Walking Dead Ep18 “Better Angels”

Dale is dead, Randall is dead, Shane is dead…and we haven’t even hit the finale yet?  Interesting.  Surely I thought “Walking Dead” would save the biggest drama (Rick vs. Shane) for last, but maybe they still did?  Thankfully, no one is safe from the roaming zombies or horrific circumstances, much like Kirkman established via his original publication.  Still though, writers for the TV show do no justice towards his graphic masterpiece, struggling to obtain undead perfection.  Do I sound like a crybaby and enjoy the show more than my writing lets on?  Yes, undoubtably, but I still haven’t reach the point of exuberant horror praise with respect to “The Walking Dead”.  Will the end to season 2 redeem all injustices?  At least we know walkers will be present!

So, in “Better Angels” we find out Dale’s death is not ignored and Rick states the group needs to retain their once humane nature.  Step one?  Release Randall as once determined.  No more ferocious mob mentality.  Guess who isn’t happy with that call?  The one and only Shane.  But, to his disapproval, Shane puts his head down and follows the herd as to not start trouble.  With the new mindset, Hershel lets Rick’s company move into the house at last, and the group fortifies positions around the farm to increase safety.  Things on Greene Acres finally start to look up.
Until the drama unfolds yet again.  Shane has heart to hearts with both Carl and Lori that rekindle some old flames, kick starting Shane’s old feelings about Rick.  Carl confesses to Shane about aggravating the zombie who killed Dale, as Lori opens up to Shane and expresses her gratitude towards Rick’s best friend for taking care of the two in her husband’s absence.  Shane tells Rick about Carl’s dilemma, and becomes infuriated when Rick pushes the task of talking to the boy on Lori, calling out Rick yet again for neglecting his family.  Cue chaos.
Shane gets fed up with the handling of Randall, and takes matters into his own hands.  First, he struggles with killing Randall in the shed, but hatches a better plan.  Walking Randall through the woods under the guise that Shane is following Randall to his old camp, we see Shane throw Randall behind a tree and hear an unsettling noise.  Only Shane emerges, who immediately bashes his face on the tree, faking a surprise attack.  After hiding his gun under some leaves, Shane runs to the group (who has just found Randall missing) and exclaims the boy jumped him and swiped his firearm.  Rick, Shane, Daryl, and Glenn take to the woods in hunt, spitting up to leave Rick and Shane alone.
Glenn and Daryl are the duo to stumble upon Randall first, who has reanimated and joined the walking dead.   After putting him down, the two deduce a clean neck break caused death after no bites were discovered.  Shortly after, Shane’s blood stain is noticed on the tree, and the two begin to wonder how Randall ended up in the woods.
Cut back to Shane and Rick, and we get the final confrontation.  As Shane leads Rick blindly through the woods, Rick starts asking his own questions about the tiny Randall startling Shane, and just how he escaped a locked shed.  Soon enough, after reach and open plain, Rick calls out Shane on his true intentions.  Just as predicted, Shane enters into a speech about how Rick can’t keep the others safe anymore and hasn’t changed, going as far to say Carl and Lori would easily get over him.  Rick refuses to raise his weapon on Shane, leaving his mentally unstable friend to kill an unarmed man.  Shane looks confused and conflicted, and in his flustered state gives Rick an opening at a clean stab square in the heart.  Rick screams at his friend for forcing him to murder, standing over his body as it bleeds out.  Carl shows up not soon after, alarmed at the situation.  He raises the gun Rick forced him to keep, causing his father to beg for understanding.  Little does he know, zombie Shane is creeping up behind, and Carl dispatches of the undead version of a man who was almost his new father.  Rick and Carl embrace, but the camera pans out to reveal a herd of zombies now charging the farm who were drawn in by the gunfire.  Finale time…

***Please note: Comic spoilers to follow in this paragraph***
I wish, oh I wish the TV version of “The Walking Dead” had the balls of Kirkman’s comic.  Let’s just discuss Shane’s end very quickly.  If you were a comic fan, the incident was inevitable, and even if you were just a show watcher, this event has been brewing for episodes.  Dramatic, but no shock value.  And Carl’s involvement?  Can we just take a look at the crack shot Carl would have had to pull off based on the positioning of Rick and Shane above?  So apparently Carl is Wyatt Earp and can whiz a bullet right by his dad’s head, resulting in a perfect head shot?  Must be the magic sheriff’s hat…  Ok, sure, whatever, I’ll let it go as at least the writers stuck to Kirkman’s comic somewhat, having the young Grimes boy put down Shane.  But yet again, the material is softened for the wider TV viewing audience.  Kirkman revealed so much more about Carl’s jaded childhood mindset by having Carl kill an alive Shane instead of making it just about survival, killing zombie Shane.  In the comic, Carl finds Rick and Shane alone in the woods, just as the show writers created, but instead finds a clearly disturbed Shane with every intention of eliminating Rick on the spot, instead of the TV Shane who stalls long enough for Rick’s comeback.  Making for loads more human drama and game changing personal conflict, Carl shoots Shane in the neck, protecting his father by way of murder.  A young child, growing up in the apocalypse, has to murder a mentor and friend in order to keep his own family safe.  Ho-ly-sh#t.  Now, in the show, Rick can easily just tell Carl Shane was a zombie, it had to be done, yadda yadda, releasing the boy of all guilt.  Sure, the happier and more forgiving story, but do you know what isn’t forgiving?  The apocalypse.  These are scary times where people have to do things before thought incomprehensible, as we saw Rick do by killing Shane.  But there lies yet another problem for me: Shane had an elongated opportunity to carry out his plan, not to mention ample time.  Friendship and feelings aside, we know Shane’s unstable thought process.  Rick only made his plan easier by refusing to fight back, so why did Shane hesitate so long?  I know why: human compassion, back story, television tension, Rick had to win…the list goes on.  Maybe Shane wasn’t that bad a guy after all, and couldn’t bring himself to kill Rick in the end.  Right, this is after Shane tries to kill him once before when releasing Randall?  I don’t buy it.  The way Shane had been built up and how his personality finally snapped, killing an unarmed Rick for the betterment of Lori and Carl (in his mind) shouldn’t even have been a decision.  Shane literally tells Rick his family won’t have a problem getting over their loss.  His sick mind was made and we know nothing can stop him when in berserker mode (Otis, Randall, the barn…).  It was almost as if the writers forgot all the twisted things they made Shane do to this point in order to create a completely uncharacteristic and segregated moment.  Basically, we get the puffy marshmallow resolution to a conflict (considering Rick stabbing Shane to death safe that is), missing out on the loads of moral strife squandered by demographic influenced decisions.
***Comic spoilers over***

In other news, T-Dawg had a line!  Oh, you cheeky jokester you.  Who has money down he doesn’t make it past the finale?  I have no other comments this episode because Shane’s death was the bombshell that needed discussing, and all will be answered next week.  But, just for speculation’s sake, we have to assume at least one other person isn’t making it out of Hershel’s farm, soon to be an undead obstacle course.  My first question is Hershel himself.  In the promo for next week, we see a clip of Hershel saying something along the lines of “I’m not leaving this farm, I grew up here, I’ll die here.”  Maggie has Glenn now to protect her, while Beth, Patricia, and Jimmy aren’t really important characters to this point (minus Beth’s suicide decision).  My thoughts?  Peace out yokels.  Or at least some.  Could this also finally be T-Dawg’s time to shine?!  T-Dawg to the rescue?!  Again, I’m going to go with T-Dawg’s exit next week, based on his lack of singularity in the group.  Carol?  No, I don’t think so actually, because her and Daryl are still showing promise.  Too many high-profile deaths have passed to kill off someone like Daryl, Lori, or Andrea yet, so don’t hold your breath on that front.  But, then again, no one is safe…

No grand predictions this week because come next week, “Walking Dead” goes away until October.  We’ll have PLENTY to discuss after all the dust settles next week, leading us to a season full of The Governor.  Will our survivors flee Hershel’s farm and stumble upon Woodbury all in the finale?  Or are we destined to wait until Halloween for the nastiest “Walking Dead” villain to grace the screen.  Like I said, there’s going to be a heck of a lot next week to digest, so I best save my energy…


About Matt Donato

I love all things film. I'll watch any genre, any actor, at any time. This whole film critic thing is a passionate hobby for now which I'm balancing with working in the business world, but hey, someday, who knows?
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