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Walking Dead Episode 207

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The Walking Dead leads us into winter break with an episode that proves horror can be gut-wrenching without gore. The survivors are all getting just a little bit crazy, and it’s easy to see why. This was pretty much the perfect mid-season break episode, resolving a lot of plot threads, but also setting up some slam-bang awesomeness to come in the second half of the season.

We start off with Glenn getting ready to give a short speech to the camp. He’s got an angel on one shoulder (Maggie shaking her head sternly at him) and an annoying busybody on his other shoulder (Dale waving his beard at him). Glenn seems to have developed some resolve, though, as he calls everyone to attention and spills the beans on Hershel’s groovy zombie hoedown. I don’t really see why it’s such a big deal, since they’ve been living with the zombies nearby for quite some time now and didn’t even realize they were there.

I love how this show telegraphs romantic scenes. Here’s a hint: watch for glistening cleavage. Glenn makes it all clear when he finally explains to Maggie how he feels, both about the dangers in the world he lives in and about her. Walkers are dangerous, man! It doesn’t matter if they’re locked in a barn, the survivors are sick of the constant fear. What they thought was a sanctuary is really a wild zombie preserve. Let’s all give Glenn a congratulatory slap on the back for growing a pair and turning his relationship with Maggie up a notch.

Another set of relationship issues is resolved when Dale and Andrea have their talk in the motorhome. Dale resolves to keep sticking his nose in other people’s business, Andrea resolves to keep not giving a crap. While it’s Shane that has a full-on meltdown later, Dale gives in to his own special form of crazy, letting his God complex run wild. These people are way too unstable to have guns, better hide them in the swamp. Then only Dale will know where the guns are, letting him exert his particular brand of wide-eyed passive-aggressive control over the group. What a dick.

This leads us to Shane, who apparently still has plenty of time to work on his lats, tracking Dale and having yet another angry confrontation. Here’s Dale’s logic: I have to take away the guns so people won’t get shot, and I’ll shoot someone to make sure of it. He backs down in the end and amazingly escapes once again without a Shane’s-fist-shaped dent in the side of his head. And yet he still manages to be holier-than-thou the entire time.

There are so many different flavors of crazy on display here. Hershel has reacted to the horror of watching his family and friends turn into zombies by developing a weird kind of misbegotten compassion for them. At some point during the zombie lasso and cattle drive process, there has to be a voice in his head calmly observing how completely ludicrous the whole thing is. If Hershel is too deluded, then Rick at least should have said, “Ok wait, this is really, really stupid.”

The zombie round-up sets off the gripping, stunning ending. Shane reacts in a way I think a lot of people could empathize with — at first. Then he Hulks out, makes a cheap redneck joke at Daryl’s expense (although he has a point about the zombie ears), and finally tears open the barn to force a confrontation. There was something about Shane’s eyes in this episode — black, cold and hard, like a shark. You could sense his sanity slipping away bit by bit.

The zombie massacre was intense, and it accomplished what this show has been promising all along. It found emotional depth in the middle of violence and horror. On one level, that was just another scene of survivors with fairly good aim taking out walkers. We’ve seen dozens like it. Yet the expression of inexorable horror on Hershel’s face told another story. As nutty as his “zombies are just sick people” views may be, you could still sense his agony and view the scene from his point of view. To him, this wasn’t just a bunch of zombies getting taken out. He was watching his own family members, his lifelong friends and neighbors blown away by a heavily armed mob. It was his worst fear come true. The anguish for him was palpable (a stirring performance by actor Scott Wilson), and the pile of corpses uncomfortably brought to mind real-life scenes of horrific massacres. At the same time the audience was feeling a catharsis, the building tension of the zombies in the barn and the conflicting factions at the farm released in a hail of bullets.

Who should come staggering out the barn door once all the dust has settled? The Littlest Zombie, missing Sophia herself. It was a stunning revelation and a great payoff for the Sophia storyline. A lot of people have complained at how long the search for Sophia went on this season, but drawing it out really did make this moment all the more shocking. As Carol throws herself to the ground, it has to be Rick who fires the final bullet, putting zombie Sophia down.

It all gives us one hell of a set up for the second half of the season (though having to wait until February will be agonizing). Shane seems poised to start a new, violence-first faction with Andrea at his side. Hershel might go completely off the deep end. Rick might continue trying to appease every living and non-living thing he meets. We have the budding Glenn/Maggie relationship to explore, plus some interesting and complex feelings growing between Daryl and Carol. Plus, Lori’s baby. Maybe it will zombify in the womb and chew its way out.

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Posted by on Sunday, November 27th, 2011. Filed under Dark TV, Headline, Images. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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