Did I see shades of Tarantino peaking through “The Walking Dead” this week, using his iconic outward trunk-view shot? Interesting little nod there. Well, not to get overly excited based on past tendencies, but we’ve had three solid episodes in a row that present everything previously lacking. Somebody pinch me. The main addition has been an upgrade in zombie action, finally bringing horror back into focus instead of watching an apocalyptic soap opera week after week. Plus, we got the satisfaction of seeing high and mighty Lori get smacked down a peg, momentarily halting her increasingly bothersome presence. Those baby steps mentioned last week are covering more and more ground…
“18 Miles Out” sprints from the gate, showing us a beat up Shane and Rick fleeing from zombies while a tied up Randall worms his way towards a disregarded knife. No explanation or clues. Whaaaa?
FLASHBACK! Cut to earlier in the day and we learn Shane and Rick are in the process of dropping the now mostly healed Randall 18 miles away from the farm. In route, Rick pulls over and waits for Shane to get out before slamming him with the hard truths of their strained relationship. Rick opens up how he knows what Shane’s been saying and what he did, and levels with Shane saying that scary person has to be locked away. Rick assures Shane he himself is not the same person, taking care of his family is a priority, and in order to move on Shane has to move pas his love for Lori and her child which is only Rick’s alone. Truth bombs dropped.
Back on the farm, Lori brings Beth some food as she’s now moving about. We start to understand what is troubling Beth when she scorns Lori for bringing a child into this new world. (For the sake of not jumping from farm to Rick, I’ll just finish Beth’s side story now.) Lori goes back to check on Beth later, takes her untouched food away, but panics when the knife is missing. Beth’s suicidal intentions are now in full view, and Maggie verbally assaults her little sister based on the fear she’ll succeed next time. Andrea chimes in when talking to Lori, saying it wasn’t her place to make Beth’s decision to live for her. She then goes on to rip apart Lori and her ruling mentality, saying she has no right to judge anyone else as she’s suffered the least, while everyone else is dealing with their own mental anguish. After that tussle, Andrea offers to watch Beth so Maggie can rest, but opens the bathroom door as to let Beth make her own decision, like Andrea herself was stopped from doing. Lori discovers Beth locked in the bathroom crying, breaking in to reveal she only cut herself enough to wound. Andrea’s method may be drastic, but Beth makes her own choice to continue on.
Now that we’re up to speed on the farm, cue action. Rick decides he wants to give Randall a fighting chance, so he finds a desolate looking gated public administration complex to dump the boy. Rick convinces Shane to save ammo by showing him how effective knifing is when walkers are alone. Rick slices his fingers and smears blood on the fence, as to bait the zombie. One swift jab to the head and the zombie is silently dealt with. Inside, they throw a pleading Randall on the asphalt, with nothing but a knife to cut himself loose, if he can even crawl to it. While spouting off reasons Rick should let Randall tag along, he exposes before the world went to hell Maggie was a classmate…meaning he probably knows exactly where the Green farm is anyway. Good old irrational Shane jumps into action and immediately tries to shoot Randall, eliminating the problem. Rick throws Shane, words are exchanged, and a brawl ensues, which ends with Shane hurling a wrench at Rick, missing and breaking a large window. Big mistake. A sea of zombies pour out of the window, bringing us back to the beginning. Randall cuts himself loose and brutally wallops a walker, Rick escapes a zombie pile up, and Shane gets trapped in a school bus. Shane, in the most trouble, uses Rick’s blood trickery on the zombies to slay then one by one, but looses grip on the knife and watches it fall back from the bus still stuck in a walker’s head. Rick meets up with Randall, who suggests the two leave the trapped Shane…something we assume only Shane would do. But Rick, in a moment of extreme consequences, agrees. Shane watches Rick run in shock, but we watch Rick stumble upon two zombies still in officer’s gear and have a sentimental moment. Shane then sees Rick and Randall roll up to the back of the bus in their SUV, and the three escape. Rick and Shane’s relationship only becomes more entangled with the act of bravery…while Randall is stuck in the trunk again.
Ok, so after that episode, we need to talk about Shane. This same point I’m about to question was brought up by Chris Hardwick and Kevin Smith on “Talking Dead” Sunday night, so it’s good to know others are curious. Wait, actually, let’s start back when Rick and Shane examined the dead zombie cop carcasses for the full analysis. Shane notices the bodies are clean of bite marks, and Rick deduces the flesh scratches via zombie were enough to let the infection in. A short exchange of possible foreshadowing, but nothing is ever mentioned of this again after the quick observation. Fast forward to Shane in the bus. He remembers Rick slicing open his finger and spreading his blood for the zombies to lap up, so he follows suit. With the knife he already used to puncture a zed head. So let’s do the math. Shane slices open his hand with a knife we can assume is covered in contagious zombie blood, and if the cops were turned just by scratches, Shane just did the equivalent of injecting zombie blood directly into his own. Are we about to watch the demise of Shane via a slow, disease ridden death?
What other noteworthy occurrences went on this week? Rick and Shane’s animosity towards each other FINALLY boiled over into confrontation, and we were treated to a fairly righteous street fight with Randall’s life hanging in the balance. The extra life dependent on the winner added more tension to the beating, knowing if Shane knocked Rick out the poor defenseless boy would be capped in the head. But finally, after all that anger and frustration, it seems that Rick and Shane are finally coming to some understanding, helped by the fact that Rick saved Shane’s life even when all logic pointed to fleeing. We know what Shane would have done, and more importantly I think Shane himself knows what he would have done, yet Rick proved humanity was still an option and the brash, selfish decision doesn’t have to be jumped to. Look for Shane to either A) accept Rick as leader, proving a balance between hard lawman and focused leader B) prove his insanity and block out all rationality, still believing his fantasy world where Shane is king or C) blame Rick for thinking of leaving and fuel the hate fire even more. Take your pick. Truth be told, Rick walking out on Shane would have been a dose of cold ironic medicine, and a bruised, tattered, pissed off Shane storming the farm during the season finale is too tantalizing to not imagine. Rick keeps his moral code clean though, and possibly saves Shane from himself. For the show’s sake though, probably not.
Sum everything else up and you’ve got a moral/religious drama questioning Beth’s decision to kill herself being rational during the zombie apocalypse, but that point has been done before with Andrea. Beth’s safe, Andrea has another reason to leave now that the women hate her, and gender roles come into question as well. Do women have to stay in the kitchen and make their zombie hunting men a sandwich? Or if a gal can shoot, do you let her patrol? Last time I checked women had the right to vote and equal rights, and I don’t see how the apocalypse voids that. And anyway, it’s the apocalypse, are there even rules? A gun is a gun, no matter who pulls the trigger. A silly conversation between Andrea and Lori that didn’t need to happen, as we didn’t see T-Dawg or Dale or anyone else keeping watch. Wait, did we even see T-Dawg? Didn’t even dawn on me watching the episode, no matter. The other small yet intriguing detail that got me thinking was the mass of zombies following Rick’s car as it broke through the back gate, creeping down the trail. Sure, 18 miles is a lengthy distance, but if the farm is a straight shot, did Rick just lure a horde straight into their home? Speculations, thoughts, maybe even hopes, but not out of the question. Guess we’ll find out next week? Only three episodes left, and the thought of amping up all aspects even more puts a grin on my already satisfied face.