I can’t profess to understand God’s plan. Christ promised the resurrection of the dead. I just thought he had something… a little different in mind.
We end at the beginning. Our season finale picks up where the show began, in Atlanta, where walkers are chowing down on – well, something. (It is far too small to be the remains of Rick’s horse, unless the walkers are far more thorough eaters than we’ve been led to believe.) The same helicopters that Rick sees fly over the city draw the zombies’ attention. They start following. Mindless. Horde. They must pick up members as they go, as the helicopters draw them. It’s reasonable to assume that the herd that passes through on the highway in S2.01 is mindlessly tracking the ‘copters too. As tying threads together go, this is a neat little bow.
If only such attention can be paid to the actual characters.
I haven’t been as emotionally invested in the well being of the survivors since I was hoping against logic that they’d find Sophia alive and well. Things were tense and dangerous. It did seem at points like the creators were going to be willing to sacrifice any of the characters – when the walker was creeping up behind Herschel, I said aloud, “No, not Herschel!” I’ve grown to love that curmudgeon. I am very happy that he lived past the farm.
For all the budget problems the show had, it was clear that they saved their big bangs for the end of the season – they’ve basically thrown more blood, guts, and zombies at us in the last three or four episodes than the did all season long. The herd attacking the farm was so impressive, so immovable, so one-minded, it was as if the show needed to punch the viewers in the gut with how horrendous this world really is. The gang might have been able to fool themselves for a couple of weeks that there was some sort of life to build here, but the zombies are never going to stop. They’re never going to be reasoned with. They just eat and kill and walk.
Despite all the excitement, the writers made sure to find time for the survivors to act incompletely bizarre, irrational, and uncharacteristically, which if they hadn’t been doing all season, I’d be willing to attribute to the stress of the situation. Lori managed to be directly responsible for the death of Patricia, for refusing to flee the house before the zombies were actually upon it, which is when they were able to grab Patricia as she ran towards the car. She was theoretically concerned for Carl, the son she never bothers to actually keep safe or in the house, and made T-Dog abandon Carol and Andrea, flip out when Rick reveals he killed Shane despite telling him to do so not two episodes ago, and get bitchy about Rick’s leadership skills after telling everyone all season long to do what he says. She gets about five solid minutes of screen time this episode and she annoyed me for every second of it.
T-Dog gets a lot more lines and more screen time, including a stated desire that the group head towards the sea “like they should have done all along,” yet this was never, ever brought up at all during the show. Sure, why not. We can pretend that T-Dog had a character arc this year.
Carol, who I actually have grown to like quite a bit, gets separated from the group, and grabs a weapon to defend herself against the walkers who are coming at her, which is actually a good sign of her development. I was heartened to see that little gesture. But then a half a day on a motorcycle with Daryl later, she’s opening and loudly suggesting that Daryl perform some kind of coup against Rick, while everyone else is sitting right there staring at her. At least everyone does seem to realize this is very odd for her, because even Daryl gives her a “what the fuck.” It was just out loud, onscreen, as opposed to the one in my head.
Eventually everyone meets back up at the roadblock from the first episode. I won’t pretend I didn’t get a little excited to see the gang back together, not in the least because it was an actual reasonable decision on the characters’ parts. I love this group and this show, sometimes against my better judgment. The happiness to have found each other doesn’t last long. After Rick’s car runs out of gas (because no one siphoned any gas from the tons of vehicles left at the road block), the group has to camp in some ruins. Tensions run high, Carol”¦ does whatever that talk with Daryl was supposed to be – and Rick has just had enough. He’s been walking a fine line all season, carrying the burden of suspecting they were all infected already, dealing with Shane’s increasing crazy, a wife that appears to be unstable, and a group that does its best to ruin itself. He reveals that Jenner did say they were all infected and that he didn’t tell them because he had no proof. This logic does not go over well. And then, in a moment of palpable frustration, he screams, “I didn’t ask for this. I killed my best friend for you people!”
No one is listening, Rick. They want someone to take the burden of leadership but they refuse to recognize that it might be ugly and unpleasant. There’s a part of them that wants to be coddled. Rick is done coddling. He’s done democracy. This group is broken and maybe a firm hand is going to be what fixes it.
We leave the group there, tired and fractured and scared, beside a dying fire, looking out into the night for what dangers are waiting.
And Andrea. Left behind at the farm, she totes the weapons bag through a forest filled with walkers, stopping for only moments and defending herself with whatever is at hand. Rocks, limbs, her boots. She’s desperate. She’s slowing down. And they keep coming. All season was about building her up from a broken woman to a warrior and this is where she’s showing the fruits of that journey. Weeks ago, she would have just taken a bullet and been done with it. Running means she wants to live.
And when her luck seems to have finally run out, when she’s killed two walkers out of three and it looks like that’s the end of her, a hooded figure dragging two armless walkers on chains cuts the zombie’s head off with a katana.
Michonne has all of 10, 15 seconds of screen but I know there were hundreds of other viewers who screamed her name out and had to explain to a room full of loved ones why they were just so goddamn happy to see her.
Next season: The Prison.
I’ll be doing a Season 2 wrap up next week before we say good-bye to our zombie friends for another year. If you have any questions, comments, theories or errata to bring up or ask me, let me know in the comments and they’ll be addressed in the post.