The Walking Dead: 213 “Beside the Dying Fire” (Finale) Review
“Beside The Dying Fire” (Season 2 | Episode 13) – SEASON FINALE
WARNING – FULL SPOILERS
T-Dog survives! That’s incredible! A character that’s had fewer lines than the walker who ripped Dale’s guts out, has made it through to the third season – truly epic.
This week’s finale felt very much like an NFL style draft for the next season of the show, the army of zombies that attacked the farm were the perfect excuse to dispense some ‘dead’ weight (Patricia, Jimmy) and thin out the cast ready for some new blood. If this was the case then T-Dog must have drawn the wildcard because I thought he’d be top of the list to get bitten. For a moment, I thought Hershel was a goner too until Rick popped up behind him. Things at the farm have finally ended, much to the delight of many fans and what an ending it was – full of fire, walkers and drive by shootings.
Overall this was a brilliant way to bring things to a close on the farm. It’s dragged on too long and after the recent deaths of Shane and Dale you just knew it was time to go. It was a great move to kill Shane off last week, that way it came as more of a surprise and also gave us time to see how the others would react to the news of his death, and reanimation. The only real downside to all this was that you knew that there’d probably be no deaths of other big characters in the climactic episode. Although, they did tease us with Hershel, Andrea, Carol, Glenn and Maggie, all coming close to death by zombies.
This was really an episode of two half’s – the battle of the farm followed by the split and reform of the group. The first half was fantastic, I like how there was a decent enough explanation as to why suddenly hundreds of walkers had appeared in the woods. The opening scene where they pile through the fence like an angry crowd at a music festival was ace. The tempo was just right in the build up, Rick didn’t notice until they were surrounded, which cut him and Carl off from the others causing a lot more tension. Burning the barn down was fantastic and seeing the raging flames scorch the walkers Rick lured in really added to the chaos of this situation.
The battle then ensued, filled with everything you could want for a finale. Hershel played the role of the ‘captain going down with his ship’ perfectly, standing his ground outside his home, firing shell after shell into the undead masses felt like his last stand. I’m so glad Rick saved him from that sneaky walker, it was only when I thought he would die that I really realized how much he brings to the show. Saying that though, now that he is without his farm he adds no authority to the group, he’s just another survivor. How will he adapt to his new place in the hierarchy?
When the split came it inspired some mixed reactions and conversations within the group. Glenn and Maggie shared a touching scene that added some love to proceedings. This was an effective way to reference the thread of romance that exists in The Walking Dead and made it very relatable to many young couples who must watch the show. Hershel was eager for Rick to protect Carl and didn’t care about his own safety anymore, which made a lot of sense. What didn’t make sense was T-Dog’s “we can’t go back – we gotta head west for the ocean” err…since when T-Dog? When has this been your master plan? As if for any moment Lori was going to go “sure, great idea. I’ll just abandon my husband and son for you and your great, never-before-mentioned, bullet-proof plan”. This was a pretty dumb moment in the episode but I had to laugh just because T-Dog was attempting to rule a situation – poor fella, he never catches a break.
After the meet up and the headcount was complete there were three moments involving Rick that were literally “the good, the bad and the ugly”. The good was the reveal that they’re all infected and the link to Jenner. Personally, I’d completely forgotten about ‘the whisper’ so it was fantastic for this to be the link back to the finale of season 1.
What followed this was ‘the bad’, the conversation between Rick and Lori was actually well shot and delivered, what made it bad was how suddenly Lori can’t even touch Rick because she’s so disgusted with him. Lori has been acting like a Lady Macbeth ping-pong ball being battered between Rick and Shane. First she’s whispering in Rick’s ear talking about how Shane’s hell-bent on stealing her from him and that he basically needs to be ‘gone’. Then she changes her mind and apologies to Shane about the situation with Rick and the baby, and now she’s appalled because Rick killed Shane in…ahem…SELF DEFENCE! What?! Did she not listen to the part where Rick explained that Shane set up the whole Randall escape to draw Rick out into the open? This must have made Lori repellent to many fans and it’s going to be hard to get her back on the audience’s side.
The ugly part came when Rick, turning to the dark side in his speech to the remaining survivors, pretty much stated – my way or the highway. The only real challenger to Rick’s dominance now is everyone’s favourite hick, Daryl. What will the relationship between these two be in the coming season? The character of Daryl was devised purely for the TV series, so fans of the comics won’t have any insight into how these two people will interact in the future.
What fans will know is the two huge reveals in the closing few scenes. Firstly, the instant when an army of TWD comic fans punched the air – MICHONNE HAS ARRIVED! One of my personal favourites from the comics has entered the mix a lot earlier than expected. With recent casting news that Danai Guira will play her in the third season I wasn’t expecting to see her in the climax of “Beside the Dying Fire”. The writers pulled this of fantastically by introducing her without any hint what so ever. What was even better was that her first shot on screen was straight out of the comics – cloaked, sword in one hand and two chained-up armless walkers in the other – picture perfect.
The closing shot also exposed where the survivors ‘may’ be heading to in the third season, prison. That’s right Sarah Wayne Callies, just when you thought you’d escaped for the umpteenth time, you’re back inside. The only other actress that I can think of that’s spent more time in and out of prison is Lindsey Lohan, let’s hope that there’s no alcohol inside those gates.
All in all, a brilliant way to close this chapter of The Walking Dead, there’s plenty of space to fill the void left by Shane, Dale and the other victims of season 2 and one of the slots has thankfully been taken by the unique Michonne (remember the name…although I still can’t pronounce it properly). Bring on October for more flesh eating Fridays on FX.
Also, keep your eyes out for “United We Stand, Divided We Fall – The Walking Dead Season 2 Review” that will follow in the next week.
Scene of the Episode | Let Battle Commence… – It’s hard to say in this episode because there were a lot of great moments. The adrenaline fuelled first half hour was the massive fix of zombie killing we’ve been yearning for and it was well built up. Using the cars (and motorbike) for drive by shootings, burning the barn to the ground and making every bullet count – what more could you ask for in a battle between the living and the dead?
Reviewed by Rich Jepson, cult TV enthusiast and author of 24: Terrorism Through Television.