Gene Page/AMC
Darren Franich
March 18, 2012 AT 12:00 PM EDT

UPDATE: Walking Dead season finale full recap is live!

After a shaky batch of episodes that stranded the band of survivors on the world’s most manic-depressive farm, The Walking Dead has been on a roll the last couple weeks. Two main characters were killed off in two consecutive episodes — heck, one character was even killed off twice — and the penultimate hour of the season ended with the promising sight of a bloodthirsty zombie herd bearing down on Hershel’s Farm. The stage was set for an old-fashioned human-vs.-zombie showdown — Gunfight at the OK Corral with more biting. And sure enough (SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER) the Grimes Gang suffered a couple of gruesome fatalities during their ultimately futile attempt to fight off the walker horde. Although I’m not sure anyone is going to be grieving for the loss of Hershel’s Wacky Step-Nephew and That Woman Who Likes Breaking Chickens’ Necks. (Okay, I just googled their names. R.I.P., Jimmy and Patricia! You sure were good at standing in the background waiting to get eaten.)

Intriguingly, the zombie showdown only took up about half of the episode, as everyone retreated in separate directions. There was a brief hint that the gang would wind up scattered, but everyone met up at the rendezvous point — the spot on the highway where they left food for Sophia. The second half of the episode featured a couple of big surprises, though. The first big twist came when Andrea was besieged by some walkers in the woods…only to be rescued by a mysterious robed figure, wielding a badass Tarantino sword and walking along with a pair of leashed pet zombies. The second big twist came right at the end. Rick had just finished his latest inspirational speech — this time, sprinkled with some totalitarianism. (The last line of the season : “This isn’t a democracy anymore.”) The camera panned up, and we saw a huge structure in the distance? Sanctuary? Or an enemy fortress?

Readers of the Walking Dead comic book probably thrilled to both revelations — something I’ll address in my recap, posting later tonight. (UPDATE: Walking Dead season finale full recap is live!) And be sure to check out my gorehound colleague Clark Collis’ post-show interview with with Dead creator Robert Kirkman. For now, let’s talk about the season finale! Are you happy the Grimes Gang finally left the farm? Were you excited to see the two nobodies get eaten, or were you hoping for a bigger ensemble purge? With Shane dead, has Rick absorbed his former friend’s militaristic outlook? And after an up-and-down-and-up-again season 2, what do you want to see more of (or less of) in season 3?

Follow Darren on Twitter: @EWDarrenFranich

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