although Carol suddenly dropping in that Daryl is nothing but Rick’s (Andrew Lincoln) henchman worries me – while I see Daryl as open to some manipulation I’ve always viewed him as a surprisingly intelligent man.  I would find it uncharacteristic now if he were so easily swayed by Carol. 

My main frustration throughout series 2 was Shane.  Rick’s best friend, Lori’s (Sarah Wayne Callies) lover and second father to little Carl.  He’s in love with Lori and his murderous tendencies began when Rick reclaimed his family.  Who can blame him?  With Rick in the picture Shane is alone. 
Murder obviously weighed heavily on Shane’s shoulders, after killing Otis he showered and shaved his head giving himself a new menacing look to fit what I can only assume was the start of a mental breakdown.  Once found out (if only people had listened to Dale, this might have been over a lot quicker) Shane repeated his reasoning to anyone who would listen – it’s all about survival.  He was threatening to all characters, he had sex with Andrea but still proclaimed his love for Lori and Carl and, believe it or not, Lori struggled with saying no.  This is the same Shane that drunkenly tried to force himself on her in series 1.  I spent most of the series waiting for Shane to die and boy, did I have to wait a long time.

The action started in series 2 in the penultimate episode which may have been a little late but was worth waiting for.  Shane lured Rick out into the woods.  Rick knew what Shane was up to, to be honest he’d known what Shane was up to for about half the series but Rick is a good man and to spill the blood of someone so close might be the tipping point for Rick (an excellent start to series 3).  Finally Shane and Rick faced one another.

One frustration out of the way and three cheers to Rick.  What a fantastic way to begin the end of the series.  Unfortunately it still leaves one more frustration; Lori, Rick’s wife and Shane’s lover.  I can’t quite figure out how I feel about Lori other than I don’t like her.  In a previous episode Lori essentially asked Rick to kill Shane.  When he tells her what he’s done in the final episode she shuns him.
Many reviewers have been left confused by this.  One explanation for her reaction is that Rick then went on to tell her how Carl put a bullet between Shane’s zombie eyes; enough to make any mother fume. 
One review I’ve read had a very interesting interpretation of this – perhaps Lori wanted Shane to kill Rick.  She shunned him because the plan backfired, because she’s actually lost the man she loved. 
Still Lori is an inconsistent character with no explanation.  Not to mention the amount of times she’s lost Carl.  For crying out loud woman, if you’re going to worry about him, stop letting him out of your sight!

The final episode started with what I assumed was a flashback to the zombies left by the group in the city eating the horse’s flesh as the helicopter flew overhead.  This doesn’t make any sense as the zombie’s were infiltrating the building holding Rick and his new found friends at this point.  So does this mean that the helicopter flew over twice and if so why didn’t all of the Walkers follow it the first time and allow Rick and his new gang to escape with ease?
Anyway, what a great idea!  Zombies follow noise and so they follow the helicopter until a gunshot makes them change course and leads them onto the farm resulting in the best zombie action in The Walking Dead to date.

I did for a moment wonder what direction the programme might take if the group was split, if Lori was separated from Rick.  I didn’t have long to contemplate this before the group all came together again after being split from the zombie horde minus Andrea who was left behind.  They quickly decided to leave her, some have said this was a lesson learnt from the Sophia fiasco but I bet that if Andrea had been a child and her mother in the group then they would have gone back.  This speaks less about lessons learnt about more about the psychology of the human mind.  Andrea is a grown up so to hell with her.

Speaking of Andrea, she fights tooth and nail to survive.  After her failed suicide attempt at the end of series 1 when Dale forced her to live on, I wondered if Dale’s death would cause something to crack in Andrea but it appears those wounds have healed.  We watch as death closes in on Andrea when she is saved by a sword wielding, hooded stranger.  Walking Dead fans cheered around the world at the short cameo of comic book favourite Michonne and I’m very excited about seeing more of her in series 3.

So many programmes these days throw up questions and don’t answer them (Lost).  At the end of series 1, Dr Jenning whispered something horrific into Rick’s ear before the CDC blew up.  We had to wait an entire series but the question was answered; what did Dr Jenning whisper? Rick told the group towards the end of the final episode; everyone is infected.  You will become a Walker whether you are bitten or not.  Unfortunately this took away the fresh feeling of new scenery and a new beginning for the group but everyone turning on Rick once more.  Part of me can’t blame them in questionning his authority, just who was in charge before Rick came along?

At the very end of series 2 we are given a teasing shot of the prison, something that fans have been waiting for.  Inside lies The Governor, a highly anticipated character who will be played by David Morrissey, and very possibly Merle Dixon.  That’s right, Michael Rooker will be returning as Merle Dixon in series 3 and Mr Rooker has revealed that he’s had to lose 20lbs for the part.  I’ve spent days pondering that one.

My hopes for series 3?  That Lori will go, pregnant or not she is simply not likeable and while attached to the very likeable Rick she poses no use.  Perhaps we can flash forward 8 months and be left with a baby – that would make surviving in a zombie filled world much more interesting.
I want the characters to be developed further.  We should at least remember their names, T Dog appeared in the series 2 finale and it took me a good ten minutes to remember who he was.  Given how he and Merle last saw each other, perhaps his character is waiting for the reappearance of the older Dixon brother.

The Walking Dead has so much potential and could be so much more, let’s hope the writers have figured out a direction and fulfil this potential come the autumn.

Here are some other good reviews of the series 2 finale;

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