The Walking Dead (season 2)

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This article is about the second season of the television series. For the 2013–14 episodic video game, see The Walking Dead: Season Two.
The Walking Dead (season 2)
Walking Dead S2 Poster.jpg
Promotional poster
Starring
Country of origin United States
No. of episodes 13
Release
Original network AMC
Original release October 16, 2011 (2011-10-16) – March 18, 2012 (2012-03-18)
Season chronology
← Previous
Season 1
Next →
Season 3
List of The Walking Dead episodes

The second season of The Walking Dead, an American horror–drama television series on AMC, premiered on October 16, 2011, and concluded on March 18, 2012, consisting of 13 episodes.[1][2] Developed for television by Frank Darabont, the series is based on the eponymous series of comic books by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard. It was executive produced by Darabont, Kirkman, Glen Mazzara, David Alpert, and Gale Anne Hurd, with Mazzara assuming the role of showrunner.

The season was well received by critics, and won for Best Television Presentation at the 38th Saturn Awards and Outstanding Prosthetic Make-up for a Series at the 64th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards. The season finale episode was viewed by 9 million viewers, making it the highest rated episode of the series to that point and the most viewed episode of an original series on AMC in history, up until the premiere of the show's third season, which was watched by 10.9 million viewers.[3]

This season introduces the notable comic book characters Hershel and Maggie Greene and is mainly set at the Greenes' farm. The season continues the story of Rick Grimes and his group of survivors as they continue to survive in a world filled with zombies. The group then encounters the farm of veterinarian Hershel Greene, where tensions arise among members of the group and the mysterious inhabitants of the farm.

Plot[edit]

The second season begins with Rick and his group of survivors leaving Atlanta. They decide Fort Benning will be their next destination. Along the way, they encounter a traffic jam of abandoned vehicles on I-85. The group loots several vehicles and take shelter under the vehicles as a large horde of walkers approaches. Carol's daughter Sophia is chased by two walkers and runs off into the woods. Once the horde has passed them, the group sets off to search for her. During the search, Carl is accidentally shot by Otis, a farmhand from a nearby isolated farm owned by veterinarian Hershel Greene and his family. Otis and Rick take Carl to Hershel, who removes the bullet from Carl, and reluctantly allows the rest of Rick's group to stay nearby while Carl recovers.

The group tries to co-exist alongside Hershel's family, but dangerous secrets and disagreements over leadership cause tensions to rise. Daryl leads the initiative to search for Sophia and becomes close to Carol as a result. Rick confronts Shane about his relationship with Rick's wife Lori while Rick was in a coma, after discovering she is in the early stages of pregnancy. Later, while being chased by walkers during a scavenging mission, Shane purposely wounds Otis to draw the walkers to him, and allow Shane to escape safely. Shane then lies about how Otis died to the others. Glenn builds a romantic relationship with Hershel's daughter Maggie and discovers that Hershel's barn is full of walkers, many of whom in life had been Hershel's friends and relatives. When pressed, Hershel maintains that the infection that plagues the walkers is treatable and refuses to kill them. An angry and bitter Shane releases the walkers out of the barn, and the group opens fire. Sophia appears as one of the undead, and Rick shoots her.

The bonds of the group are tested in the aftermath of the showdown at the barn. Carol, in her grief, withdraws, as does Daryl, who claims that the group is "broken". Hershel, reacting to what has happened, orders Rick and his group to leave immediately, before disappearing to grieve for his family. Rick and Glenn find Hershel drinking at a local tavern, but in trying to convince him to return, discover that they have been found by members of another group of survivors, intent on locating their camp as Fort Benning is overrun with walkers. Rick, Glenn, and Hershel kill two of their members, the rest fleeing and leaving one of their own, Randall, behind as walkers swarm in. Rick cannot consciously leave Randall to die, so they blindfold him and return with Hershel to the farm. With their location potentially threatened, the group struggles with what to do with Randall, with Shane and Rick having strong differences of opinion. After one botched attempt to abandon Randall, they decide to restrain him in the barn until they come to a decision. Carol overcomes her mourning and rejoins the group with new resolve, coaxing Daryl to come back into the folds. Hershel's daughter Beth attempts to commit suicide over the hopeless situation but regains the will to live.

Rick decides he needs to execute Randall for the protection of the group, unaware Carl is watching. However, at that moment, Dale screams for help as he is attacked by a walker, one that Carl had the opportunity to kill but did not. Daryl euthanizes Dale, who was disemboweled by the walker, and after his funeral the group realizes they must regain their humanity. Rick goes to deal with Randall and finds him missing, unaware Shane had released him and taken him out into the woods to kill him. They discover Randall's reanimated corpse nearby, neck broken instead of bitten; they discover that the dead can reanimate even if not bitten by walkers. Shane attempts to use the distraction of the search to kill Rick, but Rick kills him first. Carl, watching from a distance, shoots the reanimated corpse of Shane when it tries to attack Rick.

The gunfire attracts a large horde of walkers that begin to swarm the farmstead. Hershel and his family are forced to abandon the farm and join with Rick's group as they scatter and flee; Andrea ends up on her own, separated from the others, until she is rescued by a mysterious hooded person with a sword, leading chained, armless, walkers. The others regroup back on I-85 at the traffic jam. As they camp that night, Rick reveals what Dr. Jenner told him at the CDC: that each and every one of them is already infected with the plague that has ravaged the world, and that dying for any reason will cause them to reanimate as a walker. A large prison looms in the distance.

Cast[edit]

Main cast[edit]

The primary characters of the second season include (from left to right): Rick, Sophia, Carol, Lori, Carl, T-Dog, Glenn, Andrea, Dale, Daryl and Shane.

The second season features eight actors receiving opening credits billing, all returning from the first season; seven were listed as main cast members in the first season, while Norman Reedus and Melissa McBride are promoted from recurring status.[4] While McBride is credited as "also starring", she is a series regular.[5]

Starring[edit]

  • Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, the series' protagonist, a former deputy sheriff from King County, Georgia, he is the husband of Lori and the father of Carl. Rick has taken leadership from Shane after his actions almost killed them in the previous season.
  • Jon Bernthal as Shane Walsh, Rick's close friend, and former fellow deputy sheriff. He had a love affair with Lori in the previous season, believing that Rick was dead, which has steamed into jealousy towards Rick.
  • Sarah Wayne Callies as Lori Grimes, Rick's emotionally fragile wife and mother of Carl. She had a love affair with Shane in the previous season, which has put her and Shane at odds.
  • Laurie Holden as Andrea, a former civil rights attorney who has formed a close bond with Dale. She deals with suicidal tendencies after the loss of her sister by trying to contribute more to the group's safety by becoming a sharp shooter.
  • Jeffrey DeMunn as Dale Horvath, an older member of the group who owns the RV with which the group travels. He is often the voice of reason; he forms a protectiveness over Andrea and becomes a mentor to the group, especially to Rick and Glenn. He is also a good friend of T-Dog.
  • Steven Yeun as Glenn Rhee, a former pizza delivery boy who saved Rick's life in previous season. He is an integral member of the group and does many supply runs for them. He cares very much for the core group of survivors.
  • Chandler Riggs as Carl Grimes, Rick and Lori's young son whose innocence has slowly declined due to the brutality of the world around him, even wanting to use a gun.
  • Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon, an anti-hero and the group's hunter and expert tracker. He is less friendly with the group and maintains a careless facade, but is reasonable enough to fight with them when needed and is the most active in the group for the search for Sophia.

Also starring[edit]

Supporting cast[edit]

Production[edit]

The cast of The Walking Dead at PaleyFest 2011.

After the first season aired, Deadline.com reported that Frank Darabont had let the entire writing staff go and planned to use only freelance writers for the second season.[6] This turned out to be not entirely accurate, and Robert Kirkman was quoted as saying the changes to the writing staff would not affect the production of the show.[7] In February 2011, it was announced that Glen Mazzara, who had written the first season episode "Wildfire", had been hired again as a writer/executive producer for the second season and will put together a staff of five more writers.[8]

At C2E2 members of the cast confirmed that the second season would begin shooting on June 1, 2011, and that Frank Darabont would write the season premiere episode. At the same event, cast members speculated that acclaimed author and long-time Darabont collaborator Stephen King may write an episode.[9] Kirkman later confirmed that along with himself, Darabont and Mazzara the writing staff will consist of Scott M. Gimple, Evan Reilly, Angela Kang and one freelance writer, David Leslie Johnson.[10][11] Four actors have joined the cast as new characters for season 2—Scott Wilson as Hershel Greene, Lauren Cohan as his daughter Maggie, Pruitt Taylor Vince as Hershel's ranch hand Otis, and Michael Zegen as a man named Randall.[12][13]

A preview of season 2 was shown during the season premiere of Breaking Bad on July 17, 2011[14] and a full length trailer was released to promote season 2 at Comic-Con 2011, on July 22, 2011.[15]

In July 2011, series developer and showrunner Frank Darabont stepped down from his position as showrunner for the series, amidst rumors that he was unable to adjust to the schedule of running a television series.[16] Executive producer Glen Mazzara succeeded Darabont as showrunner for the series.[17] Darabont's sudden departure further sparked controversy in August when The Hollywood Reporter broke a story revealing that Darabont had in fact been fired due to issues of the show's reduced budget and a strained relationship with AMC executives.[18]

The premiere aired in an extended 90-minute time slot, similar to the pilot episode. After the first seven episodes aired, the series went on a hiatus and returned on February 12, 2012, with the final six episodes of the season airing until its conclusion on March 18, 2012.[19]

Webisodes[edit]

Torn Apart, a six-part web series, premiered on October 3, 2011 on AMC's official website. The web series is directed by special effects makeup artist and co-executive producer Greg Nicotero and tells the origin story of Hannah, also known as "Bicycle Girl", the walker whom Rick Grimes mercy-killed in the pilot episode.[20]

Talking Dead[edit]

Main article: Talking Dead

Following the encore presentation of the second season premiere on October 16, 2011, a live after-show titled Talking Dead, hosted by Chris Hardwick, premiered. The series airs after encore presentations of The Walking Dead on Sunday nights. It features host Chris Hardwick discussing the latest episode with fans, actors, and producers of the show.[21]

Episodes[edit]

No.
overall
No. in
season
Title Directed by Written by Original air date U.S. viewers
(millions)
7 1 "What Lies Ahead" Ernest Dickerson
Gwyneth Horder-Payton
Ardeth Bey and Robert Kirkman October 16, 2011 (2011-10-16) 7.26[22]
While traveling to Fort Benning, the survivors are forced to hide among a number of abandoned vehicles as a walker horde passes. Sophia, Carol's daughter, is chased off into the woods by two walkers before they are killed by Rick. While searching for Sophia, Carl is accidentally shot.
8 2 "Bloodletting" Ernest Dickerson Glen Mazzara October 23, 2011 (2011-10-23) 6.70[23]
Otis, the hunter that accidentally shot Carl, helps Rick to bring Carl to a farmstead owned by veterinarian Hershel Greene, who stabilizes Carl but needs further medical supplies to heal him. Shane and Otis leave to a walker-infested school to collect supplies but are caught by the horde.
9 3 "Save the Last One" Phil Abraham Scott M. Gimple October 30, 2011 (2011-10-30) 6.10[24]
Shane manages to escape with the supplies by shooting Otis in the leg, drawing the walkers to him; when he returns to the farm, Shane lies about Otis' fate. Daryl continues the search for Sophia, while the other survivors start arriving at the farm and their wounds tended to by Hershel.
10 4 "Cherokee Rose" Billy Gierhart Evan Reilly November 6, 2011 (2011-11-06) 6.29[25]
With Hershel's surgery on Carl successful, Hershel tells Rick that his group should leave his farm once Carl is well enough, but Rick convinces him to allow them to stay if they follow Hershel's rules. The survivors attempt to remove a walker from the farm's well-water. Glenn and Hershel's daughter, Maggie, begin a romantic relationship, while Lori discovers she is pregnant.
11 5 "Chupacabra" Guy Ferland David Leslie Johnson November 13, 2011 (2011-11-13) 6.12[26]
Daryl continues to search for Sophia, despite Rick and Shane arguing whether it is pointless and Hershel becoming more unnerved by the group's presence. As Glenn's relationship with Maggie continues in secret, Glenn offers to meet Maggie in the barn's hay loft, and Maggie is too late to stop him from discovering the barn is filled with walkers.
12 6 "Secrets" David Boyd Angela Kang November 20, 2011 (2011-11-20) 6.08[27]
Glenn tells Dale about the walkers, and together discreetly approach Hershel, who explains the walkers are his friends and family, and believes they can be cured. Rick discovers that Lori is pregnant, and tensions rise between Rick and Shane over what transpired with Lori while Rick was in a coma.
13 7 "Pretty Much Dead Already" Michelle MacLaren Scott M. Gimple November 27, 2011 (2011-11-27) 6.62[28]
Glenn reveals the presence of the walkers in the barn to the rest of the group, and Rick confronts Hershel about it. Hershel tells Rick their group can only stay if they promise not to kill any walkers, and takes Rick out to demonstrate how to capture them. When they return, Shane becomes enraged, and releases the barn's locks, letting the walkers trickle out, and the group is forced to kill them. One last walker appears: Sophia. Rick is forced to shoot her in the head.
14 8 "Nebraska" Clark Johnson Evan Reilly February 12, 2012 (2012-02-12) 8.10[29]
Hershel demands Rick's group leave, but later goes missing. Rick and Glenn find him drinking in a nearby town bar, but when they turn to leave, they are confronted by two men, Dave and Tony, that want to know about Hershel's farm. Rick kills them before they attack the three.
15 9 "Triggerfinger" Billy Gierhart David Leslie Johnson February 19, 2012 (2012-02-19) 6.89[30]
Three other men arrive at the bar to investigate the gunfire, and Rick, Glenn, and Hershel attempt to sneak away. Their activities have lured walkers to the town, and in their haste to escape, one of the three men, Randall, gets his leg impaled on a fence. Rick is unable to leave him behind and helps to free him, taking him with them back to the farm. The other survivors at the farm start to recognize Shane is becoming more unhinged.
16 10 "18 Miles Out" Ernest Dickerson Scott M. Gimple & Glen Mazzara February 26, 2012 (2012-02-26) 7.04[31]
Rick and Shane take a healed Randall several miles from the farm with the intent to abandon him without knowledge of the farm's location, but once there, have a frank discussion not only what to do with Randall but the fissure between Rick and Shane's leadership with the group. When their activities arose a pack of walkers, Rick and Shane are forced to take Randall back to the farm. Meanwhile, Hershel's daughter Beth attempts suicide while under Andrea's watch, but saved by Maggie and Lori.
17 11 "Judge, Jury, Executioner" Greg Nicotero Angela Kang March 4, 2012 (2012-03-04) 6.77[32]
Randall is kept in custody, and they learn his group would be dangerous to bring to the farm, and that letting Randall live to reveal the farm's location would be a risk. Dale tries to calm tensions reminding everyone about their humanity and warning them the group is broken. Carl attempts to kill a walker in the forest but cannot do so. Shane, Rick, and Daryl take Randall out to the barn to execute him, but stop when Rick sees that Carl was watching. Later, as Dale finds a fatally wounded cow on the outskirts of the farm, he is attacked by the walker Carl failed to kill. Daryl mercifully kills Dale.
18 12 "Better Angels" Guy Ferland Evan Reilly & Glen Mazzara March 11, 2012 (2012-03-11) 6.89[33]
As Dale is laid to rest, his advice to the group sits heavy with Rick, and he decides they should spare Randall's life. Unknown to Rick, Shane takes Randall deep into the woods and breaks his neck, then returns and claims Randall escaped. The group immediately searches for him, and Shane uses the opportunity to confront Rick at gunpoint, intent on killing him. Rick, after trying to calm Shane down, is forced to stab him, unaware Carl is watching nearby. Carl holds his gun at Rick, but uses it to shoot Shane, who has reanimated as a walker, in the head. The gunfire draws a horde of walkers to the farm.
19 13 "Beside the Dying Fire" Ernest Dickerson Robert Kirkman & Glen Mazzara March 18, 2012 (2012-03-18) 8.99[34]
Hershel's farm is swarmed by walkers and overwhelm the survivors, forcing them to abandon it, bringing Hershel, Maggie, and Beth with them. After regrouping, Rick is forced to tell them what Jenner told him: that they are all infected and will become walkers when they die. He takes charge of the group to find them a safe haven. Andrea is separated from the others during the evacuation from the farm but found by Michonne.

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

Early reactions to the second season of The Walking Dead were "generally favorable" according to Metacritic, where the show scored 80 out of 100 based on 22 reviews.[35] On Rotten Tomatoes, 86% of 22 critics gave it a positive review, with an average score of 8/10. The site's consensus states, "The second season of The Walking Dead fleshes out the characters while maintaining the grueling tension and gore that made the show a hit."[36] Linda Stasi of the New York Post wrote, "You'll be happy to know that at least as far as the first two episodes go ... the show is better than ever – which would have seemed impossible."[37] Robert Bianco of USA Today also praised the direction in which the second season was heading stating that the show delivers "edge-of-your-chair tension" and noting, "what separates this fine series from similar shows is the honesty of its human interactions".[38]

Some critics were less enthused midway through the second season, including Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly who described the series as "a nighttime soap with occasional appearances by deceased but moving, flesh-rotting, flesh-eating cameo monsters" adding that it "had not been dramatic enough" or had a "tendency ... to botch truly dramatic situations".[39] Nate Rawlings of Time magazine criticized the show's pacing saying, "the first half of this season has been brutally slow".[40] Following the season's finale, Scott Wampler of Collider.com, described the second half of the season as "far more intense, more interesting, better written" despite "a helluva lot of water-treading" in the first half.[41] Kevin Yeoman of Screen Rant further emphasized this point: "It was with the last half of season 2 – arguably the last four episodes – where the writers succeeded in unshackling themselves from the intermittent monotony brought about by the serial nature of the show."[42]

Accolades[edit]

The series received three nominations for the 64th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards, winning for Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup for a Series, Miniseries, Movie or a Special for the episode "What Lies Ahead", and received nominations for Outstanding Special Visual Effects and Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series, both for "Beside the Dying Fire".[43] The series won for Best Television Presentation for the 38th Saturn Awards,[44] while Norman Reedus received a nomination for Best Supporting Actor on Television.[45]

Ratings[edit]

On October 16, 2011, the season two premiere set a new record of 7.3 million viewers. The episode also set new records for the most viewers in the 18–49 and 25–54 demographics, with 4.8 million and 4.2 million viewers respectively, making it the most watched episode of a drama in the history of basic cable television in these measures. The original broadcast and the two subsequent encore presentations of the episode drew a collective total of 11 million viewers.[46] On February 12, 2012, the show's mid season premiere beat its previous record by attaining 8.1 million viewers, 5.4 million in the 18–49 key demographic, despite airing at the same time as the second most watched Grammy Awards in history.[47] The series once again beat its own record with the airing of the season two finale on March 18, 2012, which received 9 million viewers.[3]

Limited Edition Blu-ray packaging showing a screwdriver in a zombie's eye socket

Home media releases[edit]

The second season was released on DVD and Blu-ray in region 1 on August 28, 2012,[48] in region 2 on August 27, 2012,[49] and in region 4 on June 20, 2012.[50] Special features include eleven featurettes—"All the Guts Inside", "Live or Let Die", "The Meat of the Music", "Fire on Set", "The Ink is Alive", "The Sound of the Effects", "In the Dead Water", "You Could Make a Killing", "She Will Fight", "The Cast on Season 2", and "Extras Wardrobe". Six audio commentaries, for episodes "What Lies Ahead", "Pretty Much Dead Already", "Nebraska", "Judge, Jury, Executioner", and "Beside the Dying Fire". Also included is the six-part webisode series The Walking Dead: Torn Apart, with optional commentary by Greg Nicotero, and 30 minutes of deleted scenes across eight episodes, with optional commentary by Glen Mazzara.[51]

The second season was also released in limited edition Blu-ray packaging, featuring a zombie head with a screwdriver in the zombie's eye socket, a recreation of a scene from the second season premiere. The limited edition packaging was designed by Greg Nicotero and sculpted by McFarlane Toys.[52]

References[edit]

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