Finally, and I mean finally! Sunday night's installment of "The Walking Dead" was the midseason finale, and it took almost 50 minutes into the episode, titled "Pretty Much Dead Already," to get there, but we finally got some of the satisfaction that we were waiting for.
Up until that last ten minutes, though, I was starting to worry that we were in for another cliffhanger where the characters are standing around with concerned looks on their faces and their hands on their hips, wondering if they'll find Sophia and if Hershel will let them stay on his cool farm.
I mean, last week's episode made it seem like we were really getting somewhere, but when you think about it, all that was happening was characters learning new information that wasn't new to us. So Lori's like, "Oh, Hershel wants us out of here? That's weird." and Rick's like "You're pregnant? O I C." and we're like "Can something new happen please?" It was like opening a present and finding a toy that you got for Christmas two years ago wrapped up in a new box.
*Standard warning: If you haven't seen the episode yet and don't want it ruined for you, you came to the wrong place, because I'm about to do some ruining.*
In a span of about five minutes, Shane ended weeks of tension by busting open the barn with some big Gold Rush prospector's pickaxe, a gaggle of geeks come rambling out to meet their fates head-on and we finally figured out what happened to Sophia, or at least where she ended up. (Hint: She was in the barn.)
The scene was actually really striking, as she walks through all of the fallen walkers, wearing her bright shirt emblazoned with a cartoon rainbow and her sporty Old Navy cargo Capris.
For a second I thought she was still all good, kind of like when Daryl came back from his vision quest and was all beat up. I thought she was going to be like, "I was scared so I hid out in that barn all this time with all those monsters in there. I was sleeping in the hay that Glenn and Maggie were going to bump uglies in and eating Naked Tenders from the gimpy chickens that Patricia was wheel-barrowing in here."
But maybe, like Daryl, I was holding out hope beyond all doubts. Sophia was a walker, and Rick — whose leadership qualities were being seriously questioned by alpha gorilla Shane — stepped up to the plate and was like "Step back, y'all, I gots this," and then blammo.
Rick is still the head honcho of this group of banditos, at least for another few months.
Aside from all that, a bunch of characters had good standoffs: Dale and Shane, Daryl and Shane, Shane and Lori, Shane and Rick, Rick and Hershel, Hershel and Maggie, Glenn and Maggie, Carol and Daryl and so forth. And then Maggie and Glenn had another hot make-out session.
Here are a few of the highlights from those shouting matches:
Shane, to Daryl: "All methed out with your geek ears round your neck and your buck knife, she'd probably go running in the other direction if she saw you coming!"
Rick, to Hershel: "My wife's pregnant, that's either a gift here or a death sentence out there."
Shane, to Lori: "You and I carried on quite a bit."
Shane, to Dale: "When you really look at it in the cold light of day, you pretty much dead already!"
Glenn, to Maggie: "I'm sick of secrets, secrets get you killed!"
Maggie, to Glenn: "You look like you should be in line for the early bird special!"
Programming note: "The Walking Dead" is going on a 10-week midseason break, but I'll see everyone on the other side. Also, as a little holiday treat, be sure to check back next week for "The Walking Dead" midseason extravaganza where I'll run down the best and worst moments of the first seven episodes of the second season! It'll make your flesh crawl!
Most shocking and disturbing revelation
Dale has only one Gilligan hat. If that is the kind of world that it's become, where a man can only have one Gilligan hat to protect his bald pate, well then, maybe I just don't want to live in that world anymore...
Most immature practical joke
Maggie, pulling the old egg in the hat bit on Glenn. Come on Maggie, grow up. What's next? You're going to go into the bathroom, wad up a bunch of wet toilet paper and chuck it at the ceiling? Or maybe trick Glenn into doing an atomic sit up? Actually, he'd probably like that if Maggie was the atomic part, and not someone like T-Dog or Dale.
Hershel, while eating his canned peaches and reading the good book. He's breathing in and out of his nostrils all loud like he's been running a 5k or something. Jeez, Hersh, slow it down, this isn't the Golden Corral!
Worst character development
Daryl. A few episodes ago he was a bigger bad ass then Kid Rock and The Undertaker combined, now all he's doing is throwing hissy fits, telling stories about flowers and searching for little lost girls. That last part is admirable, but not badass. His biggest badass moment this episode was when Carol was ready to french kiss him, and instead he was just like "Just leave me be, stupid bitch!" That was just mean, and you don't know when the next french kiss opportunity is going to come along in this dystopia!
Tastiest looking meal
Those strangled eggs that everyone was shoveling down at the beginning of the episode looked mighty appetizing! They would have been even better with some shredded cheddar and bacon bits, but hey, you can't have it all.
Best application of peer pressure
Shane. He comes storming up to the group with a big bag of guns and starts handing them out like candy canes at Christmas time to all of the impressionable young men on the farm. He's such a cool bully, who can blame them for going along?
Most amicable end to a conversation between Dale and Shane
Dale: "I may not have what it takes to last long, but at least I can say that when the world goes to sh!t, I didn't let it take me down with it." Shane: "Fair enough."
I feel like they're making progress.
Biggest fool's errand
Rick, Hershel and Jimmy escorting the zombies to the barn with those Billy the Exterminator snare poles. Shane sees that scene and is just like "Oh hell to the no!"
A thing that I wish had happened
Jimmy comes running into the house and is like "Hershel! It happened again!" And they go rushing outside all serious like and eventually find the two zombies in the swamp. I wish that they had run outside and Jimmy was like "Follow me" and leads him to the back of the house where his Aerobie went up on the roof, and then Hershel has to get it down by using a stepladder and a push broom. And Hershel is like, "Never again, Jimmy, never again..."
I also wish that when Maggie was standing on the porch, glaring at Glenn and shaking her head to keep him from telling the secret about the barn, she had first held one finger up to her lips like "Shhhhhh!" and then she held her hand sideways and dragged it across her neck like a knife, like "or I'll slash your throat!"
Did you know?
- Dale's RV is a Winnebago Chieftain model. (Can anyone figure out the year?)
- Andrew Lincoln, the actor who portrays Rick, and Lauren Cohan, the actress who plays Maggie, are both from the United Kingdom. (Lauren, by the by, is also from the United Schwingdom.)
- The man mechanic zombie that they pulled out of the swamp looks sad when the woman zombie that they pulled out of the swamp gets shot, because in real life they are father and daughter stuntpeople.
Best video game reference
My reference to Duck Hunt (see below).
Second place: Glenn's reference to Portal. ("It's a video game." Maggie: "I know.")
Probably the noseless one who was licking the barn doors while everyone was milling about outside. I think that one was Hershel's wife. Go figure.
Second place: Sophia. She didn't have too much decomposition (I feel kind of uncomfortable after typing that), but little girls in horror movies are always scary. (See: "The Ring," "Silent Hill," "The Shining," etc.)
Best zombie kill
None really stand out, but just for the hell of it I'm going to go with Rick plugging Sophia right between the eyes, because of the gravity of the situation. I could certainly see the argument for Shane icing Louise Bush though. He shoots her about half a dozen times in the chest and then runs straight up to her and puts one in her head like a cheater playing Duck Hunt by holding the Zapper against the TV screen.
P.S. Louise Bush (goes by Lou) was from the sweet corn farm up the road, and worked at Hatman's Bar on weekends. I like the sound of Hatman's Bar. I'd like to sidle up, have a few ice cold Budweisers in frosty mugs, spin some GnR on the juke and blow away a few eight-pointers on Big Buck Hunter.
Zombies: By my count 16 (14 in the barn, including Sophia, plus the two poor souls who had been trapped in quicksand) for a total of 60 on the season.
Humans: Two. Otis and Sophia.
How did Sophia get bitten, who put her in the barn and did Hershel know that the little gal they were looking for was in the barn all along? (Answered! Kind of. On "Talking Dead," executive producer Robert Kirkman said that Otis had pulled her out of the swamp and put her in the barn, and was killed by Shane before he could tell anybody.) What did Jenner whisper to Rick? What has become of Merle Dixon and the father-son team of Morgan and Duane Jones? (Answered! Sophia was in the barn hangin' out with the walkers. Now she's dead x2.)
A look ahead to the next episode, "Nebraska" (Feb. 12)
Hershel starts drinking after losing his precious zombie collection, some other zombies breach the tranquility of the farm and Glenn gets shot from behind. Shane gets in heated arguments with Daryl, Rick and Maggie. Dale tells Lori that he thinks Shane killed Otis and he's probably going to kill again. There's also a car accident and Shane has a torch.