That’s the end of the farm, then, and the end of the season. This time, instead of having a half hour of boredom followed by something fun and interesting, the Walking Dead crew decided to make the whole episode fun and interesting!
All the characters faced the same quandary of thinking they were leaving all the others behind. Daryl zoomed off with stoicism, Glenn and Maggie were closest to how I think my own reaction would be – it’s bad but going back is suicide – and Lori tried to jump out of a moving car to get away from the Triumvirate of Useless, herself, Beth and T-Dog. Hershel and his very handy infinite-ammo shotgun escaped as his more minor family members were eaten, and Andrea sprinted off into the woods. More on that later.
First things first, the zombie hordes were led to the farm (inadvertently) by a helicopter that was never mentioned again, so let’s make a note of that. Those zombie hordes overrunning the farm was exactly what the show needed (several episodes ago, I would argue), because suddenly things are tense again. Zombies are a fairly useless monster overall. If they can’t get near you, there’s not a lot to be scared about, and that’s how the farm arc has been. I understand that every episode can’t be the cast shooting and running their way through a massive zombie attack that wasn’t their own stupid fault for a change. That’s unsustainable and would get old fast, but it sure was nice to have some of it.
So yes, the zombie attack was pretty cool, but if The Walking Dead insists on trying to be a show about its characters, we’ll have to talk about them. So let’s go.
I like Rick’s development. He’s been through as much as, if not more than, anyone else in the show, and with the burden of leadership on top of that. It’s believable that after the double blow of losing the safety of the farm and the Shane fiasco, he feels the need to be more authoritative, prevent the mistakes of the more idiotic and useless group members. He’s making the hard decisions more pragmatically, leaving Andrea for dead, staying put overnight, and has a darker edge growing.
Lori, on the other hand, remains pretty awful. I thought initially that she was upset at Rick because he’d let Carl “put down” Shane. The way Rick phrased it made it seem like the kid had executed him after he broke his leg. But no, it looks like she was upset that Rick had killed Shane at all, skipping over the facts that a) Shane was all up for some murder, and b) that killing him was her own idea a few days prior.
Andrea’s run through the woods was exciting (let’s not think about how the traditional, slow zombies kept up with her), and was an illustration of the main threat of the humble zombie. They don’t stop. Fleshy humans will have to catch their breath and fall over a few times, but zombies will just shuffle on until you can’t move any more. Andrea got to this point, and was saved by someone wearing a hood, wielding a samurai sword, accompanied by two armless zombies on chains. This was the most interesting thing to happen all season, and had the mixed effect of making me think “I need to see what this is all about next season”, but also, “hey, there was nothing remotely this cool all year”
I thought the characters might have remained split up for the whole remainder, leading to more self-contained stories next year. But, everyone seemed to know that they had to return to where Sophia had gone missing, and after leaving first arrival Rick worried for 45 seconds, everyone else turned up at the same time.
So where does that leave us? I’m optimistic, I like where they’re going with Rick, Carl going dark could be interesting, Daryl is still alive, and Andrea is looking at some wacky adventures. Who’s going to put money on a hooded figure saving one of the cast in next season’s premiere, only to have it revealed as her. The dead wood is still around, but Lori seems to be the only character that is genuinely badly written and irritating. I find myself not hating TV characters for being annoying or doing bad things if it comes from motivations that have been set up and are understandable. Ziggy in The Wire annoyed a lot of people, but he was like that because nobody respected him and he craved attention. Adama and Roslyn in Battlestar Galactica went down the path to a dictatorship because they believed it was the best way to keep the human race alive. Lori just complains a lot and makes inexplicable decisions.
We’re left with a shot of a fort of some kind. I hope they’re bad guys. We don’t need this to be like a super-reinforced farm where everyone can hole up all season. Once again, The Walking Dead has been interesting enough in its conclusion to bring me back for next season, but once again I’m overlooking how a lot of it was not really worth it.