The Walking Dead - "Pretty Much Dead Already" - TV Review


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The barnstorming mid-season finale

THE ONE WHERE Shane forces the issue by letting the walkers out of Hershel’s barn.

VERDICT The leisurely pacing of this season helps the storytelling in some ways. For example, the budding relationship between Glenn and Maggie is way more convincing here than in Robert Kirkman’s comic: in that, they seem to hop in the sack one day and be head-over-heels in love the next. Unfortunately, it also means that I had one week too many to ponder questions such, “Why is the Sophia saga dragging on so long? Where's it heading?” and “When are they going to deal with the zombies in the barn?” and managed to spoiler myself by putting two and two together… Darn it!

Even if you did guess it in advance, the shock ending of this mid-season finale is pretty powerful, paying off so well that it compensates for all the tedious searching-the-woods stuff we previously had to sit through (well, almost…) The barn break-out has more emotional wallop than it did on paper – even though the comic version resulted in deaths.

It’s a tremendously tense episode: once Glenn makes his announcement, the clock starts ticking towards a Shane-shaped explosion, and Jon Bernthal’s portrayal of a man primed to blow is – as ever - superb. Along the way there are some extremely effective two-handers: Hershel and Rick, Dale and Shane, Lori and Shane... I also got something in my eye when Glenn expressed his protective feelings towards Maggie. This is something the series really excels at, and it keeps you hooked during episodes that are pretty low on incident.

If I’m hoping for one thing when the show returns in February, though, it’s that the scales tip just a little towards action and plot development; I don’t expect every episode to be replete with zombie carnage or changes of scenery, but occasionally this first run has felt a little too defanged and domesticated.

NITPICKS Unless I blinked and missed something, at least one walker seems to fall to the ground dead despite only getting shot in the chest.

IN THE COMIC Sophia is still alive and well.

HOUSEHOLD TIPS Might send this one in to Woman’s Realm: “In a post-apocalyptic scenario, a cheese-grater makes an ideal knife sharpener”.

A QUESTION Do you think we’ll learn more about Beth (Hershel’s daughter) and Jimmy (her boyfriend) when the show comes back? Right now they’re both just walking lumps of meat with about as much personality as a cloud of mist.

Glenn: “Why would you waste an egg like that?”
Maggie: “I figure it was rotten.”

Ian Berriman

Read all our Walking Dead season two reviews .

The Walking Dead airs in the UK on FX.

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Deputy Editor, SFX

Ian Berriman has been working for SFX – the world's leading sci-fi, fantasy and horror magazine – since March 2002. He also writes for Total Film, Electronic Sound and Retro Pop; other publications he's contributed to include Horrorville, When Saturday Comes and What DVD. A life-long Doctor Who fan, he's also a supporter of Hull City, and live-tweets along to BBC Four's Top Of The Pops repeats from his @TOTPFacts account.