Revisiting The Walking Dead Season Two

While everyone I know was enamoured with the second season of The Walking Dead, I was spending my Sunday nights doing anything but watching the show. I sat through the first three episodes but I just wasn’t engaged with the plight of our survivors. I wish I could nail down what my issues were – maybe it was just moving too slow for my own tastes. Whatever the case, it was only with the second season DVD collection (out today) that I was able to get fully immersed once again the live action adaptation of Robert Kirkman’s world of the walking dead. Watching all thirteen episodes in quick succession was a plus. On that note, here are a few highlights from the second season that I discovered with the new collection.  And yes, there will be spoilers galore

Hitting The Same Beats, Even If The Tune Is Slightly Different  

If you’ve read Robert Kirkman’s comic book, there were certain elements of season two that you immediately recognized from the book and could predict how they’d play out. Hershel’s barn holding a horde of zombies. The romance between Glenn and Maggie. The ultimate fate of Shane. However, even with these critical storylines jumping from the page to the small screen, showrunner Glenn Mazarra and the rest of The Walking Dead team managed to have some genuinely unpredictable moments all season long. The death of Sophia, a mainstay of the comics, came as an utter shock to me, and the group’s discovery of her location was heartbreaking.

Speaking of death, I knew at some point Dale was going to shuffle off this mortal coil, but I didn’t expect it to come so early in the run of the show. I was sad to see Jeffrey DeMunn’s time on The Walking Dead end, but it did so with a great final moment, courtesy of Norman Reedus’ increasingly appealing character of Darryl.

Find out what else worked in season two of The Walking Dead after the jump.

The Zombies Aren’t The Only Bad Guys

Shane and Dale have a heated discussion.

Morality is a huge part of Kirkman’s ongoing comic book, the questions of right and wrong, good and evil was also a focus of season two of The Walking Dead. Scott Wilson’s Hershel keeps the dead in the barn because he views them as diseased, not the walking dead. Does it make him evil or insane when he doesn’t want them to be touched or trifled with? Joe Bernthal’s Shane and Jeffrey DeMunn’s Dale are constantly at loggerheads, each with different views as to how the camp should be run. Dale looks to maintain some semblance of civility, while Shane argues that the old rules have changed. Regardless of how Shane ultimately fails as a good guy, his arguments in keeping the group safe are hard to dispute.  

Multiple Bildungsroman

“This is not a democracy any more.”

With the above header, I finally get to put that english degree to good use. Truthfully, I have no other way to describe the arcs of many of the characters from The Walking Dead this season. While the term bildungsroman is typically reserved to describe a novel where the main character goes through moral and psychological growth, I believe that’s what we see with all the main characters of the show. Andrew Lincoln’s Rick Grimes obviously goes through the most changes, as he strives to continue to uphold the law and his family values in a world that makes it increasingly harder to do so. Midseason, Rick is forced to take the lives of those who would take his or his families first. He has regret, but he knows the choices he has to make to survive are not the ones he would have ever made before. By the time the group’s de facto leader utters his final words of the season, ” this isn’t a democracy anymore”, it’s clear that Rick may be the most changed character on The Walking Dead. And his story isn’t yet complete.

Daryl puts Dale out of his misery. “Sorry, brother.”

Another character that’s transformed over the course of the season is Norman Reedus’ Daryl. In season one, I thought the character was one-dimensional and lacking, but as written and then portrayed by Reedus, Daryl becomes one of the most important on the show. Though he portrays a gruff exterior, it’s Daryl who continues the charge when the group is looking for the missing Sophia. It is Daryl who executes the dying Dale, later telling Rick that he shouldn’t have to do all the heavy lifting. It’s Daryl who goes from the ultimate outsider to becoming a valued member of the group. It will certainly be interesting to see what happens to the character in season three, especially with word that Michael Rooker’s Merle will be returning at some point.

Final Thoughts

So what comes next for a group of people, all of whom, as Rick reveals, are infected. Premiering in October, season three brings the promise of fan favourite character Michonne from the comic book, who is seen briefly rescuing Laurie Holden’s Andrea in the season finale (yet another character with brilliant growth throughout season two). We’ll also see the debut of the wicked Governor and watch as the group finds another perceived safe haven. However, before that, take the time to revisit The Walking Dead Season Two on DVD and watch closely as the series develops a mythology deeper than most prime time series. The Walking Dead demands patience and rewards it with characters you wind up caring about.

Here’s hoping none of your favourites get eaten anytime soon.

5 Replies to “Revisiting The Walking Dead Season Two”

  1. “The Walking Dead demands patience…” So true. I’ve had so many ups and downs with this show but glad I stuck with it. The beginning of Season 2 was a snoozer and I complained about it a lot. For me, it started to get really good when Sophia “walked” out of that barn.
    I still hate Carl and Lori though.

  2. Why the hate?

    It’s very interesting – some people swear by the first half of the season and hate the second, and vice versa. It seems to be a season that really divided people. But for me, watching all at once, I thought the entire season worked as a whole. I can’t get Hershel’s smile after Rick made his declaration out of my mind. Very subtle.

    1. I think Chandler Riggs is a horrible actor which is part of the reason I dislike Carl (sorry). He’s never where he’s supposed to be. He’s also old enough to understand what the walkers are what they do but chooses to toss rocks at one and let it get out and not tell anyone? I feel like the writers want me to hate Carl.
      And Lori is the just the worst mother and wife ever. She is too easy to hate.

  3. Hi!

    I love watching this show and comparing it to the comics; add’s a whole new dimension and is able to leave me wondering “what will happen next?!”, especially with the addition of the bad-ass bros Daryl and Merrell, and Shane not dying early … instead his feud with Rick was a driving force for a lot of the show … it’s neat to see what aspects make the story better, and what doesn’t quite work …

    Because of my love for sociology, I like how the story gives you a taste of what the world may look and act like when “an epidemic of apocalyptic proportions has swept the globe …”. What are we capable of? What are our true colours? Who do we become? … it’s scary …

    “In a world ruled by the dead, we are forced to finally begin living.”

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