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Beside the Dying Fire

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Beside the Dying Fire
Season 2, Episode 13
AMC TWD Beside the Dying Fire
Air Date March 18, 2012
AMC (United States)
March 23, 2012
Fox (United Kingdom)
Written By Robert Kirkman
Glen Mazzara
Directed By Ernest Dickerson
U.S. Viewers 8.99 million
Episode Guide
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Cast Guide
Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes
Jon Bernthal as Shane Walsh*
Sarah Wayne Callies as Lori Grimes
Laurie Holden as Andrea
Jeffrey DeMunn as Dale Horvath *
Steven Yeun as Glenn Rhee
Chandler Riggs as Carl Grimes
Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon
*does not appear in this episode
Also Starring
Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier
IronE Singleton as T-Dog
Lauren Cohan as Maggie Greene
Emily Kinney as Beth Greene
Scott Wilson as Hershel Greene
Picture Gallery

"Beside the Dying Fire" is the thirteenth and final episode of Season 2 of AMC's The Walking Dead. It originally aired on March 18, 2012 at 9/8c on AMC.

Plot Synopsis

A herd of walkers roams out of Atlanta, attracted by a passing helicopter. They continue down a country road, attracting more walkers along the way. In a field, two herds merge. They're passing through a forest at night when a gunshot rings out. They follow the sound to a clearing, where in the distance two figures — Rick and Carl — march toward the farmhouse.

Daryl and Glenn return to the house and report that Randall is a walker. Hershel asks if they found the walker that killed him and Daryl points out that Randall was never bitten or scratched. and that he had his neck broken.

As Rick and Carl cross a field, Carl asks what happened to Shane. Before Rick can respond, he notices the walkers approaching. Rick locks himself and Carl inside the barn. As the dead slam against the doors, Rick douses the ground with gasoline.

Meanwhile, the others spot the herd approaching. Lori notices Carl is missing, and begins to panic. Daryl knows that they can't simply hide in the basement, as a herd of that size could tear the house down trying to reach them. The rest of the group formulate a plan to use their guns to kill as many as they can, and use their cars to lead the rest of them away. Daryl doubts they'll be able to fend off a herd of that size, but Hershel stands firm. "This is my farm," he says. "I'll die here."

Back in the barn, Rick hands Carl a lighter and sends him up to the hayloft before opening the doors. As walkers pour in, Rick hurries up the ladder and Carl drops the lighter. The barn bursts into flames.

Led by Daryl's motorcycle, the caravan makes its way to the barn, shooting walkers as they go. Daryl, noticing the fire, assumes that Rick is responsible. He sends Jimmy to rescue Rick in Dale's RV. Rick and Carl jump on the RV's rooftop as walkers surround the vehicle. The walkers break inside and kill Jimmy. 

Rick and Carl quickly run into the woods. In Otis's truck, Andrea and T-Dog realize the walkers cannot be corralled and they don't have nearly enough ammo to finish them off. "We need a new game plan," T-Dog says. Meanwhile, Hershel stands in front of the farmhouse shooting walkers as Lori continues to worry about Carl. Carol convinces Lori they have to leave. Lori calls after Hershel, but he ignores her and keeps firing. As the women flee, walkers grab Patricia and she is bitten while she holds on to a panicked Beth. Beth finally lets go of her hand and escapes with Lori while the walkers eat Patricia alive and kill her. Carol gets separated from the other two and is cornered by walkers. T-Dog pulls up. Lori and Beth get in and Andrea gets out to help Carol, shooting two walkers before a third attacks her from behind. She spins around and fires. From Otis's truck, Lori, Beth and T-Dog see the walker fall on Andrea. Walkers swarm the truck and T-Dog peels out.

In Shane's SUV, Maggie and Glenn try to follow the truck but they are cut off by walkers. Glenn instructs Maggie to retreat, but she's worried about the others. "It's lost," Glenn yells. "Get off the farm now!" Back at the house, Hershel continues to fend off walkers. Just before he is bitten by a stray walker, Rick arrives and kills it, telling Hershel that they have to go. Along with Carl, they escape in Hershel's SUV. Andrea, unhurt, tries to flag Rick down as he drives away, but he doesn't notice her. She flees on foot with the bag of guns. Daryl rescues Carol on his motorcycle, and they ride away. The barn continues to burn and eventually collapses as the RV is destroyed. Hershel looks sadly on his farm as they drive away.

At dawn, Glenn and Maggie are driving down a dirt road. Glenn instructs her to circle back to the highway, but Maggie is too paralyzed with fear. Glenn assures Maggie that her family will be fine. "I love you," he says. "I should have said it a long time ago." Rick, Hershel and Carl return to the highway next to the car where they left supplies for Sophia. Carl wants to go back for Lori, but Rick is hesitant. "Why are we running?!?" Carl screams at his father. Hershel assures Rick he's doing the right thing: "You've got to get your boy to safety," he says, offering to stay behind to wait for the others. Rick insists they remain together.

Elsewhere, Lori insists that they head back to the highway but T-Dog states that they should head east towards the coast. Lori theatens to leave the truck unless he turns around. He does so reluctantly.

Rick is about to abandon the highway when he hears engines rumble in the distance: It's the other vehicles. After reuniting, Rick reports that Shane and Jimmy didn't make it. Lori is horrified by the news of Shane's death, but is glad that Carl is okay. Beth reports Patricia's fate. Carol offers that Andrea might still be alive, but Rick stops Daryl from going after her. "There's no way to find her," he says.

Later, the other survivors caravan down a country road. Hershel's SUV runs out of gas. Rick declares they'll camp by the road and scavenge in the morning, but the others doubt him. "We found each other" against all odds, he insists. Rick does not allow anyone to leave and risk getting stranded without a car. Glenn counters that they're already stranded. Even worse, walkers are everywhere.

Rick believes there's a place where they can build a new life. "We just have to find it," he says. Daryl brings up Randall, explaining that he turned without being bitten. "We're all infected," Rick says solemnly. "At the CDC, Jenner told me. Whatever it is, we all carry it." The others are furious at Rick for keeping Jenner's secret, but Rick insists he had no way of knowing if it was true. Rick walks away from the group. Lori follows. "I killed him," Rick tells Lori about Shane." He gave me no choice" he says "I wanted him dead," Rick says. "He turned. That's how I knew Jenner was right," Rick continues. "Carl put him down." Horrified, Lori backs away from Rick. He tries to touch her but she backs away, looking at him with anger for allowing Carl to kill. 

Andrea, meanwhile, sprints through the woods, picking off walkers. She runs out of ammunition. A walker topples her, but before it can bite her its head is sliced off. As the walker's body slumps over, Andrea sees standing before her a hooded figure holding a sword and leading two jaw-less and armless walkers chained at the neck with shackles.

Huddled around a campfire, the others continue to question Rick's leadership. Carol tells Daryl he should lead the group as a man of honor. "Rick has honor," Daryl insists. Maggie, too, tries to convince Glenn to abandon the others, but Hershel shuts her down. A noise echoes in the distance. Still, Rick refuses to let anyone investigate. Carol urges Rick to take action and he snaps, saying he never asked to be put in charge. "I killed my best friend for you people!," he snaps at the group. Carl buries his head in Lori's shoulder, crying. Rick explains that Shane staged the incident with Randall so he could kill him. Shane gave him no choice.

"Maybe you people are better off without me," Rick continues, encouraging them to leave him. "I say there's a place for us, but maybe it's another pipe dream." He dares them to leave, but none of them move, though they are all looking back at him in stunned silence. "No takers?" Rick asks. Then he issues a final warning: "If you're staying, this isn't a democracy anymore." Rick turns his back on the group. Up the road, a structure looms in the distance: a prison.

Other Cast




"Beside the Dying Fire" was originally broadcast on March 18, 2012 in the United States on AMC. Upon airing, the episode attained 9 million viewers and a 5.8 household rating, indicating that 5.8% of all households who watched television viewed the episode. The episode attained a 4.7 rating in the 18–49 demographic, denoting 6 million viewers, while simultaneously acquiring 3.2 million viewers in the 18–34 demographic and 5 million in the 25–54 demographic. "Beside the Dying Fire" subsequently became the highest-rated cable telecast of all time demographically, amassing record ratings among adults and men between 18 and 54; this accolade was previously held by the second season episode "Nebraska."[1]Similarly, it outperformed all cable programming of the day as well as the week dated March 25, obtaining significantly higher ratings than Swamp People on History and Jersey Shore on MTV. Total viewership and ratings for "Beside the Dying Fire" increased dramatically from the previous episode, "Better Angels" which attracted 6.89 million viewers and a 3.6 rating amongst key adults in the 18–49 group.

Critical Response

"Beside the Dying Fire" was lauded by television commentators. Rob Salem of Toronto Star said that "fans who have been complaining about this season’s relative complacency [...] finally got their gore and more when the farm was overrun by suddenly, strangely single-minded walkers." Pamela Mitchell of Houston Chronicle commented that "Beside the Dying Fire" was the most eventful episode of the season, while Digital Spy's Morgan Jeffery thought that "every single major character gets their moment to shine"; "Epic, action-packed, emotional—'Beside the Dying Fire' is great television," she concluded.TV Guide television critic Michael Logan affirmed that the season finale "was so scary and shock-a-minute outrageous that it nearly made our heads explode." In his A– review, Zach Handlen of The A.V. Club said that "Beside the Dying Fire" adequately accomplished what he was hoping for. He wrote, "We're finally off Hershel's farm, in about the most definitive way imaginable: The barn has been burned, and the house itself is overrun by a herd of 'walkers'." New York's Starlee Kine adulated the installment, and asserted that it was comparable to episodes of The Walking Dead's first season. "It’s just amazing how much smoother the plot holes go down when something is actually happening on this show. For the first time since last season, I felt engrossed enough to not be consumed with all the small things this show gets wrong. Up until this episode, the majority of this season has consisted exclusively of small things: petty dramas, misdirected stakes, so much stalling. I’m not sure I can go so far as to say that it got everything right with this one, but at least it was entertaining and the nonstop action felt like content instead of just bookends."[2]Mark A. Perigard of the Boston Herald wrote that it was the closest the program "ever resembled the climax of a George Romero film."[3]Time journalist Nate Rawlings felt that "Beside the Dying Fire" sufficiently encompassed a climax for its storylines, adding that it left the audience anticipating for future installments of the series.

"Last night’s The Walking Dead season finale did that wonderfully, wrapping up several loose threads before pointing the compass directly at the heart of Season 3. In a closing shot similar to that of this season’s penultimate episode, the producers literally glanced over the horizon at a giant prison, which I’m willing to bet elicited one of two reactions. If you’ve read the graphic novels, you probably said, “It’s about damn time!,” whereas if you’re a TWD novice, your take was probably some variation on “What the f— was that?” This is the balance the producers wanted to strike, and they did it brilliantly."
—Nate Rawlings, Time

Gina McIntyre of Los Angeles Times said that the program delivered what she described as a "blood bath," and Aaron Rutzkoff of The Wall Street Journal further analyzed that the episode followed a dark and frenetic convention "with flare." The Washington Post commentator Jen Chaney opined that "Beside the Dying Fire" evoked elements of various films of George Romero, as well as the historical epic film Gone with the Wind (1939). Writing for Paste, Josh Jackson issued the episode an 8.8 out of 10 rating, signifying a "commendable" rating. "'Beside the Dying Fire' wasted no time getting straight to the action, assuming a season’s worth of character development was more than enough." The Huffington Post's Maureen Ryan echoed synonymous sentiments, ultimately declaring that the telecast was the best since the series' pilot episode, "Days Gone Bye" Ryan summated: "The first two acts of The Walking Dead Season 2 finale were full of excitement, honest to God suspense and characters who came up with pretty decent plans on the fly. When the braaaains finally hit the fan at Hershel Greene's farm, my pulse quickened and I found myself wondering and even caring about the survival of characters who'd done little more than irritate me for weeks." Julia Rhodes from California Literary Review uttered that the show returned to form in "Beside the Dying Fire," while Buddy TV writer Megan Cole summed up the episode as "intense."

The character development of Andrea produced uniform praise among critics. Jackson felt that it served as the episode's highlight, and further assessed that she emulated actress Linda Hamilton. "After a season of whining, there had to have been at least a few fans pulling for the walkers in her early scenes, but she quickly became Linda Hamilton-badass, braining zombies with her foot," he said. Likewise, Kine asserted that "the badass she has tried so hard to convince us all she is finally came across." Ryan thought that Andrea's struggle to survive was a strong way to build up the exodus of the group. She spoke of her scene with Michonne: "She'd fought so hard to live that I wanted Andrea to fend off that final batch of walkers successfully. When it appeared she might not live, I was, quite rightly, on the edge of my seat. And the appearance of the caped figure—towing two armless walkers, no less—was as dramatic as could be."

The gradual alteration of Rick was frequently mentioned in the critiques. Dan Hopper of Best Week Ever theorized that such a drastic transition was attributed by the death of his friend Shane. Halden proclaimed that the progression established a strong sense of direction for the character. "This is a definite direction. I’m not sure if the show’s going to make Rick an out-and-out monster, or if this is setting up some sort of redemptive arc for him in season three, but it’s a strong choice. The Walking Dead has tried to make us value this group of people, as if together, they mean more than they do alone. That hasn’t worked, so now it appears we’re going to try trial by fire." By the end of "Beside the Dying Fire," Ryan concluded that "Rick is becoming the leader he should have been from the start, and he's being clear and upfront about his goals and leadership style."

Commentators were divided with the interactions between Rick and his wife Lori. Although Ryan reacted positively to Lincoln's performance, she affirmed that the contradictory nature of Lori almost ruined the scene. Similarly, Kine criticized Callies' facial expressions during the sequence. Jackson wrote, "If that was a challenge from the writers, though, Sarah Wayne Callies has to feel like they're just messing with her at this point. Her character, Lori, basically tells Rick that Shane needs to be put down, and then treats him like a monster when he’s forced to follow through with it."

A.V Club IGN
A- 9


  • First appearance of Michonne.
  • First appearance of Mike(Zombified)
  • First appearance of Terry(Zombified)
  • Last appearance of Patricia.
  • Last appearance of Jimmy.
  • Though Jon Bernthal (Shane Walsh) and Jeffrey DeMunn (Dale Horvath) are still credited as regulars in this episode, they do not appear, as both cast members were already written out of the TV Series.
  • Dale's RV was destroyed on Hershel's farm as it was burned alongside Hershel's barn.
  • This episode marked the end of the farm storyline and the introduction to the prison.[1]
  • This episode marks the final time that Lori and T-Dog would see Andrea; Lori and T-Dog would later die at the prison before Andrea sees Rick's group again.
  • This episode marks the deaths of Jimmy and Patricia and the introduction of Michonne (who was not identified during the episode itself, but confirmed to be Michonne during The Talking Dead episode immediately following this episode's original broadcast on AMC).
  • The helicopter seen by Rick in the pilot episode, "Days Gone Bye," returns in this episode, leading the walkers out of Atlanta.
  • Jenner's whisper from the season one finale, "TS-19," is revealed by Rick in this episode, having been a warning that all the living people are infected and would turn into walkers when they die, unless the brain is destroyed.
  • The finale, "Beside the Dying Fire," was the most-watched episode of the second season, which attracted 9 million total viewers.
  • It was very cold out when "Beside the Dying Fire" was filmed, so in between takes, the extras portraying walkers were all given snuggies by the wardrobe department.[2]
    • Because it was 27 degrees on the night of shooting the attack on the farm, the zombies' breath was visible. Since dead people don't breathe, editors had to remove each zombie's breath with CGI.
  • The title of this episode, "Beside the Dying Fire," may refer to the barn when it caught fire, it may also refer to the end of the episode when Rick and his group are sitting around a camp fire discussing the recent events or it may refer to the survivor's hope.
  • This episode marks the beginning of the "Rictatorship".
  • This episode marks the first appearance of Michonne, which is the 19th episode of the series. In the comics, she appears in Issue 19.


  • When the truck stops after Lori threatens to jump you can clearly see that the shots inside show there is a turning just behind the truck. However the long shot of it turning round has them on a straight road with no turnings.
  • Approximately two minutes into the episode, when the Walkers are migrating at the wooden fence, a man shouts, "Action!"
  • While Rick, Hershel and Carl drive away from the attacked farm, Hershel is still watching his occupied farm from the car's back window. Doing so, he should easily notice Andrea running toward the car while they were escaping the farm.
  • When Rick, Carl and Hershel wait for the lone Walker to pass after escaping the farm, there is no rear window in their car. But, after regrouping with the other survivors, there is a rear window.
  • When the Walkers are migrated at the wooden fence, the warning sign to trespassers is facing people already on the property.
  • When Daryl returns to the farm to get Carol, you can see his motorcycle has 'offroad' tires, especially noticeable by the large MTX style tread pattern on the front wheel. In later scenes, on the highway meeting point and when they pull over when Rick runs out of gas, he suddenly has 'road' tires with a significantly different tread pattern.
  • Lori and Beth run towards the car to escape but when we next see them they seemed to have given up on it and just walk a bit until T-Dog and Andrea pull up.
  • When firing on the walkers outside of his home, Hershel fires a shotgun over a dozen times without having to stop and reload. Shotguns generally only hold between seven and nine shells fully loaded.
  • The second time when we see Hershel shooting he backs up, and he teleports from the left side of the house facing the barn, to the front of the house on the right side (examine the porch this time and earlier)
  • When Rick saves Hershel it is the same area that Patricia was killed (with the car behind him) and where Lori, Beth, T-Dog and Andrea were minutes earlier. This area should be swarmed with walkers yet they are gone.
  • Hershel, Rick and Carl run over the same space where Patricia was killed when Rick drags Hershel, yet her body and the walkers are gone.
  • Lori says on the porch that she checked the shed for Carl yet literally a few seconds later that entire area is swarmed with walkers.
  • When the women run from the house, Lori is in the back with Carol, Beth and Patricia in the front. In the next shot, Lori is in front of them immediately.
  • When Patricia is grabbed, walkers are everywhere behind her yet in the close ups of her bites, behind her is completely clear and you can see the trees in the distance. When she goes down it is still clear yet immediately in the next shot they are right there piling onto her.
  • If you look closely when Lori is pulling Beth away (third shot before she lets go), you can see that Patricia has no blood on her neck (but only for a second as the walkers's head blocks the view)
  • The walkers cornering Carol were very close to her and during the time Lori and Beth are picked up they should have got to Carol ages ago before Andrea makes it to her.
  • If you look closely when Lori and Beth are picked up, the walkers devouring Patricia by the car are gone.
  • When Andrea spins to shoot the walker, Carol has dissapeared in a split second. We know she runs off but there wasn't enough time for this to happen as well as for those in the car not to see her.
  • Carl's red jacket/hoodie is unzipped in one shot, then zipped up and then unzipped again.
  • In one scene, the barn is on fire and is filled with zombies. Seconds later, you see the burning farm in the background, however there are no longer any zombies inside of it.




  1. Talking Dead March 18, 2012
  2. Axel TWD. The Walking Dead Wiki Interviews/Clair Canterbury Walking Dead Wiki (January 27, 2013)
Episodes of The Walking Dead
Season 1 "Days Gone Bye" • "Guts" • "Tell It to the Frogs" • "Vatos" • "Wildfire" • "TS-19"
Season 2 "What Lies Ahead" • "Bloodletting" • "Save the Last One" • "Cherokee Rose" • "Chupacabra" • "Secrets" • "Pretty Much Dead Already" • "Nebraska" • "Triggerfinger" • "18 Miles Out" • "Judge, Jury, Executioner" • "Better Angels" • "Beside the Dying Fire"
Season 3 "Seed" • "Sick" • "Walk With Me" • "Killer Within" • "Say the Word" • "Hounded" • "When the Dead Come Knocking" • "Made to Suffer" • "The Suicide King" • "Home" • "I Ain't a Judas" • "Clear" • "Arrow on the Doorpost" • "Prey" • "This Sorrowful Life" • "Welcome to the Tombs"
Season 4 "30 Days Without An Accident" • "Infected" • "Isolation" • "Indifference" • "Internment" • "Live Bait" • "Dead Weight" • "Too Far Gone" • "After" • "Inmates" • "Claimed" • "Still" • "Alone" • "The Grove" • "Us" • "A"
Season 5 "No Sanctuary"

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