What last night’s “The Walking Dead” means for the rest of the series

If you had a chance to watch The Walking Dead last night, you’re probably one of the many people who couldn’t keep their jaws from hanging open. The first half of the episode dealt with the death of Dale Horvath (Jeffrey DeMunn) from last week’s episode and what moral impact that left on our remaining characters. But it was the second half of the episode that left viewers around the country in awe. If you haven’t seen the episode yet, read no further! Spoilers below, but here’s what last night’s episode means for the rest of the series:

  • The Yin-Yang Battle for Leadership is over – One of the biggest shockers from last night was the death of one of the main characters (though everyone had to have seen that coming, regardless of wether or not you heard about AMC’s accidental spoiler from a little over a week ago). In a climactic battle to be the alpha male, Shane (Jon Bernthal) and Rick (Andrew Lincoln) finally came head to head for the last time. In a last attempt to remind the viewers that he has lost his damn mind, Shane killed the prisoner Randall (Michael Zegen) that Rick had decided to keep alive. After Rick made it obvious he wasn’t buying Shane’s cover-up, his psychotic best friend pulled a gun on him and slapped him across the face verbally (“I’m a better father than you—better for Lori than you.”). Rick tried to alleviate some of the tension by offering Shane a truce, but once Shane’s guard was down, he stabbed him with a blade square in the heart and cried out in despair (“Damn you for making me do this! This was you, not me!”). To the untrained eye it looks like Rick won this battle, but at what cost? In trying to take control of an ugly situation, did Rick become the desperate soul Shane had been?
  • Sh*t just got real – While Rick cried at the loss of his ex-partner and former best friend, his son Carl (Chandler Riggs) happened to show up just in time to see Shane’s corpse laying on the ground. After it became obvious in an earlier scene that Carl sees Shane as a second father of sorts, you can imagine how hurt he was to see what his real father had done. As Rick tried to approach him and explain, Carl gave Rick the ultimate smack in the face — he pulled a gun on Rick! Of course we see seconds later that Carl uses his raised gun to take out a zombiefied Shane who is closing in on Rick from behind, but here’s the magic in the details: Carl raised the gun on Rick before zombie Shane had even stood to his feet. Was this the suspense of the editing, or did Carl actually raise a gun at his father? It’s hard to know, but once Shane is taken out (for the second time), Rick and Carl approach the lifeless body with curiosity. This leads to yet another shocker of the night, and perhaps my favorite …
  • There’s no hope left – Shane died from the knife wound. Prisoner Randall died from a broken neck, as confirmed by Daryl (Norman Reedus) to Glenn (Steven Yeun) in the woods. Yet both Shane and Prisoner Randall have one thing in common: they were reanimated without being bitten. There’s plenty of theories about how that could happen, but I look back to history for an explanation. If you’ve seen the original Night of the Living Dead from 1968, you know that the dead walk the earth with no prerequisites. I’m thinking this isn’t a virus like in Resident Evil, but a curse on humanity á la the original zombie flick. If that’s the case, that means there’s no way to fix it. Anyone who dies without trauma to the head will come back to life as a walker, no bites or scratches necessary. No solutions means there’s no hope for a happy ending. I wonder if that’s what Dr. Edward Jenner (Noah Emmerich) whispered to Rick in the season one finale “TS-19.” I hope we will find out next week.
  • All hell is about to break loose – Though my favorite moment from the episode was the revelation that you could be turned without being bitten, the biggest shocker by far had to be the very last scene. Though The Walking Dead never fails to leave me jaw-dropped, the last 20 seconds of the episode had me literally jumping to my feet. While Rick and Carl looked over the corpse of Shane wondering what had just happened, we can see that the gunfire that put a zombie Shane back on the ground drew in a new audience. In the distance, hidden by the cloak of night, a minimum of two dozen walkers are making their way toward the barn for what is sure to be a dramatic, action-packed, emotional roller coaster of a season finale.

The Walking Dead continues to surprise critics and viewers alike with its shocking plot twists, increasingly dark moments and a reminder that no character, not even the main characters, is safe from a deadly fate. Fans of the comic books can attest to how unpredictable the zombie drama can be, for the writers are fearless in changing things up and going in an entirely different direction than the source material created. Though the second season is nearly over, my anticipation for the finale is at an all-time high. For a show that never seems to disappoint, it’s clear that next week’s episode, “Beside the Dying Fire,” is sure to be one hell of a ride.

What was your reaction to last night’s episode? How do you think the second season is going to end? Sound off in the comments below!


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