California Literary Review

The Walking Dead Recap: Pretty Much Dead Already (Season 2, Episode 7)

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November 29th, 2011 at 7:04 pm

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So far in this season of The Walking Dead, the writers can’t seem to figure out what to do with the characters, and in the interest of prolonging a suspenseful plot point (Sophia’s disappearance) they let the protagonists dig their own graves with us discontented viewers. Look, I get it: these people are barely surviving in the wake of the apocalypse. They have problems unique to this kind of story – the idea that one’s family might die in the jaws of the living dead, for instance, is only the surface of the fears these people face. Imagine the idea that you might really, truly be alone for the rest of your life. Think about the fact that life as you knew it is over. Hence the title of this episode, “Pretty Much Dead Already.” As the survivors begin to realize nothing will ever be normal again, they alternately cling to each other and battle each other’s demons. Unfortunately the pacing, which in the first season was breakneck, deliberately slowed to a crawl.

Walking Dead S2E7

Finally, some resolution. Photo credit Gene Page/AMC

Sunday’s episode marks the end of the first half of the season…finally. In the opening scene, Glenn is forced to decide between Maggie, who wants him to keep the zombies in the barn a secret, and Dale, who thinks the whole group should know about them. Glenn decides in favor of the forever omniscient Dale and blurts the news to the group, which causes Maggie to smash a very precious egg on his head (she says, “I think it was rotten”).

Shane is an insane person, and responds as any insane person would: by throwing a temper tantrum. Why is Dale the only person to realize it? Shane’s tantrum leads the ever levelheaded Rick to talk to Hershel, who responds by telling Rick the group’s gotta go. But, but – but Lori’s pregnant! Rick sputters. Hershel’s done with them; as far as he’s concerned he’s done his Christian duty, but Maggie convinces him to rethink things. “It’s not about me and Glenn, it’s not about me and you. It’s about who you are,” she tells Hershel. Even this mild-mannered veterinarian has changed irreparably in the wake of an invasion whose severity he wishes to deny.

Meanwhile, Rick tells Shane that Lori’s expecting, and Shane immediately tells Lori a) it must be Shane’s baby, and b) he deserves the baby to be his because he saved Lori’s life more times than Rick. My, my. Someone hasn’t aged much past seventeen – or perhaps has reverted to teenage behavior in the wake of zombie craziness. Further, when Lori doesn’t respond as he desired, Shane has yet another temper tantrum upon realizing that Dale has stolen the guns from the RV.

When Hershel finds out “it’s happened again,” he asks Rick to come on a little mission with him – a mission to capture two walkers stuck in the streambed on the edge of the property. Carol and Daryl also spend some quality time on the edge of the stream, staring at lilies and talking about finding Sophia. The two of them cling desperately to finding the little girl, grasping at any sign of normalcy.

Walking Dead S2E7

Probably the most interesting person on the show. Photo credit Gene Page/AMC

Speaking of grasping at normalcy, Maggie and Glenn have the beginnings of a rather sweet relationship, but one that feels totally contrived. It’s very much like a “Gossip Girl” storyline – misunderstandings lead to silly actions, and trite words lead to loving kisses. They make up from their little feud around the same time Shane takes the guns back from Dale, who doesn’t have the guts to shoot Shane (dammit). “This world, what it is now, this is where you belong,” Dale tells Shane. “At least I can say when the world goes to shit, I didn’t let it take me down with it.” Shane responds with a completely unsatisfying, “Fair enough.” Sigh.

Walking Dead S2E7

Well, that works, I suppose. Photo credit Gene Page/AMC

Shane stomps back into camp with a bag full of guns and on a militant mission to take out every walker in the barn. When Hershel and Rick reappear leading two undead in pole harnesses, Shane has a complete breakdown, shoots the things full of bullets, and releases the horde of zombies from the barn. Hershel, who’s convinced through and through that these people are just sick and thinks they’re his family, his friends, his neighbors, can only sit by with tears in his stunned eyes. As the creatures pour out of the barn, our band of survivors takes them out one by one with all the weapons they can get hold of. It’s one of the most satisfying moments thus far, a true Western shootout crossed with one of those “shoot the duck” games at the fair.

Walking Dead S2E7

And the air filled with gunsmoke… Photo credit Gene Page/AMC

And then. And then the writers really hit us where it hurts. After it seems the last walker’s down for good, one more shambles out of the barn: a skinny-legged little girl with short dishwater blond hair and a rainbow tee shirt. Poor Sophia. Suffer the little children, indeed. Not only does this finally drop the Sophia storyline from the season, but it also gives a new depth to Hershel; he was protecting her, keeping her safe, hoping he could cure her.

Walking Dead S2E7

Oh dear. Photo credit Gene Page/AMC

Well done. I’m finally willing to give AMC mad props. I just wish it hadn’t taken seven episodes to get here. We can now look forward to the second half – perhaps with Sophia found and Shane’s crazy fully exposed, our characters can keep moving along instead of stagnating.

What did you think? Tell us in the comments!

  • ross stefani

    I may give it another chance once the season ends. Maybe. What they did with the sophia story line is good, but is it good enough? I think the quality of next weeks episode will tell.

  • Jai

    Finally this show captured some of the intensity of the first season. Most of season two was lacking. It was relatively slow compared to the first-which had nail biting action at every turn. I had been disappointed that they settled down in a safe haven-this becomes boring & plays out more like a soap opera. I hope the next season is full of danger, moral dilemmas & special effects.

  • http://na Frank The Tank

    “Shane’s crazy fully exposed” yes that was needed and hope that it stays.

  • Dave Rudge

    I disagree with this article. I think the show is much richer for the change of pace. The lack of action, though sometimes a bit tedious, builds tension and gives the audience more of an insight into the characters. So when the action comes it matters more. In the Sopranos, the crime is a sideshow to the human drama. The zombies serve the same function here. This is what makes the Walking Dead such a good program. If it was all blood and guts all the time we’d soon get bored.

  • Reader

    Herschel was protecting the girl? Don’t think so. But other than that, spot-on review. It’s for moments like that that people love The Walking Dead. Let’s hope the story picks up once they set out for Fort Bennington – something tells me Herschel won’t be too keen on letting them stay at the barn.

  • Jason

    It does seem a stretch that Herschel was protecting Sophia–after all, it was the duty if Otis to gather any zombies and corral them into the cage. But i think your broader point–that Herschel was protecting his friends and neighbors in the hope that a cure would be found, that Herschel had seen them as individuals rather than as walkers, and that therefore they deserve the care he (Herschel) had extended to Carl–hits the mark, and serves as a foil to Rick’s final act. It is one thing to strike down those you do not know–any of the cast could do that and they did so as they struck down the walkers in the barn. But it is quite another thing to strike down someone who was once a friend, a neighbor, or someone in your keep, and none of the cast–not Herschel, not Shane, not Andrea, not Daryl–but Rick could strike down Sophia. Perhaps only he and Herschel truly understood what moral dilemma was before them….

  • Isabelle

    I LOVE THIS SHOW!!! AWESOME. no complaints.

  • rob

    they totally blew it this had huge potential but killing of the kid thats a mainstay in the novels is just pure rubish. it kills the development of her and carls relationship that we who have read the books are expecting … once again proves the poiint hollywood can’t adapt a book to film without screwing it up…. jst hope they get world war z right

  • Verdna

    I also thought the season went slowly, but in the end I appreciate where it ended up. There was some filler (Glenn in the well, Dale on the hillside) but overall the story Did progress and set up a Whole bunch of tension for the second half. I really can’t wait to see where it goes now :)
    @rob – You do realize that Robert Kirkman is Intentionally changing around the dynamics of the main characters. This is NOT an adaptation, it is a retelling of the story with mostly the same characters but in a different continuity. Kirkman has complete control over the main flow of the writing, and I have complete trust in his genius. Who really wants to see the same exact story as in the comics played out again on the screen? So, Shane is still alive, but Sophia isn’t… who cares? Let the story go on!

  • Chelle

    Really people? Do we really need another zombie story that is pure blood and guts? Don’t you see the beauty of this show? I agree with Dave. I really liked the first season, but things were moving so fast that it kinda lacked depth. (It was a pilot so they had to grab us by the gonads to get us to keep watching) When characters died in the first season I didn’t care as much. However after watching them scour the forest (for multiple episodes) in search of Sofia only to find that she was not only a walker, but in the barn the entire time; that really gripped me. The acting was outstanding in this episode! You could FEEL the rage, horror, despair and so much more! Awesome, awesome episode! I LOVE this show!
    Also, I think Shane is a necessary evil. I cant say I agree with his methods entirely, but he did what needed to be done. It seemed to me that he convinced Hershel. I cant wait for next week!

  • Galvez

    awsome show bout time they reval the lil gurl shane is a survior to the max i would be like him

  • http://eleetmag.com Eleet Mag

    I think some viewers are missing the point. The show is not about Zombies (Walking Dead). The dead are just the plot device that represents the constant danger (aka – death lurking aroud the corner) environment that we, the viewing public don’t experience on a daily basis.

    And when faced with that challenge, how will we cope. Do we go into survial mode, tapping into our most primal mode (kill or be killed aka SHANE). Or do we try to build a community that can work together create a new society aka RICK)

    Rick and Shane represents polar opposites, then the writers create DARYL who is the middle, a surviorlist who wants to work towards a community.

    The acting mya be a little cheesy with not the best editing, but its one of th best shows on the idiot box today!

    I’ll take this over an It’s all about me shows.. err I mean reality show any day of the week!

  • Stephen

    I may be looking a little deeply into this, but doesn’t anybody else feel like the fact Rick killed Sophia ties into what Shane said to Ricks wife?

    “He’s not built for this world”. – I think it was.

    When clearly Rick is the only person really with any backbone.
    And since his transition from near death (coma) to now he has become almost like the leader of the group.

  • Jamie

    Felt my heart rip to shreds when Sophia walked out of that barn. But Hershel didn’t know she was in there (according to a preview aired during another AMC show). Otis – the man Shane sacrificed to the zombies in order to save Cark – was in charge of leading walkers to the barn.

  • Jamie

    Sorry, that should be “Carl,” not “Cark.”

  • Jen

    I think the change from the breakneck speed of the first season to the plodding along of the second season cleverly echoed the complacency and false sense of security the characters fell into once they reached Hershel’s farm. Those of us watching fell into the same complacency. This made the ending of the episode just an explosion of all kinds of guns and emotions.

    All along we have gotten the “ick” from Hershel, especially since we found out what he was keeping in the barn. At the end of the episode, we are in a completely different place, victims of the old switcheroo in a manner of speaking. The looks on the Grimes Gang faces when Sophia walked out of the barn echoed exactly what we were feeling as viewers. I found it brilliant.

  • nik mehr

    this episode was very amazing…especially sequence in which the end…I was under the influence of morgan

  • Chandra

    While I agree that Daryl is by far the most interesting person on the show, Hershel didn’t know Sophia was in the barn.

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