Television Series DVD
The Walking Dead: The Complete Second Season
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Tons of people had expounded upon the error of my ways in not watching The Walking Dead from the moment it began on AMC. "How could you profess to be a fan of the zombie genre and not watch this television series?" they said. After watching Season One of the series, I have to admit that these folks were right. I couldn't wait to watch Season Two and, happily, a family member bought it for me as a gift.
Season Two begins shortly after the explosive finale of Season One. All of the original cast members that survived Season One appear in the first episode. The group is headed toward Fort Benning, hoping to find more survivors there, but they come across a traffic jam/graveyard of abandoned vehicles on I-85. Realizing that they are short on supplies, the group is scavenging the abandoned cars for gas, water and anything else they might find when a horde of walkers approaches, forcing everyone into hiding.
Believing that the horde has passed them, Sophia (Madison Lintz) exits her hiding place under a car and is chased by walkers. Rick (Andrew Lincoln) chases after her, hoping to save her from the undead. Unfortunately, they are separated and Sophia does not follow the instructions Rick gives her regarding getting back to the highway. Upon looping back and realizing that Sophia has not returned, Rick organizes a search for Sophia, promising her mother Carol (Melissa McBride) that they won't leave without her.
Rick's son Carl (Chandler Riggs), much to the chagrin of his mother Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies), asks to go with Rick and Shane (Jon Bernthal) to search for his missing friend. He is accidentally shot by a hunter (Pruitt Taylor Vince) and Rick brings Carl to the hunter's home in an effort to save his son's life. There he meets the rest of the hunter's extended family, including former veterinarian Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson), his daughters Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Beth (Emily Kinney), Otis' (the hunter) wife Patricia (Jane McNeill) and Beth's boyfriend Jimmy (James Allen McCune). They all engage in trying to save Carl while Shane and Otis travel to the local high school to gather necessary medical supplies.
The group moves to Hershel's farm, but Hershel makes it clear that they can only stay for as long as it takes for the search party, now run by expert hunter/tracker Daryl (Norman Reedus), to find Sophia. Hershel is very reluctant to stay, a fact that perplexes Rick and his friends until Glenn (Steven Yeun) stumbles upon the very thing Hershel was hoping to keep secret from everyone else.
This second season of The Walking Dead is even better than the first. Why? Because we know the survivors that much better now and are completely invested in their survival. That's why we care so much about the group finding Sophia - she's just a kid and we don't want to see anything bad happen to her. We care about this group - they've become our family. So we get angry when Shane starts going off the deep end. We're shocked at Lori's secret and wonder how she will solve what we see as a major problem. We root for Glenn to build a relationship with Maggie, even though we don't know Maggie - we just know that Glenn's a really great guy who deserves some happiness. We root for Daryl to find Sophia, not just because we want Sophia home safe, but because we believe that Daryl is really a great guy under that hard exterior.
What else is great about this season? The same thing that makes this show so great - NO ONE, And I mean ABSOLUTELY NO ONE is safe. The writers of the show are not squeamish about killing off major characters here...not at all. I'm not going to give anything away for those who haven't caught up, but suffice it to know that you will feel the loss of each character as though you are losing a member of your own family.
This season also sees the growth of certain characters like Glenn, who finds himself in a position to increase his worth to the group; like Daryl who proves just what sort of man he really can be; like Andrea (Laurie Holden) who doesn't always take a great path in doing so, but somehow finds her way back from the depression she has been experiencing since the death of her sister. It also sees characters begin to doubt themselves and other members of the group. We see Rick begin to doubt his decisions, wondering if he is really doing the right thing for the group and for his own family. He begins to realize that the trust he has been placing in certain people may have been misplaced. We see Shane's true self begin to come out. I'm sure many people already were not fond of his character before, but at this point, I'd take Merle (Michael Rooker) over Shane any day. Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn), for so long the voice of reason, starts to become the voice of dissent.
Sure, there are some great zombie scenes in The Walking Dead, but the real story is what is going on with the survivors. At some point, we begin to wonder who the real monsters are - the walkers or the survivors, especially when we see what Shane is willing to do to keep those he loves safe and when we learn of other survivors out there and what they do to pass the time. Flashbacks give us a glimpse of what the characters have been through that bring them to what they have become by this second season of the show. There are a lot of philosophical discussions brought about by the events in Season Two that will have you questioning everything you ever believed in. What would you do if faced with certain decisions this group will have to make?
I never got a chance to watch the extras on the Season One DVD I watched (that will change since I now own it), but I did partake in the extras on the Season Two DVD. Torn Apart is a six webisode series that tells the backstory of a very important character in Season One - the story of Hannah, the half torso walker lying next to the bicycle that Rick mercy kills at the end of the first episode of The Walking Dead. The Deleted Scenes section is actually rather important. It doesn't contain a bunch of short cuts that really aren't relevant to the show. In fact, the first deleted scenes explain the points of time between the explosion at the CDC and their arrival at the traffic jam on I-85. These scenes revisit a location in Season One and we learn what happened to the survivors Rick and his group left behind. We realize that the world is no longer a safe place, not just because of the zombies, but because of the humans who have decided to take whatever they want and kill their own kind to get it.
Featurettes on The Walking Dead: The Complete Second Season DVD show us how the special effects were created, why certain characters were killed, how certain members of the cast have evolved, how the show parallels and differs from the comic book, set creations, clothing creations and, of course, the music created for the series by Bear McCreary. The featurettes are relatively short, but extremely informative, especially for someone who likes to learn the behind-the-scenes stuff that goes into an elaborate series like The Walking Dead.