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The Walking Dead - Season 2 (Final episode reviewed)

The Walking Dead

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 5 out of 5

WHERE to begin? Breathlessly exciting, incredibly tense, emotionally draining and utterly, mind-bendingly brilliant.

The sophomore season of The Walking Dead was an unqualified success that kept getting better and better, culminating in three of the finest episodes in recent TV history (no small feat when you consider the quality of the opposition in this new US golden era!).

Three episodes from the finishing line, there was the death of beloved character Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn) to wrap your head around, while the penultimate episode saw Shane (Jon Bernthal) finally getting his comeuppance. But the manner in which he was killed by Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and his surprise subsequent resurrection as a zombie (before being finally put down by Carl) had us gasping and scratching our heads in equal measure.

And so to the final hour, which saw the remaining survivors in the middle of a zombie herd and desperately fleeing for their lives. Some made it, others didn’t. Admittedly, having lost two popular series regulars, there was no big death to complete the hat-trick.

But supporting players fell by the wayside… eaten in all manner of horrific ways.

And there was the emotional fallout to consider, not to mention the arrival of a mystery hooded figure who boasts real potential for the third season without even having uttered a word.

This was breathless stuff… and inspired too. Who didn’t hold their breath expecting a zombie to appear when Glenn (Steven Yeun) finally declared his love for Maggie (Lauren Cohan)? Or who thought Hershel (Scott Wilson) was for the great beyond when pumping shotgun shells into the walking dead as another walker crept up behind him?

Indeed, there never seemed a moment when the fate of any of the characters wasn’t in immediate danger… with Laurie Holden’s gun-toting Andrea especially exposed after being abandoned by her colleagues while attempting to save Carol (Melissa Suzanne McBride).

By the time the gang had escaped the barn and reconvened on the highway, the frayed nerves and tempers were plain for all to see – and the fallout looks set to be extremely engaging.

Rick, for one, has changed. Tired of being the type of leader who people question at every turn, and riddled with guilt over the killing of his best friend, he finally snapped.

His confession to wife Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) was heartbreaking… her unforgiving reaction shocking. But it came as little surprise when Rick then declared he was no longer running a democracy when his decision to camp down for the night before searching for fuel together was, again, questioned.

How much longer can the unit stay together? Especially in light of Rick’s other major revelation…. that every single one of the remaining humans was carrying the zombie gene within them. Hence, Shane’s revival had come as no real surprise to Rick.

And what does this really mean for events moving forward? Has anyone really got a future?

And what of the aforementioned new mystery character? The hooded figure seen brandishing a sword and chained to two armless walkers who ultimately saved Andrea from near-certain death? Who is she? Find out more

Hats off, then, to the creative minds behind this ongoing series. Having had their doubters going into this second season over how they could sustain the formula, they shook things up, delivered surprise after surprise and deepened our sympathy, understanding and resolve to stick with these characters through thick and thin.

And our patience has been rewarded with a show that is consistently exhilarating and emotionally involving (not to mention gut-wrenching). It is, without doubt, one of the finest shows currently on TV and we shall miss it now that it’s on hiatus.