The Walking Dead: “Beside the Dying Fire”

“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?

2 replies on “The Walking Dead: “Beside the Dying Fire””

  1. rickyjames says:

    Well, I was expecting a horrific siege a la NOTLG (a true film classic, and not just of the zombie genre – you HAVE seen it, right?) , particularly after they boarded up the windows of the farmhouse. TWD did not disappoint by throwing a right-over-home-plate curveball as usual. This would have been SO easy to mess up. They didn’t. Hooray!

    That said, they came close. The action scenes where they’re mobile, shooting zombies with wild abandon, edged into Dukes of Hazzard shenanigans – I mean, how good can your aim BE going for a head shot with valuable ammo when you’re bouncing up and down like you’re on a trampoline? And I’m not sure because I am refusing to count and spoil my goodwill, but I’m thinking that Stonewall Herschel may have had a 200 round chamber on that shotgun. I did read a hilarious blog posting stating that Daryl M******ucking Dixon by definition got at least one zombie per shot and the only question was how many twofers per bullet he managed. And the color of my HDTV must have been on the fritz – Patricia and RV Guy’s shirts were only red AFTER the zombies got to them…

    But the tension was real during the action and so was the drama afterwards. Glenn finally manned up and showed his feminine side. T-Dog actually got to grapple momentarily with a moral quandry (and failed – ha) when he refused to let Lori become zombie meat. Hershel became everybody’s grandpa and moral compass / replacement Dale with his “I was blind but now I see” conversion in this new world while also delivering the best line of the night. Daryl was Daryl, nuff said. Rick erupted to purge the bile in his soul at last – EXCELLENT job by Andrew Lincoln. Even his eyes went cold and limp talking about Shane. But the best acting job of all had to be Sarah Callies taking Lori through every emotion in the book without dialogue in one take…THAT was very impressive. She lost her lover, she lost her husband, she lost her sweet little boy, she lost her hope, all like dominos falling. Her brilliant mime act continued during the Dictator Rick speech, too – she’s lost her power as well.

    Too bad she’s not gonna get a chance to sink her claws into last-unattached-man-standing T-Dog, there’s a new b*tch in town! Silver medal to Laurie Holden for her reaction as Andrea for listening to somebody saying “OK, theres’ a hooded ninja with a bloodied sword and two pet zombies in front of you that just saved your life…GO!” and actually having a halfway realistic response to such a direction! But did you notice said ninja took four steps forward after the zombie kill – meaning the zombie neck was out of range for her original swing as the scene was blocked out? Still very dramatically effective, tho…

    With a fenced oasis in moonlight off in the distance as the final shot, TWD shows its still got legs and the promise of horrors to come. Onward to Halloween and Season 3!

  2. rickyjames says:

    Your question “Could the survivors live on a dirgible” reminded me of the entire storyline of Book 4 in David Gerrold’s “War Against The Chtorr” series of novels, A Season For Slaughter which is set aboard a combat / research airship surveying the alien ecosystem takeover of the Amazon river basin in the story’s universe. Of course, you’d have to wadw through the first three novels to undersand what was going on (including zombie herds of humans and now that I think of it, mindless waves of alien species embedding themselves into Earth’s ecosystem that are also “zombies” in their own way) – but if you’re looking for a way to pass time til Halloween, it’s a good read altho something of an aquired taste and a long term project. I’ve been waiting literally almost two decades for Gerrold to publish Book 5 so we can all see what happens next. Recommended.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_War_Against_the_Chtorr

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