Welcome back for more The Walking Dead. I know I'm a little slow getting this one out the door (and that I never wrapped things up with Season 1) but better late than never right? Obviously this is going to contain some huge spoilers as I will be discussing some major plot points in this season and also doing some minor comparisons to the comics. So you've been warned!
WARNING! POTENTIAL SPOILERS MAY BE FOUND BELOW! READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!
WARNING! POTENTIAL SPOILERS MAY BE FOUND BELOW! READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!
WARNING! POTENTIAL SPOILERS MAY BE FOUND BELOW! READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!
Season 2 opens just after the events of season 1 with the CDC being destroyed and offering a brief recap of the events that lands the group where they are now. Rick is giving one last final attempt to contact Morgan over the radio, a speech which is an attempt to give Morgan (or anyone else listening) hope for survival. However the more Rick went on it became obvious he wasn't trying to give others hope; he was giving himself hope. The group was moving on from Atlanta and there was no looking back as they packed everything they could and hit the road in hopes of finding safety. This is when season 2 lets us know that it still intends to do its own thing and I couldn't have been happier with the results.
After a break down on the RV the group finds themselves stranded on the freeway in a graveyard of abandoned cars. As everyone spreads out to look for supplies while repairs begin on the RV it isn't long before things go south. We get our first glimpse of a "herd" or massive pack of zombies just roaming along. The following events brought me to the edge of my seat as everyone scrambles to hide, parents split up from their children, others caught completely off guard, some are totally unaware until it is almost too late, and the worst part is most have to watch silently what is happening around them. T-Dog nearly winds up dead as he cuts his arm open falling against some vehicle wreckage though rescue comes from the most unlikely source, Daryl. Despite what happened last season Daryl steps in and saves T-Dog who is bleeding out and unable to save himself. It's a moment where we get a really good look that Daryl isn't his brother Meryl who would have left them all for dead than risk his own life to save them.
Things only get worse as Andrea is attacked on the RV, barely able to save herself thanks to Dale slipping her a screwdriver that is put to excellent use. The most heart wrenching moment comes when Sophia is attacked and her mother Carroll looks on, unable to do anything as Laurie holds her back. Rick is the only one who acts when Sophia makes a break into the woods leaving everyone else behind now that most of the herd has passed. This is the kind of man Rick is though, thinking of what he'd want someone to do if that were his child being chased by two walkers, wanting to save everyone, taking on all the burdens while others simply stand by no doubt frozen with free.
The Walking Dead Season 2 from here takes a massive detour from the comics and spends most of the time telling its own tale while giving nods to the comics in various locations and characters. Nearly everything has been re-imagined in some form or another this time around though these are changes that I, a long time fan of the comics, more than welcomed and actually helped to draw me into the story. This isn't the same Walking Dead I know and love, the same Walking Dead I've been reading for year, no this version is a whole new beast and one I'm loving every moment of.
Rick manages to catch up with Sophia in the woods, getting to her before the walkers do but he makes a quick decision to have her hide while he lures the walkers away. Sophia watches as Rick takes off with two walkers hot on his heels, all in an attempt to save her life. However despite him telling her to stay put and he'd be back for her, she gets up and tries to find her way back. After Rick dispatches the two walkers he returns to find her gone and the rest of the first half of season 2 is spent looking for her.
It is truly a somber experience watching each day go by and they don't find her, all the while Rick doing his best to keep the hope alive that Sophia is still alive. Carroll is obviously depressed and fearing the worst though again Daryl surprises us with his determination to find Sophia as he often strikes out on his own looking for or assisting Rick. It's amazing to watch his character grow as he tries his best to fit into the group and contribute what he can; it's a drastic change from season 1. Daryl's changes make sense though, as he realizes this isn't something he can survive on his own and he needs them just as much as they need him. It is details like this that truly help the audience (or at least me) believe what is going on around them and that they truly are in a desperate struggle to survive.
It is during the search for Sophia we see a nod to the comics as Rick, Shane, and Carl happen upon a deer. Rick watches on as Carl is captivated by the deer, slowly wandering closer while the deer seems completely unaware of him. A rare moment of happiness as you can visibly see it gives Rick hope for the future seeing his son smile and get to be a little boy. Things are cut short though when a bullet rips through the deer's chest and strikes Carl in the stomach leaving Rick to watch in horror as his boy falls to the ground. In the comics we saw Carl get shot though he was mistaken for a walker by Otis, the same person who shot him in the show.
My heart was right there with Rick as he scooped Carl up and instead of attacking Otis, who instead of being a skinny red headed man is now fat and much older than his comic counter-part, is told where there is a farm near by that can help him. Watching Rick run with Carl, urging him to stay with him, was another deeply sad moment as you are pulling for Rick to make it there on time. Carl's lifeless body bouncing in his arms, the only thing keeping pressure on the wound is a belt, and then we get our first glimpse of the Hershel's farm in the distance and the family it contains. We also get another reminder that times have changed as the first question Hershel asks is "Was he bit?" before he even attempts to offer any help.
Hershel is able to stabilize Carl though he has internal bleeding and five bullet fragments inside him which require an operation to remove. This sends Shane and Otis to a near by town to get the medical supplies Hershel needs to save Carl's life. In a rare moment of weakness we see Rick unsure of what to do next and his need for Laurie could not shine through any stronger. Telling Shane that he needs to go get his wife only to have Shane tell him he needs to stay for Carl. The moment really gives you a sense of the deep friendship they share, even if everything has fallen apart around them. In Rick's weakness Shane steps up and takes control, leaving everyone behind except Otis on a supply run.
Meanwhile the others are completely unaware of what has happened to Carl and they are still looking for Sophia. Andrea finds herself under attack from a walker but before anyone else can react Maggie rides up on a horse, saving Andrea's life before swooping up Laurie in a rush and hurrying back to the farm with only quick instructions left on how to get there. The others are left to pick themselves up and continue the hike back to the freeway to get what they need to make it to the farm.
Soon Rick has his wife by his side and the wait begins for Shane and Otis to return with the supplies. Each minute that passes brings Carl a moment closer to death and the only option would be for Hershel to perform the operation without a ventilator which would keep Carl alive while under. The group decides to spend the evening on the freeway so they can leave a message behind for Sophia as well as gather up more supplies. Daryl continues to refuse to give up, even going out at night to look for Sophia, giving us a look of the heart of gold under his rough exterior.
At first things go smoothly for the newly formed team of Shane and Otis, they work well together and manage to slip past a large group of zombies to get into the medical trailer outside the high school. After a few minutes inside they have all that they need and more though once they leave things quickly go south for the pair. The flares that had been used to distract the zombies have gone out and now all their attention is on Shane and Otis. Quickly they take off towards the school and find a massive group of walkers right on their trail. Sticking together is key for their survival though it becomes apparent that their physical differences mean they might have to find their own ways out. They find themselves trapped onto of the bleachers in the gym, Shane suggesting they go for some windows near by but Otis knows he won't fit. Formulating a plan for Otis to draw them away, knowing a better way out for himself, they agree and set everything in motion.
Otis makes his get away and Shane does the same, though jumping from the window leaves him with a sprained ankle. All seems lost when Otis doesn't turn up at first, a good chunk of the supplies have been lost and Shane doesn't know his way through the town or how to get back. Luckily Otis turns up, alive and well, having managed to slip past the zombies and actually saves Shane's life in the process who is on the verge of being overrun. Exhaustion overwhelming them they trot down a street, a massive group 20 yards behind them and gaining, the realization setting in that they might not make it.
Jump forward a little later and we find out only Shane survived, as he returns alone with all the supplies and we are told Otis died a hero. Later on we find out what really happened as they have a small ceremony for Otis's grieving wife Patrica and Shane is asked to say a few words, to tell them how he died. Shane lies saying he gave his life to save Carl, in hopes of making up for shooting him though the reality is far worse. We truly see Shane for the monster that he is as we rejoin the pair on their run for safety. They hastily exchange words about the situation before Shane says sorry and fires his last shot into Otis's knee, crippling him. Shane struggles to get the supplies from Otis, who fights to his last breath to take Shane down with him for his treachery. It isn't hard to see Shane would easily overpower him and moments after he is limping his way to safety.
Otis was needlessly sacrificed for Shane, left behind for the zombies to fed on and distract them so Shane could slip away. It's a grim moment and truly showcases how far gone Shane is from the man he used to be. The others are unaware of this and though it haunts Shane to some degree, we also see a major change in him as he becomes much more driven for survival.
Things continue to spiral out of control despite Carl's recovery. Hershel doesn't want the group to stay, Rick finds out Laurie is pregnant with Shane's child, Sophia still hasn't been found, and worst yet the barn on Hershel's farm is full of walkers. Friends, family members (including his wife and son), and other random people are in there whom Hershel believes to be merely sick and can be cured/returned to normal. A huge divide suddenly forms in the group as Rick is willing to work with Hershel on the issue, even willing to help him put two more walkers inside all in hopes of his group staying so Laurie can have a safe place to bring their new baby into the world.
Shane has different plans though, after days of guarding the barn he finally snaps and decides it is time for something to be done and takes charge himself. Arming the group up with weapons he discovers Rick aiding Hershel in bringing two more walkers to the barn and obviously isn't happy with Rick's decision. In a moment of madness he unloads a pistol into the walker Hershel is leading, hoping to show Hershel that these aren't human anymore and can't be saved. Hershel doesn't budge on his position so Shane offs the walker and turns his attention to the barn leaving Hershel devasted by the murder he believes he just witnessed.
Breaking the barn door open Shane unleashes a flood of the undead upon them, forcing everyone to gun them down right in front of Hershel who still believes they are people who can be saved. Everything is now in ruins and Hershel is devasted though we finally learn Sophia's fate as she is the last to come shambling out. Carroll is crushed, the others are stunned, and you can literally feel their hope giving way to the reality of what has happened. No one is able to do anything as she moves out into the open though again Rick is the one to act when the others would not. Stepping forward he puts the bullet in her head that finally ends her time on this world.
The emotional impact of this moment is huge, everyone had their hopes pinned on finding her. Now they realize how truly powerless they are, how one thing can lead to this and that none of them are safe.
Season 2 didn't hold any punches, hasn't skimped on the gore, and delivered an amazing experience in its first half. I realize I skipped over various parts throughout the season; couldn't spoil it all for you now could I? Despite the massive departure from the comic, even killing a character (Sophia) who is still alive in the comic, I loved every moment so far. It does an amazing job at keeping me interested, on the edge of my seat, and in some ways scared for these characters and what their future might be. With Sophia's death we realize that no one is really safe, this isn't the same tale as the comics though it follows a similar path.
I can't really attach a number value or a letter grade to what I've seen so far though what I can say is go watch it. It is difficult (in my opinion) to rate something like this because it does such a wonderful job that I feel attaching any sore of score does it an injustice. My complaints aren't really there, the story flowed incredibly well, the characters developed nicely, and things are progressing at a great rate. I can't wait for things to see where things go from here when it picks back up in February. Where it leaves off is truly bone chilling knowing what the comics contain and what the show has done.
So that's it from me, I hope you enjoyed this rather long read and again I can't if you enjoy the show I can't give the comics enough praise. Check them out because they are more than worth it and won't really spoil the story that is being told here. Yes you might have some idea but as I said above the show is making it clear they are more than willing to break off and do their own thing, even spending majority of season 2 in a story arc which never occurred in the comics.
I leave you now with some parting words from Rick: