Jen Chaney discusses 'The Walking Dead' season finale

Mar 19, 2012

Jen Chaney discussed the season finale of The Walking Dead.

WARNING!This chat will contain discussion of the plot in the season finale of The Walking Dead. If you don't want to know what happens yet, then please come back and read the chat transcript when you've watched the episode.

Related: Jen's review of "The Walking Dead" season 2 finale

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Sorry for the delay -- just dashed back from a screening about a certain movie about a certain Games that we will not be discussing during this chat.

Because we have zombie matter to tackle here. Let's start our further analysis of Walking Dead, the finale, with no further ado.

It definitely burned down very pretty. Did they save some of the FX money for the end?

I would agree with that. As TV barn burnings go, it was certainly attractive.

In terms of FX, I feel like most of it focuses on make-up, prosthetics and creatives ways to create organs and ooze. But there have def been some explosions on the show before -- like at the CDC, for instance, also, interestingly, during a finale.

Ok I thought I knew every milli-second of this series, but for the life of me , I cannot remember the discussion about the non -immune status of everyone. Mind you I did get a bit sleepy during the CDC episode ( as you are aware, not enough zombie feast ) but can you please jar my memory?

Don't feel bad about this. That information was very explicitly revealed for the first time last night.

Jenner whispered something into Rick's ear during the finale of season one. We never knew what it was until Rick announced last night that, oh by the way, we're all infected. Whatever turns people into zombies is presumably airborne and everyone's already inhaled it and will turn walker as soon as they die.

This was hinted at more directly last week, when both Shane and Randall zombiefied without having been bitted, but Rick finally said it out loud during last night's finale.


I think Lori was mad b/c she was going to abort the baby and Rick stopped her, and now he announces they are all infected, including the baby. My main question, since they are all infected, is it seems the show has two, they all eventually succumb to the disease and die, or two someone somewhere finds a cure and there is some sort of shelf life to the walkers and they eventually die off. How do the producers handle this since more people seem to be getting infected now...people can't be going uninfected forever.

I would be inclined, right now, to go with option two: there is a cure. Or how about door No. 3 -- Jenner thinks everyone is infected but he was actually wrong. Of course, no one will know this until, perhaps, the finale of season three.

With no access to media or the wider world at large, our survivors can only believe the information that reaches them. Up until now, that info said you had to get bit to go zombie. Now, they believe that they're all infected. Either of these pieces of information could turn out to be false.

By the way, Get Bit to Go Zombie is the name of my new indie band.

I started watching the show at the episode where Sofia went missing. This past February, I watched the marathon reruns of season 1 & 2 before the February 12th premiere. I don't remember seeing anything explaining where/how the zombie apocolypse started. Did I miss something or has this not been explained yet? Is it something that we (the audience) is supposed to accept as "it just happens" without any explanation?

It has not been explained very clearly, no. I believe that's on purpose. If my memory serves -- and it may not, so I urge readers to jump in here -- the CDC was not entirely sure re: a cause.

I suspect there will be a more detailed explanation at some point. At least I hope so.

Lori for going into total mental shutdown after she pratically drove Shane to try to kill Rick? Or Rick for yelling about killing Shane and going into full dictator "this is not a Demacracy!" Mode?

I don't know that either is reprehensible, per se. Clearly Rick should not have killed Shane and he shouldn't be anti-democracy either. Lori should not have suggested to Rick that Shane get out of the way (even if she never explicitly said, go kill that guy.)

But this is a zombie-pocalypse. Appropriate behavior goes out the window, y'all.

Hello Joel from Florida here... Do you think Zombie's or, the Walkers, have extra strong teeth because biting into human flesh and bone has to hurt no? lol their teeth would break and ..ahh who knows.... Your opinion?

Hi, Joel. This is an interesting question. Their bones certainly seem fragile. And their teeth don't exactly look super healthy.

And yet they are able to rip into flesh pretty easily. My guess is that it hurts but because they are zombies, they don't care all that much. Eating the flesh is more important than avoiding the pain.


In that moonlit background, was that a prison or a college or a mental institution? Oh, and is Rick totally off the edge now?

It was hard to tell, but best bet is that it's a prison. Why? Because the prison plays a key role in the comic at roughly around this point in the narrative. And also because Robert Kirkman, creator of "Walking Dead," pretty much said so last night during the post-episode "Talking Dead" discussion.

Second-worst epidemic on The Walking Dead: skinny jeans. They all look fab, but I can't imagine that that makes running from zombies comfortable.


Speaking of skinny, how is Lori still so thin when she's carrying a child? I know she's still in her first trimester, but still. She''s carrying enough weight for one, let alone two.

Wow, does Lori EVER know where Carl is? And why is she mad at Rick for killing Shane, when she made that exact suggestion a few episodes ago?

No. She never has a clue where Carl is. With fewer regular people roaming around you'd think it would be pretty easy to keep track of a kid, especially one who insists on wearing a hat the size of satellite dish.

Re: Shane -- to be clear, she didn't come out and say, "Go kill Shane." The underlying tone was certainly there, but as we saw last week, she was starting to feel a bit more warmly toward Shane or at least to value what their relationship was. She clearly had feelings for him so it's understandable that she's mad at Rick -- and probably herself -- for letting things go down this road.

I was so excited to see a Walking Dead chat this morning when I opened!

You're welcome!

What's with the cardboard cutout known as T-Dog? Are they intentionally making him as generic as possible? And seriously, T-Dog?

T-Dog had a bit more to do in season one. Now, he really gets to do nothing and his character has not been developed at all.

I am hoping that will change.  That speech he made earlier this season about everyone being racist toward him is starting to sound more and more on-point. For God's sake, give the one African-American character something to say! (Actually, make that two, now that Michonne is joining the cast.)

What's the over/under on Daryl and Carol uniting romantically and as leaders of the group? Carol is now openly questioning Rick and it doesn't take a dating expert to see her interest in Daryl.

I don't know, that's a little weird to me. I feel like there's more of a mother/son thing going on there.

Then again, Daryl does have some of the grungy qualities Carol's husband had. So....

He all but frees a walker and leads him back to the farm, where siad walker eats Dale. Sheriff Carl then shoots Shane, apparently never having received his dad's "knives are quieter and don't use ammo" speech. His shot then leads a walker horde to attack the farm, costing 2 more lives plus shelter and supplies for everyone. Also, he apparently inherited his mother's blood lust, and begged his dad to kill randall in front of him. Seriously, can Lori or Rick please start keeping an eye on this kid? At least Shane tried to discipline him and set boundaries.

This is what happens due to negligent parenting. I cannot stress this enough.

Re: Shane, though -- he's part of the reason Carl has such blood lust, I think. Remember in season one, when Lori was much more observant and didn't want Shane to introduce her son to guns? Really, they're all a little bit to blame.

Oh, and so is Carl.

It took me a minute to get into season 2 because there was too much going on at the farm that I didn't care about (whose baby Lori was carrying and all that), but these last three episodes were filled with action and plot development -- loved it! Now, so far, they haven't been hewing very closely to the comics. Do you think season 3 will bring them closer to the comic storyline?

Hey there. 'waves'

I agree that the last three episodes have been filled with more interesting narrative developments. This season involved quite a bit of water-treading prior to that.

Re: season three -- obviously there will be some parallels to the comic, as there have been so far. (They went to Hershel's farm, next they'll deal with the prison and the Governor.)

But in terms of hewing more closely to the comic, I am not sure. I think the show has always made it clear that it would diverge from the original and I expect that to continue.

I'm trying to remember from earlier in the season, when those two guys in the bar tried to shoot Rick, Glenn, and Herschel. Rick shot them, but I don't remember them being shot in the head. Shouldn't they have turned into walkers as well? Or did Rick go to them afterwards and shoot their heads just to make sure? Also, was it just me or was Rick's confession pretty strange? He could've said "Shane tried to kill me, and I had to kill him" and repeated that over and over. But instead he confession sounded more like "I wanted him dead, I killed him and I'm glad" I know he's starting to lose it, but I still thought it was a strange confession.

I'm pretty sure the Philly guys in the bar were shot in the head. Someone correct me if I am wrong.

Re: Rick's confession -- I think Rick's choice of wording was meant to make him sound stronger. Obviously Shane was trying to kill him and Rick retaliated. But the "I'm glad" wording is a reaction to everything Shane said about him not being strong and not being a leader. Now he's swung to the far end of the spectrum just to prove Shane wrong. Even though he's dead, Shane is still affecting what happens here.

wasn't that a GREAT line? i loved it! i backed-up the DVR two or three times to rewatch it, before moving on!

It was a brilliant line, as I also noted in today's recap: "Christ promised a resurrection of the dead. I just thought he had something a little different in mind."

That might be the best line ever uttered on the show, actually.

The source of the zombie infection was never explained in the show or comic. I found Rick's revelation that he knew that anyone who dies could become walking dead was rather blah. It doesn't really change anything. They still can have a life and fight for that. Also, I am sure that anyone who has read the comic cheered as much as my BF and I did when we saw who saved Andrea at the end. The character is pretty amazing and we are really looking forward to her (Michonne) and seeing our survivors eeking out life at the prison.

I am excited about Michonne, too. I am pretty much always excited when a ninja-like individual shows up and beheads someone. The fact that it's a woman is a double-bonus.

We got into a whole discussion about the zombie infection issue during last Thursday's Celebritology chat. Now's a good time to revisit it, I think. If it's true that everyone is already infection and will turn walker if killed, does that change anything? Does it matter if it happens naturally or if it's only brought on by an attack?

Practically speaking, everyone will still want to avoid being attacked. So that's no different. But I think it changes two things: one, the level of desperation the survivors may feel at the moment. If you're already sick and nothing can be done to make you better, that tends to bring on a sense of helplessness, whereas before, people thought that if they avoided a bite they could continue to go on living life as humans. Your fate is to be a zombie, no matter what. That's a big internal issue everyone will have to process.

On the more positive side, as was mentioned earlier, if everyone is infected that suggests that whatever caused the zombie-pocalypse was an airborne virus or something. And something like that just might be curable. Just because Jenner didn't think so, that doesn't make it so.

What do others think about this?

Jen, any opinion on which character will return for Season 3? Merle, the African-American guy and his kid?

I really hope the African-American guy and his kid pop up again, and I suspect they will. As for Merle, he has definitely been confirmed as a return visitor. Michael Rooker, the actor who plays him, confirmed that over the weekend at Wonder-Con. Apparently he had to lose 20 pounds -- it's unclear how much screen time he will ultimately get. But Merle is definitely onboard.

Rick did, in fact, shoot the bigger guy in the head. As for the talkative guy behind the bar, Glenn is actually shown taking care of braining him, albeit, aurally.

Thank you. That officially clears up that question.

I get it was a little boring bc less walker killing. but why did everyone hate the farm episodes so much?! I thought it was interesting to see how they survived from day to day and what they did on a daily basis ( I dunno, gave me ideas just in case something like this actually happens..! ha). I wouldve liked to see them try to save the farm in a more effective way.. maybe like start a fire in the perimetere to ward off some walkers THEN shoot the rest. Not possible? I think it would've been better to let them save the farm just long enough for them to collect supplies ( luggage, food, water) pack up the car and THEN go looking for the next place i.e. the prison. Thoughts?

I didn't mind the slow pace of season two. My issue was that a lot of the conversation kept heading in the same direction. I'm sorry that both Shane and Dale are dead. At the same time, I am not sure I could have sat through one more argument between those two dudes because they always said essentially the same thing using slightly different words.

Re: saving the farm, I hear what you're saying. But we could see, courtesy of the overhead shots, how many walkers were on Hershel's property. Based on that, I don't think they had enough time to properly pack.

Don't count on it. See this interview with Glen Mazzara (link). His response was "Maybe we could do it in a stand-alone movie, maybe a webisode. But I'm not particularly interested in using flashbacks. I want to propel the story forward. That's my natural inclination... The outbreak -- who gives a ...? The outbreak started, now everybody's screwed and we're on the run from the zombies."

I give a ... I think it's important to know how the outbreak started because that's the only way to know whether it's curable or whether any of the information we've come to understand about the walkers is valid.

I don't think they need to devote endless flashbacks to it, just some exposition from some reliable source that could provide context. Hey, maybe that helpful fellow at the Dharma Intiative also made orientation videos about the zombiepocalypse. Never hurts to ask!

I know it can't happen, but I was REALLY REALLY hoping that Merle was going to be the Governor. How's that for a twist?

It's not happening, because the Governor is going to be played by British actor David Morrissey. That would have been a fun twist, though, definitely.

I keep coming back to Hershel as the most interesting character in the series. I think that Scott Walker's performance as Hershel has stood above the rest of the cast this year. I was particularly impressed by the way he delivered Hershel's back story as Hershel, Rick and Glenn took refuge in the bar. And isn't it ironic that Scott's last name is Walker....

Yes, nice bit of irony. I have liked his performance as well. It always seems like there's a lot going on behind his eyes, that he's sharing certain things but holding back a lot more.

I did not get the impression that the infection would eventually kill you. It seemed like it is only a problem once you die, no matter how you die.

Right. If my words didn't convey that earlier, I apologize.  But that's my understanding, too.

I still think that's a tough thing to digest. It's one thing to know you might die, and another to know you might die and turn into the things you've spent the past however many months desperate fearing.

it is completely ridiculous, and totally against common sense, that they didn't spend their days walling off the farm. how about cutting down some trees and building a palisade? what else are you going to do with your time?

That is true. Maybe they thought the process of walling off the farm would be too noisy and potentially attract attention?

I don't know, I'm pretty much making stuff up right now. I never fully understood why more walkers didn't just show up there, looking for a free meal.

How many millions of bullets do these people have stockpiled?

I was wondering about that last night. I think they got more bullets during one of the umpteen trips to town. But even if they did, they've surely gone through them by now.

So even though everyone may be a carrier of the zombie plague, it doesn't mean that it's a current contagion. It could be a endogenous retrovirus (ERV), which is basically the remnants of an ancient virus that permanently integrated into the human genome and can get reactivated under certain conditions. Such ERVs are implicated in certain chronic diseases, like MS or ALS, as well as some cancers. At least that's how I would explain it if I were dreaming up a zombie plague ...

Oh, I like this explanation. So everyone always had it, but it was activated by -- perhaps -- environmental conditions? That sounds plausible.

A hand weighs that much?

Everybody's a zombie-TV comedian.

I don't think the African-american guy with the kid will be returning. I am fairly certain that I saw him as a Zombie in season one when the camp was overrun by them. I rewound a few times and am pretty sure. Do I get a prize if I am right?

Gosh, I don't remember that.

You do get a prize if you're right. That prize will be me, typing the words "You win a prize!" during a live discussion like this one.

Yep, that's something to shoot for.

I could have sworn I saw Shane get bit on the left side of his neck from behind earlier this season. Did anyone else notice this?

Hmmm. I am not sure about that. Do you mean at the high school, before he ditched Otis?

Even if he was, Randall was not bitten before he died and zombified. So we'd need an explanation for that.

The comic has been going for almost a decade now without stating what caused it.

Well, that's fine. But before the story ends, I feel like I need to know. And I am sure that the writers of this series are basing their decisions specifically on what I need to know.

Wait, what? Why not? Shane was going to kill Rick. Rick had no choice!

Understood. I just mean in the wide scheme of things that it's not a good idea to kill other people. (Is it worth even pointing that out during a Walking Dead discussion? It almost seems irrelevant.)

Rick was trying to avoid that outcome but it didn't work out.

So, when Rick first came on the scene, and holed up in the house with the dad/son, they instructed him that all lights had to be off so the walkers wouldn't be drawn to the home. So that begs the question . . . . why did the walkers shamble AWAY from the light and heat and sound of the burning barn?

This could be another piece of misinformation. The dad and the son (sorry, their names are escaping me right now) may have assumed that lights would attract attention under all circumstances and perhaps that's not true.

More likely, though, I think the zombies want to avoid fire. So that's what they were doing, moreso than trying to escape the light.

Help, I don't understand Lori at all. She tells Rick that Shane is dangerous, can't be trusted, and wants what is "his". She basically loads a weapon, Rick, and points it at Shane. Also what was her intent when she talked to Shane at the windmill? I was yelling at the TV, "Please just leave Shane alone and let him move on". I mean that literally, I yelled at my TV. I think that her talk with Shane caused Shane to think he still had a chance with her if Rick was out of the way. Based on all that, I was as shocked as Rick when Lori was angry that Shane was killed. I doubt Rick is going to be sharing much with her in the future. Rick did a poor job explaining to the group that he was acting in self defense. Shane was pointing his gun at Rick and trying to provoke him into drawing his gun. Does the group understand that? Thanks.

Several of you chatters seem perplexed and frustrated by Lori.

So I am  not going to attempt to explain Lori Grimes without condoning her behavior. I am going to do that without bothering to address her decision to go to town to find Rick a few episodes back, because that honestly made no sense whatsoever.

Re: her conversation with Rick about how Shane is dangerous. At that time, I think she just wanted to have a normal family unit. She had feelings for Shane and the only way she could see getting past them was if Rick set up a clear boundary or made sure he wasn't around anymore.

Then she started to feel guilty, and think more about her feelings for Shane. Hence, her speech of gratitude toward him. And she was angry when Shane was killed because she loved the guy and was mad that he was gone, and above all, probably mad at herself for putting the two men she loved in a position where one had to kill the other.

She is taking out all that anger on Rick.

There. How's that?

I've decided that Daryl is my favorite. I suspect in the pre-zombie world we'd have nothing in common, but he has revealed himself to be basically decent and able to take care of himself and others. Down with Rick, up with Daryl. I also can't wait to see how Daryl behaves when Merle comes back into the picture. Will he be good guy Daryl or mean bigot Daryl?

I like Daryl but I find that some of his traits are a bit stereotypical -- the redneck who's really got a heart of gold and busts out funny quips now and then. We've seen that before.

I think Glenn is my favorite at the moment. He's certainly the character whose death would most upset me at this point.

What if Lori knew exactly what she was doing? What if she was pushing for a conflict, but hoping for a different result? If she wanted to be with Shane, she couldn't have just left Rick. Maybe there's more to Lori than we're seeing. What if Carl is Shane's child? The first episode of the series opens with Rick discussing his martial problems with Shane. Maybe they were having problems because Lori was having an affair - with Shane.

I believe there was something -- maybe not acted upon, but certainly a flicker of attraction -- between Lori and Shane before the zombiepocalypse. I don't believe Carl is his actually his son, though. It's certainly possible and would be an interesting reveal, but I don't think that's the case.

So much drama was about that thing, and Rick just left it! Just because it was a little Zombified inside,,,,,,

And poor Jimmy. He goes to pick everybody up and what does he get? Attacked. This kind of thing happens during car pools every day, people. No one ever talks about it. I am pleased that "Walking Dead" is finally raising awareness about this important matter.

I am less pleased to say that I must bring this chat to a close. It's been great having this conversation, and maybe it's one we can revive when "Walking Dead" returns next fall.

Now we all have to turn out attention to another group of people who often make decisions that perplex us: the characters on "Mad Men." Not sure if we're doing a live chat after Sunday's premiere,  but at the least, I'll be blogging about it in Celebritology. If you're a fan of Don Draper, please drop by and have a virtual cocktail with us.

Hopefully, I'll see some of you again during Thursday's weekly Celebritology chat at 2 p.m. ET.

In This Chat
Jen Chaney
Also an accredited Celebritologist, Jen focuses on pop culture news and trends in the entertainment world.

In addition to overseeing movie content for the Post's Web site, she also writes regularly about film, DVDs and stars of screens large and small.

When she isn't blogging or at the movies, she's ... um ... probably at home, watching a movie.

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