Well, that was fast. The first season of my new favorite show on television, The Walking Dead, flew right on by, and I’m disappointed. Why AMC thought six measly episodes constituted an entire season, I have no clue. In most cases, six hour-long episodes would seem more fitting to an HBO miniseries. That said, after a disappointingly boring episode 5, the zombie canon gave America the season finale it deserved, although I was mere seconds away from losing my sh*t over a certain part of the final few minutes.
There were some epic highs and yawn-inducing lows, but in the end Frank Darabont’s adaptation deserves a good amount of praise. So, without further adieu, my final Walking Dead review is after the jump. MAJOR spoilers after the jump, and too many of my friends haven’t seen this show, so you have been warned.
- The Formula Finally Wins: One of the hot topics for The Walking Dead all season long was the focus on the dangers the survivors posed to each other, not just the dangers from ravenous undead people. The zombie light episodes had some pretty good moments, but often times the dialogue dragged on too long and eventually became stale. Episode 5 was the low point of the short season, and no surprise, so obviously there was a lot riding on this finale. The episode turned out to be completely driven by conflicts in the groups’ new shelter, a military base that only houses a depressed scientist (More on him later). Thank the stars, this time the formula finally payed off. Maybe it was because I wasn’t distracted by things like Leslie Nielsen dying, but an episode almost entirely devoid of zombies finally kept my attention for the 40 minutes of show. Special kudos to some tense final minutes on that one.
- Nice Prologue: Something that wasn’t shown in the comic was the cold open for Episode 8, Shane’s attempt to free Rick from his coma. As it turns out, this actually does some good for Shane. Instead of him saying “Haha, screw you, Rick. I’m gonna bang your wife.” and then leaving, he shows up in the midst of a military breakdown, with zombies everywhere, and he panics. Unable to comprehend all of the wires keeping Rick alive, Shane is forced to leave his pal behind. Honestly, if I were in the same situation as Shane, I would probably just say “Haha, I’m gonna bang your wife!” and run off with Rick’s cowboy hat. Shane’s still the bad guy here, but at least he has some redeeming qualities.
- A Nice Guest Performance: Quick hit here, but I enjoyed Noah Emmerich’s guest spot as Dr. Edwin Jenner. He played the role of symbolical “Angel of Death” pretty darn well. Also, I appreciate anyone with a name like Noah Emmerich.
- Keeping Shane Around: Remember when I said Shane got some redemption in the prologue? Yeah, midway through the episode, he gets blazed on tequila and attempts to rape Lori. So much for sympathy points. In the comic book, Shane slowly gets more deranged and angry at Rick’s being alive, cumulating in his attempted murder of Rick when Carl saves to the day and shoots him. They’re still at the original camp at this point so, yeah, this TV series is waaaaay different. While I still know that at some point Shane will snap and be killed, it’s nice to have his crazy ass coming back for Season 2. We need someone for those broody, drunken rage scenes.
- Little Clichè: Quickly now, I have to point out how annoying the progression of that “Hot Shower” scene was. Yes, everyone revels in finally having a chance to clean themselves, but as the scene rolls through everyone all smiling and refreshed people, there are the two obvious shots: Andrea sulking on the shower floor, and Shane brooding and taking pulls from a bottle of Jack. My problem with that, I guess, was that it was so predictable that I actually laughed out loud. Maybe my fanboyish behaviors blinded me from things like that in the early episodes, but sometimes it’s just inexcusable. Whatever, rant over.
- Andrea, You Ignorant Slut: Andrea’s constant brooding over death and hopelessness got annoying. I’m not bagging on the emotions necessarily, just that fact that (a) she doesn’t give a sh*t about everyone else’s hope, and essentially makes everything about her, but more importantly that (b) she only defends her argument with what seemed to be the same sentence over and over again. It was something along the lines of “There’s no hope! Everyone is dead! You’ll all be dead soon too! You might as well be dead right now! Blah blah death blah no hope blah!” She eventually gets out of her annoying funk, but damn, I was this close to actually wanting her to die. That said…
- Left the Fanboy Hangin’: Man oh man, I was this close to screaming at my TV at the end of this episode. I’ve said before that Dale was one of my favorite characters, and he has been portrayed very well by Jeff DeMunn. Likewise, even though Andrea got pretty annoying towards the end of this one, she still was the only female character with any real, you know, character in her. These two are currently still alive at my point in the comics, and if they died at the end of this episode, I may have spent this entire post ranting about the decision. Luckily, things turned around in the nick of time. Crisis averted. Yeah, this wasn’t really bad, but still, I was a little worried.
- Um, Nothing: Yup, nothing of note here. Not like that matters, the “ugly” section has essentially been disfigured zombies and disfigured Ed. No biggie.
A Reflection on the Zombie Action: This episode was free of zombies until the final minute, so no notable kills outside of Daryl (Who became, surprisingly, less of an a-hole in this episode) chopping off a zombie head with an ax. In retrospective, the violence was just as I had hoped. It was brutal, at times was creative, but always realistic. No lawnmowers strapped to people’s chests in this show. Hopefully it never comes to that.
Questions for Season 2
- When does Merle show up? Merle, the guy who was left behind in Episode 2, escaped by sawing off his own hand, but was never heard from since. Reality says that he probably starved or was eventually bit or eaten by zombies, but TV worlds alway need “twists”, so I’m guessing that he’ll be back with a vengeance, likely next season.
- Is Tyreese and Co. going to show up? This show wasn’t shy about adding and subtracting characters from the comics, but if Tyreese (An ex-NFL player that becomes best buds with Rick) and his group of survivors don’t show up, I’m going to be upset. I’m hoping Season 2, since the survivors should be on the road, and at the most Season 3. He just needs to show up. I’ll talk about the Governor next season…
- Will any new relationships form? MAJOR spoilers might be here to anybody who has not read the comics, so you may want to stop here. In short, about midway through the first 8 issues of the comics, Dale and Andrea become romantically involved. I’m fine with Dale just playing the father figure role, but I’ll keep questioning this until either it happens, or one of the two dies. Outside of that, I’m intrigued to see how the Shane/Rick/Lori triangle plays out next season. Lots of things to look forward to.
Season Finale Grade: A
In the end, The Walking Dead could have been a lot better. It seemed to malaise at times, the dialogue was choppy at points, and, frankly, it was just too short. In the end though, this was a nice first season to a show that will continue to get big ratings as long as you throw in some decapitations and gratuitous amounts of blood. Improvements are needed, but, and this is coming from a comic book fanboy, it was still pretty good, and I know I’ll be back next season. See you guys at Season 2!
Total Season Grade: A-
Good first season, for the love of God, please let this be good for at least three more.