The Walking Dead: Season 2 - Midway Review

The Walking Dead, AMC zombie survivor drama and relentless festival of grimness, has just taken a ten-week break after seven of its thirteen episodes this season. With such a heavily signposted cut-off point, this seemed the right time to take a look at the year so far. And yes, “cut-off point” is a loaded term in this show.

Anyway, it’s been a too-short seven episodes, as The Walking Dead is a thoughtful, ponderous show that takes time to slowly builds subplots before detonating them emotionally in the final scene of an episode.

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So we started with a three episode arc, in which our heroes were led by an injured child to a farm, where the landowner helped save the kid, then grudgingly let them stay. And I was excited, as the series was moving at a reasonable clip, keeping the tension going, and the third episode especially was a masterpiece of misery.

It also marked a turning point for the Shane character, who is striking out new ground here. In the comic book, Shane died long ago, but in TV-land, he is still strutting around, going steadily more mad. Obsessed with his own image as the hero, and willing to threaten or murder anyone who endangers it, he’s the most fascinating part by far.

Well, him or Daryl Dixon, semi-reformed redneck, a man struggling with the notion of acceptance. There are a few great characters on this show, and oddly they’re the ones that aren’t adapted right from the comic. Perhaps they’re constrained by that source material.

As the gang settled down on the farm, we got a second arc that wasn’t as well pitched. As in, it really ought to have been an episode shorter, because although there were good scenes, the main thrust did drag. How long was that little girl missing? How many times can a group of people argue about the same thing?

Nonetheless, let’s give them their credit, the finale was excellent. Pulled the whole run together so well that you can almost forgive them the slow episodes - they’ll whip by on the future DVD boxset. The final episode contained all the drama, and the haunting final scene especially.

Not a perfect run, then, but definitely enough to get me back next year for the second half, especially since both Shane and Daryl survived.

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