(There are spoilers galore in this review, so I suggest not reading it if you haven't seen the episode yet.)
After The Walking Dead's mid-season finale last night on AMC, a lot of people are up in arms worrying that popular character Daryl Dixon will be killed off, along with his hated brother Merle, due to the precarious situation the episode left them in.
First of all, Norman Reedus (Daryl) and Michael Rooker (Merle) are the only 2 cast members I had ever heard of before this show, other than recognizing Laurie Holden (Andrea) from X-Files, so I doubt they'd kill them off, especially with Daryl's popularity and Reedus' name recognition. On a side note, I saw Andrew Lincoln (Rick) in "Love Actually" recently, and was shocked by his English accent.
Also, it'd be silly to bring back Merle just to kill him off. The show has lacked an inside villain/cancer to the group since Shane's abrupt death, and Rooker is great at playing twisted, unscrupulous characters. Merle is a much better villain than Shane, and Rooker is a much better actor than Jon Bernthal.
Thirdly, in the previews for February, it looked as though Daryl brought Merle back to the group with him, so apparently they survive Woodbury.
Lastly, I didn't really feel overly moved by the cliffhanger ending. Daryl and Merle weren't in THAT much danger yet. Had The Governor (David Morrissey) thrown a few walkers at them, forcing them to fight for their lives with their bare hands, that'd be different.
As for who is next to die, Daryl and Glenn (Steven Yuen) are my favorite characters, so I hope they survive. I think the writers have done a good job of making the show realistic by the toughest characters (other than Shane) surviving the longest, and having the weaker characters such as Lori and Dale dying off. By that logic, you have to wonder how long they can justify allowing Carol and Hershel to survive. I'm not going to suggest they kill off Beth, simply because she's the best eye candy on the show. And before you get all up in arms, yes, her character is 17, but the actress (Emily Kinney) is 27. Maggi (Lauren Cohan) isn't bad either though. It's hard to see Laurie Holden as attractive when she always plays characters I completely despise. If you get hired for a realistic zombie program, you can't really expect job security, because any could be killed off at any time. The fact that they're willing to kill off regular characters to add to the realism and drama is admirable.
I really hate Carl (Chandler Riggs), and not just because the actor was probably named after a character on Friends. I don't like the character or the way the young actor plays him, but I think that the character is essential to the program. I do like how the character has gotten progressively creepier and colder. Living in that type of hardcore world would harden anyone and easily steal away any amount of childhood innocence they had left inside of them.
I hated Lori, and T Dawg was pointless, so I'm glad they're gone. Michonne and Merle are much stronger characters to replace them. It also appears they replenished their minorities in the last episode, although African Americans always seem to get killed off. I knew Oscar wouldn't survive the rescue mission. I'm not sure if there's some racism by the writers going on or not, but it's hard not to notice. I know Michonne is one of the most popular characters from the comic book, so maybe she'll having staying power. She's pretty hard to kill and I think they're be a fan backlash as there would be with killing off Daryl.
Michonne coldly killing The Governor's daughter right in front of him was brutal, and it really added some much-needed shock value to the episode. The show's greatest flaw has been predictability, even to those who haven't read the comic books. Carol still being alive, Sophia being a walker, Lori being pregnant, etc, the list of predictable revelations is endless. I always seem to be able to predict who will get killed in each scene too.
Daryl and Merle finally being reunited directly into a situation where the tough S.O.B. brothers are forced to fight together for their lives is classic.
The further unraveling of The Governor and Carl's minds amid what they've been through is a great addition to the plot, while Rick's renewed mental clarity is necessary to the plot moving forward. Andrew Lincoln plays unsure leader Rick much better than mental breakdown Rick. The phone call cliffhanger was ridiculous.
I kind of had a feeling they were going to make Axel into a pervert, and somewhat "Chester The Molesterish", instead of allowing him to be a nice guy convict as he initially appeared. Folks, it IS possible for someone to be a good person despite having spent time in jail...
All in all, it was a good episode. It was nice to see some action for a change, with the heroes fighting against both walkers and The Governor's troops. Hopefully there will be a little less soap opera drama now that Lori and Shane are both dead. I understand that they throw it in to reach beyond their target audience and draw in a non-traditional zombie viewing audience, but it really detracts from the program for those of us who enjoy the zombie apocalypse genre.
Does ANYONE want to wait until February for more of The Walking Dead? I sure don't!
Copyright 2012 Denim McDemus
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