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AMC’s smash hit zombie thriller ‘The Walking Dead’ will conclude its second season this Sunday with a dramatic episode set to deal with the fallout from last week’s cliffhanger.
In the most recent episode, “Better Angels”, Shane (Jon Bernthal) was killed off before immediately reanimating as a zombie without coming into contact with one – which the series had previously intimated was the sole way of transforming into one. This has led fans to ponder if all of the surviving characters are already infected with the deadly condition that has being driving the series’ main storylines since its very first episode, and an answer is expected to be given in this Sunday’s episode.
As for the other cliffhanger from the March 11 episode, the last scene showed dozens of zombies making their way toward the farm where the characters have been staying for the majority of this season, setting up a probable confrontation and potential character deaths in the much-hyed season ender.
Jon Bernthal’s exit from the series last week, when his character Shane was killed during a confrontation with Rick (played by Andrew Lincoln) came as little surprise to fans of the comic book series on which the television is based, as Shane was originally killed off much earlier in the story.
For fans of the television series who were unaware of the narrative timeline in the comic books, Shane’s death also came as a relatively minor shock, following the announcement in January that Bernthal was set to join the cast of ‘L.A. Noir’, a new series from Frank Darabont, who was in fact ‘The Walking Dead”s original show-runner until disagreements with the network led to his departure from the series last summer.
As for the remaining actors on the series, there have been no announcements about any of them joining new television projects, leaving the fates of their characters in this week’s finale unknown. However, the death of Bernthal’s character came just one episode after the death of fellow original cast member Jeffrey DeMunn’s character Dale, leading fans to speculate that the season finale could mark the most severe loss of life yet.
‘The Walking Dead’ already centred its mid-season finale around the revelation that the series’ youngest survivor from the pilot – Sophia, played by Madison Lintz – had died and transformed into a zombie, forcing group leader Rick to execute her in front of her mother Carol.
The relatively high number of on-screen deaths in recent week has been welcomed by some fans, after the first half of the season was criticised for being too slow-paced and lacking any particularly gripping storylines.
In spite of these criticisms, ‘The Walking Dead’ has continued to perform well in the ratings, maintaining its status as AMC’s number one program. Season-to-date, ‘The Walking Dead’ has averaged 6.7 million viewers per week over its 12 airings, up more than 20% compared to the 5.2 million average it received for its 6-episode first season. AMC has has given the series a vote of confidence by renewing it for a 16-episode third season.
This increased episode order makes ‘The Walking Dead’ one of only two series on AMC, the other being ‘Breaking Bad’, to go beyond the network’s standard 13-episode order, a standard still in place for ‘The Killing’ and its Emmy-favourite veteran ‘Mad Men’, which will take over ‘The Walking Dead”s time-slot when it returns for its fifth season on March 25.
As for whether ‘The Walking Dead’ will end its season on a cliffhanger or hint at what the characters will face in the future, fans have only a few more days left to wait and see.
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