I would like to start out this article by saying WARNING!! POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT! This article and the summary of each episode of The Walking Dead may contain spoilers for episodes you may not have seen yet or spoilers for the finale. Please do not read if you want the series to be a surprise to you.
Season 1 of The Walking Dead was a test run of six episodes of a zombie series on AMC. The reason why it was only approved for six epoisodes was that there was no way to judge what type of following the show would garner. The premiere had 5.35 million viewers and the finale garnered 6 milliion viewers. For viewers between the ages of 18-49, The Walking Dead became the most viewed drama series of all time on basic cable.
Season 2 was a thirteen episode run that continued to chronicle the life (and deaths) of the survivors of the zombie apocalypse. The band have set up at a farm and are dealing with the issues and problems that are thrown their way by other survivors, the infected, and personal issues within the group. Following is a summary of the episodes in the second season (summaries pulled from www.wikipedia.com):
“What Lies Ahead” The group heads toFort Benning, but are blocked by a pileup of vehicles on the interstate, and are further delayed when the RV blows a radiator hose. A depressed Andrea expresses resentment towards Dale for not being allowed to die in a way of her choosing, since he forced her to save him from the CDC explosion; he feels he saved her. Shane tells Lori he has decided to leave the group when he has the chance. The group narrowly avoids most of a “herd” of walkers passing the pileup, but Sophia is discovered and chased into the woods by two. Rick distracts and kills her pursuing walkers, but she goes missing in the process. During a search for Sophia, the group stops at a rural church, at which point Andrea privately asks Shane if she can join him when he leaves the group. As the search continues, Rick, Shane, and Carl come upon a buck deer; as Carl approaches the animal a gunshot passes through the deer into him.
“Bloodletting” In a flashback to a time before the apocalypse, Shane tells Lori that Rick has been wounded from a highway shootout, and Lori in turn tells Carl. In the present, Carl has been accidentally shot by a hunter named Otis. Otis directs Rick, Shane, and Carl to the home of veternarian Hershel Greene, who manages to remove one of six fragments of the bullet. One of Hershel’s daughters, Maggie, is sent to the group searching for Sophia and returns with Lori to the Greene home. Rick gives blood to Carl while Otis and Shane go to the former FEMA aid station at a walker-infested high school to gather urgently needed medical supplies. Dale and T-Dog wait at the RV; Dale fears that T-Dog may have contracted an infection from his injury, and the two search for antibiotics. Shane and Otis find the necessary supplies from the FEMA aid station; however they are forced to barricade themselves in the entrance of the school after walkers surround them.
“Save the Last One” Hershel tells Lori and Rick that he might need to perform Carl’s surgery without a respirator if Shane and Otis do not return soon with the necessary medical supplies. Daryl and Andrea return to the forest to search for Sophia, where Daryl shares a childhood memory from when he was lost in the woods as a child. The two then come upon a zombie hanging from a tree where he had attempted to kill himself before transformation and ended up having his legs eaten; Daryl kills the zombie, but only after Andrea agrees to answer his question concerning whether she wants to continue living or kill herself. Glenn and T-Dog arrive at the Greene home, where T-Dog’s injury is treated while Glenn and Maggie talk about faith. Lori contemplates letting Carl die to end his suffering from living in the world as it now is, while Rick holds to the belief that Carl may yet live in a better future. Meanwhile, Shane and Otis fight to escape the high school, only to face more walkers at every turn. Just as they are about to run out of ammo, an injured Shane incapacitates Otis, so he can escape the walkers. Shane then takes the supplies from Otis and watches as he is ripped apart by the horde of walkers. Shane returns alone to the Greene home with the critical medical supplies just in time for Carl’s surgery. Shane misleads everyone about Otis’ death and shaves his head, both as a sign that he has completely changed his way of thinking in this new world and in order to eliminate the one thing (his hair) Otis was able to grasp when the crucial moment came.
“Cherokee Rose” Dale, Daryl, Andrea and Carol arrive at the Greene home and set up camp as Carl recovers. Since Shane is still injured and Rick is weak from blood loss, Daryl decides to search alone for Sophia. He does not find Sophia, but instead finds a Cherokee rose (a Native American symbol for the tears of mothers on the Trail of Tears), and gives it to Carol. Hershel takes Rick on a tour; he then tells Rick that he and his group should leave the property after Sophia is found and Carl heals. Rick begs Hershel to reconsider that they leave; the latter will think about letting them stay if they follow his rules. While Dale and T-Dog are retrieving water from a nearby well, they realize that there is a walker inside. Since the survivors cannot kill it, since it might infect the water further, it is decided that Glenn act as bait to snare the walker, so that it can be taken out of the well. They succeed in roping and raising the walker but just as it is being pulled out of the well, the walker’s legs and internal organs break off and spill back into the well, thoroughly infecting the water; T-Dog then kills the walker. Maggie and Glenn head to a local pharmacy for supplies, where Maggie offers to have sex with Glenn and he accepts. Glenn retrieves a pregnancy test, requested by Lori; Lori later uses it and realizes that she is pregnant.
“Chupacabra” The survivors continue to search for Sophia, but Hershel is growing increasingly concerned about their presence on his land for unclear reasons. Shane and Rick argue over whether to continue the search, with Shane arguing that it’s time to cut their losses and leave. Rick is angry with him, but later begins to wonder whether he is right. While out searching for Sophia, Daryl finds her doll, but subsequently falls off a ridge, and is badly injured. He has hallucinations of his brother Merle but snaps out of it in time to deal with two attacking walkers. He then finds the strength to climb up the ridge and return to the farm. As he approaches the farm limping, he is mistaken for a walker and is shot and wounded by Andrea, who was told not to use the rifle. Maggie passes a note to Glenn asking to meet for a sexual encounter. Glenn passes it back, saying to meet in the barn. A horrified Maggie attempts to stop him, but she is unable to prevent him from discovering that the barn is full of captured walkers.
“Secrets” The group practices their shooting skills and Andrea performs well. Glenn tells Dale about the walkers being kept in the barn. Dale confronts Hershel about the barn and Hershel explains that the walkers in the barn are family members and are “still people”; that they are merely sick and are being contained so that they can be cured in the future. Lori sends Glenn and Maggie to the pharmacy to get morning-after pills. Maggie gets attacked by a walker and Glenn kills it. In a fury, Maggie gives Lori the pills and yells at her for almost getting them killed. Glenn tells Lori that Rick should be involved in the decision and also gives Lori prenatal vitamins. Lori takes the pills, but forces herself to vomit them up. Shane and Andrea go to look for Sophia in a nearby town and are surrounded by walkers. Andrea and Shane kill them and flee. Andrea, feeling empowered, comes on to Shane on the way back and they engage in a physical relationship. When they arrive at camp, Dale recognizes something is going on between them. Out of concern for Andrea, he confronts Shane about what really happened the night Otis died as Dale seems to have figured out that Shane killed him in order to save himself. Shane threatens Dale. Rick finds the empty morning-after pill package and confronts Lori. They debate the ethical decision of bringing the unborn child into a world infested with walkers. Lori confesses to being in a sexual relationship with Shane when she thought Rick was dead.
“Pretty Much Dead Already” When Glenn reveals to the group that walkers are being kept in the barn, Rick discusses the matter with Hershel, also trying to convince him to let the group stay, especially since his wife is pregnant. Rick tells Shane that Lori is pregnant and Shane confronts her, knowing that her child may be his. Dale tries to hide the group’s guns in the swamp but fails when Shane catches him. Against Hershel’s and Rick’s wishes, Shane hands the guns out to members of the group. Hershel asks Rick to help him recover some walkers stuck in quicksand, and tells him that his group can stay so long as they do not kill the walkers (Hershel believes they are sick people, and not monsters). As they return, Shane sees the captured walkers and becomes enraged. He repeatedly shoots Hershel’s captured walker in the chest asking why it doesn’t die if it is a living sick person. He then shoots it in the head as Hershel looks on. Shane breaks open the barn door, forcing the group to shoot all of the captured walkers. Thinking all the walkers are dead, the stunned group watches as the missing Sophia comes out of the barn as a walker. Rick remorsefully steps forward and shoots her in the head.
“Nebraska” After the destruction of his family, Hershel demands that Rick and his group leave immediately. Shane accuses Rick of being just as delusional as Hershel, saying that Hershel knew about Sophia the whole time and hid her from the group. Dale tells Andrea to be careful about her relationship with Shane, since Dale knows what kind of person Shane is and now wants him gone from the group. He also reveals this to Lori, including what he believes the fate of Otis was. Hershel goes missing, but Rick and Glenn find him in the town bar, drinking and lamenting the folly of his hope of a cure for his family. After Rick convinces him to return to his family, two men (Dave and Tony) enter the bar and attempt to request refuge at Hershel’s farm. Rick, Glenn and Hershel learn from the two men that Fort Benning is overrun. When Rick flatly refuses them safe haven, one of the men draws his firearm, but Rick is quicker on the draw and kills both men. Hershel’s daughter is rendered unconscious from an unknown ailment, leading Lori to drive into town to retrieve Hershel. Lori hits a walker on the road and flips the car, her fate unknown. The episode ends with Shane and T-Dog setting fire to the dead walkers from the barn.
“Triggerfinger” After killing their attackers, Rick, Hershel and Glenn prepare to leave, but three other men, looking for Dave and Tony, enter the town before they can escape. Lori escapes from two walkers and continues down the road on foot to look for her husband. Rick, Hershel and Glenn inadvertently get into a gunfight with the others. Back at the farm, Carol tries to talk to Daryl, and is rebuffed the same way Lori was. When they realize Lori is missing, Shane goes down to help her, and convinces her to come back by telling her that Rick and the others are already back. When she finds out he lied, he reveals that she is pregnant. Carl asks to name the baby Sophia if it is a girl. Shane and Lori talk about their past relationship, with Shane being convinced it was real. In town, Hershel shoots one attacker who is then killed by walkers. Another attacker attempts to jump from a building into their truck, but instead impales his leg on a gate, causing the third man to abandon him. Rick, Hershel, and Glenn rescue him and bring him back. Rick plans to send him away once he is healed, but Shane disagrees. Lori tells Rick that Shane is dangerous.
“18 Miles Out” Rick and Shane have a roadside discussion about Shane’s feelings for Lori, and about the circumstances surrounding Otis’ death, with Shane questioning his friend’s ability to make the hard decisions. They are taking the wounded man from the previous episode 18 miles out from the farm to abandon him. The man begs them to let him stay, inadvertently revealing that he knows the location of the farm. Shane wants to kill the man, but Rick says that he needs to think about it first; their disagreement leads to a fight, which attracts a group of walkers. All three barely make it out alive. Back at the farm, Beth has given up on life and is contemplating suicide. Both Lori and Maggie attempt to talk her out of it and want to place her under watch, but Andrea says that Beth needs to find her own reasons to keep living. Beth locks herself in the bathroom and uses a piece of broken mirror to slit her wrist, but Lori manages to break open the door before she bleeds out. Maggie and Lori are furious with Andrea for not keeping an eye on Beth; Andrea defends herself by saying that Beth no longer wants to commit suicide and that Hershel was able to save her. Rick tells Shane that he needs to follow his (Rick’s) lead from now on. They then put the man back into the trunk and drive back to the farm.
“Judge, Jury, Executioner” While in the group’s custody, the prisoner, Randall, is tortured by Daryl for information. Randall reveals that his old survivor group contained thirty male members and that some of those members had once raped a pair of teenage female survivors; forcing their father to watch, which convinces the group that letting Randall live is a huge risk. Dale, horrified that the group is actually considering executing Randall, tries to convince everybody that they must not sacrifice their humanity. Meanwhile, Carl wanders into the forest and finds a walker trapped in mud. Carl tries and fails to kill it, and flees when it starts breaking free from the mud. Back at the farm, Dale fails to convince the group to stop the execution. Rick, Shane, and Daryl take Randall to the barn to execute him, but Rick hesitates when he sees that Carl is watching. He then decides to delay the execution. Meanwhile, Dale goes out into the fields to investigate a suspicious noise, and finds a dying cow. When he turns around, he is attacked by a walker and has his stomach ripped open. Daryl kills the walker, and Carl is shocked to see that it was the same one he had failed to kill in the forest. Daryl then mercifully kills Dale in order to end his suffering.
“Better Angels” With Dale dead, the group holds a brief funeral for him. Rick asks the group to stay united, despite Dale’s warning that the group is “broken.” They work together to prepare for the coming winter, by stockpiling supplies, and clearing walkers from the surrounding area. However, there is still the issue of what to do with Randall. Rick ultimately decides to honor Dale’s memory by sparing Randall’s life, and plans to drop him off somewhere far away from the farm. However, Shane frees Randall from the barn and leads him into the forest, where he breaks his neck. Shane then goes back to the farm and tells the rest of the group that Randall escaped. Rick, Shane, Glenn, and Daryl go into the forest to track him down. Glenn and Daryl split off from Rick and Shane and encounter Randall, who has somehow turned into a walker, despite the fact there was no evidence of being bitten. Glenn then kills Randall again, by impaling him through the head with a machete. Meanwhile, Rick tells Shane to admit he plans to murder him. Shane holds Rick at gunpoint and they get into an argument over who would be a better father and husband. Rick talks Shane into putting his gun down. Knowing he has to kill Shane, he stabs him in the heart. Carl arrives and appears to have pulled his gun on Rick, but then aims behind his father as he puts a bullet into the head of an undead Shane (who, like Randall, also had no evidence of being bitten, seeming to experience intense and disturbing zombie-like thoughts). Meanwhile, a massive number of walkers, drawn by the gunshots, are shown headed towards them.
“Beside the Dying Fire” Shortly after Shane’s death, a massive horde of walkers attacks the farm. The survivors attempt to fight off the horde, but are quickly overwhelmed. Jimmy and Patricia are killed, and Andrea is inadvertently left behind. The remaining survivors are forced to scatter in the darkness, but eventually reunite at the highway where they left supplies for Sophia. Meanwhile, Andrea is still alive and fleeing from the walkers on foot. She is about to be caught by the walkers when she is rescued by a hooded figure wielding a sword and flanked by two leashed walkers. The other survivors believe that Andrea is a lost cause and decide to search for a new shelter, but their cars begin to run low on gas and they are forced to stop for the night. Confronted with the knowledge that Shane turned into a walker without being bitten, Rick finally reveals to the group what Jenner had told him at the CDC; that everybody is already infected with the virus, and will eventually turn into walkers when they die. He also admits that he killed Shane. With this knowledge, the group’s morale begins to plummet, but Rick announces that from now on he’s in charge and the group will no longer be run as a democracy, and that they will find a safe haven from the walkers. As the camera pulls back, a prison complex is visible nearby.
The zombie apocalypse. Let’s face it; I am a definite zombie fan, and I look for certain things in all zombie media. The main purpose of zombie movies and books can’t be the zombies themselves. While that typically does lead to a plethora of gore, there is a hole. When a zombie movie, show, or book focuses on the human interaction and how the survivors work to survive the horrors around them, it becomes a story that pulls the viewer or reader into the story. During any type of apocalyptic incident, human beings will always be depended on to act in one of two ways: self serving or for group survival. Making this type of interaction the primary focus of any type of apocalyptical media, the writer or director can make any fictional scenario seem to be more based on reality.
The Walking Dead does an amazing job of focusing on the lives, deaths, and struggles of the survivors. Yes, the zombies are a huge force in the series, but they are not the primary focus. Direct relationships between the survivors, be it the antagonistic situation between Rick and Shane or the ethical dance between Dale and Andrea, are the prime force behind the survivors. It isn’t the zombies who create the most disturbing or heart wrenching situations; it’s the decisions of our survivors. The zombies are used as a plot device to force the survivors to make hard decisions that show how they have changed and where their loyalties lie.
Don’t get me wrong. I am a firm believer that Lori, Andrea, and Carol should have been sacrificed as zombie chow at specific times during this season. Especially Lori. This show pulls that type of reaction from the viewers. I do discuss this show pretty regularly with other fans (who come from a variety of backgrounds, some of who are not horror or zombie fans at all), and everyone tells the same story. As we watch the show, we all sit there and yell at the TV. The show pulls us so far into the world that we have a physical reaction to the drama that unfolds in front of us. I love it.
In my opinion, during the final episode, the tough guy crown was usurped from Daryl by Hershel. Granted, his shotgun had infinite ammo, but still, Hershel was the man.
If you have read the graphic novel, you probably have noticed that some pretty significant liberties have been taken with the source material, but the storyline does hit the same major highpoints. At the end of the finale, the prison was shown in the forest. How excited are you to see how this situation is handled? How about the casting news for Michone and The Governor? How do you feel about the splintering of the group at the end and Rick’s statement that heralds in the Ricktatorship? Let us know!
See below for a video of the cast members discussing how Season 3 will go!