TV REVIEW: The Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 13 – Beside the Dying Fire

The secure home that the group have built up for themselves comes crashing down with the arrival of a massive herd of Walkers. Once the battle for survival is done, the remaining members of the group must decide where they will go next; they do not realise that one of their number is still alive and fighting for their life. Rick reveals a secret he has carried for a long time, and the news of Shane’s death changes everything.

Those of us who have lamented the lack of Walkers in this season of The Walking Dead will surely be delighted with the season finale. At the end of the last episode we saw a herd of Walkers heading towards the farm, and it catches the group completely unprepared. In an ironic twist, Rick and Carl hole up in the barn, but this time it is the Walkers who are trying to break in and see what’s inside; a nice twist for the show, and an even nicer way for Rick to take out a gang of Walkers at once. The rest of the group split up; many of them take their cars and circle the farm, shooting Walkers as they come, but others remain st the house for as long as possible.

We knew this battle was coming, and it is finally here. Walkers fall thick and fast, but not everyone is fast enough to get away with their lives. Minor characters are picked off as the main cast escape, and there is a great moment when the audience is led to believe that Hershel is soon to join the shambling masses, only for Rick to show up and save the day.

The survivors head back to the road where they lost Sophia and it is not long before everyone shows up. Well, almost everyone. Andrea saved Beth, only to be left behind by her friends, they presume she is dead but she is fighting the good fight in the woods. Just as she runs out of ammo and is overpowered by the Walkers on her tail, a mysterious cloaked figure – accompanied by two armless, shackled beings – arrives with a sword and saves her. This is a new development for the show; every time we have seen outsiders so far they have posed some kind of threat, even Hershel and his family were a threat for a time, but the arrival of this avenging angel is sure to herald a new direction for the show. Of course we don’t find anything out about him, but this is what makes The Walking Dead so good; the cliffhangers.

When the chase goes cold, the group begin to ask questions; what happened to Shane? How did he become a Walker? Rick finally reveals the secret he has been keeping since his encounter with Jenner at the CDC; each of them is infected and carries the gene that will transform them into Walkers. This was the missing piece from the last episode as it was never really explained how Shane was reanimated and the information begins to change the group incredibly quickly. Rick tells Lori what actually happened to Shane and the group begin to murmur mutiny, but when Rick offers them the chance to leave, no-one takes their chance. This leaves Rick free to declare that the group is not a democracy any more.

So season 2 of The Walking Dead finally comes to an end. After a slow start to the season, the pace picked up and in this episode the action was rocketing along. There are going to be many consequences from this finale; the change in Rick has already begun, let’s hope he doesn’t go full out and become another Shane. As well as this, the revelation that each of the group carries the Walker virus/gene within them is going to lead to some interesting confrontations, and the idea has already been planted that this is going to affect Lori’s pregnancy. As for the mysterious, sword wielding saviour, it is going to be great to see a lot more of him and find out a little more of the outside world.

On the whole, this season of The Walking Dead was patchy; some episodes were excellent and others were incredibly boring. The twist regarding Sophia’s fate was an easy one to spot, but the revelations in this episode were all new. The Walking Dead has become a pretty good human interest drama, but that said, it would have been interesting to see how the season would have fared if it was only extended to 8 episodes instead of 13. Lucky for some.

The Walking Dead returns in the autumn, and we can only hope that the show’s writers and directors will have learned from the mistakes of this season. The show doesn’t have to be all Walkers, all the time, but there were massive issues with pacing that need to be addressed before the Walkers return to our screens. That said, the show has a lot of potential and it is going to be fascinating to see where it goes.

GS Reviewer: Brogen Hayes

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