“Christ promised the resurrection of the dead. I thought he had something a little different in mind.”

–Herschel

After a meandering start, the second season picked up its lagging zombie legs and came around to a dark and fiery finale.

Title: “Beside the Dying Fire”

Directed by Ernest R. Dickerson
Written by Robert Kirkman and Glen Mazzara

Cast and Crew

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes
Scott Wilson as Herschel Greene
Laurie Holden as Andrea
Sarah Wayne Callies as Lori Grimes
Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon
Steven Yeun as Glenn
Chandler Riggs as Carl Grimes
Melissa Suzanne McBride as Carol Peletier
Lauren Cohan as Maggie Greene
IronE Singleton as T-Dog
Emily Kinney as Beth Greene
James Allen McCune as Jimmy
Jane McNeill as Patricia
Jeremy Ambler as a walker
Danai Gurira as Michonne

Additional cast and crew information may be found here.

Premise

The helicopter that passed over Atlanta back in Season One drew the attention of zombies, and sent them in the general direction of the farm. The survivors must reenact Night of the Living Dead3, and then regroup.

Andrea, left behind, encounters a mysterious (but to fans of the graphic novel series, much-anticipated) character, while the final shot hints darkly at things to come.

We also learn the contents of that cryptic message vouchsafed to Rick at the end of Season One.

High Point

“Dying Fire” features intense action, raised some questions about the group’s cohesiveness, and answered several lingering questions. Those answers actually made sense; the writers weren’t Lost.

Low Point

We witness the greatest zombie onslaught in television history, and only the Red Shirts die?

The Scores:

Originality: 3/6 “Beside the Dying Fire” harkens back to the origins of the modern zombie, the work of George A. Romero, even more than most episodes.

Effects: 6/6 The episode had hordes of zombies, and impressive, flaming shots.

Story: 5/6 They get extra points for explaining so many loose ends, and making those explanations count.

Acting: 6/6

Emotional Response: 5/6

Production: 6/6.

Overall: 5/6.

In total, “Beside the Dying Fire” receives 36/42

Lingering Questions

Will they ever take T-Dog’s advice and move to the coast (and, presumably, to an island afterward?) Or at least give T-Dog something to do?

Could the survivors live on a dirigible?

If someone still has helicopters (unknown—that last one we saw flew over Atlanta months ago), could they just lead hordes of walkers to one central location and drop napalm?