Wow. Just… WOW.
With Only the Finale Left Next Week, The Walking Dead Delivers its Best Episode of Season Two
I’ve been so hard on this show all season, and now I totally feel justified (suck it, haters!) – last night’s episode of The Walking Dead was one of the best one’s I’ve seen since the first season – just completely stellar – there’s too much to get to, so much happened, so just be aware now that my “No Spoiler’s Clause” is pretty much out the window and we’re about to have us a serious TWD discussion! Plot holes – mostly sealed; rivalries – come to a head; characters – stayed on course. I have pretty much nothing to complain about. You just might have to read an entire post of gushing. The positive kind – not the zombie-pus-filled kind. Although there was a nice amount of that too.
What made last night so great was a perfect mix of compelling dialogue and intense action, not to mention an absence of characters we really don’t care about (thanks for only subjecting us to one teary-eyed-huff from Carol, guys!) and more screen time for characters that we’ve been wanting to get to see (great scenes for Daryl, Andrea, even Glenn, and FINALLY some dialogue for T-Dog!). Really loved the violent “Let’s work out our anger at Dale’s death in a veiled attempt at learning to kill some Zombies” opener that was quickly juxtaposed by the more somber funeral and eulogy for Dale, who we lost at the end of last week.
The “Randall Issue” is still weighing on our group as they come to grips with the loss, many believed Dale was the heart and soul of their team. There was a touching scene between Andrea and Glenn, Dale’s closest friends in the group, where they try to process their loss. It was an interesting exchange because Andrea and Dale had a rocky friendship but had been patching things up before he was killed – with Andrea going so far as to turn away from Shane and see Dale’s point that it was a better decision to save Randall. Conversely Dale and Glenn’s relationship had remained solid throughout, only to have Glenn disagree with Dale at the end in regards to what to do with their captive.
Rick struggled with Dale’s last words – that their group was broken – and used Dale’s funeral as a call to the others to reunite and prove Dale wrong. For the most part everyone seemed to listen, and the group pulled together and became more solid – Hershel decided that with Dale being killed so close to the farm it was time to move Rick’s group into the main house, so (mostly) everyone was working together. Mostly everyone… cue Crazy Ass Shane!
No I kid – well, really I don’t because we know now that Crazy Ass Shane was there the whole time and only pretending to be Let’s Work It Out Shane, but at first, it seemed like even he was on board to keep the group together as a cohesive unit. Carl came to him and admitted he believed his actions last week lead to Dale’s demise. He managed to find the lost gun and in what would prove a great thing for Carl, and a pretty bad move for Shane, he returned the gun to Carl, telling him to keep it for protection.
In more “Is Shane becoming a good guy?” fakery, Lori tried to squash the Rick/Shane beef by apologizing to Shane for what happened between them, telling him how grateful she was that he was there for her when she and Carl needed someone to rely on. She expressed her regret at letting the whole thing get out of control, and admitted that Shane wasn’t the only one who was developing feelings out of their relationship –she made it clear again (although this time less harshly) that whatever they had romantically was over, but she would always be grateful to Shane nonetheless. In hindsight, we can look at that scene as possible instigation for Shane’s later actions – perhaps Lori’s attempt at an apology and her search for closure was actually misconstrued by Shane as a false sense of hope that the two of them might rekindle what they had if Rick were out of the picture.
I don’t blame Lori for that at all – while I’ve said before that I think her character’s been inconsistent – she was great last night – she and Andrea were excellent examples of two women who are rising to the difficulties they’re facing. Lori stepped up and was a great “den mother” to all – coordinating the move of our group into the house, while Andrea showed she’s becoming a force to be reckoned with: killing Walker’s without the need of a gun, falling in line under Rick’s leadership while still not being afraid to voice her opinion, and promising Rick that she would attempt to “keep Shane in line” while admitting that was probably impossible.
Rick’s decision to go out with Daryl and drop Randall off in the woods somewhere didn’t sit right with Shane, and his comment that Rick should mind his own son only worked against him later, since Rick did in fact take a moment to go and talk to Carl about everything that had happened. While Rick was occupied having a heart-to-heart with his son in the barn, Shane went into the shed and discovered that Randall’s been trying to pull his hands out of the cuffs – so in a plot to get rid of both Randall and Rick at the same time, he leads Randall out to the woods, telling him he’s tired of Rick’s leadership and wants to join Randall’s group – and Randall admits some things to Shane that I think are going to be important later: for one, it becomes kind of clear that Randall probably isn’t the “innocent rape-bystander” he told Daryl he was and has probably been engaging in some pretty fucked up activities with his group.
But more importantly – if I’m remembering correctly, he tells Shane that their group is only about 5-6 miles outside town – which I think is about how far Hershel’s farm is from town as well. I’m guessing that maybe Randall’s group is on the other side? Which would then mean that Randall’s nasty “Robbing & Raping” crew is only a short 10 or so miles from our group? Again, totally guessing on that – but I think that could be important.
Shane then makes a fatal error in his plan – first, he snaps Randall’s neck, then he slams his own face into a tree to make it look like they were in a fight. If it were me, I would’ve slammed my face against Randall’s before I killed him, so there’d be no trace of my blood anywhere but where it should be – on Randall, then I would’ve found some kind of branch and driven it through Randall’s skull, ensuring he didn’t rise up as a Walker later. But if Shane had thought this through a little better, none of the insanely awesome things that happened next would’ve happened, so let’s give Shane a plot-pass!
After hiding Randall’s body, Shane runs back out to the others and claims that Randall escaped. T-Dog runs to the shed to check it out and sees that the lock is still intact – so how did Randall get out? Rick tells T-Dog to keep the house protected, in case Randall comes back with his gang of nasties, he then takes Shane, Daryl, and Glenn out to search for Randall in the woods.
Pretty much everyone smells a rat – but they go out and look anyway. Daryl, being a hunter, starts tracking the scene with Glenn and after a bit of searching finds the spot where Randall was killed. He can see by the tracks that both Randall and Shane were walking together – that Shane wasn’t chasing Randall like he claimed he was, and he also spots blood on a nearby tree.
They run into Walker-Randall, and after they take him out Daryl inspects his body and sees that his neck was broken – there are no scratches or bites on him anywhere, which means that Randall died from that broken neck, the blood on the tree isn’t Randall’s, and Shane is a lying-ass-liar! All of this is going on unbeknownst to Rick, who’s still running through the woods with Shane, who’s still trying to pretend like Randall somehow bested him in a struggle and ran off.
But Rick’s no fool – and he knows that something’s up. He stops Shane and gives him a like, “So is this where it’s going to go down?” sort of speech. And Shane finally drops the act. Crazy Town Shane’s been here the whole time, and he wants Rick dead. Rick tries to calm the situation and drops his gun, then in a great psych-out move, stabs Shane as he lunged forward to shoot him.
There’s this really great exchange between the two, as Rick starts sobbing – I mean come on, remember these two were totally besties before this entire Walker shit happened – and he tells Shane over and over that he brought this on himself.
Suddenly Carl appears – he’s been standing at the window of the farm looking out at the fields with his binoculars, so we’re not sure exactly how much he’s seen –Rick looks up and tries to explain what happened – Carl stands there with his gun (well, Daryl’s gun) pointed at Rick and Shane– as Rick tries to tell him what really happened.
As Rick’s approaching Carl, trying to talk him into lowering the weapon – Walker-Shane begins to rise – and Carl (who up to now I’ve seen have shooting practice maybe… what? One? Two times?) Gets a perfect shot right past his dad and into Shane’s head. Rick and Carl hug each other in relief, and take a minute to pay their respects to Shane or something – whatever they’re doing they’re not getting the hell out of there – which is what they SHOULD be doing – since all the gunplay has alerted a roving heard of Walkers that just happens to be right over the hill – so as Rick and Carl stand there contemplating what’s just happened – a sea of Walkers are about to descend on them – and we’re left wondering how the hell are these two going to get away??