Today we have a whopping FINALE EDITION of the Redux. I think we can all agree, it's well deserved. The Walking Dead gave us a superb ending to a very trying second season. You'll see our group of writers tackling the development of Season Two Rick Grimes into Season Three Rick Grimes. Lori will certainly be discussed, as well as the groups lack of foresight to stock the vehicles with supplies. Ann takes a closer look at the farm father, Herschel, as newcomer Joel discusses the marksmanship of the gang.
Spoiler Alert, y'all. Show content and possible Comic Content.
I left everything on the page, no editing or cutting. Freshen up that cup of coffee, take a deep breath, and dig in. It's a healthy serving of the Redux today.
I’m going to start by saying I am really looking forward to Season 3 of The Walking Dead. I enjoyed the Season 2 finale for several different reasons, but I would like to share with you the puzzle that my mind has been grappling to put together since last night. Why does Rick feel the need to announce himself as a dictator? I’ve been kicking around a couple of thoughts, and I even Googled ‘When Leaders Become Dictators’, but the results were overwhelmingly about Hitler and I think that is the wrong avenue to take on my approach to the newly founded ‘Ricktatorship’.
I decided instead to try to empathize with Rick, which was painful at first because I truthfully find his character hard to swallow, but I arrived at some interesting conclusions. Rick is pissed and frustrated and threw himself an old fashioned temper tantrum. He just confided to Lori that he had to kill his best friend because his best friend schemed and plotted and lead him out into the woods to kill him and inevitably claim leadership of the group, Lori and Carl. Not to mention the fact that Lori planted that corruptible seed in Rick’s ear just a couple episodes prior about Shane’s dangerous unpredictability and delusional sense of ownership over her and the unborn child. So when Lori reacted to Rick in anger, not even allowing him to touch her after he committed an act IN SELF DEFENSE that he was obviously distraught about, I think he was rightfully peeved. Lori is ridiculously self righteous and utterly useless, and her reaction to Rick saving his own life in the face of calculated murder is unforgiveable. What a bitch.
Then, to make matters worse, the whole group became indignant when they found out the whispery secret that Jenner passed onto Rick at the end of season one. None of them could believe he’d withheld the information. First of all, Rick wasn’t even sure it was true, and he probably didn’t really understand what the whacked out man on the brink of suicide actually meant until he saw it with his own eyes. He kept the information from them because blurting out ‘we’re all infected’ to this group would have resulted in chaos and self destruction, which they were already teetering on the brink of without the additional vague impetus. They were all so offended. Really? Carol, two episodes ago you announced that you wanted to give up your rights to have an input in group matters and now you’re upset that information was withheld from you? Gah. They are acting as if the leaders of the civilized world they lived in before the zombies had been completely honest with them and told them everything that was happening. They are American, they should know better than to expect truthful leadership.
So the incredulity of the group that Rick bore the weight of a potential truth without making them labor beneath the pressure of that knowledge, and Lori’s hypocritical bony ass actin’ a fool when he emotionally confessed to her the murder in self defense of his best friend who tried to kill him to take over his life - just compounded and made Rick snap. Leadership comes with loads of criticism and responsibility, and I think Rick was fed up with everyone giving him shit. That being said – that is where my defense of Rick ends.
In this same temper tantrum, Rick laid claim to keeping them all together. Um, you weren’t even with them at the farm. You were with Carl, because once again the kid left the house, unbeknownst to his mother even though she behaves as if she never lets him out of her sight, except most of the series when he is, in fact, out of her sight. It was everyone else in the group that came up with the plan to get in the cars and kill the walkers and take off in said cars if things got out of control.
Rick hadn’t even established a back up plan in case the barn were to come under zombie siege; too busy saving the impaled, driving the then-healed impaled out into the country to leave him, driving him back to have him tortured, holding meetings about whether or not to kill him, deciding to kill him, then deciding not to kill him, and then losing him. Phew! How could anyone find the time to effectively lead when they are so busy being ineffective at, well, everything. Rick has trouble making concise decisions, but when he does he expects that everyone will fall in line because he is their ‘leader’.
None of the cars were stocked with extra fuel and supplies ‘just in case’ something were to go wrong in the midst of the zombie apocalypse. A meeting place was never established, I mean come one, even elementary school students know how to design a disaster plan. These are all steps that an effective leader would have taken and effectively addressed, preparing his people for all possibilities and ensuring that all necessary protections were in place. But it didn’t go down that way, and everyone had to figure out they were meeting at the highway through deductive (and hopeful) reasoning. Rick didn’t keep them together; they kept themselves together. So if he wants to be the authoritarian, he better learn how to actually be one.
We move onto Ann and her relation of Herschel and Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher.
While watching the season finale of The Walking Dead last night, I kept coming back to the fact that Herschel and the farm have a symbiotic relationship. It’s true that many of us believe that they spent maybe too much time on the farm this season, and maybe last night’s episode should have ended with the group actually starting in on a new location – i.e. the prison that is shown in the final shot. But after watching last night’s episode and thinking about the relationship between Herschel and the farm, I believe it sets up a good argument that wonders what and who Herschel will become now that he’s not tied to his land and his older way of life. The time that the group spent on the farm, in my mind, was now necessary. They became complacent – half-assing themselves through “survival” if that’s what you can really call what they were doing. And now they are going to be forced to actually make their way again.
As I think on Herschel, I relate back to Edgar Allan Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher. In that story, the brother and sister living in the house are one with the home and they must perish with it – they have no life outside of it. Out of all the characters this season, Herschel has been the most dynamic – we saw a man adamantly tied to his land and the life he had led but through the course of the season, he begins to understand the real danger the world has been in, prompted by Rick’s lead. Slowly, we saw Herschel release his control on his own way of life and allow Rick to take the lead both on his land and the group. And now that Herschel didn’t die on his land, now that he will be forced into a new situation, we can only wonder how much more dynamic Herschel will be. And whether or not he’s going to continue to support Rick as he turns the table and informs the group that this is no longer a democracy. Most viewers will agree – it hasn’t been for some time now and the group cannot fool themselves any longer.
Along the same time, there’s no way they could have allowed that RV to go off the farm without Dale in it. We had a loving tribute to the RV when Glenn and Andrea worked on the RV to get it working to move it up to the house. The relationship between Dale and the RV was symbiotic. I appreciate that both perished where they belonged with each other.
Some of my other observations on last night’s episode:
-Lori, Lori, Lori. What are we going to do with you? I want to be angry at her reaction to Rick’s killing of Shane. But then I try to put myself in her shoes and understand her motivation, and the writers are doing a great job maintaining her character. She acts as she would act. Although we saw her previous episodes ago goading Rick into taking care of Shane, we’ve also seen her approach Shane prior to his death to tell him that she understands how hard this has been on him. Lori represents the mother figure in this group and as such, she has to act out her role, especially now that she’s with baby. (Although I don’t see her really taking care of herself and the inconsistency with which some characters tell her to take it easy and some completely ignore her “condition” is a little annoying.) Let’s remember that Lori probably believes the baby to be Shane’s, so she’s facing some emotional degradation in the killing of her lover by her husband. It is all a little to soap opera for me, but her story represents the mother archetype and as such, she had to have the reaction she had to Rick’s telling her she killed Shane. While we may hate it, and see her as, essentially, a useless bitch stuck in the zombie apocalypse, she represents a perspective that adds volume to the story.
- And speaking of Lori, let’s not skip over one of the more interesting parts for me, at least, on the highway. Herschel ended up convincing Rick that he had to leave Lori! Rick told Carl that they had to leave, that the odds of them meeting up with the rest of the group was slim and that they had to watch out for themselves. For someone whose main motivation is to protect his family at all costs, Rick was willing to save Carl, understanding he may be the only child left on the earth since “Mother nature threw us a curve ball” in Herschel’s words (anyone thinking back to The Road?) to spare the mother, Lori. How’s that for an interesting turn of events. And then when returning to Lori, he is absolutely honest about what happened with Shane, believing she will understand, that he will be hailed as the hero, but misinterpreting the signs from the group and Lori, leaving them to wonder what kind of man he really is. For anyone who has read the graphic novels, we understand Rick’s declaration and his response to the situation to be a turning point for his character. For those who say Rick has turned, I would argue with that. As with Lori’s motivation to keep her family together, which peppers all of her actions, Rick’s motivation to keep has family safe in the moment has always pushed Rick to make decisions for the few that affect the many. He is the same person he’s always been. The group is just not blind to it anymore.
- Survival, yes, but preparation, no. The group was definitely naïve about the possibility that the farm would always be their home. Why the heck would you back up cars to the house without packing them full of gas and water and food? As someone who has taken some survival classes and enjoy camping a lot, I understand how important it is to be prepared for anything. These people really got it wrong and again, they are not going to have to pay for it, because the prison is right there. Location always seems to save them. But I sure hope they learn their lessons. Also, I’m not quite clear on this, but I believe that they really had no solid plan to reunite on the highway where Sophia’s windshield note and survival kit was kept. They all kind of ended up there – I really wish these people would get it together.
- Andrea and Michonne. Yes! Andrea has a lot to learn from Michonne, as many of you know if you’ve read the graphic novels. And both badass women create a perfect foil to Lori’s mother character. I’m really excited to see what they do in Season Three with these two. Andrea, kudos. You’re survival instinct is top notch. Maybe I have to retract my comment about Herschel being the most dynamic character. If anything, Andrea becomes a close second. She has taken control of her life and of the lives of others. We have Shane to thank for that. His legacy, the good parts of it, will live in Andrea.
- The group has yet to speak. We see them pushing against Rick when he, anticlimactically for the viewers, states that they’re all infected and will all come back to life once they die. Would I be angry at Rick for not telling me? No. I’m not dead yet. Now I know if I want to kill myself, I’ll shoot myself in the head. That’s actually really useful information. Thanks for telling me Rick. Now can we move on? We’re all still alive after all. Anyway, while they rail against Rick for keeping that information back, they don’t react to him at the campfire when he says that he killed Shane and it’s no longer a democracy. We see their eyes, but we’re not quite sure who is with him and who isn’t. I have a feeling we’ll see some factions. We already saw some of them in their separate vehicles also willing to break from the group and keep going. Deep inside, they all know they’re safer together, even if once in a while one of them dies. In a zombie apocalypse, I’d rather have a plan from a likable dictator like Rick than to be on my own shooting walkers forever, sleeping half awake, and trying desperately to find water and bullets on my own.
- Zombie kills! And more zombie kills! And more ZOMBIE KILLS! Thank you!
Joel Murphy joins us this week. Joel is the ringleader over at Hobotrashcan.com. If you're reading the NSD and you dig it, then you should be adding Hobotrashcan to your daily blog roll. I'm extremely excited and grateful to have him give us his thoughts in this weeks Redux.
This Sunday's Walking Dead finale taught me an important lesson – always make sure to have a clear rendezvous point mapped out for when zombies overtake your farm and scatter your group in a chaotic frenzy of bullets and barn fires.
Our merry band of survivors all ended up back at the road where they lost Sophia, but it was a far more disorganized meet up than it should have been. T-Dog, clearly drunk on power now that he was in the driver's seat and had the ability to make a meaningful decision, tried to bolt for the coast. Glenn had to convince a reluctant Maggie to go back toward the zombies to look for the others. And Hershel did all he could to convince Rick to leave with Carl instead of waiting around to see if anyone else showed up. Always have a contingency plan, people.
That being said, the opening half of this episode was a thing of beauty. Clearly the powers that be behind this show had been saving the season's zombie budget to give us an epic showdown on the farm. There were giant hoards of attacking zombies, several B-characters meeting gruesome ends and a raging inferno to once and for all bring an end to this chapter of the story.
The pace was fantastic. They did a great job presenting eminent danger from all sides. And while I figured that our main characters were safe, they did a good job building tension over whether Hershel and Andrea would ultimately survive the onslaught. The opening half of the episode was so good that I was almost willing to overlook the fact that everyone has apparently been practicing making zombie headshots in the dark from out the side of a moving vehicle. (Seriously, they were all suddenly expert marksmen in this episode.) Still, I supposed I can let that slide in the name of entertainment.
The second half of the episode was a bit less successful. The show has often struggled to create believable and emotionally resonant conflicts and I thought they struggled to execute the “Everyone hates Rick” plot turn. After having the feel good moment of everyone reuniting, having them all turn on Rick in record time just didn't ring true.
I can understand why they would be angry that Rick withheld the information from Jenner that everyone was infected. But Carol jumping from “You should have told us” to Rick isn't a man of honor seems like a giant leap. Especially since Rick wasn't even sure if the information was true until he saw Shane come back from the dead. Lori's abrupt turn on Rick after his confession about Shane was absolutely ridiculous, especially since she was calling for Shane's death a few weeks ago. I can only assume the writers want us to actively hate her at this point. It's the only explanation. And everyone wanting to suddenly leave after deciding to reunite seemed forced as well. It was conflict for the sake of conflict.
That being said, I like what they are attempting to do with Rick Grimes. Rick has been struggling to find balance in this new world and to keep a shred of humanity while still protecting those he loves. He's not as naïve as Dale, who still clung desperately to the way things used to be. And he isn't as callous as Shane, who only cared about survival. Both of those characters died, but Rick lives. And while he easily could have done the same thing Shane did with Otis – spin Shane's death to make it sound like the walkers got him – he instead comes clean because he still feels guilt and remorse over his actions, necessary as they may be.
Rick's decision to appoint himself supreme leader is an interesting development. Out of everything, I'm most excited to see how that changes the group dynamic and how having absolute power sits with Rick. The show has struggled to flesh out and make us feel attached to most of the other characters, but Rick's inner struggles have consistently become the most entertaining non-zombie attack related parts of the show.
I'm hoping that the show finds a way to develop the background characters like Carol and T-Dog, so that we finally have a reason to care about them. And if they could figure out what to do with Lori in order to make her seem like an actual human being with at least one redeeming charateristic, that would be nice as well.
I'm also excited to see what they do with the prison just over the horizon and to learn more about the woman with the pet zombies who I can only assume is one of the headless monks from Doctor Who come to earth to save us all from this plague.
Season two was a rocky one from The Walking Dead. I thought it ended much better than it began though. And while it has struggled with character development and to keep things interesting when the characters stay in one place for too long, I still remain rather hopeful for season three.
Well, there it goes! Another season of The Walking Dead gets a bullet in the head and is sent below. I'm sure we all can't wait until Season Three, but Fall's a long way away. Mad Men premieres this Sunday on AMC, and if that weren't enough, Game Of Thrones will be back on April 1st. You're sure to see some coverage of both of those shows here. In bringing up Game Of Thrones, I'm reminded of the Stark warning, "Winter is coming". I cannot wait until Winter hits The Walking Dead. Something else to look forward to in Season Three or maybe Season Four.