The Walking Dead, Ep. 2.07: “Pretty Much Dead Already”

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The Walking Dead, Season 2, Episode 7: “Pretty Much Dead Already”
Written by Scott M. Gimple
Directed by Michelle MacLaren
Airs Sundays at 9pm ET on AMC

Simon Howell:

“Pretty Much Dead Already,” directed by Breaking Bad producer Michelle MacLaren, opens with the scene that, frankly, I really wish last week had led off with: Glenn wakes up in the morning, gets in front of the group, and says plainly: “So, there are some zombies in the barn.” (I’m paraphrasing here.) Did I need that to be presaged by portenteously exchanged long-distance head-shaking from both Dale and Maggie, as well as a dramatic music cue upon the moment of revelation? No, but I’ll take it.

I know my nitpicking gets me in trouble, so I’ll get mine out of the way as quickly as possible. The pacing of this latest half-season of The Walking Dead has been all over the place, with this episode finally striking the sort of click it should approach much more often. The slow pace would have been ameliorated had the show taken more chances with editing and style, as in “Save the Last One,” but it’s been content to abandon those fledgling elements. (Given the show’s famously troubled backroom antics, one has to wonder how that)

I mention this because the last three hours of The Walking Dead have all been leading up, and have actually been utterly dependent on, That Scene – that is to say, the climax of “Pretty Much Dead Already,” in which the tale of Hershel’s farm and the search for Sophia are both (more or less) concluded over the course of a few bloody, brutal minutes. (Okay, two more nitpicks: first, sticking Madison Lintz’s name in the opening credits spoiled the return of Sophia, another sign that the show should really ditch putting the guest credits at the top of the hour; second, the digital gore f/x are really not optimal; I’d be complaining about them in any zombie film, and they don’t look or feel any better on TV. Throw Tom Savini a few grand and do it right. Would it really be so taxing?)

Bitching out of the way, That Scene is a righteous gobsmacker that lets one forgive some of the sluggishness, and it’s easily the best sequence of the entire series. Credit where credit’s due: half the reason the sequence works is thanks to surprise season MVP Scott Wilson. Hershel is not an easy character to sympathize with – frankly, he’s stubborn about things that he’s flat-out wrong about. As Wilson plays him, though, the fact that he’s wrong about the remaining humanity in his former relatives doesn’t matter, only the strength of his faith and conviction, which is what makes the mass slaughter of his (former) family so devastatng. And as if that weren’t enough, Sophia is the last to emerge (a contrivance, yes, but an acceptable one), bringing the internal conflict home. But it only takes a moment or two for Rick to do the correct wrong thing, proving that he can stand toe-to-toe with Shane when it comes to doing the ugly stuff that needs doing. MacLaren even brings a touch of Breaking Bad flair to the scene, especially in the shot of Rick pointing his pistol dead in the center of the screen with an anguished face. (That sound familiar?)

The one thing the episode doesn’t do, though, is get the gang physically off the farm. With only six episodes to go, and with the show’s current pacing “style,” it now seems less likely that we’ll see them settle into another location before the season is out, unless the next episode opens with the gang on the road after some time has lapsed. (Which, frankly, doesn’t sound like a bad idea.) For now, though, it’s gratifying that the show stuck this important landing. I just hope they get a little bolder with their pacing and style when the show returns next year; ratings have secured the show’s fate, so why not use that cache to make a bolder, more consistently confident show?

****

Ricky D:

Nobody dies in tonight’s episode aptly titled “Pretty Much Dead Already,” but everyone dies in the inside.

I’m not interested in reading Simon’s review above (which I can only assume is mostly negative) – I’m not interested in trolling the net to see what other bloggers and critics are saying – and I’m not interested in pointing out the problems in the first thirty or so minutes – which had me extremely worried.

Tonight I am just going to sit back, rewind the last scene and watch it one more time.

With all the huss and fuss with fans and critics alike constantly quibbling about how they were fed up with the search for Sophia (myself included), The Walking Dead writers sure had one big smile on their face the entire time. And they knew they would have the last laugh. I can safely say that “Pretty Much Dead Already” not only offered the highest-highlight of the entire series thus far, but also the most emotionally devastating climax of any series this season. Whatever small quibbles I’ve had with season two, the journey was well worth my time.

Other observations:

It will be interesting to see if the group starts off on the road in the new year or if they will remain on the farm, and if they do leave, will Maggie and Glen come along? Can the series afford to lose two of our favourite characters?

Don’t forget to tune into our Walking Dead podcast for more thoughts on this episode.

Also please note: We will be recording a few bonus episodes during the break.

5 Comments
  1. Ken from Chicago says

    Emotional shocker ending was akin to BABYLON 5’s “Confessions and Lamentations” where there’s a lethal alien plague results in a quarantine of the station. The staff comforts the alien race susceptible to the plague (since the staff is immune), including Ambassador Delenn comforting a worried alien girl. Meanwhile Dr. Franklin is racing to synthesize a cure and can only come up with a vaccine–and begins innoculating everyone who’s not sick.

    Ambassador Delenn is overjoyed and goes to tell the sick aliens–only to see the lil alien girl wobble, a symptom of the plague, knowing the girl is doomed.

    That all said, that scene almost redeems this season. Almost. I still wish the season had our group be more pro-active (emphasis on active and not just sitting around). They could have had organized a search for Sophia and used that to frame the weekly episodes after the 2-parter, Shane & Otis Excellent Adventure & Bogus Journey for Otis:

    –Each week they send out patrols to search out an area where Sophia could have gone as best they can in daylight.

    –Leave a sign for Sophia when they leave.

    –Cross that area off a list.

    –Next day search a new area.

    You could break the monotony by having different environments and encountering the sporadic walker or two. Meanwhile we get to know the characters while they search. After all, THE WEST WING and Chicago Bulls’ Dennis Rodman showed the walk and talk is lot more visually interesting than just static talking scenes.

    Also it would be nice if we had seen more of the FARM FOLK who all disappeared after Otis’ funeral. Maybe some of them go on the search, knowing the area, others could be working on the farm. Dale was spose to be teaching people auto mechanics, again, doing something pro-active while also getting to know them.

    — Ken from Chicago

    P.S. I don’t know if Kate remembers, but Chicago sports reporters hated Rodman for making them walk during interviews but he knew it looked better on camera.

    P.P.S. Maybe the opening song of the podcast could have ironically be, “The Search is Over”, by (wait for it) Survivor.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lsolaeHC9zg

  2. Mario in Philly says

    I agree that the payoff scene really paid off. And I didn’t have a problem with this part of the season or the pacing and was involved all the way.
    I was also thinking about where we go from here. As for the plot I can’t see the group being settled and staying at the farm even with Rick’s pleas for his wife and the baby’s safety. But how and why would they leave other than Herschel insisting. He’ll need a gun…

  3. sillytee says

    yea i actually didn’t check out the names.. i don’t know who’s who anyway as far as actors.still, the last 10 minutes made up for the slow pace of the previous episodes. i’m not disappointed with this season at all…how the hell can they top this???

  4. Ricky says

    I don’t think so. I think having a flashback would somehow make this scene less memorable in retrospect – also I purposely avoided reading the credits this week to avoid the chance of a spoiler, but Simon is right, AMC needs to not post the names of guest stars at the start of the show.

  5. sillytee says

    I’m with Ricky on this one.. i knew that Sophia would become a walker , yet for some reason, that she would be in the barn, totally escaped me. and that was the big shocker. i screamed at the screen the momnment i figured sophia was the ‘last walker standing’..what an amazing payoff!! I was wondering if anyone would love to have a flashback scene as to how Sophia got zombiefied!

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