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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

ZOMBIES: Recap - Walking Dead "Beside the Dying Fire" Clusterf**k Finale

by Bowie Ibarra

It's been a buildup to this moment since November of last year, but it has finally arrived.  'The Walking Dead' season finale was a strong finish to what was sometimes a hot/cold season.

We are welcomed back to Atlanta 'where the playas play', incidentally.  We see zombies roaming and the zed party has NOT stopped since 8 in 'tha mawnin'.  In fact, the zeds are eating an animal when one of them sees and hears a helicopter flying over the city.

Well, it's a noise, and they decide to follow it and wander out of the city.  In fact, this might be part of that same zombie mob that the group encountered during the very first episode of the second season as you might remember.

At any rate, with no real direction, they wander to a fenceline that they breach by pure dumb luck and mob strength and wander into the woods.  That's when they hear the gunshot that ended the previous episode, and the zombie mob moves on the Herschel Farmestead as Rick and his son walk away from Shane.

Daryl and Glenn come back to the house and tell them the Randall revelation (Randall turning without being bit).

In the field, Rick and Carl have a conversation about what happened between his dad and Shane.  Before Rick can answer the question, they spot the mob.

As the survivors and family step out on the porch to see if they can find Rick, Carl, or Shane, they see the mob as well.

Rick and Carl are cut off and make a move for the barn.  They lock themselves in, but like the gate, the zeds start piling up on the barn.

Though Glenn thinks it might be good to hole up in the fortified house, Daryl thinks the size of the zombie 'herd could tear the house down'.

Lori flips out because Carl, as per usual, is not in the house as he should be as the survivors lock and load.  The sloppy plan and minimal strategy they devise is to blast as many zeds as they can while in their cars to lead them off the farm.  Herschel wants to hold his farm until death, and Daryl says, "it's as good a night as any" to die.

None of this is amounting to anything remotely close to a good plan.

In the barn, the zeds break in, and father and son have a plan to torch some zeds while sacrificing the barn.

The barn looks like a fiery monster.

Daryl rolls up on his chopper blasting zeds, while Andrea rides in proverbial shotgun in the old Ford with T-Dogg at the wheel.  Maggie is driving the Hyundai Zombie Death Dealer with Glenn in the shotgun position.

Jimmy holds it down in the Winnie, and Daryl tells him to go check the barn for Rick and Carl.  The Winnie pulls up just in time to save Rick and Carl, but Jimmy is surrounded and the Winnie overrun.

Greg Nicotero special effects!  Eat your heart out, CGI

It's around this time that Andrea realizes there are too many of them.  T-Dogg is ready to change what minimal plan they have and bail.

Herschel is holding the line at the homestead, but the zeds keep pushing the line closer and closer to the house.  Lori and Carol see the writing on the wall and bail, along with Herschel's girls.  Lori tries to call him, but Herschel is either in the zone or ignoring Lori and blasting walkers with his shotgun.  The event has quickly turned into a giant clusterf**k.

But it's doom for the girls as some zombies catch Patricia and eat her.  Carol gets split off from the group and just misses a ride in the Ford, which was overrun by zeds, and they bail on Andrea.

Glenn and Maggie see the Ford take off.  Knowing the farmstead is now FUBAR, they bail as well.

Herschel is still stubbornly defending the house, but falls back as the zeds push the line toward him.  Rick pulls Herschel away after a big save and they jump into a suburban and bail.  Again, Andrea is left alone.

Daryl watches the barn burn before hearing Carol's cry for help.  He rolls up for the rescue and rides off on his loud-ass chopper at night.  One shove from a zed and he could be finished.  But they make it.

In the meantime, the barn burns down.  And some of the most beautiful images of zombie horror are showed on the screen.

The barn, in a way, seemed to be a symbol of hope.  It was the barn where Herschel kept his living dead family before Shane exterminated them.  It was where Sophie was hiding and was put out of her misery.  It was where Carl was told to be ready to use the gun that saved his dad from Shane.  And it was the place where Randall was spared his life, for the moment.

And now, that symbol of hope burned to the ground.

Maggie is falling apart wondering if her family made it out, so Glenn takes the wheel.  He also professes his love to Maggie.

Rick ends up at the same part of the road where the season started.  Carl freaks out because his mom's gone, and Herschel says Rick needs to get Carl to safety while he waits it out for the others.

T-Dogg wants to bail and go to the coast, but Lori says they have to go back to the road where the season started.  She almost jumps out because T-Dogg is insistent, but he folds and drives back.

And then, the miraculous occurs.  Before Rick and Carl can leave, Daryl rolls up, followed by Glenn and Maggie, followed by T-Dogg and Carl's mommy.

As they start counting heads, the question of Shane comes up, but so does Patricia and Jimmy.

They decide to hit up some backroads.

On a side note, as we moved to the end of the show, there was a Mad Men commercial.  It featured characters from the show in moments in which they could be associated with zombies.  It was complete with the opening theme song from 'The Walking Dead'.  Sorry, I'm not buying it.  You and your false advertising campaign can get eaten alive.   Nice try, though.

Back to the show, Andrea's on the run through the woods.  Her gas tank is running low.

Rick's suburban is almost out of gas, and they need to stop.  Herschel tries to rally everyone behind Rick, even though they're stranded.  Rick stresses out trying to coordinate, and Daryl brings up the Randall situation.  That forces Rick to confess about not only the Shane duel, but the infamous CDC whisper.  He says everyone carries the virus, which makes his friends get upset about it.

I'm not sure why Glenn and the others got sand in their coochie that Rick didn't tell them about it.  It really doesn't matter at this point because it doesn't change anything.

Lori tries to console Rick, and Rick confesses, telling the whole story, including Carl's role of gunning the reanimated Shane down.  After hearing Rick's heartfelt and difficult confession to his wife, she does what she has always done:  freaks out and turns her back on her man.  Way to back your man's play, Lori.

Andrea is running out of gas.  As she begins to cash in, she is saved by a mysterious cloaked figure who is holding two zeds with dismembered arms and missing jaws leashed on a chain.  And the cloaked figure's weapon of choice?  You guessed it, a Hanzo style-sword.

Daryl and Carol, as well as Glenn and Maggie, are still upset at Rick for keeping the CDC secret to himself and want to bail.  Herschel tries to reel everyone in, and Rick tries to assure them.  But he's lost his patience and goes on a rant about how he killed Shane.  He defends his move by saying he was Shane's friend, but he was a detriment to the team and Shane pushed Rick that far.  He challenges the others to run if they want.  But now no one wants to leave.  So if they stay, they have to follow his lead.  It's not a democracy.

And there's ol' Lori, mad-dogging her man.

As Rick walks off, the camera pans above the forest to a prison just about a mile away.  The audio hints at helicopter rotors, but we'll see if that has anything to do with the helicopter from the opening of the show the zeds followed.

It's pretty much confirmed that the following season will feature a continuation of themes from the comic book, including 'The Governor'.  I've heard good, and I've heard complaints about the season.  I'm glad the people putting this show together aren't rushing things.  Though some episodes were hot and cold, I thought the pacing was fine.  You got to build to a strong finish, and I think they did.

And I swear the person doing the camerawork for this show needs to be nominated for an Emmy.  The shots as displayed above are outstanding.

At any rate, here's to another few months of waiting to see the next season.  For all of us here at, we thank you for following the 'Walking Dead' recaps here.  We hope you'll join us again for next season.

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Bowie Ibarra is the author of the 'Down the Road' zombie horror series from Permuted Press and Simon and Schuster.  His last book in the series, "The Fall of Austin", features a battle for survival in the capitol of Texas.

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