March 19, 2012


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Written by: Mitch Salem
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But first–a nod to the sly marketing department at AMC, which cleverly lampooned its own predicament of trying to persuade at least some of the hordes of WALKING DEAD fans to stay tuned to the network next week for a very different show.  The result was a pair of lighthearted promos for Mad Men that promised “a small group struggling to survive” at “a volatile time,” with a “leader who keeps them safe,” despite a “dangerous deputy,” and where everyone “drinks like Hershel used to.”  It may not accomplish much, but it was an effort Don Draper and the rest of the gang at Sterling Cooper would appreciate.

On to the zombies!  And yes, there were Walkers aplenty in the season finale.  With all due respect to Frank Darabont, who created The Walking Dead for television (based on Robert Kirkman’s comic book series), this season only began to show a pulse in the last few weeks, as the increasingly dull and talky episodes Darabont had crafted faded into the past, and new showrunner Glen Mazzara took over.  The series body count has been rising steadily, and tonight’s episode, written by Mazzara and Kirkman and directed by Ernest Dickerson, was at long last the pulpy, all-out, feature-scale zombie apocalypse that Walking Dead has always promised to be. Watch out for SPOILERS as we wade into the blood.
The farm, overrun by Walkers, is finally behind us, while Rick, having killed Shane in justifiable but still coolish blood, is proving himself an increasingly edgy leader.  He finally put all his cards on the table, not only confessing to the group (including his son) that he was Shane’s executioner, but that the CDC guy at the end of Season 1 had told him that every living human is a carrier of the Walker strain, and will turn into a zombie upon death, whether bitten or not.  He then announced to one and all that the group was no longer a democracy, and anyone who didn’t want to follow his orders was free to leave.  The group needs–but also resents–Rick more than ever, and that should provide an interesting dynamic for Season 3.  All this gave Andrew Lincoln much more to work with than his usual stalwart-yet-troubled hero character.
Meanwhile, the series started laying down pieces of its Season 3 mythology.  The main setting for next season is apparently going to be a prison glimpsed in the finale’s last shot, a key component from the comic books.  Also briefly introduced was a new character (who the internet informs me is named Michonne), who could hardly have entered in more dramatic fashion, slicing the head off a Walker, trailed by what seemed to be 2 pet de-armed Walkers, her face in shadow.  (That last part is because the role hadn’t yet been cast when the finale was shot and was played by a stand-in.)  Having saved Andrea (Laurie Holden)’s life, she’ll doubtless be meeting up with the main group early next season.
It also appears that the surviving farm characters, notably Hershel (Scott Wilson) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) will continue with the cast next season, a couple of the more expendable farm folks having been devoured earlier in the episode.  That’s fine, as long as they don’t turn Hershel into the new Dale as the Conscience Of The Group.  
In all, after an uneven season, Walking Dead delivered all one could have asked of its finale:  gore, thrills, intragroup tensions (that weren’t talked to death) and some tantalizing glimpses of plotlines to come.  Cable schedules being what they are, we probably have at least 6 or 7 months to wait for the next installments (AMC tends to begin Walking Dead seasons around Halloween), but on the bright side, that’s a lot shorter than the delay Mad Men fans have had to endure.  


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."