Episode Title: Beside the Dying Fire
Original Airdate: 3-18-2012
The episode opens in Atlanta, as various Walkers are feasting on whatever they can find. Suddenly a helicopter flies by, attracting their attention. They begin to migrate in a herd, until they are in the woods surrounding the Farm. Carl’s gunfire, putting down Walker Shane, draws the herd closer…and the Farm is overrun. But not without a fight.
Everyone becomes separated into smaller groups, but have the common sense to make their way back to the highway where the Group first broke down and left provisions for Sophia. Jimmy and Patricia were the only actual fatalities, though Lori thought she saw Andrea get taken down too, but she really escaped on foot into the woods. The Group (which now includes Hershel and his daughters) heads out to find new shelter, but runs out of gas. Rick is determined that they will not split up again, so they spend the night by the highway, much to the chagrin of everyone else who are tired, scared and anxious. He also confesses to killing Shane and and that he also learned from Jenner at the CDC everyone is infected, whether bitten or not, which terrifies everyone and angers Lori. Rick then declares that he did not ask to be leader of the Group, but if he is to be, it will no longer be a democracy, and what he says is law. The camera then pans back to reveal the Prison in the distance.
The herd attacking the Farm is a great first half of this episode. It is just non-stop action, and though I know who lives and who dies, I can’t help feeling that rush of adrenaline when I watch it. But I like that they also took the second half of the episode to gather themselves, find each other and try to plan the next move. It’s really interesting going back to this and seeing how unprepared they were for an attack and they all just hoped they would meet back at the same spot on the highway, but still without any provisions. Later when they make the Prison their home, they make plans and have supplies ready to go in case something like the Farm attack happens again, and yet when the Prison does fall, all that planning was for naught. The Group did learn a lot from the Farm, but this new world is still so unpredictable that their planning really won’t make a difference later on.
However, it doesn’t matter how many times I watch this episode, I will never understand Lori’s reaction to Rick’s confession of killing Shane. She knew Shane was dangerous. He attacked her at the CDC. Rick told her that Shane killed Randall to get him out alone and kill him too so Shane could eventually get Lori and Carl back, while raising the baby as his own. And she acts like Rick is a monster for this, for protecting himself, and his family, from a psychopath. She spent most of the season terrified of Shane, and then it’s like none of it mattered since her three-minute talk with him before he released Randall. I understand the rest of the Group questioning Rick’s decisions at this point, because he is clearly rattled from the night’s events and withheld some pretty important information for months, but Lori, after standing by every decision he’s made up to the this point, whether she agreed with it or not, has no believable reason to doubt him now. I think the writers just wanted to create a rift between Rick and Lori, and this was their only avenue, which I feel is very out of character on her part.
And I know on a near weekly basis I have to remark how Andrea is the worst (and there will be more to come when I eventually cover Season 3), but I have to give the woman some serious credit here. After she was mistakenly left behind, she ran and she fought harder than anyone else in the Group would have, I’m willing to bet. She went all day until she fell down and could go no more (though still fighting off Walkers with just a small blade) and then the glorious Michonne saved her. As much as Andrea tried to prove her toughness with just big talk all season, I’m glad they finally showed her in action. And the introduction of Michonne is just icing on the cake, since she’s the BEST.
I really loved this episode for a long time, mainly due to downfall of the Farm. It is an intense twenty minutes, though in my memory, I thought it lasted much longer. To date it has been my second favorite, but upon rewatch (and depending on a rewatch of its contender) I might bump it down for the Season 5 destruction of Terminus. Yes, I like it when things fall apart, literally. I don’t think this episode has lost anything, it’s just they have made better episodes since then.
Come back next week when I wrap up my final thoughts of Season 2, which have changed since the first time I watched it, and come back later today for my thoughts on the premiere of FEAR THE WALKING DEAD (psst…I don’t care for that title).