S1:E3 Without losing a bit of steam, The Walking Dead stalked right into its halfway point, finally sending Rick into the middle of the situation that’s been culminating over the last two episodes. Lori, his cheating wife, is finally confronted with the fact that she’s been shacking up with her husband’s best friend. The episode’s a little more concerned with issues between the living this time around than it is about walkers, but that’s one of the things that is great about this show – it’s a zombie show that can do violence and gore at an incredible level and still maintain a human touch.
The episode opens on Atlanta, where Dixon is still on the roof, handcuffed to the pipe, talking to himself. He’s completely delirious, howling to himself about getting those who left him. He leaves his silly stupor and recognizes the reality of his situation, and begins to try desperately to break free from his cuffs. Just then, walkers start to break through the lock left by the escaped survivors. Left with no other choice, he reaches desperately for a hacksaw lying just feet away from his cuffed station.
Out on the road, Rick and company head toward the camp, Morales warns him that Dixon’s brother will be upset that they left him behind. Back at the camp, Shane is still trying to bond with Rick’s son, offering to teach him to catch frogs and he’s obviously completely settled into the father role, taking the spot that should belong to Rick. Glenn arrives first in the stolen sports car, with the alarm still blaring. Immediately after, Rick and company ride in in the moving van and it’s time for the moment of truth. Amy and Andrea share a tearful reunion, as do Morales and his family. As everyone embraces and asks how they escaped, they all praise “the new guy” for aiding their escape. Shane looks like he’s seen a ghost as Rick emerges from the van; best friends are about to become alpha rivals. Shane led the camp to safety at the beginning of the apocalypse, but it was Rick whose ingenuity has saved them this time. Carl and Lori reunite with Rick and he falls to the ground crying in happiness. Lori looks over Rick’s shoulder at Shane, and her look seems to say a bit more than “You and I are over.” There is some serious anger in those eyes.
That night they all sit around a camp fire and Lori confesses that she thought Rick died, and that the authorities said they would moved all the patients to Atlanta but when that failed, she wasn’t sure what happened. Lori’s guilt is already weighing on her shoulders as she grips Rick’s hand; she knows she gave up too soon. As much as I want to condemn her, how could she really have known?
At the other campfire, Mearle’s brother is breaking the fire rule – low embers only so they can’t be seen from a distance. Shane confronts him and it’s obvious that a lack of cooperation is something that runs in the Dixon family. (And this attitude is all happening before he even finds out about his brother’s fate.) They all discuss the proper way to tell his brother, with T-Dog and Rick exchanging shares of the full guilt. Most everyone stands by Rick and his decision to cuff Mearle. But it will start a fight, there’s no doubt about that.
In their tent, Rick kisses Carl goodnight and sweetly wraps himself around Lori and tells her that he knew he’d find her, confessing that he knew they were alive because the house was empty of all photos. Unlike the sordid coupling that occurred when Shane met Lori in the forest, Rick sweetly kisses her and looks at family albums. She apologizes for “everything” (of course she’s lumping sex with Shane in there without telling him) before offering him his wedding ring back and continuing on with make-up sex. He may be sweet but he’s still a dude okay? Shane keeps watch on the roof and is obviously bothered by this new development. Maybe you shouldn’t have had sex with your best friend’s wife, zombie apocalypse and or not. I’m just saying.
The next morning, Carl comes running out of the forest crying. The men rush to find the source of his trouble – it’s a walker, eating the flesh of a deer. Six men attempt to beat him to death to no avail until the oldest simply strikes his neck with an axe and beheads him. Of course this heats everyone up. As they argue over what this migration of a walker to their camp means, the walker’s head is still moving. His lips still attempting to smack – as Amy gasps “Oh god,” (and I did in total unison) one of the men puts an arrow through his eye. I think that’ll do it.
Rick finally admits to everyone that he handcuffed Mearle to the roof and left him there to die. Mearle’s brother charges Rick, but Shane comes to his rescue and wrestles the guy into a headlock so they can have a calm, civilized discussion. Rick tries to explain that Mearle is bad for everyone, but just then T-dog says that it was actually all his fault because he dropped the key to the cuffs. Mearle’s brother decides he needs to go back and get Mearle and out of guilt, Rick volunteers to go with. Lori is immediately angry and storms into a trailer.
Shane wants to understand why Rick is going to risk his life for a douchebag like Mearle, yes he meant “douchebag.” Rick points out that the way he left him is inhumane. Shane’s upset that he’s potentially losing four men to the rescue mission – Glenn, Mearle’s brother, Rick, Daryl. Lori is still angry but Rick reasons with her, saying that he’s got to get back to his bag of guns so that he can get the walkie talkie and communicate with the man who saved him in the first place and because they could use the ammunition. After a heated discussion with Shane (see what I mean about the alpha rivalry?) only has four rounds left in his pistol, and things are looking bleak.
Lori tries to console Carl about Rick’s decision, but he says he’s not worried. Lori is but Carl says that out of everything that has happened to Rick so far, nothing’s managed to kill him yet. Her firm grip on his little hand affirms her understanding amid continuing worry. It’s about that time that the foursome reaches the outskirts of Atlanta and charges in to save Mearle.
Back at the camp, Shane is still hanging onto his little family fantasy, teaching Carl to catch frogs. While all the women are hard at work, Shane takes all of his time to pal around with Carl and the women are left doing all the cleaning. Apparently apocalypse means we revert to 1955 and all the men get to be providers and the women are just there to support them. Obviously Andrea’s not that type of girl, because while the ladies talk about what they miss – coffee machines, texting, etc – Andrea gets real and admits that out of everything she misses her vibrator most. Mearle’s other brother walks over, and growls at the ladies telling them to get back to work. Guess he’s just like his oversized brother. At the same time, Lori storms over and berates Shane for still trying to be a part of their family, and she tells him that they need to eradicate any sign of their relationship. It turns out that Shane is the one who claimed that Rick was dead, which was the catalyst for his and Lori’s relationship. Believe it. Rick’s best friend ruined everything.
Mearle’s brother is still angry and threatens the women and his wife. He hits his wife and Andrea and the other ladies fight back against his sexist ways (seriously, are he and his brother from the dark ages?). Shane intervenes, taking out his anger over the situation with Lori on Ed. Not that Ed didn’t deserve a good beating for slapping his wife, but Shane goes overboard, beating Ed to a complete pulp (and this is a show where people smeared themselves in excrement, so you know there was no expense spared for the gore).
In the Atlanta department store, Rick mows down stragglers and they finally reach the roof but there is no Mearle. They did still have to break open the lock, so there is a chance that Mearle escaped unbitten, but the gang spots a severed hand, a saw and a bloody handcuff and Mearle’s brother cries out in fear and despair. What happened? Where’s Mearle? There’s only three episodes left this season before we find out. (Even though you super fans already know because you read the books, shh for now for the rest of us.)