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Walking Dead Episode 212

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When an episodic TV show gets close to the season finale, it’s time to take all those dangling plot threads, hack them off with a hunting knife, break their necks, then shoot them in the head. This week’s Walking Dead managed all that, plus a major character death and a brilliant setup for next week.

The opening scene this week has Rick delivering Dale’s eulogy. It was a predictable scene – Rick is sure this will bring them all together with a renewed sense of justice, letting them carry on in Dale’s furry-browed, gape-mouthed, self-righteous memory – but it’s intercut with scenes of Shane and the zombie-stompin’ gang out on the countryside looking for walkers to punish. More than anything, this shows how shambling zombies in small groups aren’t really a big threat in mid-afternoon. You can kill them with an axe, a shovel, or just trip them and stomp their heads in. Just depends on whether you’re working on a speed run or aiming for style points.

The obligatory, “walking around the farm” scenes have an added sense of urgency as everyone packs their things up for the big move into the house. It will be tight quarters, we’re reminded, then reminded again by T-Dog, his only dialog this week. I honestly have no idea what Hershell was all fired up about that made moving everyone indoors so urgent. Something about the swamp hardening up, and 50 head of cattle, and “Might as well ring the dinner bell.” Wha? Well, it least it got everyone moving.

Our weekly dose of Crazy Lori has her chatting up Shane, crying to Shane, comforting Shane, egging Shane on and otherwise being completely random and insane. Lori has no actual motivations or emotions – she exists as a blank slate that the writers can project various plot elements on, as needed for a given episode. This week I guess it was supposed to presage Shane going utterly bonkers a short while later?

Shane actually comes up with a reasonable plan after Carl reveals his role in Dale’s death. He tells Rick about Carl, suggests he should deal with his son, and Shane and Daryl can take Randall, “An hour out, an hour back.” Instead, Rick meets Carl in the hayloft and has the talk that all fathers someday must have with their sons: “People are gonna die. I’m gonna die. Your mom’s gonna die. Here’s a gun.” Cut to silhouette shot, father’s arm around son’s shoulders, and cue the gentle violin music. Cut.

Then Shane loses his mind. He fakes Randall’s escape (poorly – he apparently refastened the combination lock behind him after taking Randall out of the barn?), then drags him into the woods and dupes him into thinking Shane wants to join the rival band. Randall has been stupidly honest about his gang, describing them as a rough bunch. Seriously, who brings up gang rape, like Randall did last week, when you’re trying to convince everyone you’re a non-threat?

One broken neck and head-butted tree later, Shane is telling everyone that Randall got the jump on him and fled with a gun. Rick barks orders, but Daryl is skeptical right off the bat. It was hard to tell what exactly Shane’s plan was at first. I figured he’d shoot Randall and tell everyone he had to kill him before he escaped. Instead he induced a panic, and all became clear once he got Rick alone. But I’ll come back to that.

Daryl and Glenn are out in the woods in the dark tracking Randall. What a great buddy cop movie these two would make. Daryl spots all kinds of inconsistencies with Shane’s story, and Glenn gets creeped out by all the weirdness. The tension builds when they spot a walker. Turns out in the woods at night, a single shambling zombie can be a terrible threat, especially when your buddies are out there so you’re not sure if it’s a zombie. Also, crossbows are not good close-range weapons. They struggle with zombie Randall until Glenn pulls off the “knife to zombie forehead” maneuver. What’s next? Another clue about zombie ecology! Daryl is sure there are zero bite marks on Randall’s body. It’s the broken neck that did him in. How, then, did he zombify?

Shane and Rick are off on their own, ostensibly looking for Randall. Rick is clued in that something’s fishy, and takes the bait when Shane offers him a gentlemanly, “Go ahead.” Incredible cinematography there as we see a long shot and the two of them standing on a lonely hillside, illuminated by the gibbous moon. Shane appears hulking, slouching, a seething wretch. Rick stands taller, nobler, his gun visible in its holster.

What follows is a brilliant standoff, an asymmetrical showdown where Shane is so crazed he isn’t sure if he wants to kill Rick or goad Rick into killing him, and Rick desperately wants to avoid killing Shane, but knows pretty early on that he has no other choice, for his family’s sake. We know from the tragic tale of the two guys in the bar that Rick is pretty damn fast on the draw, but when he holds his gun out to Shane in a show of peace, I wasn’t quite expecting the knife to the heart. For all his macho bluster, how does Shane go down? Firing his gun ineffectually into the dirt.

The Carl-shoots-zombie-Shane scene after that was anticlimactic, although it was creepy waiting for Shane’s corpse to zomb up. That happened fast, much faster than Andrea’s sister, for instance. And we know for a fact that no zombie had contact with Shane after he died. The plague is changing.
Better yet, the setup for the season finale is leading right toward one of the classic zombie scenarios of all time. Hell, it’s the original zombie scenario. It’s Night of the Living Dead. Strangers trapped in an isolated farmhouse against a rising tide of undead horror. Looks like there will be shotguns galore, Daryl taking out walkers while riding a motorcycle, and general badassery to round out season two. Can I get a hell yeah?

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Posted by on Sunday, March 11th, 2012. 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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