Glenn and Maggie fall in love, the start of Carol’s journey, the heart of Daryl, Shane’s descent into madness and the loss of innocence all came from one of the most underrated seasons of The Walking Dead.
Prior to the much-maligned season 8 of The Walking Dead, no season raised as many conflicting emotions as season 2. We’ve all seen the comments in articles, on IMDB, and on social media over the years calling season 2 “boring” and “slow” among other unkind adjectives.
Over time an appreciation for this season has grown within the fandom, but why did it take so long to gain that appreciation. Since season 2 wasn’t full of action, instead it focused on character building, fans looked at it a bit differently.
Over the course of the season, we saw the first hints of our favorite characters becoming the well-oiled machine they were in the first episode of season 3. During the search for Sophia, some survivors worked together while others did their own things. After the loss of Dale, the dynamic changed. Rick’s speech during Dale’s funeral gave the mourners a lot to think about. The loss of Sophia was their loss of innocence but the loss of Dale brought the fear of the loss of humanity.
We also saw the forming of some of our favorite character bonds:
Rick and Daryl became brothers by the end of the season, with Daryl having faith in Rick and his leadership.
Daryl and Carol have had each other’s backs for eight more full seasons and we still have the close bond the two formed during this season. Norman has credited the search for Sophia and especially Cherokee Rose on several occasions as the scene that pushed his popularity to the heights it achieved.
Glenn and Maggie: one of the sweetest relationships on the show. This was the season fans of The Walking Dead got to see them meet, fall in love, and become “Gleggie”.
Shane’s descent into madness was on full display in a layered outstanding performance by Jon Bernthal. His final scene with Carol at the water pump was fantastic, but it was his final scene with Rick that carried the weight of the years of friendship/brotherhood to its tragic end. I’ve always felt that Shane clung to Lori and Carl because that was all he felt he had left from the “old” world. It was that relationship that gave him a purpose in the chaotic early days of the za. If only he could have moved on and found a new purpose… but that’s a thought for another day.
Daryl started showing the “Daryl” that led to fans screaming “If Daryl dies we riot!”. Like many other fans, it was his scenes in season 2 that made me a fan. In season 1, I found him to mostly be a cliché stereotypical “redneck”. I started to change my mind because of his scenes with Carol. Here was a Daryl that had a sweetness to him. His deeply buried good heart started to peek through. As a bonus, we also got to see the snarky humor side of Daryl. Who can forget the deadpan way he says “people in hell want Slurpees” or “Am I the only one Zen around here?” He still had his abrasive side which made his transformation seem more realistic, but the abrasiveness pales next to Daryl giving Carol a flower and telling her a story to give her hope.
Overall, one of the often-overlooked seasons is the season that began the development of the characters as well as set into motion some of the behaviors, coping skills and future storylines for several characters. Carol’s arc would have been vastly different if not for the loss of Sophia, the friendship with Daryl and the complicated relationship with Rick. Without season 2, we wouldn’t have seen the Daryl we have now. Without the fall out between Rick and Shane, Rick would have been different as well.
Finally, season 2 had the absolute best character intro that had us salivating for season three. Hello Michonne!
If it’s been a while or you are one of the fans that dismissed season 2 of The Walking Dead as “boring” or “slow” I really hope you’ll go back and give it another shot. It really doesn’t get the love it deserves.