Developed by: Frank Darabont
Media reviewed: Blu-ray
After the short but sweet six-episode first season, zombie fans were undoubtedly excited to learn that AMC’s The Walking Dead’s second season would be longer — by seven episodes. Okay, so that’s still not a full season, but hey — more zombies, right? Sadly, more episodes doesn’t always mean more action/plot/character development. The departure of series developer Frank Darabont didn’t help; fired after “differences” with AMC, the new showrunner, Glen Mazzara had some tough shoes to fill. There are some intense highlights from this season, but there’s also a large abundance of (forgive the pun) dead time, where not much really happens. If you can get through it, however, you won’t be disappointed.
STORY ARC AND BIG BAD
Just like in season one, the Big Bad is a hybrid of zombies and human nature. This season, human nature is personified in a certain member of the group. If you’ve seen the first season, or read the comics, you’ll know who I’m talking about. After the CDC’s explosion, the group decides to hightail it out of Atlanta and head to Fort Benning. After getting caught in the world’s deadliest traffic jam, the group loses Carol’s daughter Sophia when walkers attack. Carl is shot in the ensuing search for her and Otis, the hunter responsible, leads Rick and the group to Hershel’s farm. Fans of the comic know this place. They’ll recall the group’s relatively short stay with Hershel’s family. The show’s writers, however, decided that the group needs to spend the remainder of the season here. It’s a questionable choice and after some of the mid-episodes begin to drag on, even non-comic fans will begin to wonder what’s up. It comes together in the season finale though, and even confused comic fans will smile upon seeing the direction to which season three is headed.
Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes: Rick’s leadership is developed this season as he struggles to keep the group safe and on Hershel’s farm. Constantly butting heads with Shane, Rick tries to keep his “good for the group” mentality in check.
Jon Bernthal as Shane Walsh: Shane takes on a completely new tone right from episode one. His love affair with Lori now over, Shane tries desperately and subtly to win her back, while trying to wrest control of the group from Rick. Bernthal displays an awesome transformation from hero, to anti-hero, to antagonist.
Sarah Wayne Callies as Lori Grimes: Yup, still hate her. A major revelation midway through the season (comic fans know) threatens the relationship between her, Rick and Shane.
Scott Wilson as Hershel Greene: The owner of the farm, Hershel is a likeable and old-fashioned farmer that helps nurse Carl back to health.
The remainder of the cast stays largely unchanged from season one. Hershel’s family are added, but other than Maggie and Beth, you’ll forget about them.
BESTS AND WORSTS
I don’t have a favourite episode per se, but I DO have favourite moments: Shane’s gradual transformation after shooting Otis was darkly forboding and as I mentioned earlier, really well done. The scenes in “18 Miles Out” between Rick and Shane were just awesome and the final scene of episode seven, “Pretty Much Dead Already” was absolutely heart (and gut) wrenching.
Worst is another tough call, as there were just so many draggy parts. If I had to pick one episode, however, it would be number five, “Chupacabra”. Merle fans were delighted to see Michael Rooker’s character appear again (if only in hallucinations), but the entire episode felt rather pointless and trite.
This season had it’s ups and downs, but if you’re a zombie-fan (and who isn’t?) you’ll look past the slower moments and enjoy the intense ones. Comic fans know what’s coming next in season three and are perhaps most excited (nervous?) to see what happens next when The Governor appears…