Recap: The Walking Dead, Episode 2.13, “Beside the Dying Fire”

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.

Published by

[E] Slay Belle

Slay Belle is an editor and the new writer mentor here at Persephone Magazine, where she writes about pop culture, Buffy, and her extreme love of Lifetime movies. She is also the editor of powderroom.jezebel.com. You can follow her on Twitter, @SlayBelle or email her at slay@persephonemagazine.com. She is awfully fond of unicorns and zombies, and will usually respond to any conversational volley that includes those topics.

31 thoughts on “Recap: The Walking Dead, Episode 2.13, “Beside the Dying Fire””

  1. Every episode, there are more plot holes but at least it gives me something to rant and rave about.

    I didn’t really get how the farm got run over. This happened at their last camp. You’re telling me not once did they think that wouldn’t happen here? Please.

    And I laughed when the kid in the RV got eaten. Lock the doors buddy. You would think that would have been the first thing. Nope.

    And then they kept driving around (slowly) and wasting ammo.

    I still don’t understand why they had to keep Lori and Carl. My least favorite characters. But got rid of Dale. Alright.

    And the whole group complaining? Always complaining. If you don’t like it, go off on your own.

    I did like the ending though. I liked seeing Andrea persevere. And get a helping hand from an unknown.

  2. Okay, I hate what they’ve done with Lori and I’m not about to defend what the writers have done with her, but did anyone else read her anger at Rick as being more about Carl having seen/been involved in Shane’s death/re-death than Rick killing him? She was shocked at the initial revelation, but she didn’t get the disgusted look until Rick mentioned Carl being there. I think she’s in serious denial about the fact that her baby isn’t her sheltered, innocent baby anymore.

    Whatever the case, roll on The Prison, The Governor, and Mother F-ing MICHONNE!

    1. Yes.  She was only mad because Carl had to do it.  Which he wouldn’t have had to do it if she hadn’t have SUPERVISED HIM TO BEGIN WITH.  And, really, it’s good she wasn’t watching him, because if he hadn’t have killed Shane, Rick would be DEAD. So rock on little boy.  Ferchrissake, the child lives in a zombie apocalypse.  He doesn’t get to be innocent.

    2. You know, its funny, because I noticed her reaction too. And I did initially think that it had to do with Carl — but that’s the problem with her character. She’s been so inconsistent you can’t read what’s supposed to be going on. And then the writers said that, no, it wasn’t Carl, and it wasn’t regret that she told Rick to kill him, she felt guilty because she set this all in motion by having sex with Shane.

      WHAT? If the entire internet needs you to explain your character’s motivations, YOU ARE NOT DOING A GOOD JOB.

      1. And then the writers said that, no, it wasn’t Carl, and it wasn’t regret that she told Rick to kill him, she felt guilty because she set this all in motion by having sex with Shane.

        Oh my god, they actually said that? Wow, that’s on the bottom of my list of Things Lori Should Feel Guilty About. She was told her husband was dead. And there were zombies taking over the world. And Shane was (at that point in time) a pretty decent guy who was taking care of them and has a great body. Let’s-Forget-The-World-Is-Ending Sex is easily forgivable.You know what might have set this all in motion, though? Your misguided “Hey, you were an okay guy before you were crazy and if Rick hadn’t come back maybe we could have made a go of things, haha, I bet this talk won’t have any repercussions,” little speech to him after Dale’s death. Of all the stupid things she’s done, that was the stupidest. But there are soooo many contenders.

  3. Perhaps it’s because I’m a bit obsessed with Gone with the Wind, but when I saw the barn burning scene it totally reminded me of the burning of Atlanta scene in GwtW. I even shouted it out to the great annoyance of my family. The whole world falling to its knees  never to rise again speech Rhett gives seems fitting as well. And and it is near Atlanta. Who’s put way too much thought into this comparison yeah that’d be me.

  4. I also was so worried about Herschel in that moment. Mr. McDoog actually said out loud “No, not like that!” Because he and I were convinced that he was going to pull a “the captain goes down with the ship” thing and die defending the farm. But like, on his own terms. So we were very happy with the outcome.

    Heh, what’s funny about Lori is her conversation with Shane last week was the first and only time we’ve seen her take responsibility for the consequences of her actions. And after the way that turned out I’m pretty sure Lori just decided I AM NEVER TAKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANYTHING. EVER. AGAIN.

    And yeah, everyone in the group whining about Rick’s leadership needs to get a fucking clue. One thing Rick learned from Shane was that amidst all his serious emotional problems, Shane kind of had a point about the savage reality of the world they are living in. The group had been operating in a fantasy wold and it’s pretty fitting that Shane’s death ushered them into the destruction of that fantasy, and into the new era of Rick As Leader But With A Little Shane Flavor.

    What else. I did do a happy dance when Daryl went and saved Carol. Even if she just pissed me off a few minutes later.

    I wish they had addressed the gas situation. It’s like, writers, if you need things to happen for plot purposes, you have to at least justify them. Even if it’s just with a throwaway line. Like “Well, we don’t have time to siphon gas, let’s move.” Or “Well crap, we left all our gas-siphoning tools back at the ruined farm.” Or “Goddamnit Rick, if only we hadn’t been so consumed by relief during our little reunion that we forgot to siphon some motherfucking gas.” BOOM. WHERE IS MY EMMY?

    1. Additionally, re: Hershel leaving the farm with the others in the group, on Talking Dead (apologies if you watched it–consider the following just info to those who didn’t), the showrunners said that they had originally planned for Hershel to be the zombie chow–the cow–that Marsh Zombie (the one that attacked Dale; also the one that Stupid Carl was throwing rocks at) was eating in the field, but they ended up changing it to a cow b/c they wanted to develop the character of Hershel more. I’m really glad they did that, especially since they killed Dale. I like them having an older “sage” character who may have an interesting backstory (it’s been hinted at), and I miss Dale (realizing I may be in the minority).

      Again, my perspective comes from a non-comic-book reader, so don’t spoil, anyone! Thanks! ;)

      1. I thought they wanted Jimmy to be the cow and Hershel to die at some other point? I don’t usually watch The Talking Dead because I try to write these reviews without anyone else’s opinions intruding on my thoughts. (I go back and read reviews afterwards.) But I had to see this episode.

        My husband has never watched it before and he wanted to know why the host kept getting so excited he started yelling.

  5. Thankfully, I watched Talking Dead after the show, or I wouldn’t have known what the hell the building was (the prison) at the end of the show. But! I kind of don’t like that the new character has been spoiled to death by the directors/writers(?) that were on TD and, well, everyone else. Obviously, I haven’t read the comics and don’t plan to do so. Okay, done whining about that.

    All the following blathering will be about both the finale and the whole season.

    Clearly the plan all along for the season ender was to have a big blowout at the farm, which was good and cliffhanger-y, so I get that much of the season was about biding time, but sweet mary, the seemingly endless search for Sophia was so.freaking.boring. I was in disbelief that they devoted what I seem to remember was FOUR episodes to that ridiculousness. Four out of 13–doing the maths, that’s almost a third of the season–not cool, show.

    Everyone on the show sucks (except Daryl and maybe Hershel) for getting mad at Rick about him not telling them about them all being infected. It was merely a theory until he saw it in Shane. BTW, rest in peace, jackass.

    After watching it a second time, I found myself pissed off about the group driving around and shooting zombies. They were wasting ammunition and drawing more zombies. A farm like that would have a root cellar or storm cellar where they could hide out until the zombies passed along. They’ve done it before (hid under cars on the highway). I know my reasoning is ridiculous given that’s not the point of the show now–they have to leave the farm and move on to keep the story going. And that’s probably what happens in the comics, but I don’t want to know that. ::fingers in ears, la la la la la::

    Good things about the finale: T-Dog had actual dialogue! Hershel’s poignant last look back at his farm as they drove away from it. Daryl standing up for Rick. Carol actually doing A Thing, though if you watch her scene just before Daryl picks her up on the motorcycle, she is ambling like a zombie, and I actually laughed. How she wasn’t zombie chow is beyond me. Somewhere in between: Glen, Maggie. My jury’s still out on: Andrea, Rick, Michonne, uh–Maggie’s sister(?). People who ruin everything: Lori, Carl.

    1. The only saving grace I thought about them not hiding is that there is no real reason for the zombies to have left. There’s 50 head of cattle, all the chickens, and a barn full of horses for them to eat. (Honestly in the last week, I kept saying, ‘but the horses!) Except.. not a single walker was distracted by the cattle, chicken or horses, despite the show pointing out over and over that they’ll take easy prey over hard prey every time.

      There’s so much about the herd that just falls apart if you poke it at all.

  6. Fucking Lori. Of all the ways the show deviated from the comics, they couldn’t have chosen to kill her off? I’m so done with her.

    I’m putting all of my faith in Team Andrea/Michonne. If they fuck Michonne’s storyline up, I’m done. And Carol’s weird turn against Rick was, well, weird. She’s one of the characters who got under my skin and who I really ended up liking, despite how she was written, so I didn’t love that little turn.

    Please just send Lori and Carl back to the farm to be eaten. Thanks.

    1. Totally. I “got” Carol as a woman coming back from years of a abuse. I did not understand what the Carol in that episode was going for with her little fireside chat with Rick, and the only takeaway that I got from it was that she used the most manipulative statement imaginable as a prominent part of it. “I’m a burden?” Oof.

       

      1. I forget about her past w/her husband. When I think about that, I realize that she actually has grown as a character, however slowly. Like everyone, she’s in a new world, but also, she’s doing it alone and making her own decisions, which she’s never had to do before. Also, she’s grieving over Sophia. I shall be easier on her in my viewing, b/c I’m sure that matters. Har. I do like her and she doesn’t bug the ever-loving hell out of me like, say, Lori and Stupid Carl.

        1. Upon further reflection, I really like Carol. I wish they’d have let her get a little badass, perhaps with Andrea or Daryl teaching her useful killing stuff, but seeing her character develop after her abusive husband dies and she sees her daughter zombified was pretty realistic, and she’s a sympathetic character. Until that Rick thing.

          1. Carol really grew on me. A lot of it was the way she treated Daryl and how clearly she saw that he was a good man who came from a bad background. And she was devastated by her daughter’s death but she got back up and kept moving. That’s pretty much the best you can hope for in that kind of situation — she had a lot of dignity. I can respect that.

            But the weird campfire thing? ‘I just want a man with honor.’ ‘I’m a burden’. Its so out of left field that I was relieved that people within the show also seemed surprised. At least it was supposed to be out of character.

             

Leave a Reply