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Thoughts on the Ending to Last Night’s Walking Dead Fall Finale…

Two roads diverged in a wood, and Walking Dead took the one less traveled by. SPOILERS for last night’s episode, “Pretty Much Dead Already” as well as for issues #1-91 of the Walking Dead comic book ahead!!

Obviously, the television version of the Walking Dead has already diverged from the comic book in many different ways, most notably the fact that Shane is still alive (plus Darrl and T-Dawg being…well…you know, there at all).

However, until last night’s episode, they had not yet made a change that had any dramatic impact on the long-ranging storyline of the series. Shane is alive, yes, but so long as he dies before TOO long it does not really affect the narrative of the series too much. Similarly, Otis dying the way he did didn’t change much, the release of the Walkers in the barn did not change much, the visit to the CDC didn’t change much, Daryl and T-Dawg being along for the ride doesn’t change much, etc.

Now one of of the only remaining survivors from the beginning of the series being zombified?

That’s a pretty big departure.

Or is it?

The more I thought about it, the more I thought it was a brilliant little piece of having the ILLUSION of change rather than change itself. Yes, the character of Sophia is important for the narrative of the Walking Dead comic book. She represents a sort of innocence for the character of Carl, as she is more or less his only anchor to normality – another little kid for him to play with (as all the other kids have slowly been picked off). Meanwhile, as Glenn and Maggie’s adopted daughter, she obviously plays a major role in their lives. However, how much of that importance for the narrative is the character being SOPHIA? You can’t mix and match Andrea with some other blond woman. You can’t mix and match Dale with some other old guy. Sophia, though…I dunno…I think you could pretty much toss any other orphaned girl into the storyline and it works basically as well. It is not exactly like Sophia was the most interesting character in the world. She existed mostly in terms of what she meant to others, not in her own unique characteristics (If Michonne is a 10 out of 10 in being a unique character, Sophia is a negative 17). So if her role in the series was taken by a new girl (provided that it happens very soon – presumably as soon as they make it to the prison if not sooner. Perhaps they could change Tyrese’s daughter to becoming Carl’s age and then not kill her off, for instance), I think you would have an effective example of giving off the illusion of a drastic change while not really changing the overall narrative that much.

Or this could just be the start of a completely different path for the characters.

I suppose we shall see in February!

Either way, that was a chilling way to end the Fall Finale. Well done.

26 Comments

That was neat, but I do think you toss the “any other girl” around too lightly. In the comics, Sophia has been there from the beginning and we have seen her lose multiple protectors; she has survived her mother’s suicide, as well as being a foster child and becoming seriously attached to Carl. Granted, I read the trades and haven’t read anything past the major thing that I won’t spoil involving Carl, but I think as the series goes along, I feel it might lose something if it eliminates everyone who was there from the beginning. It becomes less a journey with the characters than a narrative about the world.

Sorry, I should note that it only works if they replace her soon (I’ll edit as much into the piece, including an idea to replace her with a de-aged Tyrese’s daughter, as I find it hard to believe that they’d be adapting the death of Tyrese’s daughter into the TV series anyways). To wit, Michonne sure feels like she’s been there forever, right? But she didn’t join up with them until they had already hit the PRISON! Tyreese was TOTALLY treated like he was “one of the old guard” when he passed, but he, too, did not show up until after the Farm. So so long as Sophia’s replacement is introduced soon, by the time the future stuff occurs, she will basically be as much of an “original” as anyone.

Can we get rid of Carl now too? They are going to run into some serious Walt problems pretty soon. The boy already looks noticeably older to me than he did in the pilot.

Zombie Sophia actually looked noticeably older, too, didn’t she?

Personally, I enjoy the differences in the television series from the comics and welcome more deviations to help give the television series its own life. Sophia’s departure helps to set the stage for that more than Shane being alive. The general story of the narrative still remains intact – but the changing details definitely help make the show its own entity as it should be.

Kudos to the creative team on the television series for the last five minutes of the midseason finale.

it took me a second to realize it was Sophia as the actress didn’t look the same (granted she was all zombified).

I didn’t see last night’s episode yet, but already had it spoiled for me on Facebook (dammit!), so now I don’t mind reading about it. All the thoughts and observations I read onine now will make it all that more interesting for me when I watch it tonight.

Also, after a long absence, I have picked up the comic series again as well. I bought Volume 1 of the compendium (Issues #1-48, or first 8 trades) at a Borders going out-of-business sales, after having read the 1st 3 trades. The sheer size of the compendium had scared me off, but I went on a binge this weekend, and have read through just about half of it. All this talk of “the Governor” had me really curious to find out what the deal with that is, so I got motivated to read it. Not sure what issue I am up to, but it’s not too long after Michonne shows up and disrupts Tyrese and Carol’s relationship. Carol attempted sucide and is now being really weird toward Lori.

To support the above, outside of interaction with Carl, Sophia is a cypher. The biggest long-lasting impact of Shane’s death that I see so far is that it helps Carl understanding of “necessary killing”. I’m led to believe some major stuff goes down with Carl later in the series.

I don’t mind the diveregenes of the book to show. The basics remain the same while it’s diferent enough to still keep you guessing. From Episode 1 of this season though, I kept waiting for them to find out what’s in the barn.

Still want to know what Jennings whispered to Rickj though, because clearly it wasn’t “Your wife’s preganant.”

I had every episode DVR’ed and was ready to tear through them all the way through to the Fall finale. I watched about 10 minutes of the season premiere and realized…I’m really bored. It’s like I’m forcing myself to watch the show because I’ve already read the series and feel a weird obligation to. But I’m not really enjoying it so much as I’m just going through the motions. So I just deleted them all without watching.

I’m about ready to give up on the comic series too. I feel like this book and series are such a slow burn that you can end up becoming heavily invested before you realize it’s not really going anywhere or is just nothing but depression porn.

Sophia being dead did help justify the drawn out arc of her being lost.
How many of us were kind of pissed this past month knowing full well they were going to find Sophia live and well? Why are they dragging out this damn search for her?
It was a fairly effective switch-up shocker to have her come shambling out of the barn for those of us who are fans of the book. We were all explaining to our friends and family, “She wasn’t supposed to die! She’s still alive in the books!”

The last two episodes were probably the best of the season so far, in my opinion.

Your loss T. As much as this season has been slowwwww, the comic is still amazing. I guess you never heard Kirkman refer to it as “the zombie movie that never ends”?

I want to read this post, but I can’t decide if I care enough about the TV show to avoid spoilers from the comics. This season has been incredibly slow. It’s gotten so slow that I’ve fallen 2 episodes behind. You can really tell that they’re making twice as many episodes as season 1 on a much lower overall budget than they had for season 1. There are some episodes that barely have any zombies in them. I really think they should have just compressed this season into 6 episodes. Also, I find that I don’t like any of the characters except for Glenn.

I suspect that whatever the CDC guy whispered to Rick is unknown, EVEN TO THE WRITERS. Sort of like The Hatch (or pretty much anything introduced) in LOST or the Final Five in BSG. The writers made up the answers, and those were HUGE plot items.

A secret that is whispered to Rick? That’s not a big deal. It probably has to do with the infection itself; that everyone is already affected or maybe a direction to head to or something.

Is T-dawg supposed to be Tyrese?

And, yeah, that ending was devastating. Good job, t.v. people!

Brian, if I hadn’t thought to myself a couple of weeks ago that it would be awesome if Sophia turned out to be in the barn, I doubt I would have recognized her.

Is T-dawg supposed to be Tyrese?

No. It is kinda weird that his name starts with T, though. I figured they did that intentionally to make people think of Tyrese.

T, I know how you feel, only that’s how I felt about the comic series as I was reading it for the first time. Such overrated narrative that just doesn’t seem to go anywhere.

Your loss T. As much as this season has been slowwwww, the comic is still amazing. I guess you never heard Kirkman refer to it as “the zombie movie that never ends”?

As a superhero comic fan, I’m used to open-ended narratives that never end. That’s not my problem with it. I just think it’s boring, slow-moving, somewhat weak characterization and depressing without having anything really enlightening to say to justify how depressing it is.

I made it all the way to Vol. 13, the second to last trade paperback released. It’s not totally awful, and there are even brilliant moments, but at the end of the day something just seems off.

Stealthwise: agreed. Although I was in denial for at least 11 trade paperback volumes. I read so much of it I didn’t want to admit I was losing faith in it. Something about the season premiere of the 2nd season though just pushed me over the edge though.

The comic is good junk food; every six to nine months, a trade comes out, and I read it, and I know it’s not really good overall, but it has enough that’s good and then something happens where I really want to know what happens next. I don’t think T is too far off-base (though I will say, I almost bailed after 13, but 14 is a big step up and you’ll have to read 15 after what happens in 14).

I like to think that the TV show is a slightly alternate universe from the comic. One simple change — there are extra people around, notably Sophia’s dad. This gives Shane a person to target with his violent aggression instead of turning it on Rick. So Carl never has to shoot Shane. Shane living causes new ripples and changes, but the basic thrust is still the same.

T, I like the phrase ‘depression porn.’ That’s my beef with the comic version — it’s so unremittingly bleak and dreary. Every single ray of hope is stamped out, usually in the most brutal manner imaginable. I have other issues with the show, but a lot stem from its lack of movement and direction. They need a compelling reason to keep pushing onward. Without that, there’s simply no reason not to hole up and try to make a life for themselves, which has much less dramatic potential.

Honestly, I’d have rather watched a series about Rick trying to find his wife and son and the things that happen along the way. It would be a much stronger show.

Having not read any comic regularly for many years, I borrowed a friend’s copy of the Compendium when the show started. I was shocked at how bad it was, given its popularity and general acclaim. The characters are poorly developed, the dialogue is awful–either cliched or crammed with things people would never say (I know this is a common problem in comics; that doesn’t make it okay), and the plot … well, I’m not sure there is a plot. There certainly wasn’t for the first 20 or so issues. Wandering around aimlessly among zombies is a premise, not a plot.

Really, I was impressed that the show wasn’t quite as bad, but I still gave it up after the first season.

OK, as of last night, I have gotten to the first few issues with the Governor in the Compendium, and I cannot WAIT to see the show get there. I now completely understand why many have speculated that Merle Dixon will be the TV-version of the Governor. I see that reveal as a Season 2 finale cliffhanger, with the 2nd half of the season bringing us to the prison and introducing versions of Tyrese and/or Michonne.

Actually, Tyrese was there BEFORE the farm. I kinda think Shane will be plucked off pretty soon, I almost wanna say Sophia was killed off because she was getting so old. But I am a huge fan of the change ups…..not to many mind you….but it keeps the story fresh for those of us who read the comic. I honestly thought Shane was gonna kill Dale last episode………and Shane and Andrea hooking up……ugh.

I thought that when Sofia came out of the barn, she didn’t act like a typical zombie. Rather than try to viciously bite everyone, she moaned and walked towards them arms outstretched, almost like she recognized them and wanted to be with them. Obviously this is impossible under zombie mythology. I felt that the writers just wanted to make it seem that much sadder. Did anyone else get that feeling about her?

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