March 19th, 2012
09:37 AM ET
Sunday night's "The Walking Dead" delivered everything we could expect from a season finale.
The opening scene, I'll admit, was a little odd. It seemed like there could be more significance than appeared at first glance to the horde of walkers descending on Hershel's farm, because they included some of the walkers that Rick encountered in Atlanta. As interesting as it was, I don't know if it was entirely relevant.
The good news is that we got right to where we left off at the end of the last episode, as soon as the opening titles were over. Daryl and Glenn announced to Lori, Andrea and the rest waiting in Hershel's barn that they found Randall but that he had become a walker, despite the lack of bite marks.
In the meantime, no sooner did Rick stop to console a traumatized Carl after he put down the walker Shane that he realized just how many hundreds of walkers were headed their way.
What followed was one of the most extraordinary 10-minute sequences of the series so far, where the group was forced to split into different groups, fighting off walkers and escaping the farm (at one point, Hershel seemed done for, until Rick blasted a walker right behind him). Otis' wife and Beth's boyfriend, however, didn't survive, and Andrea was left to fend for herself as the barn burned down in the mayhem.
The various groups came together where the season began just as Rick, Hershel and Carl started to lose hope: on the highway among a traffic jam frozen in time. As the group realized that Andrea had been abandoned, we were reminded of a haunting message left for Sophia on one of the cars.
It wasn't long before Rick explained what he knew, and the rest of them didn't: as we saw (but didn't hear) at the end of the first season, Dr. Jenner whispered to Rick that everyone was infected with the walker virus.
Kudos to Carol, for asking the most obvious question: Why didn't he tell all of them that in the first place? Rick had reasoned that Dr. Jenner wasn't exactly playing with a full deck. (20/20 hindsight and all, but Rick was in the wrong no matter how you look at it here.) He didn't know for sure that he was telling the truth until Shane turned, and he would later tell Lori – which also required him to tell her that he killed Shane.
So now both Lori and Carl were keeping their distance from Rick, who offered anyone in the group to leave if they thought they could survive out there. He made it clear that from here on in, he was in charge, and the time for democracy was over.
In the meantime, where was Andrea? Out of ammo after running from walkers all night, and tripped up by one, she was saved by a sword-wielding hooded stranger. That would be Michonne, one of the most popular characters in the comic books, to be played next season by Danai Gurira, best known for "Treme."
And speaking of new characters next season, we got a glimpse of the prison – which means we'll soon meet the Governor, soon to be played by David Morrissey – off in the distance, not far from Rick's group.
It was as strong a finish as I've seen to a season, and the next seven months are going to be an excruciating wait. And I would be remiss not to mention Bear McCreary's amazing work with the score this week.
What did you think of the season ender? Post your video reaction or comment below. See you in October!
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