Joe Chiarenzelli is an editor on The Gadfly Press who cares way too much about television.
What I find fascinating about this season finale is how it played out exactly as any reasonable human being would assume it would. Although it still maintained a pacing and structure that made it an entertaining watch. As Herschel would say, “Christ promised a resurrection of the dead, I just thought he had something different in mind.” I think anyone who watches the show could guess who would escape the farm and who would die. Namely, the main cast got away and two of Herschel’s gang who have been in around 4 scenes total got their various organs ripped out of them.
The set up to this episode was extremely interesting in that it showed the zombies trip from Atlanta towards the farm. Obviously the most interesting part of this sequence was the helicopter over the city and what that may indicate about a larger settlement with access to modern technologies (although a notable feature of this sequence was the wonderful “Trespass its your ass” sign on the fence). This segued into the zombie siege of the S.S. Herschel’s Farm, I refer to it as a vessel due to Herschel’s attitude of a sea captain, he will go down with his farm.
The defense of the farm has some great set pieces, including Herschel’s magic never needs reloading shotgun, Carl’s forced pyromania, and Glenn and Darryl shooting zombies out of moving vehicles. However, the more important character moments happen after the siege is over and the farm is abandoned. These scenarios all deal with whether or not they should go back and try to meet up with others who could have potentially survived. My favorite involved my main man Tdog, who was finally given a moment to express some real emotion and demonstrate his leadership skills. He came off like a giant jackass. While he acknowledged it was unfortunate that the others had died he did insist that they head towards the coast until Lori has to threaten to jump out of the vehicle to get him to change his mind. And change his mind he did, immediately demonstrating that he has no concept of a three point turn by driving into the ditch while trying to perform a u turn.
Luckily Carl has convinced Rick to stay on the highway where they left supplies for Sophia and the rest of the group arrives. They then set off for the east coast with the exception of Andrea who ran through the woods fighting off zombies for what seemed to be around 12 hours if I’m following the chronology correctly. There is a lot more to unpack but what do you think about the siege of the farm before Rick declared himself King of the Survivors.
I think the scene in which T-dog insists that Lori, Beth, and he should continue driving east toward the coast instead of turning around to rendezvous with whomever is left in the group reveals much about his loyalties to the group. His insistence, though, does not seem to be anything more than a purely utilitarian stance driven by his desire to continue to stay alive after the closest encounter with death he has experienced in this season. So while he is ultimately loyal to the group (as demonstrated by his willingness to comply with Lori’s demand), I think we may see T-Dog’s character develop in season three such that he is placed in a similar situation in which his loyalty will be tested again (and perhaps it will involve an appearance of Merle). One final note on T-Dog is that he seemed to be the only person who definitively thought that Andrea had been overtaken by walkers; he claimed “We saw her go down.” Carol couldn’t give a clear account of what happened because she was overwhelmed by nearly being ripped to shreds, but T-Dog seemed to have thought he could vouch fairly accurately for Andrea’s fate. Will he be responsible for the group failing to launch a search party for Andrea in the upcoming season?
What the fuck was up with Lori’s reaction to Rick’s confession of killing Shane? Had she not played a key role in orchestrating this end? How quickly she forget that she went Lady Macbeth on Rick in an earlier episode, goading him to defend his family and do something about Shane’s increasingly aggressive behavior. While her reaction is difficult to decode, another possible interpretation is that her anger is not meant to be directed at Rick, but rather is an outward expression of her realizing her responsibility in pitting Rick and Shane against one another. If this is the case, how will Lori deal with this guilt in season three? And how will her struggle parallel with Rick as he comes to terms with the death of Shane?
“Ricktatorship” – the name for the group’s new government as coined by Glen Mazzara. What do you think about Rick’s new stance on how the group will be governed here on out? And what was up with Herschel’s reaction? He seemed to be almost giddy, as if he was relishing in the fact that Rick was coming into his own as the rightful and unchallenged leader of the group. It struck me as if he were a proud father watching his son.
I think what we will see going forward with the more fringe characters in the group is an increasing doubt towards Rick as a leader. Carol seems to be goading Daryl into some sort of confrontation with Rick although he seems to want no part of it. The thing with Tdog is particularly fascinating because (as farfetched as this will sound) it was almost like the actor was willing to flee the show due to his lack of lines, almost a metacommentary. But, interestingly his specific reaction does make a certain kind of sense, since I watched it with you I know you noticed in the previous episode what I did about Tdog, he seems to never actually have an interaction with anyone else in which he is A) not interrupted and B) not muttering something unintelligible under his breath. But yes, I think we will see more disaffection with the Ricktatorship as next season starts. Which leads me to my next point…
Are they so wrong to view complete leadership by Rick as a bit of a bad idea? Sure, he did kill Shane only when he was forced to, but he also has really established himself as a particularly talented leader. Especially in contrast with the cloaked figure that saves Andrea, she seems to have done a pretty good job learning how to deal with zombies, seeing as she’s accessorizing with them. As far as I can tell the smartest thing Rick did, from an objective standpoint, in this episode is to set the barn on fire as a distraction. It did seem to do the trick of distracting the zombies from the main house for a while (also it was super badass when he took that walker out before it was able to have some raw Herschel (which incidentally is the new cereal I’m trying to market, “Raw Herschel, it will make you a doctor even if you’re only a vet.)).
But let’s look inside Rick’s psychology. Firstly the way in which he describes letting Shane lead him further and further into the woods seems to imply that he both has a death wish and is also incapable of acting in self-defense until he has no other choice, although the latter may have changed now that he has asserted his authority. Secondly, the man is way too affected by his wife and son, which is not to say that he shouldn’t care about them, but Lori is clearly out of her goddamned mind and Carl is a petulant kid. This in no way indicts them as human beings, under the circumstances it’s understandable, but if we are to accept Rick as the group’s leader he needs to remain objective and unaffected by his own personal familial issues. This, of course, is the safeguard that a democratic system puts in place; no one individual’s problems can override the good of the majority. But, if he is to assume total control over the group they will certainly be subjected to his psychological deficits.
To bring your point out further, I think the question of the trajectory of the Ricktatorship will align with the confrontation Carol is pushing for between Daryl and Rick. As you have noted, the safeguard that a democratic system offers its members is that “no one individual’s problems can override the good of the majority.” With Merle removed and Carol as his strongest relationship in the group, does Daryl have a greater capacity for objectivity than Rick? I think we saw an intimation of the kind of calls Daryl would make as group leader during the scene of the rendezvous on the highway in which he questions the group’s decision to not turn back to try to save Andrea. Daryl’s questioning was contrasted against Rick’s argument that the only two possibilities of Andrea’s fate were either that she was dead or had moved away from the farm, which meant that returning to the farm would be futile. Contrastingly, Rick made the objective decision that was best for the group. So, we have a conflicting understanding of Rick: he is the most likely in the group to be tied down by his personal obligations to his family while simultaneously he has consistently exhibited the ability to make the necessary objective decisions when the need arises. As you have also pointed out, it is clear that Daryl wants no part in the confrontation that Carol is gunning for. But, out of all the characters, it seems that the greatest opposition to Rick’s leadership next season may come from Maggie. She is clearly aligned with both her family and Glenn (as the “I love you” exchange and her near break-down over the fate of Beth et al. demonstrated), and as such would be a likely candidate to create a schism.
While this wasn’t discussed in this episode, on tonight’s The Talking Dead Mazzara explained that the flashes we saw between Shane’s death and his transformation were meant to be a window into the transformation process the brain undergoes as it dies and is reanimated. I am unsatisfied with this explanation, though, because the flashes depicted peculiar images to represent such a transformation. Were those images meant to be taken literally as what Shane’s dying brain was projecting or figuratively as the carnal urge quickly consuming Shane’s limited brain power as he reanimated?
On a final note, I am relieved that my favorite character is still alive. Green Hyundai, you are so resilient and reliable, and I dare say much more emotionally complex than others take you for.
How soon will they get to the prison? Will it be overrun when they get there, will they need to clear it out?
S&J: At the end of the first episode of the third season they will find the prison, and it will be overrun with walkers.
When are Andrea and Michonne going to come back and interact with the central group of survivors?
J: They will enter deus ex machina in the back half of the season.
S: If they do enter deus ex machina, will we see their story line progress parallel to the group’s or will we only see them again at the moment in which they swoop in to save the day?
When will the Governor enter the picture and in what manner?
J: The Governor will enter the picture by way of Merle; Merle seems to be someone who is incapable of surviving for a long period without taking direction from someone else. But, the Governor will not be the one to instigate the interaction with Rick’s group.
S: The Governor will enter the picture when the group extends their scavenging radius.
Who is going to die next?
S: Beth will most likely die next and if Rick appears to be culpable will Maggie possibly incite a schism with the Herschel, Glenn, and whomever else will follow a challenge of the Ricktatorship?
J: Carol will die next, but only because she serves no purpose in the story’s arc and has no survival skills whatsoever.
When will Lori’s pregnancy start to show?
J: If there’s no time jump, Lori will start to show after the first few episodes of season three. Unless the writers have planned it such that her pregnancy develops all throughout season three and into season four.
S: Lori’s pregnancy will start to show and subsequently start to put a burden on the group when they have managed to move into the prison but are facing the challenge of keeping it well stocked and guarded.
What did you think about The Walking Dead finale, where is the show going to go from here? If you watch Talking Dead, is Chris Hardwick's Adam's apple as disturbing to you as it is for us?