harsens_rob (harsens_rob) wrote,

Walking Dead Reviewed: Pretty Much Dead Already


The Walking Dead
Season 02, Episode 07

Pretty Much Dead Already

Writer: Scott M. Gimple
DIR: Michelle MacLaren

Blurb (IMDB): Glenn tells the rest of the group about the walkers in the barn, dividing them on what to do. Meanwhile, Hershel sets a deadline for the group to leave, unless Rick does a difficult task.

Scene 01: We open on an ominous shot of the barn, before skipping through our principals going on about their morning. Carol is cooking, Andrea is sharpening knives, Shane is eating and looking around the perimeter, and Rick, Lori and Carl are also eating. Lori notices that Rick seems distracted and far away.

She leans over and kisses her husband and he assures her that he’s there with them but clearly something is on his mind….

Scene 02: Meanwhile, Glen is sitting off by himself and he also has a lot on his mind. In the background, Maggie is standing on the Greene family porch and staring at him across the expanse of the yard. Glen catches her and she shakes her head ‘no’ at him.

Glen sits in miserable thought. He looks over to Dale, who nods his head, ‘yes’.

He reaches a decision and gets up nervously. And then he spills the Secret of the Barn, but not the Secret of the Baby Bump About To Be.

Dramatic face shots of everybody absorbing this shocking news. Focus on Rick looking determinedly pissy.

Commentary: While I think, “Hey Dale… didn’t you also know about the walkers and ergo could’ve brought this up to Rick quietly. You KNOW Shane isn’t going to take this well and diplomacy with Herschel is sorta really important at this moment!”

Busybody a-hole.

Scene 03: We pan over to the Walker Barn, where everyone sees for themselves the moaning, shuffling stiffs moving about in the deep shadows. Their island of relative safety has been pulled out from under them in one sentence.

This leads to an argument with Shane and Rick, again, with Rick trying to point out that they’re guests here while Shane is insisting this situation cannot stand. Andrea agrees with Shane that this is too dangerous to pretend they don’t know about it now.

Shane demands that they ‘make this right’, or that they get to their plan for Fort Benning. Rick insists they cannot leave, to Shane’s confusion. Carol brings up that they don’t know where Sophia is at yet, to Shane’s frustration. This sets Daryl up on Carol’s side to remind him that he just found another sign that she’s close by, but Shane points out all that Daryl did was nearly get himself killed over a dropped doll.

Rick tries to calm the situation but Shane shouts at Daryl over his string of ‘geek ears’ around his neck and how if Sophia saw him coming, she’d take off in the other direction. This nearly leads to a fist fight. Rick keeps them apart enough to shout out that he needs to talk this over with Herschel.

Dale steps forward to describe Herschel’s feeling that these are sick people. It’s another surprise to the group that Dale knew about this and didn’t say anything. Shane shouts at him next, but Dale insists that he only found out the day before and thought they could get through one more night before having to face the situation. He tells them that Glen wanted to be the one to tell them all.

All of the shouting has the walkers riled up in the barn now and they start banging on the doors to be let out.

CREDITS do their thing.

Commentary: Ugh. All of the screaming and yelling and it’s always Shane, Shane, Shane.

But he’s not wrong. All it takes is one of those rickety clapboard slats to let go and they’re in deep doo-doo. But as per usual, he’s so busy shouting and carrying on that nobody can hear what he’s actually saying. And he worries me.

I was seriously wondering if Rick was going to be able to stop Shane from taking his gun and forcing Herschel to give up his farm to his “visitors”. Because he feels like Shane is at least considering how easily outgunned Herschel would be if he could just get Rick to stop with all of this ridiculous ‘negotiating talk’ of his. I’m really worried here for Herschel and for our group becoming the villains.

Scene 04: Later, everyone else has left to get back to their uneasily dull day, while Shane continues to pace around the barn, testing the doors to see that they’ll hold and otherwise obsessing on this new, and admittedly disturbing, situation.

The walkers react and slam against the door, startling him into grabbing for his gun. But of course, he isn’t wearing it. Herschel/Rick’s ‘no gun’ agreement… putting them all in even more danger.

Scene 05: Over at the hen house, Maggie is collecting eggs when Glen turns up to face the music. He begs her to just talk to him. She demands his hat. He’s confused. She tells him that he wanted her to talk to him, so give her the hat. He does.

She puts an egg into it and slaps it on top of his head. He asks why she’d waste an egg like that and she smirks that she thought it was rotten….

Scene 06: Elsewhere, Lori is sitting with Carl while he’s working on math problems still.

He brings up Shane thinking that Sophia is dead. Lori shrugs that Shane is just scared of the walkers in the barn. Carl solemnly tells her that he’s not leaving until they find Sophia, and he doesn’t want to leave even after that.

She assures him that they’re not leaving.

Scene 07: Across the fields at the horse barn, Daryl is fitting to saddle up one of Herschel’s animals to go and see if he can find Sophia’s trail. Carol intercepts him there, worried that he’s not in shape yet after his close calls.

They argue a bit about his fitfulness. Carol, for the first time, admits that they don’t know if they’ll ever find her. This is something Daryl isn’t ready to admit to himself, but Carol insists that she can’t lose him, too, out there. He reacts with angry resignation that he’s not healthy enough if he runs into more problems.

He calls her a ‘stupid bitch’ as he angrily marches away from the horses but it’s obvious that his anger is at himself for not being able to find any concrete signs about where Sophia is hiding.

Commentary: I really like the work that Melissa and Norman do when they’re together in scenes alone. And I like the hint that Daryl has an especially soft spot for vulnerable children that can get under his crusty exterior. We’ll see signs of this again with Carl, but most especially with Beth and Judith later.

Scene 08: Meanwhile, Dale is staring worriedly at the pacing Shane still in front of the walker barn. Glen is on the top of the RV on guard duty. He calls down to Dale that Andrea is looking for him, and to see if he has an extra hat.

Dale tosses up his own instead. He then goes into the RV, in thought, and deeply concerned about Shane’s short fuse. He asks Glen to get him some water, but his real purpose is to load up the guns and spirit them away to hide them from Shane. And he doesn’t want Glen to know which direction he takes them.

But also pushing Dale is Andrea’s continuing ‘relationship’, whatever it is exactly, with Shane. He doesn’t like where this is going, and Andrea’s insistence that she’s finally becoming okay with Amy’s death and with his not letting her commit easy suicide in Atlanta isn’t giving him the comfort that she thinks. Not where Shane’s involvement is a factor.

Commentary: See my irritation with Dale - again. Yes, Shane is a worry. And yes, the guns with Shane are a bigger issue. But once again, Dale the Mighty thinks a thing and takes it on himself to take action without consulting anyone else about it.

What exactly he’s going to say if a herd comes waltzing through and all they have is the few guns of Herschel’s to keep them at bay isn’t even considered. “Shane is dangerous. Shane wants our guns. Guns must get take far away. I will do this without Rick’s input because I’m right and that’s enough.”

I have more sympathy with his trying to tell Andrea that Shane isn’t who she thinks he is, but again, it’s tempered with irritation that he never mentions why he’s so distrustful of him. It just comes across as Dale trying to play parent to Andrea, when she’s way more than old enough to make her own decisions. The fact that Dale is largely worried because of what he saw Shane do in lining up a shot on Rick, and that he knows that he and Lori also have an unresolved thing hanging over the group is sensible. Butting into Andrea’s budding relationship without giving her something solid to consider isn’t. It’s just more evidence, to her viewpoint, that Dale is a buttinski.

Scene 09: While Dale is trying to protect the group from Shane, Rick is joining Herschel at his lunch table in an effort to understand what he’s doing with the barn. Herschel isn’t interested in discussing the issue, but Rick persists.

Herschel orders Rick’s group to be gone by the end of the week. Rick sits himself down to argue against this, telling Herschel that they’ll die if they leave, but Herschel is equally sure that they’ll find a way to survive just as they have thus far.

Rick tells him that they can’t leave and if he’d been through what they have, he’d realize just how sheltered his family and neighbors have been. He finally tells Herschel about Lori’s pregnancy and how it’s either a gift on the farm, or it’s a death sentence out in the world.

He begs Herschel to think about it some more and don’t force them out.

After Rick leaves, Herschel spots Maggie who has obviously heard most of the argument. She gives him a disappointed glare.

Scene 10: Out in the field next to the barn, Rick catches up with Shane. This is another argument: They need to clear the barn, they need to leave, they need their guns… same argument different day.

Except that this time, Rick tells Shane they have to stay while Lori is pregnant … which is news to him, of course. With it decided they need to stay, and with Rick thinking it means he’ll let him handle Herschel, Shane is more focused than ever on the walkers in the barn being a danger to all of them… now especially Lori.

Scene 11: Later in the kitchen, Maggie is picking beans for supper when she’s joined by her dad. Her anger isn’t well hidden and he explains that Rick was just being dramatic and that now with Carl nearly mended, if they’re careful, they can find a nearby farm to set up their own camp.

But Maggie points out that all of the farms around there are either burned out, or they’re filled with walkers. Herschel is disappointed that she’s picked up the term. He asks what they’re supposed to do, let Rick’s group stay there forever. He asks how this is his responsibility. Maggie quotes Jesus’ one new commandment at him. She goes on to remind him how angry she was when her mother died, and how awful she had treated him when he decided to remarry but he always reminded her that the only thing Jesus told them to do was to love one another.

Herschel tries to tell her that this is different, but she counters that he’s different. Something he can’t argue with. He asks her if this is about her and “the Asian boy” but Maggie tells him it isn’t about Glen, it’s about him. The type of person he’s going to be.

She tells him that one of the people that he thinks is sick tried to kill her the day before. She also tells him that things aren’t the way he thinks they are. They’re just not. She begs him not to do this.

Jimmy comes into the house at that point to tell Herschel that “it’s happened again”.

Commentary: I LOVE this scene. I love what Lauren did with it and I loved the glimpse into her relationship with her dad. I really liked the scripting when she tells Herschel that this isn’t about her and Glen and it’s not about her and Herschel. It’s only about Herschel - about the kind of person he’s going to be.

That was just a very nicely scripted moment.

Scene 12: Herschel goes out to interrupt Rick and Andrea as they’re plotting out their next search grid in case Sophia came across their road but didn’t choose the right direction to make it to the farmhouse.

He asks Rick to join him for a task. Andrea offers to come too, but Herschel is adamant he only needs Rick, giving her the cold shoulder.

Scene 13: Elsewhere, Lori is chopping up carrots where Shane finds her. He’s under the impression that Lori asked him not to leave because she knows that the baby is actually his. She argues insistently that the fetus is Rick’s baby, but Shane isn’t acting like he’s going to listen.

But worse is his attitude about Rick. He tells Lori that when Rick showed up again after he thought he’d been dead, he wished that he was for a moment. He clarifies that it wasn’t about him and her, but was because he knows that Rick is too soft to protect her and Carl and now their baby on the way. When the chips are down, Rick can’t make the hard choices that are going to keep the group alive.

Shane reminds Lori that he’s the one to have kept her alive so far, not Rick. And while Rick is going off to save drug dealers [Merle], he’s leaving the rest of them vulnerable and that cost Amy and Jim their lives.

This is all so disturbing to Lori that she’s clearly a little afraid of him when he marches off.

Commentary: And it is pretty scary, I have to say. It has become obvious that Shane doesn’t just need to be the hero in charge, but he’s also longing for a wife and children. He wants what Rick has, and no doubt his mind has replayed and twisted that opening conversation in the patrol car with Rick complaining bitterly about Lori’s attitude and thinking that Rick doesn’t deserve to have what he’s been given.

The end of this scene just left me chilled.

Scene 14: As Shane is marching across the wide expanse of yard back toward the barn, Carl intercepts him. Carl tells Shane that he knows that he thinks Sophia is dead and they should stop looking for her, but that’s “bullshit”. Shane tells him to watch his mouth. He tells Shane that they’re going to stay where they are until they find her, and that’s that.

Shane grins that if he really thinks that is what they should do, then that’s what they’re going to do.

Lori - still disturbed by Shane - sees them talking and calls Carl to join her. As Carl is walking away, Shane tells him -- very much like a father figure -- that he doesn’t want to hear Carl use those type of words again. Carl nods and runs off to join Lori.

Scene 15: Shane next marches to the RV for a gun to get back to watch at the barn. There he finds the bags of rifles missing. And he’s pissed about it. Especially when he puts it together after talking to Glen that Dale obvs took them and distracted Glen to go get water so he could slip away unobserved.

He goes off after Dale….

Scene 16: In the meantime, Herschel and Jimmy are leading Rick through the nearby woods into the swamplands. He warns Rick that the silt on the bottom of the marsh is like glue if you step in it.

The point of which is that the walkers tend to get bogged down and stuck. Herschel has called Rick out to help him and Jimmy bring these the two -- one of which Herschel knew -- back to the barn… alive.

He asks Rick if he can go without killing, he tells him that it doesn’t matter if he sees the walkers as people anymore. But if he wants to stay, he’ll have to learn how to treat them as such. That is the rule.

Scene 17: Elsewhere around a pond on the property, Daryl is leading Carol. He asks if she can see it, and she wonders what he’s talking about. Daryl stops in front of a Cherokee Rose bush growing wild, and he takes this as a sign that they’re going to find the missing Sophia.

He then apologizes for that morning’s tussle, but Carol blows this off as his concern for finding her daughter. But she also asks him why he’s so invested in finding a little girl he barely knew. He tells her that he believes that she’s still out there… and besides what else does he have to do? Carol pinches the flower petal and tells Daryl that they’re going to find Sophia. She knows it.

Commentary: Such a little scene, but there is something in the chemistry between Norman and Melissa that just works together. I love these two actors together.

All of this Sophia-centric talk though -- you’d think I would’ve known exactly what this was leading up to. But I tend to not think ahead during a movie/television show if I can help it. I just want to submerge my expectations and let the story carry me, and this episode I figured we’d finally find some scrap of Sophia by the end. I didn’t see where we were headed, despite ALL of the CLUES going on. I’m such a frickin’ dunce.

Scene 18: With Herschel, Jimmy & Rick, they’re wrangling the two walkers from the banks of the woodland wetlands using poles with collars to control their movements.

Through discussion we learn that Otis used to find the “sick people” himself and corral them into the barn until they could be helped. But now with his demise, it’ll fall on them to do so.

[No. I still didn’t get the message. See? I’m totally brain dead while I’m watching, just taking things at face value when I should be seeing the train light approaching from the other end of the tunnel!]

Rick asks what the answer will be when the barn reaches capacity, but slips in the mud and nearly gets leaped on while Jimmy tries to control the walker.

Herschel walks Rick through regaining control by telling him not to fight with the “sick” but to lead them. They want to follow, he just has to use himself as the bait. The eventual answer to the barn question isn’t addressed.

Commentary: And I want to just kudo the actors here. This had to have been an entirely miserable day of shooting for Andrew Lincoln, James McCune, and whomever it is that played the gentleman stuck in the water. All of them are covered in muddy water and filthy clothes by the end of the scene.

Scene 19: Elsewhere, Maggie is walking down the road with a bundle in her arms and passes by Glen on top of the RV. She’s got more peas [and the daylight is brighter, hinting that this scene was actually filmed before the kitchen scene with Herschel perhaps].

Glen climbs down to confront her about their argument and his betrayal. She’s still pissed that she asked him for one thing and he couldn’t do it for her, but she’s alright with his talking to Dale about it now.

But Glen explains that he couldn’t lie. He exclaims that he’d forgotten that the walkers were dangerous. But after the Pharmacy attack, it struck him that it doesn’t matter if they’re sick people or dead people, they’re dangerous. And he can’t live with her being endangered. And also, he doesn’t like secrets. “Secrets get you killed!”

So he had to tell them.

She forgives him with a kiss.

Scene 20: Out in the swamplands, Dale arrives near another small pond with a unique tree that will act as a marker. He has the bag o’ guns in a plastic bag.

But he doesn’t hide his tracks well and Shane has found him.

They have their confrontation, with Dale telling Shane again that he’s all kinds of bad. Shane responds with how he’ll keep the group safe while everyone else is in some kind of la-la land over their chances. He demands the guns. Dale refuses. Shane tells him he’s taking them. Dale asks if he’s going to shoot him, make up another story like he did to Otis. But Shane blows this off and tells him he doesn’t need to shoot him. He’s one doddering old man, he’s “practically dead already” [*ding ding* Title Shout Out].

Dale threatens to shoot him… but in the end can’t pull the trigger. Shane smirks in his face.

As Shane gathers up the purloined guns to take back to camp, Dale goes off on a self-righteous rant about how Shane belongs in this new world. At least when his end comes, Dale can know he didn’t let the world beat him and drag him down. Shane shrugs it off with a “Fair ‘nuff”.

Scene 21: On the front porch, Maggie teases Glenn about looking like he’s waiting for the early bird special in Dale’s hat. She offers to wash his baseball cap for him.

T-Dog [! Hey where you been??] and Andrea wander up, looking for Rick or Shane to start that hunt for Sophia that they were supposed to be doing that day. Daryl and Carol arrive from their walk and want to know what Andrea is doing back without Rick. They quickly realize that nobody has been out on Sophia’s track yet, and Daryl gets angry that nobody is taking his recent find seriously.

At this point Shane returns with the bag of guns. He passes one to Daryl. He’s in a pissed mood. He tells the assembled that it’s time they all grew up about the walker situation. Maggie warns them all against carrying the guns, but Shane is on a tear that the place isn’t safe while the walkers are so close in a herd.

Carl repeats to Shane that they have to stay, and Lori asks what he’s doing. Shane tells Carl that they’re staying, but they’re not doing so unarmed anymore. Shane tries to press a handgun on Carl to keep Lori safe. She intervenes to rage at Shane that Rick said no guns, and this isn’t his call, while Maggie is in the background looking afraid that Shane is strong arming her family with his heavy weaponry.

Beth and Patricia are also there on the porch wondering what they’re going to do if Shane won’t back down. With all of this tension, the last thing they need is some gasoline for the fire, so to speak. So when T-Dog gives a loud, “Oh shit!” things aren’t good.

Scene 22: Our ‘gasoline’ is Rick, Herschel and Jimmy returning from the woods with their two walker guests in tow.

If Shane was outraged about the situation before, imagine how he feels about this!

He takes off like a shot, enraged and shouting “What is that?!” with everyone else struggling to get caught up.

Scene 23: This leads to a big argument of Rick telling Shane to back off, Herschel being angry that his “no guns” mandate is being ignored, Shane raging that they’re actually bringing more walkers through their encampment, and tempers and/or fear running through everybody. Shane does nothing to calm nerves.

Shane screams that these things are the things that killed Amy, killed Otis. Rick tries to shout him down, but he’s in a red rage and isn’t going to be calmed. He shouts at Herschel that if these people are just sick, then why won’t they drop dead. He pulls out his gun and shoots the walker Herschel is leading several times point blank in the chest. He shouts at him to explain why it isn’t falling dead.

Rick shouts at Shane that it’s enough, and Shane agrees with him finally. He goes up and puts a bullet between the walker’s eyes to Herschel’s devastated look.

But Shane is only getting started. He shouts at the two groups that this is all about survival now, and if they want to survive they have to fight for it. They have to fight for it right here, and right now.

He goes and bangs at the lock over the barn door, with Rick calling him brother and begging him to stand down.

Scene 24: From the barn, the walkers pour forth. Herschel has fallen to the ground in shock, while all of Rick’s group starts gunning down the zombies.

Glen turns to Maggie and says her name plaintively, and she tells him to do it because she realizes that they’ll all be killed if they don’t stop the onslaught freed from the barn. Herschel’s group is all left in hysterical tears as the gunshots continue and continue and continue.

Commentary: AND FINALLY, the bell rings in my head… and I know what’s coming… and I’m just devastated for Carol, Daryl and Carl. It is just a horrible moment of realization of what all of the talk of Sophia and barn was leading up to.

Scene 25: There is a moment of calm after all of the bodies drop… and then from the darkness comes hissing and growling:

Yeah. Sophia.

And that takes all of the bluster right out of Shane’s sails. Shane, with his self-righteous outrage and deep pool of anger. Shane with his hail of bullets mentality. Finds himself standing there, unable to fire and put down Carol’s little girl. It falls to Rick to do the deed. Lori weeps to Carl not to watch, but nobody can look away.

Commentary: So, this scene is obviously the big one. It’s the half-season finale, and finally puts to rest the entire “Where is Sophia?” plot that has been driving the narrative.

There are a few kudos I want to give here: The music is fabulously used. I loved the real emotional devastation on everyone’s faces -- including our gung ho Andrea and Shane. I also thought that Andrew handled lining up the shot and taking a breath before pulling the trigger well done.

But I didn’t quite like just how stretched out the moment became. Sophia taking her sweet-time to finally exit the barn. Everybody standing there while she stumbled toward them, and stumbles toward them, and stumbles toward them… the horrific moment was stretched to near breaking point, which felt especially manipulative to get us to angst over it, which wasn’t necessary. We were there just because of Melissa, Norman, Sarah and Chandler’s acting.

But other than the pregnant hold on the moment for the shot, the scene worked really well and we can all breathe a sigh of relief that we can move on, now. And hopefully this will finally break the  lethargic pacing of the last several episodes now that we don’t have to argue about finding the missing kid.

Scene 26: We pull back from Rick’s determined, and then sickened look into a crane shot over Carol’s sobbing to see Sophia and the rest of the bodies lying in the dirt with our gunmen looking on the massacre. Except Shane, who is looking at Lori & Carl.

The Good: There is some really fabulous acting from Norman Reedus, Melissa McBride, Sarah Wayne Callies, and Chandler Riggs throughout the episode.

I really like the small scenes between Daryl and Carol, and between Lori and Carl, & Carl and Shane.

I specifically enjoyed the scene with Lauren Cohen and Scott Wilson where Maggie is asking Herschel to remember the kind of man he's always been, and the touch of talking about how patient he was with her when she was angry at him and treating people awfully.

The moment I FINALLY understood where they'd find Sophia was devastating and the Barn Scene had some absolutely great character reaction moments. I also really liked that how quick all of Shane's bluster collapsed and how it was left to Rick to once again shoot a child [a callback to the first moments of the pilot episode].

The Bad: I really dislike what they're doing with Dale being a self-righteous buttinksi throughout the episode that just makes it feel so good when Shane totally blows him off, despite Dale being set up as the morally right one.

I also don't like how Shane is being pushed into cartoon-villain territory, rather than keeping him riding the line that makes us want to be on his side, even when he's doing the wrong thing. It's too ham-handed, and ends up leaving the character with no solid place to go that would make sense for why he's not immediately thrown out on his ass.

Other Thoughts: In other thoughts, I'm going to put the pacing on this episode. As has been an issue this half-season, the individual scenes are fine and have merit. But strung together it leaves the episode feeling lethargic, until Shane's meltdown and the barn scene. In looking at the review, it seems to be because each scene is being given too much space. There are far fewer scene transitions than ordinary, and it draws each scene out too long despite some really good acting and character work happening. It doesn't help that the "Sophia, Sophia, Sophia" plot driver has been really repetitive.

Can we please... PLEASE... expand T-Dog's character just a bit more. Please.

The Score: I really want to score this high because of the scene we leave on. But the rest of the episode doesn't have the tension and pacing that is required. This episode really is about the big set piece, so I can't give it more than:

3.5 out of 5

Next Up: BTVS, Season Three's "Helpless"

Tags: walking dead season 2 review

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