Hello, TWD fans, and welcome to yer full recap of s2e12, “Better Angels”. I have no idea what a Better Angel is or what they were trying to say with that title, but it does amuse me because it implies there are differences in angel quality. We all want a good guardian angel, but what if you got a shitty one? No fun.
Anyway, last week on the show, one of our most beloved characters died: Dale, the avuncular, jolly, kind-hearted old soul who loved the children and provided fun little home-spun pieces of wisdom to the troubled young people.
He was none of those things, but in death we tend to romanticize things. I’m no different
Also, he had a hilarious rant about how much he hates Autotune.
But really, like Simon from Lord of the Flies, and like a lot of other characters I’m sure exist in literature, Dale was the superego of the group, so his death means nobody is left to challenge Shane the Id. Now Rick will have to fend for himself.
And the flashpoint is the Randall situation. Last week, the group debated what to do with their prisoner Randall: do they execute him, which would be a very mean thing to do, or, do they let him go and risk Randall finding his group of violent marauders and bringing him back to rape and pillage? Like you’d think, Shane was firmly in the “kill him” camp, Dale was in the “let him live” camp, and Rick was caught in the middle. Let’s see how things play out…
We open this week in the tiny cemetery on Hershel’s property that’s been steadily growing this season, where everyone is laying Dale to rest. Rick gives a eulogy. Last week, Dale warned everyone the group was “broken” because they were letting fear dictate their decisions. And now, Rick tells them, the way to honor Dale is to live the way he thought they all should: like good guys.
So there’s Rick’s side of the debate. Shane stands in the crowd and says nothing but we know that won’t be the last of it.
Intercut with this is a slow-motion sequence of Shane, Andrea, Daryl, and T-Dog hunting down some zombies elsewhere on the farm. Andrea stabs one of them in the head with a pitch fork.
TEAM RICK’S CAMPSITE
Then it’s back to reality. The group has lots of things to do. Last week Lori and Rick discussed how Team Rick would survive the winter—right now they’re sleeping outside and Lori was worrying about the coming cold. Since then, they’ve gotten Hershel to agree to let them stay in the house with his family, and right now they’re beginning to move all their things inside.
Rick goes over the day’s tasks. In addition to moving their crap, they will also be making the farm a little safer…they will build two lookout posts high off the ground, one on the roof of the shed (where Randall is being held) and the other on the windmill. Everyone accepts Rick’s leadership.
…Except Shane. While everyone is busy on the farm, Rick and Daryl will be driving Randall out to the middle of nowhere to release him far away from the farm. Like they tried before. Shane points out how they tried this before and failed, but Rick tells him to shut up. It looks like Shane is gonna go along with it, for now…
After that, Rick and Hershel walk towards the house and Hershel reminds Rick that Shane has to be on his best behavior. Rick agrees. He asks Andrea to “look after” Shane while he and Daryl are gone. She bristles (is it because she partly agrees with Shane’s philosophies? Or just because she hates taking orders from Rick? I don’t know) but eventually agrees.
Shane is gathering pieces of wood to build that platform for the windmill, when Carl approaches.
He asks Shane if he can keep a secret from Rick and Lori. Even Shane knows better than to promise THAT. (Imagine if Shane was secretly trying to influence Carl behind Rick and Lori’s back. Even Rick would shoot him for that one).
Carl tells him anyway. He takes out the gun he stole from Daryl’s campsite last week and hands it over to Shane, asking him to give it back to Daryl for him so he won’t get in trouble for it.
One point of contention: when Carl almost got eaten last week, he dropped the gun in the swamp. So he went back into the swamp to get it?
Oh, and also, Carl kinda had a hand in Dale’s death. He tells Shane about running into the Ginger Zombie in the swamp and failing to shoot it. If he had, Dale would still be alive.
I don’t think Shane’s gonna fault you for killing Dale, Carl. The opposite, in fact
Carl is right, but Shane still tells him not to blame himself. If there’s one thing we’ve learned from this show, it’s that practically anything you do has terrible consequences, no matter what it is.
Carl feels so horrified he doesn’t want to touch a gun ever again, but Shane hands him the gun back anyway. It’s the zombiepocalypse, and there’s no time to be a little kid about it. But Carl doesn’t take it and runs off.
Daryl is on top of the shed fixing up the roof to make it into a lookout post. Inside, Randall struggles against his handcuffs. And, ew:
I wonder if these are the same handcuffs they used on Merle. If so, Randall, you now have the clap
On to happier matters. Enjoy, because this is pretty much the last light moment of the episode and we’re not even out of the first act yet.
Everyone is moving their crap into the house and Maggie offers to let Glen stay in her bedroom.
And the dolt turns her down!
Hmmm. Do I sleep on a bed in a private room next to an attractive young woman, or do I sleep on the floor in a crowded living room next to Daryl’s squirrel farts? Such a tough choice!
OUTSIDE THE HOUSE
Outside some saner stuff is going on. T-Dog notices Lori carrying a heavy container and quickly takes it so she won’t strain herself. This is all to remind us that Lori is P-R-E-G-N-A-N-T.
Then, Hershel offers to let Lori, Rick, and Carl stay in his bedroom. He can’t sleep alone in a bed in good conscience while a pregnant woman and a little kid sleep on the floor in the next room. Instead Hershel will be sleeping on a couch in the living room, and he fills her in on his and the couch’s history…back when he was a drunk, his wife used to make him sleep off his benders on that couch, so he knows it well.
(It’s actually pretty touching in an odd way. I really liked that scene.)
Later, Lori sees Shane up on the windmill building a platform. He’s high off the ground and has no help, so he could easily lose his balance and fall. She asks him to come down. When he sees that she seems to be genuinely concerned for his safety, he does.
Lori does something interesting here, and I’m only partly sure I’ve figured out why she does it. Pretty much since Rick came back, Lori has told Shane unambiguously that their affair is over. She hasn’t given him one signal otherwise, and she’s mostly given him the cold shoulder, and she’s never let him tell her how he feels about the whole situation. She hasn’t wanted him to have ANY hope.
But here, she changes things up. She explains that Dale’s death has really upset her, and she wants everyone in the group to live in harmony. She knows she’s the cause of most of the group’s discord because she puts Rick and Shane at odds. Giving Shane the cold shoulder has sent the message she wanted it to, but it also pissed him off. So instead, she decides to apologize to Shane for the ridiculously unfair hand life has dealt him. Maybe that will be the first step in Shane’s redemption.
Or, maybe it will backfire, rekindle Shane’s hope that he and Lori might be together, and prompt him to do something drastic.
Which one do you think it’ll be? (Hint: the fun one).
On the porch, Rick and Daryl are going over their plan to release Randall. Pretty simple: drive like an hour away, turn him loose with a few supplies, back before nightfall.
Shane approaches. He tells Rick that he needs to have a discussion with Carl. Rick says he’ll do that once he gets back from ditching Randall, but Shane insists. Rick has to speak with Carl RIGHT THE FUCK NOW.
Now, we know what Rick has to talk with Carl about: being upset about Dale. Rick could easily put it off a couple hours and everything would be fine. So it’s pretty clear Shane is amping up the urgency, and thus delaying Rick’s departure. Uh-oh.
This is a little, real scene. Glen and Andrea are moving the RV to a new spot now that the campsite has been vacated, and sure enough, the RV stalls. Glen remembers a technique Dale taught him to get the RV started, and the memory causes Glen and Andrea to tear up.
Back to Rick. He finds Carl sitting up in the hayloft in the barn. Shane has filled him in on what’s eating his son, so he’s come to try to ease his son’s guilt.
Rick admits he’s not very good with words, like his own father was. He tries to tell Carl that Dale’s death wasn’t his fault, but he can’t come up with a compelling argument and it doesn’t look like Carl buys it.
His other reason for coming to the barn was to get Carl to take the gun back. The group needs everyone, even the kids, to be prepared for action. This is a totally heartbreaking moment…Rick is someone who grew up with a normal childhood, and here he is forcing his son to grow up early out of necessity. Maybe it’s the distress on Rick’s face that changes Carl’s mind. He accepts the gun.
Back to Shane. With Rick off dealing with his son, Shane has a narrow window to handle the Randall problem his way.
Clearly Shane doesn’t have a plan, because the first thing he does is pull out his pistol and debate whether he should just shoot Randall right now.
Sure, he COULD just shoot Randall right here, but that’s the sort of thing that’d upset the rest of the group. If you thought being proactive with the barn full of zombies was bad, Shane shooting Randall would pretty much destroy the group.
I wouldn’t say he goes with Plan B, because he had no Plan A to begin with. Instead he comes up with a plan on the spot. He notices the lacerations on Randall’s and has an idea…
A few moments later, now that Rick has finished dealing with Carl, it’s time for him and Daryl to take Randall away. T-Dog goes to the shed, unlocks it, and yes, Randall is gone. All that’s left is the handcuffs. Randall must have slipped them.
I’ll say that again: Shane replaced the lock on the shed door. Because nothing says “escaped prisoner” like the holding cell showing no signs of an escape.
“Randall escaped! And…replaced the lock on the door before he fled! Because, um, he didn’t want us to get chipmunks. You never want chipmunks!”
So this is Hole #1 in the story Shane is about to tell the rest of the group. You’d think Shane would be a better criminal, being that he used to be a cop and all.
Meanwhile, Shane is leading a still-blindfolded Randall through the woods. Once he reaches a suitable distance away from the farm, he takes off the blindfold and the duct tape on Randall’s lips.
Randall is understandably bewildered—in the past 12 hours he has been brought to the barn to be killed only to have Rick grant him a last-minute stay of execution, and they haven’t told him anything since, so his first assumption is that Shane has brought him out to the woods to kill him. (Which happens to be correct).
Shane tells him otherwise, though. He tells Randall that he’s sick of Team Rick and wants to join Randall’s group of armed marauders. Randall has always denied knowing anything about his old comrades, but now that he sees light at the end of the tunnel, he tells Shane everything: the marauders have a camp about 5 miles away and are most likely still in the area.
Idiot. The one thing keeping Randall alive was the ambiguity over whether he’s a threat to the group. That’s gone now, and Shane snaps the poor bastard’s neck.
But remember, Shane can’t appear to be the cold-blooded murderer that he is because that would sour the rest of the group. After killing Randall, he slams his face into a tree, breaking his nose. He’ll explain why in the next scene…
T-Dog has told the rest of the group that Randall is missing. Right now they don’t know Shane is engineering a scheme, so they think Randall actually escaped and is probably on his way back to his group. It’s an emergency.
Shane returns to the farm at this point and sees Rick organizing a manhunt to capture Randall before that happens. Shane hides his gun in the underbrush and then announces his presence to the group.
Here’s what he tells them: Randall somehow slipped out of his cuffs AND snuck out of the shed through an opening other than the door. (Shane has no idea how). Next Randall punched Shane in the face, breaking his nose, and then took Shane’s gun. Now Randall is running off through the woods.
Right off the bat the story is incredible. Daryl points out that the 125 lb, malnourished, exhausted, wounded Randall would probably never take down Shane in a million years. Daryl was also fixing the shed all day and is pretty sure there are no spots Randall could have slipped through.
But the one part of the story that IS true is, Randall isn’t here, and they have to find him whether Shane is bullshitting or not. Rick takes Daryl, Glen, and Shane into the woods to do just that.
The four guys decide to split up, Glen and Daryl going one way and Rick and Shane going another.
Since Shane knows what really happened to Randall, he has to pretend-search while really luring Rick away to a secluded spot. Rick could be in peril, but he seems pretty aware of what’s really going on. He asks Shane if his nose is really broken, which Shane deflects, and later, Rick stops dead in his tracks behind Shane and stares right at him, saying nothing.
ELSEWHERE IN THE WOODS
But even though Rick and Shane know what’s really going on, Glen and Daryl, unfortunately, have no idea and still think they have to find Randall. So they’re somewhere else in the woods, and it’s now dark. It’s maybe the most dangerous place available to them.
Daryl uses his tracking superpowers to locate the spot where Shane killed Randall. He finds more and more clues that contradict Shane’s story: two sets of footprints (didn’t Shane say Randall overpowered him at the farm?), blood on a tree (from Shane’s broken nose), signs of a struggle, etc. Strangely, though…no body.
Because Randall is a zombie!
Glen puts a machete through Zombie Randall’s head and they examine the body. Sure, it could just be that Randall really did escape the farm and happened to run into a zombie and get bitten. There are zombies all over these woods. But Daryl notices something even more suspicious: there are no bites on Zombie Randall’s body. It died of a broken neck.
Now I’M confused. I know how Randall really died, but…how the eff did he become a zombie?
Rick and Shane reach that secluded spot I was talking about. It’s a field somewhere.
Rick’s had enough with the charade and calls Shane on his BS. He knows full well Shane killed Randall and lured Rick here to kill him, too. In lieu of a response, Shane raises his gun at Rick’s back.
Rick appears to be cornered. He actually holsters his revolver and tries to talk his way out of this. First, he warns Shane that if he returns to the farm without Rick, everyone will know what happened.
Shane already has a story cooked up for that moment, and we finally learn what his plan really is: he shoots Rick, he tells the rest of the group that Randall pulled the trigger, and then he tells them he caught Randall and snapped the his neck. (Of course, Shane has no idea Daryl and Glen have already found Zombie Randall, so the plan is fucked, but he doesn’t know that).
Then Rick appeals to Shane’s values—which might sound futile, but Shane is Rick’s best friend. Rick knows Shane will never be truly happy with stealing another man’s wife and child.
It looks like Rick’s words kinda might be hitting their mark. Shane appears to soften a bit. But then he tries to shift the blame over to Rick: like he’s always said, Rick is an incapable husband and father because he can’t protect them in the zombiepocalypse. So, you know, by murdering Rick, he’s actually PROTECTING Lori, Carl, and the fetus.
But there’s still that tricky matter of pulling the trigger on Rick when Rick won’t even try to return fire. Shane can’t quite do it. Rick pushes him. He actually takes out his revolver and approaches Shane to hand it to him. Rick places the gun in Shane’s hand. Now Rick is literally defenseless.
EXCEPT FOR THE FUCKING KNIFE HE WHIPS OUT AND JAMS IN SHANE’S HEART!
That shot looks like they’re doin’ it
So I guess that settles the question of whether Rick’s got any sack.
Still, he’s not happy he has to kill his best friend and he howls out in anguish. Before Shane dies, Rick tells him his death is his own fault. He made Rick do this to him.
There’s one last thing to deal with. Right at this moment, Carl finds Rick kneeling over Shane’s body. (I won’t say anything about how insane it is Carl was allowed to leave the house at night, or how unbelievable he’d find this exact field at this exact moment).
Carl seems to think Rick has murdered Shane. The kid’s pretty confused. He raises his gun, the same gun Rick made him carry earlier, and points it at his Dad. Rick pleads with Carl to stop and think for a second.
But behind Rick, Shane…gets…up.
He’s a fucking zombie now, too.
Carl pulls the trigger and puts one right between Zombie Shane’s eyes.
So Carl has become a man. We know he can kill a zombie now.
Still, we have a couple problems: now we KNOW Shane never got a zombie bite, so why did HE come back as one, too? This is a pretty disturbing pattern.
Oh, and also, the gunshot has attracted a whole damn horde that is now emerging from the woods and nearing Rick and Carl’s position.
There’s a lot of shit to talk about this week…
-Even though I made fun of the shoddiness of Shane’s plan, I admit I don’t actually think he intended to get away with killing Randall. I’m pretty sure the whole thing was orchestrated just to get Rick away from everyone else so he could kill him. One reason is that lock on the shed door…even an amateur criminal would know to make it look like Randall escaped and wouldn’t leave that lock on there. My guess is, Shane knew that the alternative, leaving the door wide open, would have gotten him caught sooner.
-In the cold open, when Shane, Andrea, T-Dog and Glen went to kill those zombies, I noticed Shane had to cut through a fence to get to them…which got me to thinking, why haven’t they been building a fence around the house this season? You could scrounge up enough materials to build a tiny one just to keep the zombies off your porch and in your gunsights. I feel like that’s the first thing I woulda done.
-Now, Wildfire. We know Shane and Randall both became zombies without being bitten. A couple episodes ago, Rick and Shane found dead zombie bodies with no bite marks on them. That means people can get Wildfire without direct zombie contact.
Some of you have already commented that Wildfire is probably airborne and can be contracted from breathing. That sounds right to me. But I’ll go you one further: I think that now, everybody has a dormant version of Wildfire—that is, every survivor in the United States and probably the world. Which means, whenever someone dies of non-zombie-related causes, they turn into one anyway.
If that’s true, I don’t think this is the secret Jenner told Rick at the end of Season One. This new dormant version could only have come around in the last few days. If it had been around longer, Dave and Tony would have come back to zombie-life in the bar when Rick, Hershel, and Glen were still in it.
I also don’t think Jenner told Rick about Lori’s pregnancy. I think we still don’t know what Jenner told him. (Or maybe you do, but I don’t)
-Back to Shane. I thought he got a proper sendoff this episode. If you’re on a zombie show, your character should totally get killed off by becoming a zombie. But I also liked how they handled the first act, giving him one-on-one scenes with both Carl and Lori. To me, these scenes summed up the relationships he had with both of them. With Carl he was the father-ish figure who wanted to be more but never could, and with Lori he was the unrequited lover. Both scenes were bittersweet. They were equally about the real love I believe he had for both of them, along with the frustration that he’ll never really get to be with them.
-I also found myself really sympathizing with Shane this week, especially after the final confrontation when he expressed just how frustrated he’s been. Not only is life unfair to him, it’s cruel, because he actually GOT what he’s always wanted (Lori), only to have it taken away from him a few weeks later. That would fuck with my head.
-I’m looking forward to next week. I’m hoping for 45 minutes of a zombie siege at Hershel’s house. Every good zombie movie has to have a zombie siege. (Side note: maybe this is because I love siege movies like Assault on Precinct 13).
-But, now that Shane is dead, do you think they have enough drama to sustain the show? The whole show to this point has been about the love triangle and Rick’s struggle to lead the group. Now that Shane’s gone, no love triangle, and nobody to challenge his authority. I do think they killed Shane at the right time because I would have gotten sick of the love triangle eventually, but now that they have, what do you think the show will be about?
I’m guessing Lori’s pregnancy will be the driving force next season. Which means Hershel has to be doomed. If you keep Hershel alive, Lori has an easy pregnancy and there’s no drama. I’m predicting Hershel doesn’t make it out of zombie invasion alive next week.
Off that, I’m guessing next season will be all about finding a doctor or some other form of medical attention for Lori. And I’m guessing that by now, other survivors have begun to hoard valuable resources like doctors, which would mean Team Rick might have to make some compromises to get what they need.
That might mean Rick becomes the driving force of the show in a new way. So far he’s been the high-minded one, but I could totally see him compromising his principles for Lori and Carl’s sake. He already kind of has…even though he was justified in killing Shane, I’m feeling a slippery slope situation. Do you think Rick will turn into Season 4 Walter White?
If they don’t do any of those things, I guess the only other option is to start developing T-Dog as a character.
Ha! Yeah right.
See you next week for the season finale!