Daryl’s not in the show this week. Sorry.
I probably just discouraged half of you from even reading this. Damn it. This is going to be a BLAST writing this, knowing I just sabotaged myself.
All right. This episode was two-thirds excellent, one-third dud. I’ll focus on the excellence first…
When we last left off, Rick, Glen, and Herschel had just brought the injured Randall back to the farm—aka, the guy who was part of the gang of hostile strangers. It’s probably a REALLY bad idea to keep him alive, because that always bites you in the ass in the movies. (See: Saving Private Ryan). The plan was for Herschel to patch up Randall’s leg nurse him back to enough health, then take him a few miles away and release him, and hope he doesn’t come back with his armed and unscrupulous buddies. This caused another yet another fracas between Rick and Shane of the “idealism versus realism” variety. And on top of that, things were coming to a head between Rick and Shane over Shane’s short-lived relationship with Lori.
Now it’s one week later. Randall is reasonably healthy, and for our A-story main course this week, Rick and Shane are about to let him go. But before they do, Rick wants to discuss his myriad problems with Shane. Well, I shouldn’t say “discuss”…more like, “lay down the law”. Rick reveals he knows everything Shane’s been saying about him—that Rick can’t protect Lori and Carl, that Shane thinks the baby is his and not Rick’s, that Rick is weak, etc—. That gives him the upper hand, and he tells Shane flat-out to shape up or ship out. Shane SAYS he agrees, but we don’t buy it for a second.
Then it’s time to deal with Randall. They meant to drive him 18 miles away, blindfolded so he wouldn’t know how to locate the farm, and drop him off. But there’s no civilization at exactly 18 miles, so Rick goes a little further to give Randall a fair shake. It’s yet another gesture of high-mindedness out of Rick, and as always, they’ll have to pay for it. They arrive at a mostly abandoned construction depot and stab a couple zombie-cops, then scrounge for supplies. (Shane also notices that the zombie cops have no bite marks on them, meaning they may have contracted Wildfire by other means…does this mean Wildfire is airborne now?)
Finished scavenging, they take Randall out of the trunk of their car. His arms and legs are bound. They leave him in the middle of the depot and Rick drops a knife nearby. Randall quickly realizes what’s up, that they’re about to abandon him alone in zombie country, and tries to bargain. And Randall actually winds up having something important to say: he went to high school with Maggie, and knew the Greenes before the zombiepocalypse. This is a game-changer. If he’s telling the truth, Randall already knew where the Greene’s farm was. They can’t let him go. It’s either kill him, or keep him.
Surprise! Shane thinks they have to kill him. Rick STILL won’t let him. He wants to bring Randall back to the farm and sleep on it. Shane comes right out and says what he wouldn’t at the top of the episode: he tells Rick to his face that Rick can’t protect Lori and Carl. So a fight breaks out. Shane hurls a gigantic wrench at Rick and it goes through a window. And sure enough, zombies.
Rick and Shane get separated and each try to avoid the new zombie horde, while Randall, still bound, inches toward the knife they left. Shane winds up trapped inside a school bus. Randall manages to free himself, elude a zombie, and find Rick, Since all the zombies are massing outside the bus, Rick and Randall COULD make a break for it and abandon Shane. It looks like Rick is going to do exactly that, and Shane looks screwed, until Rick and Randall show up in the car and plow through the horde.
Once they leave the depot, Rick and Shane re-tie Randall and put the blindfold on him again. Now that Rick has saved Shane’s bacon, he has the leverage again. They’re going to spare Randall for now, take him back to the farm, and decide whether to kill him or not. Rick reiterates what he told Shane at the top of the episode: shape up, or ship out. Shane’s momentarily cowed.
Pretty cool, and tons of action I didn’t go into detail for since this is a minicap. But for our B-story side dish this week, we get…suicide! Which is like the macaroni and cheese of B-stories. Seriously, is there anything heavier? Beth is the suicidal one…she’s Herschel’s younger daughter and has been bedridden with grief since she witnessed Shane gun down her zombie-mom. She confesses to Lori that she’s lost her will to live. Lori tells Maggie, and a big fight breaks out between the sisters. Maggie can’t quite convince Beth that life is worth living, but she seems to have it under control for now.
But that’s not a hourlong drama B-story, so someone’s going to have to mess things up, and this week Andrea gets the call. You remember how Andrea lost her own sister to the zombies, and wanted to kill herself in the CDC explosion at the end of Season One? She’s been in Beth’s position before. And she REALLY resented how Dale wouldn’t let her carry a gun until he felt it was safe. Rather than be grateful she had other members of the group to look after her during a dark moment, Andrea STILL feels bitter about it and thinks everyone should get to make their own decision whether to keep living or not. (Also, while Andrea’s telling Lori this, a bizarre fight breaks out about Andrea not doing enough laundry for the group. Maybe I’ll have this figured out for the full recap tomorrow, but probably not). Which is all bad news for Beth.
Andrea gets a moment alone with Beth, tells her what she told Lori, and then leaves Beth ALONE to make the decision. A short while later Lori and Maggie hear glass shattering and Beth sobbing. Beth cut herself. But hey, the cut was non-fatal! That means Beth wants to live, right? Andrea tries to show them how this means her plan worked, but Maggie bars her from the house indefinitely. Oops.
You’ll notice I didn’t mention any of the other characters this week…that’s because they weren’t in this episode. More on that, and the full recap, tomorrow!