Finally, The Walking Dead delivers unto us an epic zombie episode. Complaints about the slow pace of season two’s start are almost forgotten in the wake of tonight’s incredibly goretastic hour. Of course it wouldn’t be top level Walking Dead without intense explorations of character within the confines of a hellish new world order.
The tone is set as the episode begins with Lori out cold in the wrecked car as a zombie gnaws and claws at the vehicle. Then a zombie gets inspired by Terminator 2 and does a T-1000 through the window. Except with a lot more skin and flesh tearing, and far creepier as well. Back at the farm it’s dinner time and Shane insists that Rick, Glen, and Hershel will be fine until morning. Then he learns Lori is not around and goes out to find her. At this point there’s no question that Shane is motivated solely by his love for Carl, Lori, and what he believes to be his unborn child. Group be damned, this man has no remorse for the trials and tribulations of his fellow man.
”They drew on us.” – Rick
But things are not clearly defined in The Walking Dead universe. There’s no right and wrong, only doing the best you can with the situation you’re dealt. After the throwdown in the bar the dead men’s friends confront Rick, Glen, and Hershel. Rick, hoping to be reasonable, yells out that they had no choice but to kill the men. In response the newcomers open fire, attracting walkers, and causing general havoc in the nearby vicinity.. It’s interesting watching Rick deal with outsiders when at the start of the season he was in the exact same position with Hershel and the farm.
When Randall, a young kid, is impaled on a fence his friends abandon him. Rick can’t leave him behind, despite the recent shooting at his face the kid had done. So Hershel sets to work on slicing the leg off when a wave of walkers show up. Glen and Rick hold them back for about 2 seconds before all is lost and Rick rips Randall’s leg off the fence. It probably would have been smarter to start with that tactic.
”You’ll try, and succeed.” – Hershel
The next morning Rick and crew make it back to the farm and the drama begins in earnest. Shane has already revealed to Lori how much he loves her, and his belief that the child belongs to him. Glen takes a moment to explain to Maggie that he froze when it came time to shoot back and help Rick and Hershel in the bar. He froze because he couldn’t bear the thought of his dying hurting Maggie in any way. The guy is so distraught with what he perceives as cowardice that he fails to understand what a selfless act that was. Sure he wasn’t the swaggering hero, but his motivations were for someone else.
”What we had, it was real. It was real, and it was right.” – Shane
Then there’s the conversation between Lori and Rick to close out the episode as they discuss Shane. These two have been dancing around this issue, and most often they’re distracted by some developing crisis. But Lori tells Rick where Shane’s mind is at, that she believes he sacrificed Otis for Carl and her, and that Shane believes Rick is incapable of protecting his family. An accusation that riles Rick up as he discusses the killing he had to do the previous day to ensure his family remains safe.
This episode not only included some of the season’s best zombie attacks, but also sets up what may be major changes for the series. Could this be the end of Shane on the show? Will Rick be able to take him on and win, or will Dale finally succeed in his poisoning of the group against Shane? Can Carol keep Daryl invested in the group, or is the loss of Sophia and his brother too much for our favorite survivor to withstand? What is clear is that neither Rick nor Shane has clean hands when it comes to protecting Lori and Carl.