Shut up. You enemies of character development, pathos, and simmering tension, just shut up. For weeks now I have been listening to your whiny bloodlust over a ‘slower’ Walking Dead season, lamenting the loss of showrunner Frank Darabont as the reason for this. Then came the mid-season finale, and the blessed silence of the doubters.
I really hate to say I told you so, but it feels so good having defended this show so vociferously from the spoiled fans clamoring for instant gratification. With the first season being only six episodes, everything had to move very fast, making it much more exciting. That was fun, but something like this can only burn so bright before it hurts your eyes, and with a longer season the writers decided the crock pot approach was better than the deep fryer method for the first part of the second season.
You see, unlike the virgin who keeps her chastity under lock and key until her wedding night, this was actually worth the wait. We all got some quality time in learning more about the truer nature of some of the characters, minus the black guy who seems only to show up for group photo ops. They really need to find something for him to do!
The peaceful time at the farm- whose denizens seem to live in both a physical and mental bubble from the blight outside of it- gave us time to parse out who is ‘old world’ verses who is ‘new world’. Not to mention, who is more fit for which. I even went as far as drawing a line down the middle of a sheet of paper and listing who is more ‘conditioned’ for each world. After about thirty seconds I realized how simplistic this was. Despite the premise of the show being about the zombie apocalypse, the realness of the characters- their enigmatic humanity- is what I most connect with. The writers spent six episodes on a farm building on these people’s fears and desires leading us to its terrible reconciliation.
What an end result! Things deteriorated very fast on the farm once everyone found out about the walkers in the barn. The slaughter that ensued and the look of horror on Hershel’s face as he watches his old world crumble in a hail of gunfire was a sickening catharsis. Then it got worse, much worse. It was not until the last walker was about to leave the barn when I realized who it was: Sophia. And it had to be Rick to end it for her, it’s the ‘Old Yeller’ complex. It was his fault, so he had to put her down, and with one shot he killed Sophia and his remaining ‘old world’ sensibilities.
In the tradition of the great Greek tragedies, they kept the tension up: the continued hunt for Sophia laced with the occasional clue or glimpse of hope that they will find her, Shane embracing his ‘new world’ mentality, Lori’s pregnancy. All of this was necessary, and the seemingly lengthy amount of time it took to get there was also necessary. Catharsis is good for the soul, and allowing the emotions to build to where you cannot take anymore before you’re likely to burst, makes the release all the sweeter. So be patient next time haters, and relish in the boring times, otherwise we’d all be like the girl who couldn’t even wait until prom night.