I am not the only critic who has been frustrated by "The Walking Dead." Good golly molly, this season has been a mix of greatness and clusterflucks to beat the bank. I would like to blame it all on Frank Darabont's being shown the door, but the seeds of the problems of this season started in the first. They just happened to sprout like kudzu. Well, there was one major addition, AMC being idiot in doubling the amount of episodes for season 2 but keeping the budget the same. Yes, AMC that's classy quality control. Gee, didn't even notice all those zombie make ups that were only from the neck up, or those long scenes of basically NOTHING to pad out the running time. Yeah, that's how you keep a show going AMC. Everyone, give AMC a slow golf clap.
Of course, the main problem. The wellspring of woe, is bad writing, bad writing, and bad writing. A prime example was the whole Shane/Dale fracas. Now we all know from the audience that Shane offed Otis to get away from the zombies. No one in the show, though, could know it. They might suspect because Shane got even more nutty after that, but there was no proof at all. So Dale, one of the most pragmatic people of the series, suddenly has this psychic twinkle of what Shane did and follows through with it even without a lick of evidence. This, dear readers, is just sloppy writing. Somewhere someone said..."Gee we need more conflict" and they thought that a Shane and Dale would be perfectly matched for a battle of wills. What they didn't do is create an organic reason for it to exist and instead just pulled something out of their butts.
So what other things can we blame on poor writing. Well, boring dialog. Lack of characterization. Oh, how about lots of scenes of people aimlessly wandering the woods. Yeah, we need more that. The biggest victim on the show from the writing is the character of Lori. They took a concerned mother and turned her into Mega-witch. It was just so painful, on many levels, to hear her screeching that I notice many fans on forums were actively wanting her to be zombie chow. Yeah, great job writers. The second biggest victim is T-Dog. First, the writers decide that who needs a personality well just make T-Dog into a walking stereotype. But then, some latent guilt over that keeps them from using the character because deep down I'm sure they are ashamed that they can't think of something real for T-Dog to say. The net result is T-Dog is good for one line of painful dialog a show usually.
On another matter I know when you adapt a work, things do change. Different mediums, different artists, etc. It's going to happen and I have no problem with it usually, however there are certain tent poles that you don't pull down without destroying what you want to adapt. I would say the death of Dale was such a point. If for no other reason he was a very calming presence on the show and was an emotional middle ground for the various conflicts. Well until they set him up against Shane for no reason.
So as you can see, I have problems with the show. Did the season finale ease my mind any. To an extent yes. It was far better than any episode this season. Starting with a full scale zombie attack on the farm. It's time to get afraid again of the living dead. Our team is finally together enough to get in the cars and go head busting. Amazingly they are able to fire from their cars and get head shots every time (try that at home kiddies!), but I don't mind that too much because this is action movie time and who wants to count bullets.
I did mind a bit of real stupidity. Rick and his son get to the second story of the barn and then set the zombies on fire. That means the barn is on fire. So the guy driving the RV goes and parks right by them. They then go on the roof of the RV, and then amazingly stupidly enough go down the ladder in the back as the driver gets munched. Why? You get down the ladder and you are still in the middle of a zombie herd. The thing to do would have just banged on the roof and tell the driver to floor it. Oh well.
Any after twenty minutes of zombie killing, everyone goes in separate directions. Now we are back in the familiar quagmire of this season. People want to go find other people. Others want to go here, or there. They natter natter natter. Finally near the end Rick finally pops a cork and this was a very good thing. He tells them directly "This is not a democracy." He's been trying to be the Gene Autry nice guy all through this, but he's tired now. He's been trying to save everyone's life and he's going to get serious about it.
He also tells them the terrible truths. He tells his wife that he killed Shane and why. It's a bit disturbing. He also tells everyone that everyone is infected. So you don't need to be bitten by a walker. You just need to die. Sort of a downer. But at least everything is out in the open, and I hope that a newly energized Rick can lead this group.
Also there are two other cool things that help give me hope. The first is the appearance of one of the true badasses of the comic book series. We don't see much of her, but when you see a lady dragging two armless zombies on leashes and using a samaurai sword it just warms the heart. The other is a lingering shot of a prison which was central in the comic book. I believe that's how they snagged Darabont in the first place.
"Hey Frank come do are zombie TV show."
"Naw I have better things."
"There's a prison in it...."
"Oh, really? wow I'm your man!"
It was sad that they canned Frank before he could get to his prison. I'm sure he could have reenacted scence from Shawshanks with zombies and a sad Morgan Freeman narration. Oh well, I'll just have to hope that they get it together and put the zombies back in zombie TV.