Okay – now it all makes sense!

After a somewhat painful second ‘season’ (I know, we’re only halfway through), where at times it felt as though we the viewers were half dead ourselves, The Walking Dead roared back to life last night with one of the show’s best ever episodes – and an amazing finale scene.

You know the sequence in question – the final five minutes of the Fall season finale in which our team of survivors, led by the increasingly hardened Shane, released the Walkers in the barn and shot them dead in front of an aghast Hershel. But it was the final touching shot of long lost Sophia exiting the barn that carried the most power. Though we barely knew her as a character, it was shocking to watch Rick shoot the bewildered Sophia in the head, casting a whole new light on the Season 2 episodes so far.

I’ve talked about The Walking Dead’s second series problems here on the site already. There’s been not enough walking and far too much talking. For weeks we’ve watched as characters wandered into the woods looking for Sophia, engaging in ‘profound’ conversations about the existence of God and the changing world around them. And if I had to sit through one more Rick / Lori porch-side chat, well let’s just say I would have released the Walkers myself.

But along the way Season 2 did provide some great moments. I loved the opening ‘herd’ sequence that set the whole series in motion. I’ve enjoyed Andrea and Daryl’s personal journeys and the growing dissent among the group. And best of all was Shane’s shock decision to kill Otis in order to save himself – and therefore Carl, who desperately needed those medical supplies in order to survive his gunshot.

In fact it’s been Shane’s transformation from second fiddle character to morally compromised group ‘leader’ that has been the season’s strongest arc. Let’s face it,  Rick has become pretty insufferable at times, as nice as he is. And who wasn’t getting frustrated with Hershel, his ‘rules’ and his push to turn the group away and send them out into the world. The world HAS changed and hard decisions are called for. I suspect many in the audience sided with Shane, Andrea and the rest of the group.

Deep down we all knew where this season was headed but it took those final five minutes to really drive home why the series had to pan out the way it did. Suddenly the hunt for Sophia made sense – as did the Otis ‘moment’, which effectively marked Shane’s breaking point. For a season that many times seemed lost and aimless the ending made perfect sense and proved the show’s writers DID know where they were going.

That said I do think The Walking Dead made some mistakes along the way. We could have stood some more zombie scenes here and there – such as Glenn and Maggie’s ill fated run into town – and those talky scenes should have been trimmed way down. It’s possible to be both dialogue heavy AND entertaining – Mad Men manages it every single week. The Walking Dead was just lumpy in places. Plus I’m still not sure I really care all that much about Lori’s pregnancy!

But for now I’m happy. The Walking Dead ended on a major high and certainly has me excited about the second half of season 2. The buzz is back…

And what did you think? Did you love the way the ‘series’ ended? And did it make up for the weeks before it? Comment away…