Walking Dead finale serves up answers for fans, pulls series closer to the book's attitude
There should be no fans left unfulfilled after Sunday's Walking Dead finale. (SPOILERS AHEAD!)
Annoyed that the group kept acting like it was at Disney World, moping around Herschel's farm lamenting a life that was already gone? Sunday's episode shattered that fantasy, as a herd of walkers overran the farm, forcing leader Rick Grimes to torch the barn and scattering the group in a mad dash to get away.
Tired of all the marginal characters who writers didn't seem to know how to utilize? Well, two of them died messy deaths in the walker swarm, as Hershel's son Jimmy and pal Patricia were munched up while trying to fight the horde. Swear I kept forgetting Jimmy existed until he popped up to drive a car or something every so often.
Wondering what the doctor at the CDC told Rick back at the end of the first season? (Yeah, feels like a million years ago, don't it?) Now you know what Rick told the members of the group left alive -- that they are all infected with whatever virus causes zombification, and upon their death, however it happens, they will reanimate, which just doubled down on the horror they're facing.
Finally, everybody who was bugging producers about Michonne, the deadly, sword-wielding lady who lights up the Walking Dead comic books can just chill -- the actress has been cast, Treme's Danai Gurira, and she popped up in Sunday's finale in time to save Andrea's life.
This finale seemed to be a neon sign for fans that the series was going to turn toward their sensibilities much more than it has before.
Executive producer Glenn Mazzara, speaking on the show's live afterparty program Talking Dead, called it the "beginning of the Ricktatorship," as Andrew Lincoln's battered leader Rick informs his fellow survivors "this isn't a Democracy anymore."
With idealist Dale gone and man of God Hershel shattered, the survivors are now forced to face life in a harsher, more unforgiving world where friends who move too slow are left behind and the only smart decisions are ones which allow you to live one more day.
It remains a bit annoying that the show's survivors, who already knew that walkers traveled in packs from scenes at the start of the second season, were caught so unprepared. They had no lookouts to spot intruders early, no plan for how to leave the house, no supplies or provisions packed and no strategy. Trust that, as they head toward the prison seen in the finale's final moment -- fans of the comic book know what happens there -- that lack of preparation will be remedied.
And Rick's wife Lori remains the character writers fumble with, having her react in anger after learning Rick was forced to kill his best friend Shane after his buddy tried to shoot him. Of course, Lori knows that she set it all in motion, telling Rick that Shane was a danger and then letting Shane know she still had feelings for him.
Producers may rationalize her shifts as the mood swings of a pregnant woman on the edge of an apocalypse (Mazzara said on Talking Dead she was mad at herself). But they still come off as inconsistent lurchings from one attitude to the next, distinguished mostly by her laser-like focus on her own needs and feelings.
Of course, tantalizing questions remain. Where is the helicopter we saw catch the zombies' attention at the start of the finale? How will Michonne and Andrea catch up with the rest of the crew (and will T-Dog finally get a change to do more than drive a car and look moody, since the Michonne of the comic books hooks up with the African American male character among the survivors)?
How will they introduce the other iconic character from the graphic novel which was recently cast, The Governor?
And how will producers keep up the show's turn toward a dark, survivalist mood without turning off TV viewers?
For now, avid viewers must be satisfied with the notion that Walking Dead has just jumped fully into the land of the fanboy.
It -- and we -- will never be the same.