After striking out in finding sanctuary at the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, former police officer Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his gaggle of survivors are making their way through the undead wasteland heading for supposed safety at Fort Benning. They are sidetracked when one of their own, young Sophia (Madison Lintz), goes missing, one thing leading to another forcing the group to take refuge on the farmland of veterinarian Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson).
It is here they begin to think maybe the world isnít lost, that safety and happiness can indeed be found. But secrets, both on Hershelís side of the fence as well as within the group itself, threaten to destroy their happiness, while the seemingly endless hordes of undead stalking the Earth know no boundaries or fences capable of stopping their horrific, never-ending march.
I really liked the first season of AMCís The Walking Dead. Based on the epic graphic novel by Robert Kirkman, I found the six episode series to be furiously compelling, building to a devastating finale that left me aching to see more.
A second season was an obvious no-brainer for the network. The show was a hit, a gigantic one, so bringing Grimes, his Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies), son Carl (Chandler Riggs), fellow officer Shane (Jon Bernthal) and the rest of the tightknit group back for another go-around wasnít exactly a tough decision on the part of AMC. But where the first season was a tightly wound powder keg, the second, drawn out to 13 episodes, tends to meander, the notable bits of drama, character, narrative and horror made a little less powerful thanks to a lot of semi-pointless filler.
Yet when the show packs a wallop, boy does it do just that and then some. Episode seven is one of the best pieces of television Iíve seen in what feels like ages, while the climactic season ender goes places and wreaks the kind of havoc I could not help but adore. When the emotions are true, when the characters evolve naturally, explore darkened hidden corners of themselves they didnít even know existed, when the inherent gloom and doom of this tragic new human condition is at full bloom, The Walking Dead is without a doubt an incredible and stunning piece of work.
I just wish it didnít take so much work this season to get to those points. Sophia goes missing in the first episode, but another six to find out what has happened to her. Worse than that, anyone with even an ounce of intelligence is going to figure out the twist about the time Glenn (Steven Yeun) is asked to help conceal one of Hershelís secrets, making what comes after not nearly as powerful as it potentially might have been had the showrunners not telegraphed where they were heading with such obviousness.
Then there is Shane. His slow burn towards madness takes forever. Everyone runs in circles around him, the clues all there for everyone to clearly see. Sure the final two episodes deal with him and his demons with shocking ferocity, and while I was satisfied with what happened Ė a sequence between him, Rick and Carl in a secluded field is awesomely executed Ė so much of what happens in regards to him between episodes eight through ten feels way beyond padded.
Still, itís hard to get too angry at The Walking Dead. The show continues to remain true to itself, its inherent pessimism in regards to whether or not humanity can survive in this sort of unholy chaos something to be applauded. There are moments throughout this season that had me gasping, holding my breath and wanting for more, and as long and as pointless as some of the meanderings here can feel truth be told I never for a moment wanted to stop watching.
If anything, Iím even more intrigued where Rick and the surviving rest are headed next, the potential for the upcoming third season to be something truly epic without question a strong one.
The second season of The Walking Dead is presented on four dual-layer MPEG-4 AVC Video 50GB Blu-rays with 1.78:1/1080p transfers.
These Blu-rays feature an English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack along with a French Dolby Digital 2.0 track and comes with optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles.
Extras here include:
∑ Five Audio Commentaries Ė ďWhat Lies Ahead,Ē executive producers Glen Mazzara, David Alpert and Gale Anne Hurd and executive producer/writer Robert Kirkman; "Pretty Much Dead Already," Mazzara, producer Scott M. Glimple, director Michelle Maclaren and editor Julius Ramsay; "Nebraska," Mazzara, co-executive producer Evan Riley and Actors Scott Wilson and Steven Yeun; "Judge, Jury, Executioner," Mazzara, co-executive producer/special effects makeup artist/director Greg Nicotero, writer Angela Kang and actor Laurie Holden; "Beside the Dying Fire," Mazzara, director Ernest Dickerson, Nicotero, Kirkman and Actor Norman Reedus
∑ Featurette: All the Guts Inside (5:34)
∑ Featurette: Live or Let Die (6:51)
∑ Featurette: The Meat of the Music (7:54)
∑ Featurette: Fire on Set (6:10)
∑ Featurette: The Ink is Alive (9:06)
∑ Featurette: The Sound of the Effects (4:32)
∑ Featurette: In the Dead Water (5:05)
∑ Featurette: You Could Make a Killing (6:20)
∑ Featurette: She Will Fight (5:40)
∑ Featurette: The Cast on Season 2 (4:50)
∑ Featurette: Extras Wardrobe (2:48)
∑ Webisodes (19:42)
∑ Deleted Scenes with optional commentary by executive producer Glen Mazzara (29:18)
Itís a lot of stuff, way more than was available for the season one set when it was first released. The audio commentaries are all fairly essential, while the six webisodes are a heck of a lot of fun and well worth a fanís time to watch. As for the glut of featurettes, to no oneís surprise theyíre a mixed bag, some obviously far more interesting than others are.
The second season of The Walking Dead tends to meander and has a bit of trouble maintaining its focus, but when an episode is good itís darn near magnificent, the whole thing building to a climactic season ender thatís truly out of this world. Anchor Bayís Blu-ray collection is a technical marvel, and for fans of the show adding this set to their personal collection is as easy a decision as any they are ever likely to make.