Boy howdy, has this show adopted a slash-and-burn policy. For the penultimate episode of The Walking Dead's second season, we saw a frightful moment between brawling frenemies Rick and Shane, and things took a turn for the Romero extremely quickly.
It's the end of the season, so spoilers way on. We can break last night's episode, "Better Angels," into distinct two portions:
Part I: Before Lori decided to apologize to Shane for spurning him after Rick woke up (and both former lovers began acting terrible for give or take a dozen episodes). This part of "Better Angels" was mostly a muted farewell to Dale, that dead face-maker, whose grimace the characters eulogize. The survivors agree that reinforcing the farm is now a stellar idea, which is comedic for reasons we soon discover.
Some marginally interesting stuff happened here. T-Dog volunteered to sleep on the couch, Darryl and Rick had an alpha dog mutual fist-bump, Hershel remembered his battle with alcoholism, and The Walking Dead-tinged Mad Men ad during the commercial break turned right around and ribbed said vanquished dipsomania. "And everyone drinks like Hershel used to!" barked the AMC pitchman. Oof.
Even though things have grown stale on the farm, I didn't hate these scenes. When they were drudgery, they were nostalgic drudgery, like pop quizzes after Memorial Day. We know that Hershel's farm isn't long for this world because of the second half of "Better Angels" a.k.a. —
Part II: After Lori raises Shane's hopes and he goes face-slappingly crazy. This was the fun stuff. Shane always keeps a little bit of nutbar cooking in the broiler. Lori's grief-struck "Hey, we could've been something if only my pesky husband didn't wake up from that coma" utterance drives Shane to off everybody on his to-kill list.
Sure, his plan doesn't make any damn sense — dump Randall a mile outside of Hershel's farm and explain away shooting Rick in the head — but he's crazy Shane! He pulled a Summer Glau from Dollhouse! There's simply no reasoning with this man.
As anyone with an internet connection's figured out, Shane's plan didn't pan out whatsoever. Here are the most important things we learned in the last 30 minutes of the episode:
1.) Dead dumb Randall's camp is an absolute sausagefest.
2.) The recently deceased are now becoming zombified, bite or no bite, and thanks to the undead pathogen presumably.
3.) Shane will no longer be with the cast, as Rick stabbed him in the stomach and Carl shot zombie-him in the head.
4.) Becoming a zombie requires one to watch a health class highlight reel of zombies having fun (i.e. eating people, running into fences).
5.) Shane began the show looking like John Oates. Now he does not.
6.) A herd of zombies was chilling surreptitiously just outside of Hershel's farm.
We still don't know what Jenner whispered to Rick at the CDC — I'm guessing it could have to do with the second point, but why would Rick keep that to himself? That's not entirely unhelpful knowledge. Say T-Dog overdosed on Walter White's blue meth or a roc suddenly burst from the sky and grabbed Lori to feed its young. They'd be in a world of shit, more so with that roc around. Maybe Rick thought it would be bad for morale. The revelation, not the roc, I mean. Now I want to watch a Sinbad movie, and I don't mean First Kid.
Anyway, I liked this episode because it was a big undead enema purging all the Shane-Lori-Rick melodrama and barnyard follies clogging the narrative colon. And next episode, I'm pretty sure we'll see a few more nobodies (cough, all of Hershel's faceless family minus Maggie, cough) bite the dust.
The comic book does offer us a rough roadmap as to where the show could go, but it's not an instructive parallel anymore. Hooray for total plot ambiguity (save The Governor)! Looking forward to the zombie buffet next week, and The Walking Dead 3: The Rise of T-Dog next season.