So, it’s been since the end of November that we wrote about the last new episode of The Walking Dead. I love this series, but the first half of Season 2 had some serious, serious problems. We had great moments, but they pretty much exclusively involved Daryl Dixon and Shane. Unfortunately, for every moment we had with Daryl Dixon going all Deliverance or Shane killing another person just so he could survive, we had to sit through 30 minutes of Rick and Hershel talking about God or the never-ending quest for Sophia (which was thankfully solved in satisfying fashion). Also, T-Dogg is still literally nothing more than the black dude in the group. That’s not me being racist (as some on here have accused me). It’s literally all we know about T-Dogg. I’m not sure if there is a less developed person who gets regular billing on a such a big league show. Well, this new episode never had any of the problems that we had to suffer through in the last half of the season (except for the continued existence of T-Dogg and Carol), but it didn’t start to wow me until it’s final moments. When those final moments arrived though, the episode was worth it and we got a peek down some of the darker roads that the comics went down.

After the zombie shootout at the Greene farm, Hershel orders the Grimes gang off of his land though no one seems to take it very seriously as no one begins packing their bags and moving this caravan on. Rick and Shane have a fight about Shane’s actions and although we get some slight hints that Shane regrets his decisions when he calls Dale out for not doing something about himself even though Dale considers Shane to be dangerous. Hershel flees the farm in shock to go to town and drink away his woes (despite being sober since Maggie’s birth). When one of his Hershel’s step-daughters passes out from shock (though I think she’s been bitten or infected somehow), Rick and Glenn go out to town to convince him to come back. When they take too long, Lori heads out with them as well but she hits a walker with her car and it spins out of control and flips. I think she’s likely going to lose her baby. Rick has nearly convinced Hershel to come back to the farm and help his step-daughter when two total strangers walk into the bar. They’re obviously not good guys and when their attempts to convince Rick to show them the way back to the farm fails, one of the men (who I’m pretty sure is Rene Lanier from the first season of True Blood) draws his gun on Rick who puts him down Raylen Givens style as well as his friend. They say they have friends so I feel like this isn’t over yet.

Scott Wilson has been, for better or worse, getting a lot of screen time this season. For someone who didn’t even exist before the second episode of Season 2, we now know more about Hershel than we do Carol or T-Dogg (I’m calling it right here. T-Dogg is Batman. Surprise of the century…). Yet, most of his scenes this season were the ones dragging the whole series down nearly as much as the search for Sophia. Well, we can happily say that during last night’s episode of The Walking Dead, Scott Wilson returned my faith in him as an actor and Hershel as a character. It was as if the series (and Scott Wilson’s acting) took everything we thought we knew about Hershel and completely turned it on its head. Instead of never ending monologues about hope and optimism and family and religion, we saw a broken shell of a man who had given into cynicism and despair and hate. Scott Wilson literally portrayed two ends of the hope spectrum this season and he nailed both of them. Just seeing how broken and grief-stricken Hershel had become was one of the highlights of the season. Jon Bernthal didn’t have much to do but in his scenes he really captured the dichotomy between Shane realizing he had screwed up and being angry with himself but also Shane’s inherent inability to admit his shortcomings to anyone else or take real responsibility for his actions.

I had a whole lot more to say about this episode when I first watched it yesterday. However, wordpress crapped out on me and I lost half the review. I was so frustrated that I just quit for the evening (plus I had to write an article for work where I interviewed the drummer of the band Anti-Flag which you can read here. Since I’ve done nothing but listen to extreme amounts of music today, I hope I’m forgiven if my details of the episode are a little hazy. If there’s one last thing I want to contribute is that I’m very excited to see that Rick killed two people. One of the main themes of the comics is that Rick (and everyone else) slowly start to lose their own humanity from living in this terrible world and that eventually their fellow survivors become an even bigger threat to their safety than the Walkers. If that is the path that The Walking Dead has decided to go down then I am very excited about where the second half of this season goes. I just wish they’d find the damn prison already (or Michonne!).

Final Score: B+

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