We’ve seen it before and we’ve complained about it many many times. Sunken lifeless eyes staring back you, a flesh hungry corpse that just won’t die. Yes, elsewhere Billy Crystal was hosting the Oscars (dadum tish). Luckily that didn’t affect the regular airing of The Walking Dead, and even better, all the endless long winded speeches were over there. This episode continues the trend started when season two kicked back into high gear. It has the action you’ve hungered for and more.
What we get is a double plot line dealing with subjects that have been along for the ride for awhile. We revisit suicide on Herschels farm with Andrea and Beth while Rick and Shane take to the road to deal with ol’whathisname-withthespikeintheleg. It’s nice to see Andrea interact with a background character to freshen up an old theme (with mixed results), and yes Rick and Shane finally patch up their differences and become friends again. I’m kidding, they totally have the blowout fight we’ve all been waiting for.
We go 18 Miles Out after the jump.
We start with a nice shambly panic filled scene of Rick, Shane, and Randal (the kid that was left behind by the others at the end of last weeks episode) escaping a rather excited pack of flesh hungry corpses. It’s so nice to have a cold opening like this back in the show. After so many episodes they were mostly zombie free, it’s a nice refresher on what’s out there. After the opening credits we get Rick and Shane, already on route to dump Randal away from the farm (18 miles out no less). Apparently Rick’s really big on symbolism since he decides to stop the road-trip and have the whole ‘you slept with my wife’ conversation with Shane. This is the start of a thread that weaves through every scene they share in this episode, and one that we’ve all been waiting a long time for. The struggle between these two men is by far the most interesting battle in the show. They both see themselves as the leader and savior of the group, both love the same woman, both feel the unborn child is theirs. Shane comes across more as he was in the first season, and less the mustache twirling villain he had become as they continue to battle verbally while traveling. At long last something so core to the show is being dealt with, and in a very satisfying way.
As for Randal, the captive from last episode, the decision was made to dump someplace safe. Well, safe for the residents of Herschel’s farm. Binding his hands and feet, blocking out his senses with a blindfold and an mp3 player that magically still has power left in it and tossing him in the back of a hatchback. The safe place they find? A zombie infested service yard. He’s all left as zombie bait till he blurts out that he went to school with Maggie, which leads to the possibility he might know the location of Herschel’s farm. This is what starts Rick vs Shane round two. Kill Randal in cold blood to save the farm or keep him captive till some other solution presents itself. Like rational men who clearly resolved their differences at that crossroads above, Rick and Shane finally have they drag out fist fight we knew was coming. Nothing like screaming and splattering some fresh blood around to stir up some roamers.
Right about here is where the cold intro we saw kicks in, and we cut back to the farm. Remember Beth? The denizen of Greenes farm that slipped into the coma? She’s out of it now and doesn’t want to go on living. While those that are on the farm deal with this turn of events, Andrea speaks up. Yes, the girl that was going to off herself stands-up for Beth’s wishes. For a subplot to the episode, this was alright. Understandably it’s hard to place anything up against what Rick and Shane are doing, but this does let Andrea grow a little as a character. Hell, when she has it out with Lori in the kitchen, I almost started to like her! One thing I will say is this, they are still not handling the survivors guilt issue very well. The sheer bleak hopelessness of facing down an end of a world scenario such as a zombie apocalypse, the struggle to keep on fighting or take your own life, is a very big topic. One that should be done with interesting characters and large intelligently thought out dialogues. We don’t get that. We get unpleasant people that come off as weak battling unpleasant people that just come off as simple and naive. Weeks ago, Lori was part of the nihilistic crowd for both her and her baby and now she’s waving the ‘everyones gotta live’ flag. At least Andrea was consistent with being a bitch over the whole thing.
Back to Rick and Shane who are still in the middle of the biggest pile of zombies we’ve seen since the season opener. With Shane trapped in a school bus, we see Rick drag Randal off and I will admit, for a brief moment I was almost convinced that he was leaving Shane behind to be zombie chow. Of course he doesn’t, he rides back, guns blazing like the Hyundai hatchback based cavalry man that he is to the rescue. Randal seems to have earned himself a reprieve, he’s back in the trunk listening to classic rock waiting out his fate and Rick lays down the law to Shane. I was surprised that Shane was quiet while Rick read him the riot act about being part of the group, granted he did just avoid a trip to a corpses lower colon, I guess he was just letting him speak. Underneath, you can see that the tension is still there, hell it’s probably increased now that the two alpha males of the group have finally started to take shots at each other. Clearly it’s not over between the two of them and Rick now knows that his former friend and partner might have his sites set on killing him. Again.
All and all it was a great episode all over again. We get some action, we get some drama and the show seems to be moving again. As the season starts to draw to a close, I think we are in store for more of the same as a show about the undead finds new life.
Up next, the ominously titles “Judge, Jury, Executioner” – See you next week!