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This season of The Walking Dead has been a mixed bag. On the one hand, the first half of the season was dire; slow, meandering and devoid of any threat, both internal and external. However, since its return from the mid-season break, the show has gone back to its season one heyday. The tension that had been slowly building between Rick and Shane this latter half of the season came to a close last week, with Shane attempting to murder Rick two too many times and promptly getting a knife to the gut, only to return as a zombie before getting shot by Carl. 

Now we finally get to return to a zombie threat as the herd, seen at the end of that episode, descends on the farm.

This is easily one of the strongest episodes of the show so far. What makes this episode so good is the fast pace of it. Forty-five minutes flies by and whilst some may have wanted it to be a feature length episode, the fact it’s a standard length ensures we end the season on a high. There’s a good ratio of action to character moments and often to two are combined.

The body count isn’t as high as I was expecting, though. Only two characters bite the bullet and they’re the two lesser-seen members of Herschel’s group. Coming off the back of the deaths of Shane and Dale, seeing these two nobodies get devoured means virtually nothing. Honestly, would the show have been worse off for losing Carol, T-Dog or the blonde girl that tried to commit suicide a couple of weeks back? Hell, seeing as how the show has diverted so much from the comics, maybe even Glenn for a tug at the heartstrings? The Walking Dead’s biggest problem, as I see it, is too many characters. It doesn’t have the acting skills or the writing to carry off a cast this large. With the added characters a new season inevitably brings, some serious pruning will be needed at the start of next season.

Speaking of new characters, it’s fantastic to see Michonne, especially this early. Honestly, she’s one of the best characters in the comics and will bring some much needed level-headedness to the show. I can see her getting on well with Daryl, which should be interesting given that she’s a black woman and we’ll likely see the return of Daryl’s racist brother, Merle.

One thing that struck me as odd was the way Rick decided to inform everyone of him killing Shane. Yelling: “I killed my best friend for you people, for Christ’s sake!” wasn’t one of his brightest moments. It’s hardly going to endear him to the group, even if you do let them know it was self-defense. Thankfully that scene does show that Rick is finally getting to grips with being leader. All throughout the show they’ve looked to him to make decisions. Now he’s making unpopular ones like trying to keep the group together and they don’t like it? Rick’s right when he says it’s not a democracy, not when most of the people in the group are as moronic as they are. Their priority is to survive and splitting up is the surest way of ending up dead. At this point, Rick is the only one I’d trust to make decisions, especially now that Dale is dead and Herschel is content to take a back seat from the decision making.

Ultimately, the episode does precisely what a good season finale should do. Many of the loose ends have been tied up and new plotlines hinted at. It’ll be fantastic to see the Prison next season. It’s easily the best plot line in the comics and with a ton of material. Considering they managed to stretch Herschel’s farm out to a whole season, the Prison could easily be two.

I must confess, after the first few episodes of season two, I was close to giving up on the show. Now I’m disappointed to see it go. Bring on season three!

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