The Walking Dead‘s mid-season finale brings conflicts to crumbling point—and leaves us with a development both shocking and expected.

Sometimes wisdom hides in a barn.

Title: “Pretty Much Dead Already”

Cast and Crew

Directed by Michelle Maclaren
Written by Scott M. Gimple, from the graphic series by Robert Kirkman

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes
Sarah Wayne Callies as Lori Grimes
Jon Bernthal as Shane
Laurie Holden as Andrea
Jeffrey DeMunn as Dale
Steven Yeun as Glenn
Scott Wilson as Herschel Greene
Lauren Cohan as Maggie Greene
Norman Reedus as Darryl
IronE Singleton as T-Dog
Melissa Suzanne McBride as Carol Peletier
Emily Kinney as Beth Green
Hane McNeill as Patricia
James Allen McCune as Jimmy
Chandler Riggs as Carl Grimes

Additional cast and crew information may be found here.

Premise

Everyone learns the secret of the barn, Shane tries to Jack control of the group, and the searchers finally discover Sophie.

High Point

The episode brings to a convincing conclusion and, if many people had called Sophie’s return, it remains a good twist, played for maximum shock without seeming overly forced. The situation at the end should propel the narrative in the second half.

Low Points

While the cast consists of capable actors, the characters have often lacked nuance, and that hasn’t improved this season. I know humanity would be stripped pretty bare under these circumstances, but the show’s better moments remind us that even the depiction of people under pressure can be presented with greater subtlety than what we often see in this show.

The Scores:

Originality: 3/6 The writers feel comfortable deviating from the graphic novels, and that often serves them best.

Effects: 5/6

Story: 5/6

Acting: 5/6 The quality of the acting continues to vary, though the script makes it very hard for the actors not to chow down on the furnishings. Jon Bernthal does a plausible job as a man on the edge of sanity. Some additional thoughts appear under “Low Points”

Emotional Response: 5/6

Production: 5/6

Overall: 5/6 If the show had to divide the second season, they at least left us with one of its stronger episodes.

In total, “Pretty Much Dead Already” receives 33/42