AMC, 19 February-11 March 2012
The triangle between Rick, Lori and Shane erupts across these episodes, while a troublesome hostage proves to be a fatal catalyst…
Two characters don’t come out of these four episodes in a particularly good light. The mother-son double act of Lori and Carl manage, through their actions (or inactions), to set the scene for two shocking (though not unexpected) deaths as the second season of The Walking Dead draws to a grim conclusion.
Lori, who quickly recovers from the red herring car crash of the previous episode, simultaneously attempts to convince Rick that her fling with Shane is long over and the child she’s expected is his, and then both rebuffs and reconnects (in a creepy scene) with Shane. Complicated and conflicted characters are fine, but under the circumstances (and given Shane’s evident mental instability), what is she playing at?
Similarly, Carl goes out to play with a zombie as if he’d not experienced any of the death and misery of the past few episodes (including being shot). The fact he fails to kill the zombie he torments leads directly to Dale’s death. Increasingly out of step with the group, it is clear during ‘Judge, Jury, Executioner’ that there is no way back for Dale and he’s surplus to requirements.
This is all great drama, but it seems to rely on weird behaviour on behalf of two main characters that colours the whole in an unsatisfactory way: there must’ve been a more coherent and satisfying route to the same outcomes, surely? Also, the debates surrounding what to do about hostage Randall get increasingly tiresome as they go around in circles and begin to echo the seemingly never-ending search for Sophia.
Dale’s isn’t the only main character death, of course. Given Shane vanished early from the comic book source for this series, it seemed likely the character’s days were numbered on television. Thankfully, as one of the most gripping characters on the series, Jon Bernthal is given a suitable exit at the hands of Rick.
Hints of an alternative way of becoming a zombie (both escaped hostage Randall and dead Shane turn zombie-like without being bitten) offer our first hint of a bigger picture this series. Here’s hoping the season finale can pay off a second season that has suffered its longeurs, while setting up a fresh approach for the show’s third year.
Verdict: A good batch of episodes, building to a truly tragic climax…
Episode 9 ‘Triggerfinger’, 6/10
Episode 10 ‘18 Miles Out’, 6/10
Episode 11 ‘Judge, Jury, Executioner’, 8/10
Episode 12 ‘Better Angels’, 9/10
Brian J. Robb