The Walking Dead
's mid-season finale is soul-crushing yet satisfying. By the end Shane's finally snapped, Hershel's left powerless and Sophia's fate is revealed.
Nothing says "this isn't going to end well" than frightened survivors learning there's a zombie zoo next door. When Glenn unceremoniously breaks how Hershel's barn is chock-full of walkers no one takes the news well. Shane suggests his favorite solution to every problem: shoot it, leave it or both. Rick counters killing Hershel's nontraditional pets will also kill their chances of staying on the Greene Farm. Guess even when they're undead, murdering the wife and daughter of your host never makes a good impression.
If We Go There Will Be Trouble, If We Stay It Will Be Double
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Attempting to stabilize the situation, Rick seeks out Hershel. Upon hearing that everyone knows his barn's secret, Hershel insists the group clears out. Desperately pleading now, Rick pulls out every reason he can think of why they should stay. Apparently all Hershel hears though is "wah wah wah we'll die out there wah wah we won't mess with the barn wah my wife's pregnant wah".
It's Maggie's urging that changes her father's mind. She reminds him sending people into the wilderness to die isn't a very Christian thing to do. Though still unsure of the situation, Hershel finally seems willing to give peace a chance.
Gunning For Him
Always level headed Dale tries a different solution. According to his logic you can't shoot walkers without guns. Grabbing all their firearms he heads into the swamp to stash them until everything cools down.
Shane's furious at this development. He quickly tracks Dale down and demands all weapons be returned. Though first threatening to kill Shane rather than hand over the guns, Dale just doesn't have it in him to pull the trigger. Shane takes them and head back to camp.
Department of Walking Dead Care and Control
Meanwhile Rick's off playing zombie wrangler with Hershel. The old man's finally relented on his eviction notice, though he wants to make sure everyone will play nice with their flesh-eating neighbors. Getting Rick to capture wayward zombies and bring them back to the barn seems to be Hershel's way of testing the waters.
What, Did You Expect A Happy Ending?
Beating Rick back to the farm, Shane acts with all the calm and rationality of your average Third-World warlord. First he arms everyone with the recovered weaponry. While ranting and raving about how they can't search for Sophia or let the captive walkers live anymore, Rick and Hershel arrive. They're too late to keep him from smashing open the barn doors. Hershel watches in stunned silence as his family members and friends die a second time, shot like zombified fish in a barrel.
When the smoke clears, one last walker steps out of the barn. It's Sophia, confirming Carol and other's worst fears. Whether as a way of taking responsibility for her loss or an admission he's held an outdated way of looking at the world, it's Rick who steps forward and executes her.
This leaves us with a lot to ponder until the series re-animates itself in February 2012. The rift between Shane and Rick is now too large to bridge, how will things end between them? Same thing for their staying on the Greene Farm. We know they'll leave, but will they part on good terms? Also, I'm glad to finally get closure on Sophia's fate. As a whole though, how does everyone feel about the mid-season finale and the second season so far? Chime in and let us know!
(image courtesy of AMC)