“The Walking Dead” Review– Season 2 Episode 13 “Beside the Dying Fire”

Written by Chris Beaulieu March 21, 2012

“Beside the Dying Fire”, the season two finale of The Walking Dead, spends quite a bit of time confused about what it wants to convey. The entire first quarter of the episode is devoted to the immense walker conflict on the barn. There is no problem in this itself, as The Walking Dead portrays its violence in a distinct, unromantic style. The problem occurs when the show becomes romantic in its style, with slow motion shots lingering on the barn going down in flames, and Sophia’s name painted on the car windshield where supplies were once left for her. So much of the show—thematically at least—has been about the folly of such sentimentalities, yet the series contradicts itself with confused aesthetics. A sequence depicting the caving in of a bloody zombie skull, followed by a shot of a barn collapsing in slow motion to gentle music simply does not work.

Rick has become an inpatient leader, and understandably so. After all that he has done for the group, to hear voices of dissent put Rick over the edge. Rick is fed up with democratic politics and trying to maintain group approval, and just wants to direct orders without hearing what everyone else thinks. What was most striking about Rick’s final outburst was that he completely took on the persona of Shane. He used all of the classic Shane tactics of arguing: using sarcasm to illustrate his point, asserting his own self-superiority, resenting anyone who doesn’t listen to him, and dismissing all those who want a different way.

It’s refreshing to see the show finally develop one of its characters to a new set of characteristics, even if they’re the same ones as a previous character. What Rick’s newfound anger does say, however, is that by killing Shane, Rick has, in some way, absorbed his traits in a Highlander-esque fashion. A more reasonable explanation would be that Rick feels subconscious guilt for killing his best friend, and seeks to preserve him in some form. When one considers that Rick resents the rest of the group for having to kill Shane (“I killed my best friend for you people”), its not implausible to assume that Shane’s resentment has manifested itself inside of Rick.

The big revelation of the episode was that at the CDC, Jenner told Rick that everyone was infected with the walker virus, and that they all carry it. What does this mean? Not much other than that the entire group are doomed to become walkers after they die. It emphasizes the reality that no matter where they run to, they are doomed to die. To make use of a cheesy title-drop, it means that they are the walking dead. But who are the walking dead really? To take it further, one could say that even those humans not infected are the walking dead, like those who try and find transcendental meaning in an American television series about zombies.

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About Chris Beaulieu

When Chris isn't studying film, reading English literature, fencing, or watching re-runs of Frasier on TV, it's because he's writing awesome reviews for We Eat Films.

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