Where we left off in last week’s The Walking Dead, Lori found herself in a sticky situation when her car overturned, leaving her unconscious and vulnerable. She awakens just in time to kill the one corpse that’s crunching at her broken windshield. Gun in hand, she marches down the road to find her husband, who’s been missing far too long.
At the end of last week’s “Nebraska,” Rick shot two dangerous drifters in the saloon where Hershel was drinking away his pain. This week, the drifters’ friends showed up. It’s a gunfight at ye olde saloon as the two desperate parties protect their own; as Rick says, “It’s like that now, you know that.” When a bullet whizzes past Glenn’s ear, he panics, paralyzed with fear. No one holds it against him – except Glenn.
As walkers (or lamebrains, as the Philadelphian drifters called them – it’s fascinating to watch the writers dance around the word “zombie” in this show) encroach on Hershel, Glenn, and Rick, they discover the band of outlaws left behind a lone teenager, his leg impaled on the spiked tip of a wrought iron fence. Rick insists they have to take him, he’s just a kid! It’s not long at all before every zombie in the county comes a-shamblin’, and Rick makes an abrupt decision to rip the kid’s leg off the fence in a truly cringeworthy move that saves his life. (Also cringeworthy in this episode: a walker munching on the nose of a live person as he writhes on the ground. Well done gore, Nicotero.)
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Shane discovers Lori went off all by her lonesome and dives in the car to save the day. In swim lessons, one of the first things you’re taught is to never, ever jump in to save a drowning person unless you’ve been trained for that: in his panic, the flailing swimmer will only drag you under with him. It is understandable, suspenseful, and really frustrating to watch our characters jump in to zombie-infested “waters” after one another in this season. Shane finds Lori quickly and picks her up on the road, which is fine and dandy – but when she protests that they have to go find Rick, he lies shamelessly: “They’re back at home. Come on.”
Shane is already boring, and he’s fast becoming the villain of this tale. He lets slip in front of Carl that Lori’s having a baby, and then butts in while Lori is trying to talk to her son about his impending baby brother or sister. Shane tells Lori that “what happened with Otis” happened because he loves her so much (Lori, thanks to Dale, already suspects that Shane murdered Otis). Shane remains convinced he’s the only one who can protect this camp, protect the fetus he thinks is his, and protect the woman he believes he deserves. It’s frightening to watch – and Lori finally starts to get it.
Beth is still catatonic, and Maggie tells a sweet story to Andrea about when Maggie and Beth were younger. Andrea gets to show off her sensitive side, but then drags it through the mud when it turns out she’s drunk on the Shane Kool-Aid. His propagandizing to her will, I think, become a major plot point: he’ll use her to get what he wants, and she’ll be none the wiser.
What exactly is going on with Carol and Darryl? Their not-quite-romance is too passionate to be a friendship, but neither of them is in a mental or emotional state to be in love. Carol sees Darryl reverting to the way he was at the beginning, the wild mountain man surrounding himself with animal carcasses and bitterness. The man he was before he started to search for Sophia, before he defeated the devil on his shoulder that is brother Merle. When she reaches out to him, he lashes out, calling her a nosy, pathetic, terrible mother. She steels herself for the blows, which is perhaps the smartest and most loving thing she can do.
Glenn avoids Maggie like the plague – he can’t handle the fact that he froze at the saloon, and that he did it for Maggie, who loves him. In one of the only interesting plot points so far this season, Glenn points out that being in love with someone is a fantastically selfish act. Keeping yourself alive so that you can protect the ones you love and thus sacrificing the good of the many (according to Glenn), is brutally self-centered. This seems to be the major theme of this episode: Rick killed the living to save Lori. Shane killed the living to save Lori. (Although, as I pointed out last week, killing the bad guys and saving the good ones is a better way to go about these things.) Glenn is avoiding death for Maggie. Everyone’s in love, and it’s kind of a big mess.
Shoot off about this week’s episode! Who’s your favorite, who’s getting boring, and what do you wish our characters would do next?