You may remember that we published full reviews of the first four episodes of The Walking Dead Season Two, and the overall impression was that the season had started strong but quickly started to flag. The writing and characterisation for The Walking Dead is still strong enough to make it watchable, but even the best dialogue in the world couldn’t make up for the fact that the first half of this season contained only enough story for one, perhaps two episodes maximum. And less than half an episode of The Archers.
The main story arcs were the search for the missing Sophia, Lori’s pregnancy and Rick’s desperate attempt to find a common ground with Hershel that would secure the group a permanent residence in the safe haven of the farm. But in order to spin these plots out over seven episodes, a substantial amount of padding was required and presented itself quite easily since the show has such an enormous cast of characters.
Amongst the padding was a random encounter with a zombie stuck down a well, a romance between Glenn and Maggie lifted straight from the comics so carelessly that it left any charm behind, Daryl rolling down a hill and climbing back up … twice, magic flowers, shooting practice, horse riding, a spa break, pottery lessons … oh no, that’s the brochure for a weekend at Butlins.
If I were to characterise the problems with the show – and it’s a show that I do still like, despite all the paragraphs I’ve spent bitching about its flaws – it’s that the writers have yet to figure out precisely how to bring a genre that traditionally consists of lots of characters being quickly and brutally killed off to an ongoing series. Not only is it difficult to shake the feeling that the Apocalypse should not contain this many scenes of people sitting around on the grass in the warm sunshine eating peaches, there is also never a feeling that any of the core characters are in any real peril. A prime example of this was Episode 5 – “Chupacabra” – in which Daryl is injured during the neverending search for Sophia and suffers hallucinations of his brother Merle telling him to man up and get back to his redneck roots. It was a long and aimless detour into a predictable sequence where Daryl comes limping out of the woods with his face covered in lizard blood, and thanks to a convenient flare in her sniper rifle’s scope Andrea mistakes him for a Walker and shoots him in the head.
Sorry, did I say she shoots him? I mean the bullet gives him a tiny graze, he recovers quickly both from his wounds and the influence of Spirit Warrior Merle, Andrea gets over the guilt within three lines of dialogue, and we managed to pad the series out for another forty minutes! Tea and crumpets all round.
Essentially, it was the climax of Night of the Living Dead if George Romero had decided to wuss out at the last minute and give the movie a happy ending. The rural setting and the minimum-requirements-only appearance of the zombies has drawn the teeth out of this season so far. The “shock” ending of the mid-season finale was well-executed and would have been highly effective had it not been so terribly predictable, but if you didn’t see it coming then hopefully you at least got a bit of a thrill out of it.
The good news is that if I recollect the comics accurately the characters should finally be moving on into the bloody, friendless, and hostile terrain of the real world, where everything wants to kill them and we don’t have to spend so much time watching them do their laundry. Hurrah!
So, let’s take a look at those clips.
… Or we could stay on the farm and bicker some more.