AMC, 18 March 2012
A zombie onslaught drives the survivors away from the farm that’s been their base, while Rick’s leadership is put to the test…
Now that was more like it. After a couple of killer episodes (literally, with the dramatic deaths of Dale and Shane), The Walking Dead delivers the zombies and gut-wrenching drama that has been missing from much of this season in a stunning finale.
What has caused the zombies to swarm (what was that helicopter up to?) may be unexplained, but the result was an attack on the farm refuge of our gang of survivors in which several (minor) characters rapidly fall. The chaos is well choreographed, with the fate of Andrea (Laurie Holden) especially well-handled.
The escapees reunite and camp for the night, with Rick’s killing of Shane coming out first in a confession to wife Lori (and her reaction still leaves open what her real attitude was/is to Shane and Rick) and then in an announcement to the group in a final attempt to secure his authority over them.
Waiting just over the horizon (seen in an enigmatic final shot) is the prison that looks likely to be the setting of much of the forthcoming third season, while the dramatic introduction of a hooded, sword-wielding character (who saves Andrea) is seemingly the comic book’s Michonne who will also feature next season, alongside David Morrissey’s The Governor.
Verdict: After an occasionally lacklustre mid-season, The Walking Dead proves it has bite once more (even if you don’t need to be bitten to become a zombie anymore)… Roll on season three!
Episode 13 ‘Beside the Dying Fire’: 9/10
Brian J. Robb