"Pretty Much Dead Already" Review
This episode starts with immediate tension: Glenn tells the group about the barn full of walkers and from there, things escalate quickly. There’s a growing division amongst the group. On one side, Rick tries to be clear-headed and respectful of Hershel’s wishes, while on the other side, Shane wants to kill the walkers in the barn in order to protect the group members.
It’s very much Lost-territory, further reinforced by the notion of firearm empowerment. In other words, who controls the weapons yields the power. Andrea tends to respect Shane (which is to be expected after their encounter last week) but things are further complicated by our knowledge of Shane’s inner motives. Shane is quickly becoming the villain of the show and his likeability decreases week after week. I especially like his confrontations with Dale.
“Pretty Much Dead Already” explodes in the final act, where many of the plot lines come to a head. The escalation is handled nicely, as the exact moment the guns are handed out, Rick and Hershel come into the scene with a walker on a leash. Everything goes to hell when Shane shoots one of the walkers and opens the barn (it was a bit surprising no one tried to stop him).
Hershel watches silently (on his knees, no less) as his infected family members are shot in the head by these outsiders. It was a really dark and well-directed scene. Props to director Michelle MacLaren (a wonderful producer/director for Breaking Bad, by the way) for such strong work.
But let’s get to that last shot: the reveal that Sophia was a walker in the barn all the while. It was a bit cliche that she was the last and only walker to come out by herself, but I couldn’t see the scene working any other way. There were a few, long and tense moments of hesitation where we wondered who would finish the job.
Of course, Rick is the man to shoot Sophia, cementing his place in the new world as everyone watches on in horror. Some bleak and horrific stuff… but effective nonetheless.
With several big plot lines resolved and enough questions as to what should happen next, this was a great place to break. I’m looking forward to The Walking Dead’s return in February 2012.
I’ll see all you Walking Dead fans in the new year.