Written By: John
It was supposed to be a place of sanctuary. A place that would at last provide these worn and weary survivors of the apocalypse a chance to catch their breath, regroup and perhaps escape the madness surrounding them. But in the end there was no escape, the dead have found the farm and Rick Grimes and his family and friends are once more on the run.
Last night’s Season Two Finale of The Walking Dead is the first half of today’s “Zombie Double Feature”, and we’ll start off with a recap of “Beside the Dying Fire”. As always tread lightly, there are spoilers ahead.
After a haunting montage of a large herd of the living dead finding their way out of Atlanta and to the outskirts of Hershel’s farm, we catch up to Rick and Carl mere moments after Shane’s temporary death, resurrection and subsequent death at the hands of Carl, Rick is grilled by his son regarding the events leading to Shane’s demise. But before he can answer, the herd of walkers reveal themselves.
It confirms to Rick and shortly thereafter the group the horrible fact we already knew, the dead have found the farm, and all hell is about to break loose.
It doesn’t take long for the walkers to overwhelm the farm and the survivors are forced to escape. But not before losing two more from their ranks as the living dead devour both Patricia and Jimmy and the process of abandoning the farm leaves Andrea on her own and the group split up.
The next morning, the group reunites and takes inventory of their losses before heading out, minus Andrea, onto the road in search of a new safe house. Unfortunately for Andrea, her manner of survival is one without comfort as she is forced to resort to hand to hand combat to fend off the unending waves of walkers, but she gets a little bit of help from a hooded and heavily armed stranger who happens to have two zombie slaves. Those who love the comic know that this is of course Michonne and while her appearance was indeed awesome, she was overshadowed by what was to come from Rick Grimes.
With their supplies running on low, Rick makes the decision to set up camp along the side of the road. With a few moments to finally soak in the events of the last twenty four hours, specifically Shane’s cold blooded murdering of Randall and a subsequent resurrection from it, Rick reveals what Jenner shared with him before the destruction of the CDC in last year’s season finale.
That everyone is infected with the virus.
It is a chilling enough revelation that once more doubt is cast upon Rick’s leadership for keeping a secret such as this. Rick points out that he had no way of being sure that Doctor Jenner was telling the truth, but the group is upset with his decision regardless. It is a moment that goes from bad to worse when Rick confesses last night’s events to Lori, a move that leaves her in utter disgust. It is ironic to say the least, considering that Lori was the first person to put it in Rick’s mind that Shane was dangerous.
But the breaking point for Rick arrives that night, as the group each continues voicing their doubt in Rick’s decisions and some demanding a different course of action outside of waiting until dawn to find supplies. A new Rick introduces himself to the group, pointing out the fact that he has gotten them this far and if they don’t like the way he handles things, they are welcome to try on their own.
No one does, but the change in Rick surprises them all, as does his making public the fact that Shane died by his hands. It is here that the show has finally found its roots from seeds planted last year, that this is a story about Rick Grimes.
This is a tale about an ordinary man thrown into the worst-case scenario. He went from being a respected sheriff’s deputy to being responsible for the lives of the people around him. They pick at him, the push him, but they do it out of fear. Rick knows the odds now; he knows what is at stake. He is also fully aware that these people need a guiding hand, and decisions will have to be made that will leave him in a negative light. He will make those decisions, and he will do his best to preserve his humanity in the process.
Because what lies ahead will be his greatest challenge yet, for the final seconds of the show revealed what all the fans of the comic book series were waiting for, a massive prison, bathed in the pale moonlight. It is this place that sets in motion some of Rick’s greatest challenges, and with the news that next year we will see the ruthless despot/Governor of a town named Woodbury, the challenge of staying a good and decent man while maintaining the group’s chances for survival will be pushed to the limit.
But as Rick himself said in the season 2 trailer: “It’s all about slim chances now, and a slim chance is better than none.”