In the season finale, Rick's new heaven goes to hell, and a secret gets whispered

February 27, 2015 at 08:07 PM EST

Season 1 of AMC’s The Walking Dead: Over. Did the finale leave you sated—or did it leave you [insert your own zombie-hunger metaphor here]? Our “Totally Walking Dead” recappers Dan Snierson and Jeff Jensen go long this week to summarize “TS-19” and offer some overall thoughts about The Walking Dead’s sensational first season.

DAN: Here is my first thought: I need a hug. The finale entertained, yes, but also left us a little shell-shocked and bummed out for our survivors. We knew the situation was bleak, but damn, the show all but told us to take any hopes for a yay-we-found-a-cure-to-the-zombie-virus! ending and stick them where the hot Atlanta sun don’t shine. And yet as Dylan’s “Tomorrow is a Long Time” resonated over images of Rick & Co. U-turning into the great unknown, we got the sense that as long as they were alive, at least there was a chance of a tomorrow. But is that a good thing? (Remember that farewell. Rick: “I’m grateful.” Jenner: “The day will come when you won’t be.”) All these guys can do is ignore the big, ugly picture and focus on the task at hand — which might include slicing off a zombie’s head and running like hell. This is as optimistic as it gets in the Year Zombie.

JEFF: You’re alluding to Daryl’s line drive headshot in the episode’s final moments, one of the few scenes of zombie action that this “zombie show” gave us last night. Did that disappoint some viewers? I was surprised to notice that many people responded negatively to last week’s marvelously mopey, metaphorical zombie-lite outing “Wildfire.” The phrases “transitional episode” and “nothing really happened” popped up a lot in the message boards. There’s also a contingent that’s loudly grousing about the deviations from Robert Kirkman’s comic book. So I’m interested to know what these camps made of “TS-19,” which was more “Wildfire” than “Guts,” more about existential human terror than gory monster horror, and more proof that the ongoing series will treat the comic as a source of thematic inspiration, not as a story to be literally adapted. This is to say nothing of those who were hoping for resolution to threads like Merle and Morgan. In retrospect, these first six episodes of The Walking Dead — while certifiably great — might be best appreciated as a miniseries prologue to the epic proper. More pontificating later, but let’s get to recapping.

DAN: We opened with a flashback — an answer to a question that had loomed over the Rick/Lori/Shane triangle: Why did Shane tell Lori that Rick was dead? Turns out, Shane sympathizers could breathe easier (at least for a few scenes): He did try to rescue Rick from the hospital…but he did so amidst the total chaos of military personnel gunning down patients (!) and zombies pouring into the facility. Then the power went down — and then Rick’s life support blinked out. Frantic, Shane searched his friend for a heartbeat and breath. “Show me a sign! Anything!” Shane cried, bluntly verbalizing the give-me-reason-to-hope theme that would feed the entire episode. Alas, all signs pointed to dead. Yet a small part of Shane didn’t give up on Rick — or maybe he just didn’t want his partner to become a zombie meal — because he checked on him one more time before barricading the door (was it enough to keep them out?) and bolting. One question answered, another one raised: Why didn’t the soldier who came into Rick’s room kill Rick like the other patients?

NEXT: Jenner’s bloody price of admission. Plus! The secret of Jenner’s name.

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