Damn you AMC. Of course the instant “Walking Dead” heats up we’re reminded after this weeks episode the show will be taking a short break until February. But as much as we hate waiting, that puts a lot of weight on the final episode prior to the mid-season break. So much to discuss about the events that unfolded in the aptly titled “Secrets”, named for the floodgate of conflicts that become public at once. The question now becomes how will the break influence the show, because originally I figured the clash between Rick’s gang and Hershel wouldn’t come forward until the end of the season. But look at the preview for next week and we can only assume as this week’s episode comes to an end, the living arrangements on Hershel’s farm will be permanent with or without his permission.
So what did we learn in “Secrets”? Well, most importantly, Glenn can’t keep a secret for his life. Glenn is sworn to secrecy about Lori’s pregnancy already, and now he has to keep the whole zombies in a barn thing secret as well. Can he? Nope, Glenn caves to Dale and starts a chain of events that increases tensions even more. Dale, knowing what’s in the barn now, approaches Hershel and tries to reason with him. We learn its Hershel’s family being kept in the barn, as he forcefully explains to Dale no one else is to know about the barn for fear of overreaction. Dale also eventually gets to Lori, and gives her a pregnancy lecture, noting she should be resting and taking care of herself. So much for those secrets.
Meanwhile, Rick decides everyone can use some gun training, and appoints Shane instructor. Everyone practices by shooting bottles, even Carl after some protest from Lori. It turns out Andrea is actually a crack shot, so Shane decides to give her the “advanced class.” While trying to fire her up though, Shane brings up Amy’s death and offends Andrea. She walks off, but Shane catches up and shows his trust in her by partnering up to look for Sophia. Talk was that a small gated community could be a good place to look, so the duo go to investigate. Alas, no Sophia, but the two stumble upon a whole mess of zombies. Andrea gets some real gun training on the walkers as her and Shane fight their way out. While driving back to the farm, Andrea shows her interest in Shane and the two get freaky in the car. After arriving back at camp, Dale notices the glow about the two, and has an altercation with Shane. From this, good ol’ crazy Shane comes back out, as he threatens Dale to stay out of his way. The two are now at odds.
Lori’s pregnancy situation gets pretty sticky in this episode, as she struggles with the choice of aborting the baby or birthing it into the newly apocalyptic world. It’s not till the very end of the episode that Rick finds out, after Lori leaves out a package of morning after pills Glenn and Maggie went into town for (side note: Maggie is attacked by a walker and is almost killed while retrieving the supplies). Lori takes the pills but immediately throws them up, not being able to decide on her own. Rick finds her alone, just looking out into the scenery, and confronts her about the pills. End scene.
Well well well, Shane was acting particularly non-psychotic the last episode or two. “Secrets” brings out that dark side of Shane again, and makes you wonder how this whole Dale thing will work out. Andrea and Shane’s relationship is a major deviation from the comic but was no surprise, as there has always been a visible connection between the two. Dale has played the father figure for Andrea to this point, but her fling is going to cause one of two possible scenarios **comic spoilers to follow**: A) Shane and Andrea become an item despite Dale B) Shane goes crazy and drives Andrea to Dale as in the comic (Shane doesn’t do this in the comic, but Andrea and Dale are together). I would like to see this plot point carry over from the comics as it’s a very concrete part of the story, but this could go back to Robert Kirkman’s quote about re-imagining certain characters and their actions from comic relationship to TV show. It makes perfect sense that the two are together, but the comic holds so much more weight. Andrea’s age is depicted by a much older actress so the effect would be lost, as in the comic Andrea was much younger. From this, Kirkman was able to create a real relationship based on love and desire out of such a bleak situation while questioning our human nature, challenging normal taboos (age gap) that would be scrutinized in normal society. Their love was a source of inspiration in the comic, showing not everything had to be about death and destruction, and having that gave hope to the audience. Again, because Andrea is played by Laurie Holden (in her 40s) while the character in the comic is 26, it would be more “acceptable” at least, but I’m still pulling for Dale 100%.
Speaking of Dale, I liked to see his peacemaking attitude come out. This episode was a perfect example of how he’s the level-headed elder of the group, navigating carefully around the two secrets Glenn spills. He confronts both Hershel and Lori, but not in a stand offish manner. Dale is able to have simple conversation and keep you at ease, even being able to rationalize keeping zombies in the barn. Dale’s strength is his good will, and we haven’t seen it in full force to this point with anyone but Andrea. Look for Dale to be a crucial factor in Hershel’s decision to let the survivors stay.
Cleaning up the rest of the points, I was happy the show kept the subtle touch of Carl wearing Rick’s hat, which parallels the comic. Nothing huge, but a nice nod for us readers. It also looks as if Daryl and Andrea are on decent terms after she grazed him with a bullet. When she brings him a book to read as a peace-offering/apology, he simply says something along the lines of “You were protecting the group…we’re good.” A nice statement from the survivalist Daryl, but we have to think he might just be blowing off the situation. Merle didn’t come back in vision from this episode, so it’s too early to say if those ramblings swayed Daryl against the group secretly. We’ll just have to wait and see on that aspect. Lastly, Maggie is now getting into the head of Glenn, telling him he’s a born leader but the others don’t want him to see that. She’s afraid he’ll be killed running one of the numerous errands, but we have to see how the show plays Glenn’s ego from here on out. I think he’ll shrug off this notion, but maybe this is the place Kirkman re-imagines Glenn to be that very leader type and take charge, maybe not even with this group. Loose ends, but still worth discussing.
Next week we’re all looking forward to how Rick can sway Hershel’s mind about letting them stay. Violence? Debate? All will be answered, I hope. The last thing I need is some cliffhanger ending, making me wait until February to find out. But a mid-season break calls specifically for such action, so I’ll just have to pray to the TV gods this time. Till next time….