The Walking Dead’s second season ends on Sunday, and while these last few episodes could be remembered for all the big deaths (Shane, Dale) or the plot twists (now you don’t even need to be zombie-attacked to turn into a zombie!), we’ll choose to remember it another way: This was the season where no one had a good idea, ever. That’s true of the show generally — that the characters constantly seem to make bone-headed moves — but this recent chunk of episodes really drove home how much of the show’s drama comes from the characters making dumb decisions, for no real reason. Here are some of the worst ideas, just from the last five episodes:
- The idea that it’s okay to use the word “cooze”
- Rick’s idea to go after Herschel, rather than let the old man get sloshed in peace
- Lori’s idea to “go after” Grimes, even though he’d come back from town eventually
- Rick’s idea to antagonize and then shoot the gross strangers at the bar
- Every single idea surrounding Randall, from saving him in the first place (who cares?!), to keeping him alive, to driving him out to the boonies, to bringing him back, to keeping him in a shed, to killing him. Why? Why, why, why?
- Randall’s idea to talk about the scary rapists he hangs out with, even though that would make his captors even less likely to spare him
- The idea of attempting suicide with a butcher knife
- The idea that you can let someone “really decide” about suicide
- Shane’s idea to cut himself and then rub that open wound on a rusty tetanus trellis as a lure for zombies
- Dale’s idea to take a group vote on what should be done with Randall. This group has never agreed on anything; how could a straw poll about the state of their humanity be a good call?
- Carl’s idea to poke a zombie, just for fun
- The idea that people sometimes need alone time, even Carl
- Andrea’s idea that people can slip out of handcuffs if they want to, which is how she explained Randall’s non-escape
- The idea to keep giving Carl guns
Part of what’s been so frustrating about this season is that no one seems to have had a single good idea to temper any of this, so rather than building any kind of intrigue — eek, I wonder if that plan will work — the show instead just builds a sense of certain failure — eek, can they just get on with this already? How can anyone want to fall in line behind Rick when he’s so full of awful suggestions? How can we root for Lori when she decides to have a baby in a crumbling world where survival frequently depends on one’s ability to be silent? How can we be sad — or whatever — about Shane, when his grand dramatic plan to lure Rick away from the group was so convoluted? (Just ask him to take a walk with you. No need to bash your face into a tree, fella.)
It would be one thing if these characters were suffering from an absence of information, or they simply had bad luck. But no. Somehow, in addition to being among the few survivors of a global zombie pandemic, these people are also a segment of humanity that lacks any kind of critical thinking or evidence-based reasoning skills. Looks like zombies aren’t the only ones who need some brains.