The Walking Dead season 2 episode 12 review: Better Angels

As The Walking Dead heads to the end of its second season, it seems that a big episode awaits...

This review contains spoilers.

2.12 Better Angels

How do you solve a problem like Randall? If you’re The Walking Dead crew, then it’s simple. You save his life, beat the crap out of him, torture him, almost kill him, bring him back to the farm, then tie him down and nearly kill him again.

But yeah, Randall is a problem, and Rick and Shane are at odds about how to solve said problem. Shane, as is Shane’s wont, is going to solve this problem one way or another.

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As you saw last week, poor beloved Dale is now on the other side of the grave, thanks to the very same walker that Carl freed from the swamp bog. The conscience and the group’s counterpoint to Shane is now gone (thanks to a very impressive zombie gutting scene and a bullet to the head from good old Daryl), but the zombie strike has scared the group straight. They’re wandering the farm, they’re checking fences, they’re killing groups of roamers who get too close… it seems as though the frying pan of Hershel’s farm is getting a little hotter. The group is getting nervous, and Shane is growing increasingly more volatile.

Although, from the way more walkers seem to be finding their way to the farm, the volatile situation is only going to get worse for all involved. Then again, when you’ve got an action man like Shane hanging around, situations tend to get resolved even when nobody’s ready for that to happen.

Evan T. Reilly and Glenn Mazzara should just write the whole show next season, if only because they’re the only two writers on the staff at the moment who seem to be able to handle scenes needing gravity and reasonable dialog exchanges. There’s serious exchanges handled well, some intentional comedy, some more of Lori being evil and manipulative, and some shocking, sudden violence. Some moments didn’t work at all, such as the father/son talk between Rick and Carl in which Rick gives the most depressing pep talk ever before handing his preteen, obviously-upset son, a loaded weapon.

Other moments worked very well. For example, the scene at the RV. There was a nice bonding moment there between Andrea, Glenn, and Dale’s old RV. Considering they were the two characters closest to Dale, this is very appropriate. Glenn’s reaction is very understated, but also very moving. I also like some of the more subtle changes that have happened with characters in the past few episodes, such as Hershel taking Rick’s people in as actual working members of the farm and the fact that T-Dog both gets jobs to do and lines in the same episode! I think this episode is the most action T-Dog has gotten since the first season of the show.

Strangely, I really like T-Dog as a character, if only because he’s the only one who doesn’t give long-winded speeches at the drop of a hat. When he speaks, it’s always funny. It’s also rare, and I think that since he’s been something of a cypher due to the growing group, he’s also one of the few characters who doesn’t have any baggage and can be used freely in season three and beyond. Or maybe he’ll just continue to function as comic relief when he’s not smashing zombies with a mallet.

Some credit also goes to director Guy Ferland as well, for putting both the emotional Rick/Carl and the emotional Glenn/Andrea scenes back to back. While the musical cues were uncharacteristically heavy-handed, the acting actually was a bit muted. It helped keep things from going too far over the top, and the emotional sweetness was a good counterpoint to some of the brutality on display, both to the skull of the walker in the opening and at the very end of the episode.

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Speaking of endings, only one episode of The Walking Dead remains for season two, and it’s shaping up to be a big one. A lot of the loose ends behind the scenes have been squared away, and it looks as though there will be a clean slate and a new set of locations for season three given the way the previews for next week look to be shaping up.

That’s right, guys; the walkers are a threat again. More importantly, so are the other surviving humans. Season three looks to have more drama and more conflict, but who will survive the season finale to be there for it?

Read our review of the last episode, here.

US Correspondent Ron Hogan wishes he didn’t have to be on Facebook to sign up for the upcoming Walking Dead social game; he deleted his Facebook account for a reason. Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.

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