S2E9: Good things really do come to those who wait. A big concern throughout the second season of The Walking Dead has been “Where are the walkers?” or “Why is there so much talking and staying put?” “What’s with all this talk about life and death and philosophy?” Well, it had a purpose and now we’re staring down the barrel of that purpose: Shane. The character who was offed right away in the comic book version of the story has stuck around, and now it’s his outlook and philosophy that could bring everything to a screeching halt. Was it right to give up on Sophia or assume she’s gone? Is it right for Carl to grow up knowing how to use guns in a world where he has no qualms about using them? Is it right to kill your accomplice so that you can escape and save a little boy’s life? What does it mean to do the right thing in this new version of the world? These questions all lead us to this point.
Last week, Rick came face to face with what that means: kill or be killed, even when it comes to the living. He killed to protect what’s his because that’s just the way things are in this new world, but is there still room for a little humanity? In Rick’s mind, the answer is “yes,” as complicated as that “yes” may be. But Shane has almost turned off his humanity. It’s Shane’s way, or a bullet in your chest – we saw that when he threatened Dale. Yet, he’s still got a soul inside somewhere, as we saw him comfort Carol last episode, but when it comes time to make a decision, he turns it off completely, which means he could turn it off in a confrontation with the living and make a regrettable decision.
“Your friends drew on us, they gave us no choice…You know it’s like that now.” –Rick
At the bar, just after Rick shot Dave and Tony, they’re removing ammo from the corpses when a car pulls up with two people calling for the dead men. Hershel, Glenn and Rick have to hide, and the men try to come into the bar, but Glenn slams the door shut again, signaling that there are members of the living inside. The men are angry and demand an explanation of where their friends are, and since they don’t seem to want to leave, Rick finally shouts out that they drew on Rick and he had to protect himself. That’s the way it is now, even if it’s regretful. Of course, the men aren’t so understanding and they shoot the glass above Glenn’s head sending them all to find shelter deeper in the bar. The men won’t let up, and Glenn looks for a way out through the back. The scene is utterly suspenseful, with Glenn in a pitch-black room other than the light creeping through the dirty windows. It brings a stark new reality into focus: in this almost Wild West atmosphere, the living must also fear the living. The walking dead are no longer the only plague upon them – it’s a theme that has been touched on in this horror genre, but The Walking Dead is exploring it rather fully.
Rick sends Glenn for the car while Hershel covers him, but someone fires at Glenn right away and Hershel shoots the gunman. Rick runs over to Glenn and someone shoots again. The shooter is on a roof but a driver pulls up and says Walkers (or “Roamers”) are coming and they have to leave; he makes the guy jump, but the jumper misses and skewers his leg on a fleur du lis spike on a fence. His friends leave him just as walkers overtake the man Hershel shot – and here’s your gore, horror-philes. The walkers literally eat his face off as Hershel feels incredible guilt for what he did – it’s his fault that man is being eaten alive.
Rick of course, wants to save the guy who jumped, but because of the spike’s floret, they can’t pull it off. They’ll have to amputate, but they don’t have time and all they have is Rick’s heavy duty Swiss army knife. Hershel tries, but the guy’s screams are attracting the walkers and they aren’t able to hold them off any longer. Rick rips the guy’s leg off the spike – he refuses to leave him to be eaten alive, even though just two minutes ago, the man was shooting at Glenn. It’s this element that makes Shane think Rick is reckless and stupid, but it’s also the element that makes us, as viewers want to follow him to the ends of the earth. You can’t be a leader and a hero without accomplishing a few courageous, inspiring feats. That’s the part Shane doesn’t get.
“You cannot stop lying. My husband is back safe and sound, my husband is dead in some hospital.” –Lori
Lori is still alive after the accident, but she’s got a walker clawing at the car. It finally gets its face through the window and Lori is forced to break off the car door handle and stab the walker in the face. And the suspense continues as she steps out of the car and is almost taken down by another walker. She finally finds her gun and shoots him, but while it saved her life for the moment, she now has no shelter and little ammunition – and the gunshot was a dinner bell for nearby walkers.
At the farm, they finally realize she’s gone and when they can’t find her on the grounds, Daryl callously mentions she left to find Rick. Shane goes after her and finds her car but Lori is gone and there’s a dead walker hanging out of her totaled car. When he finds her walking along the road alone, as unlikely as that is, he lies to get her to come back to the farm. He says Rick is there and he’s safe. Of course, she immediately finds out he lied when they get back and his “retribution” is saying he did it to protect the baby – he says this in front of Carl, who didn’t know about the pregnancy. Strike two – and we’re only counting this episode.
He pulls Lori aside, saying he’ll keep her safe, but she fires right back about him killing Otis. He says he did it out of love and she says she told Rick about them. He’s immediately fired up, saying that their relationship was real while she insists it wasn’t. And again we have the theme of the validity of love borne out of trauma, and in this case, even if Shane’s right and it was real, Lori can’t admit that. It would make it impossible for her to stay with Rick. If she admits to herself that anything with Shane was real, how can she keep her family together? Rick did nothing wrong to deserve losing her – why should he suffer because he was laid up in a hospital and Shane wasn’t?
“Glenn’s a good guy.” –Maggie
“Yeah, he is.” –Andrea
Maggie is worrying about her sister’s survival and hoping for Glenn to return with her father, because they don’t know what else to do to help the girl. Andrea assures her that Glenn and Rick will bring Hershel back, and Maggie lights up. She really is in love with him – trauma or not.
But when he returns later with Rick and Hershel, he pulls her aside and says that her love for him is a danger – he’s now selfish because he doesn’t want his death to cause her pain. He says he froze, that he couldn’t help Rick and Hershel because he was too worried about hiding and saving himself. This logic only makes sense for Glenn, because Rick also protects himself so that he can return home to his wife, but he also takes great strides to protect others. This is linked to the greater theme of protecting yourself and your possessions at any cost – his being his life and Maggie’s happiness – but the idea that he can’t do anything but hide as his selfish act is very specifically a Glenn issue. Even so, it doesn’t seem very Glenn-like to blame Maggie for the fact that he has trouble protecting himself – he was jumpy before someone loved him. Plus, the prospect of Maggie and Glenn is a good one, let’s not go squandering it so quickly.
“Shane thinks I’m his. He thinks the baby is his. He says you can’t protect us, that you’re going to get us killed. He’s dangerous, Rick, and he won’t stop.” –Lori
And now, for the splitting of the group. Rick and Hershel bring back the injured man and Hershel plans to repair his leg as best he can, and then send him on his way with a canteen. Andrea notes that’s the same as leaving him for the walkers, but more importantly, Shane is worried that the boy will bring his people back to the farm, and that they’ll have a war on their hands. (Even though Rick blindfolded the kid.) Andrea lands on the Shane side of the split, agreeing that Shane does more than anyone to protect the group and that she and Shane need to stop Rick and Hershel from getting them killed – still, she notes that’s Shane’s methods are a little over-the-top. You think?
On the other side of the debate, we find Lori and Rick, who are helping each other undress (because this show doesn’t have enough sex, they’ve got to find a place for it somewhere). She’s growing concerned about Shane because he thinks the baby is his. Rick seems to be amused by how angry Lori is about Shane going after her and lying to bring her back – because those offenses were harmless and kept her safe – but his mood changes when she says he threatened Dale and probably killed Otis. She’s sure he thinks he’s supposed to be with her no matter what. This, coupled with Rick’s admission that he just killed two men to protect his family and their safe haven, brings her to a very ominous conclusion: if Rick is willing to kill armed strangers to keep his family safe, what will Shane, who lacks Rick’s humanity, do when he finally decides that Rick really can’t protect them and that it’s time for him to assume his role as father of Lori’s baby? All signs point to: Shane will try to kill Rick.
This conversation paired with Dale’s concern that Shane will eventually kill someone create quite a bit of tension and suspense. Shane’s about reached his breaking point, and this rescue of a strange boy is the final straw. Could he really try to kill Rick or Hershel? Could he really go that far?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments or get at me on Twitter. @KelseaStahler