We want to love the TV adaptation of The Walking Dead, we really do. After all, we adore the comic series, and the first season was largely fantastic. In season two, however, the show is a little lacking. Here’s what we didn’t like about the first half of The Walking Dead’s second season, and what we hope will be fixed when the show returns in 2012.
Oh, there will be spoilers for both the show and the book, so here’s your official spoiler warning.
One of the things that makes the comic so intense is that every page is filled with sheer terror. The reader is made to feel like literally anyone could die at any second. Even your favorite character. Especially your favorite character. It’s insanely suspenseful; the kind of book that gives you nightmares, but you still can’t stop turning the page and want more when you’re done.
The show, on the other hand, has completely lost this feeling of intensity. Maybe “not enough characters died” isn’t a valid complaint, but The Walking Dead I watched on TV for the last seven episodes definitely felt way too safe. The scene on the highway in the first episode was great, with characters hiding under cars, and I was pretty sure at least one of them would meet a zombie-riffic end, but beyond that, it’s pretty much easy living at the farm for these guys. Sure, Rick and the gang might be better off at the farm than in the wild, but it’s still a zombie apocalypse out there. There was never a moment this season when I felt that a character was in real danger, which makes it really hard to care about the zombie threat.
Of course, even worse than the lack of tension and fear is the fact that most of the episodes dragged out boring storylines far longer than they needed to go on. In a typical 22-episode-plus season for network shows, a few slow episodes are okay. When you only have six or seven episodes to make something happen, showing characters climbing and falling down hills, waiting for a missing girl, or repeatedly giving blood is a waste of time.
In between spats of nothingness were plots that reached soap-opera levels of drama, which also took up way too much screen time. Lori’s pregnancy, for example, was possibly the storyline handled worst this season. Yes, Lori gets knocked up in the comic too, but she deals with it and tells Rick and the group a lot more succinctly, because there’s no time for baby drama in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. Who’s the father? Who cares! You’ll never know, so get over it. Oh, and by the way, guys, morning-after pills are not the same as abortion pills. Just wanted to make sure you knew that.
What I really don’t like is seeing great characters turned into annoying, boring ones. Andrea, who is a friendly, helpful badass and a natural with a gun in the book, has been mopey and bratty all season. After a close call, Darryl became a crazy zombie-killing, ear-collecting warrior of sorts, only to have his amazing transformation last less than a full episode. Rick is indecisive, Lori handles problems with the emotional stability of a sixteen-year, old, T-Dog isn’t interesting enough to get a real name, and then there’s Shane.
Here’s the thing: why the fuck is Shane still alive?! I know the show isn’t following the book, but it seems like they’re setting Shane up to be killed by the group after becoming a totally evil dickhead. We don’t need six hours of Shane slowly becoming meaner to feel justified when someone (hopefully Carl) puts a bullet in him. It’s the end of the world. Shooting your dad’s best friend after he snaps is just another Tuesday. Can we get rid of him and move on, please?
Even with all these complaints, we still have faith that The Walking Dead can be a great TV show worthy of the name. The last two episodes of the first half of the season showed promise, and the last scene was an emotional punch in the gut—the kind of moment this show should be full of. With more action and better-written characters, the second half of season two could be a lot better than the first.
But seriously, Shane needs to go, ASAP.