Review: The Walking Dead (Season 2)

April 23, 2012 in Reviews, TV by pacejmiller

I got into The Walking Dead when it was still a comic book. Years ago a friend had lent me the first few volumes, which I enjoyed but didn’t think was anything too special (could be attributed to my bias against American comics). When I heard about the TV series, however, I became very keen because I knew it had tremendous potential.

Season 1 of The Walking Dead was great television. Anything with zombies makes pretty good television anyway, but it’s not often that a post-apocalyptic world depicted on TV is so dreary, bleak and horrifying. It had a love triangle, some volatile characters and plenty of terrific deaths (both meanings intended).

Season 2 came with a lot of expectations. What were they going to do this time that could top the solid first season?

Having now watched all of season 2 in its entirety, I have the feeling that perhaps my desire to like the show is greater than how much I really like it. The dark mood of the first season was maintained well, but significant portions of it felt somewhat repetitive and was extraordinarily slow for a show aimed at zombie lovers.

It’s strange, considering when you list the main story arcs of the season it sounds pretty awesome:

  • The little girl, Sophia, goes missing, and the gang split up and set out to find her;
  • Rick’s son, Carl, is accidentally shot and almost dies — then becomes a bit of a douche;
  • The gang find refuge at a ranch owned by the enigmatic Hershel;
  • Glenn gets a lady friend;
  • Daryl grows a heart — for a while;
  • Lori gets second thoughts about the pregnancy;
  • Andrea goes half mental; and
  • Shane goes full mental.

This doesn’t even mention all the excellent twists and turns, such as Sophia’s fate, Hershel’s little secret, the gang of dangerous survivors they run into — and of course, the mega big huge revelation of the finale, not to mention the first appearance of one of the comic’s coolest and most memorable characters. Oh, and the deaths of key characters were pretty shocking too.

Core cast of season 2

And so it baffles me while for stretches throughout this second season I found the pace to be excruciatingly slow. Part of it probably stems from the fact that the majority of the episodes take place on Hershel’s farm, meaning there is very little movement. I admire the efforts to make this a hard-hitting drama focused on the human characters and all, but to be honest, I just wanted to see more crazy zombies.

Is that wrong? I mean, let’s face it, the zombie scenes are still the most thrilling — by far — and at times during season 2 I almost forgot they existed. I suppose the point was to show that the humans are more dangerous than the walkers, but humans, for the most part, aren’t quite as exciting as decomposing cannibals. Not to say that they should go overboard and turn this into a video game because the drama is what drives this show, but slightly more balance would have been welcome. It’s really their own fault for making the zombies so wonderfully frightening — kudos to the make-up and special effects team, by the way — which only made me want more of them.

Nonetheless, judging from the final scene, it appears season 3 could be an explosive and very bumpy ride — depending on how closely they follow the comic. Season 2 was relatively strong but it could have been a lot better, in my humble opinion, had they hastened things a little. Perhaps sensing what a commercial success the series is they decided to drag it out for as long as possible.

In any case, I hope the Governor makes an appearance in season 3.

Rating: B