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I haven’t talked much about the money aspect of The Walking Dead on this season’s recaps, since it’s been well-documented all over the rest of the Internets. And it’s pretty much the same thing every week: zombie makeup is SUPER expensive, so the characters is stuck on an isolated farm for another week where the zombies can’t find them. That’s why there’s no zombies, idiot.
But what happens when Season Two DOES give us a bunch o’ zombies? Well, you have this week’s episode. We got a bona fide horde this time, in daylight; no cop-outs, like lone zombies in the bottom of a well, or zombies at nighttime and far away from the camera, so it’s doubtful AMC went hog wild on the makeup. No, this week we were given a full on battle the likes of which we haven’t really seen since Atlanta. It’s pretty awesome!
So to compensate, almost none of the supporting cast was even in the episode. Aside from the principals, all we get are Andrea, Maggie, and Maggie’s bedridden sister Beth. Literally EVERYONE else is offscreen
The characters are all presumably still on the Greene’s farm, but since they couldn’t afford their cast, they just couldn’t show them. The writers didn’t really even try to justify it. Dale and Glen and Patricia are, you know, off doing farming stuff.
This makes the show pretty awkward. The whole episode Herschel is off somewhere doing god knows what…while his daughter trying to commit suicide.
Yes, there really is a suicide storyline this week. I didn’t make that up for comedic exaggeration. Obviously, they couldn’t afford to have Herschel in the episode, but they also never explained where he is, so the implication is he just couldn’t be bothered.
While we recap, let’s take notice of all the instances where it’s really jarring. It’ll be fun!
Flash-forward! Holy shit!
We never get flash forwards in the cold opens on this show, and this one is gooooood. So let’s see what we got:
It’s taking place some indeterminate time in the future. We’re someplace that looks like a town. Maybe the one near Herschel’s farm, maybe another one.
Tons of zombies. They are chasing Rick and Shane, who look like they’ve been separated. Neither Rick nor Shane are shooting any of the zombies, which could mean they’ve given up fighting and are in full-on flight mode, or that they’ve run out of ammo/lost their weapons. Shane manages to hurry into a deserted school bus and barely manages to get the door closed on the zombie hordes outside—and now he’s trapped. As for Rick, he runs off somewhere.
And then, Randall, aka the guy from the group of strangers who antagonized Rick, Hershel, and Glen last episode, and who fell off a roof and impaled his leg on a spike. When we last saw him, Rick brought him back to the farm so Herschel could fix him up. This caused friction with Shane, who didn’t like the idea of Rick bringing a possibly hostile stranger to heal up at their hideout. Shane envisioned Randall returning to his buddies and bringing doom down on the Greene’s farm.
Right now Randall is crawling on the ground because his arms and legs are bound. He inches towards a huge knife to possibly cut himself loose and give himself a fighting chance.
Well then! They have my attention. Let’s see how they get there…
We’re at a crossroads.
A lone car pulls up to the intersection. Shane and Rick get out. No word on what they’re up to.
They stop and get out. Shane’s surpised. Whatever they were up to, they were supposed to be doing it eighteen miles away from the farm. (Hence this week’s title). They haven’t gone far enough yet.
But Rick wants to talk. Shane doesn’t, but Rick won’t let him back out of it. Rick says he’s been waiting a week to have this conversation, so it looks like about a week has passed in show-time since last week’s episode.
Shane assumes Rick wants to talk about Randall, but that’s not it. Rick wants to talk about…Otis!
Shane admits to what really happened: he shot Otis so he could ensure his own survival and and bring the medical supplies back to save Carl. Which, Shane says, is just one example of how far he’s willing to go to protect Lori and Carl. The implication being, Rick isn’t capable of protecting them.
Rick disagrees, and he gives Shane an ultimatum: Shane must cut out all the dangerous behavior. Or else.
This isn’t really a moral dispute, though; it’s about the conversation is about the biggest, deepest problem between Shane and Rick: Lori. They both love her. They both think she should be his.
Rick has known about Shane and Lori for a while, probably as far back into the first season, but they haven’t spoken about it until right now. Rick tells Shane how he felt when he found out…basically he wanted to go apeshit, but it took everything he had to stay calm.
This is about the scariest we’ve ever seen Rick. He tells Shane that the ONLY way they resolve this peacefully and move forward is if Shane accepts everything he’s just said, and he walks away to let Shane think about it.
Finally Shane speaks up. He goes for the soft sell. He tells Rick how HE felt, when the zombiepocalypse hit…everything happened really quickly, the world got upside down (example: soldiers at the hospital were shooting unarmed people as well as the zombies), and when Shane had to abandon Rick in the hospital it was the worst thing EVER. He felt pretty crappy about it. Then he sorta-apologizes for shacking up with Lori, and tells Rick that he’d even take it back if he could.
Which goes against literally EVERYTHING he’s said to Lori when they’ve had a moment alone.
But Rick won’t discuss it any longer. He wants to get back to their as-yet-unexplained reason for being out on the road.
THE ROAD, LATER
Rick and Shane open the trunk to the car. Randall is tied up inside, and loud music is blaring, probably to disorient him. They check his bindings to make sure he can’t slip out of them.
Maggie and Lori are preparing a very nice looking lunch for everyone, with fresh chicken and real ripe tomatoes and everything. I so want to be on a farm when I’m in this situation.
Maggie wants advice on what happened between her and Glen last week. (During the standoff with the strangers, Glen froze in the middle of the action and later blamed it all on Maggie; he thinks he can’t perform when he knows Maggie loves him).
Lori says something pretty awesome…she points out, rightly, that we menfolk like to blame our women for pretty much everything, whether we fail or succeed.
Which, we totally do.
Maggie takes it to heart and they take the lunch in to Beth. Wonder how she’s doing these days.
Rick and Shane are driving again…Rick is talkative, making decisions for the group: he thinks they should use knives on zombies more often to save ammo and to keep it quiet
Then Rick starts making long-term plans for the group. They have to plan for the upcoming winter and gather all the necessary supplies, all of which sounds doable. And if they’re lucky, the cold will affect the zombies, or maybe even kill them.
So clearly Rick is moving forward. Shane definitely is not. He mopes and doesn’t participate in the conversation. Off in a field he sees what looks like a lone zombie, too far away to be a threat, but still eerie.
Lori takes the food into Beth’s room. Beth looks a little better…she’s conscious and sitting up, and Lori makes her a deal: if she eats all her food, they will take a walk later. More moving forward.
Beth has been dwelling on something, though…she can’t believe Lori has allowed herself to get pregnant in times like these, and she wonders what the point is. Lori tells her, firmly, that she doesn’t know what it’s talking about. No philosophical discussion on why it’s good or bad to have children, just a simple, “Yup, it’s happening. Deal with it.”
Finally Rick and Shane have reached the agreed-upon 18-mile distance—so it looks like their mission right now is to let Randall go, and they’re dropping him off 18 miles from the farm.
Only Rick keeps going, more than the 18-mile limit…they are in the middle of nowhere and he explains he wants to leave Randall somewhere populated so he has “a fair shake”. You can see Shane clench his jaw muscles to keep from objecting.
Since we’ve seen the flash-forward already, I’m guessing that wherever Rick finally stops is where that zombie horde jumps them…which means that Rick’s high-mindedness will once AGAIN put them both in danger.
A TOWN SOMEWHERE
They come to a stop outside what looks like a construction depot. There’s a chain-link fence with barbed wire. They check it out, decide it’ll do. They will leave Randall and also scavenge some supplies.
Then a zombie walks out from behind…a schoolbus. Yup, I’m guessing this is where the flash-forward happened. The shit should be hitting the fan momentarily.
But for now the zombie appears to be alone. (It also is dressed in a cop’s uniform, with a gun on its hip…so, bonus, they should get some weapons out of this). Shane raises his gun but Rick reminds him of their new knives rule. Rick takes out his knife and makes a small cut on his own finger to draw blood, then wipes it across the fence to attract the zombie. It comes straight at them and Rick stabs it through the fence.
Oh, and a zombie-sheriff? If that’s not a bad omen, Rick and Shane, I don’t know what is.
Another zombie approaches through the fence, another zombie-cop. Rick tells Shane to put it down with his knife, to prove that he’s really behind this new knife plan. Shane takes out his Leatherman, which is some awesome fucking product placement if you ask me.
So now they can scavenge supplies. They cut through the padlock with some bolt cutters, and they move through the yard.
Over a hill they spot a pile of burned bodies. Were they zombies, or people?
Shane finds the school bus and takes a look inside. Doesn’t find anything.
Later, while Rick is siphoning gas from a huge construction vehicle. (I didn’t catch what kind, sorry), Shane looks over the bodies of the two zombie-cops. Something weird about them. Shane realizes there aren’t any bite marks on them. Meaning…did they catch Wildfire some other way?
He asks Rick, and Rick reassures him, says they probably caught it from scratches. Shane doesn’t look convinced. (More on this after the recap!)
Satisfied they’ve scavenged enough, they bring the car inside the construction depot and take Randall out of the trunk.
Lori finds Beth sitting up in bed crying. Beth is having an existential crisis. She thinks survival is pointless, so Lori has to help her out. She doesn’t promise her everything will work out all right, but tells her all they can do moment to moment is be strong. Beth thanks her.
That seemed too easy, right? Beth doesn’t look reassured at all.
Lori takes the tray of uneaten food back out to the kitchen and notices…the steak knife is gone. Beth has it. Lori runs back into the bedroom, and luckily Beth hasn’t done anything to herself with it yet. Lori takes the knife from her.
Well this is a fun B-story!
TEAM RICK’S CAMPSITE
Lori runs out to the campsite to find Andrea keeping watch atop the RV. She’s looking for Maggie, Herschel, or both. Andrea hasn’t seen Herschel but did just see Maggie and Glen go walking by, and promises Lori she’ll tell her to come to the house next time she sees her. Lori sprints back to keep watch over Beth.
Rick and Shane take off Randall’s hood. They say nothing and start walking away, and pretty soon Randall figures out what’s up. He pleads with them not to leave him behind. He knows it’s tough to survive alone in the zombiepocalypse. Rick takes out a knife and drops it maybe 30 feet away from Randall
Randall keeps begging. He tells them how he used to be a normal guy who lived with his Mom and didn’t harm anybody, how unlike the other strangers he is. Not convincing. But then, he tells them he went to high school with Maggie. That stops them in their tracks.
Shit. Is Randall telling the truth? If he is, does that mean he knows where the Greene’s farm is anyway? Was all this pointless?
Randall explains that he knew who Maggie was, but she didn’t know him—one of those loser/popular girl dualities, I guess. That explains how Maggie didn’t recognize him back at the farm. Also, Randall isn’t “like those other guys” he was with.
So they have to make a decision. No surprise what Shane wants to do. He pulls out his sidearm and Rick has to grab his arm to keep him from killing Randall…but the shot does go off, and lands near Randall’s head. (Which is probably what attracts that zombie horde about to descend on them in a minute).
Rick needs to think. He wants to take Randall BACK to the farm so he can sleep on it and Shane goes apoplectic. If he was holding his tongue earlier, now he tells Rick what he really thinks…that Rick can’t protect Lori and Carl.
Rick takes a swing. They go at it. Two seasons of pent-up resentment can finally come out! While they fight, Randall spots the knife and starts inching towards it.
Fighting and fighting and fighting. The one pretty hilarious thing that happens is, Shane knocks Rick to the ground next to a police motorcycle, and then tips the bike onto Rick. Fuck. Shane is playing for KEEPS.
Shane gets away from Rick and retrieves his gun while Randall keeps going for the knife, but Rick tackles him before he gets a shot off.
Randall, meanwhile, gets to the knife and starts cutting away his leg binding. Rick and Shane fight a bunch more and Rick gets the upper hand for a moment…he bellows that he will NOT let Shane make “dangerous guy” decisions any more, which to me sounds like they’re making this way more personal than it needs to be.
Shane grabs the world’s biggest wrench off a fire truck and hurls it towards Rick. It misses and shatters a window in a small brick building. That’s kind of a big deal because if it hit him, Rick would be dead…Shane’s crossed a line…
But they’ll have to settle this later. Inside that brick building, the zombies wake up.
The first zombie comes through the window and Rick stabs it
Rick wisely pulls the zombie body on top of himself as about ten more come out the window. They take off after Shane.
Sorry, we gotta go back to the B-story, but just for a second. Maggie and Beth are hashing things out. Maggie accuses Beth of being selfish…killing herself would devastate her and Herschel.
They pause the scene right there to cut back to the zombie stuff. This is feeling like a C-story at best.
So Shane is off and running in one direction. Rick chucks the body off himself in time for another zombie to pop out of the window, so he has to run off to escape it.
A girl-zombie comes after Randall just as he frees his legs. He gets up and kicks it in the arm, immobilizing it, then manages to get the knife in a more comfortable position and stabs the zombie in the head with it.
Oh my god, I’m not going to write this scene as if I’m watching it for the first time…I know how it plays out and I hate it and I’m going to hate it for the duration.
So, Andrea and Lori are listening to Maggie and Beth have a big ugly fight about Beth wanting to kill herself. Fine.
And this somehow evolves into Lori calling Andrea out for not doing more of the women’s work around the camp. I have no idea how the fuck this happened. Lori is seriously calling Andrea out for not doing laundry. She actually SAYS, the men can handle the security just fine without Andrea’s help. Fuck me.
Then it turns into a war of attrition on who’s suffered more…turns out Andrea hates Lori’s guts for having the good fortune to have her husband AND son come back from the dead, and get pregnant, AND get to fuck Shane. That’s right. Andrea tells Lori that she lives the post-apocalyptic high-life and it INCLUDES mistakenly fucking the psychopath because you thought your husband was dead.
That’s about as far as they can take the crazy, so they cut to commercial.
Wow. This stuff is comparatively tame compared to that girl fight mess. Rick is running away from a zombie. He crawls under a car to retrieve his revolver, which I didn’t know he lost, and grabs it just in time to shoot the lead zombie in the face. It falls on top of him. A second shambles up, Rick shoots it, and it falls on top of him and the zombie. A third comes up and dogpiles on top of Rick and the bodies. Rick can’t manage to aim his gun at the third one, so he has to put it in one of the dead one’s MOUTHS and shoot the third one through its skull. Jesus.
Beth and Maggie, more fighting.
Beth makes a pretty convincing case for killing herself if you ask me…she knows they’ll never outlast an entire world full of zombies, so she wants to die on her own terms. She offers a suicide pact to Maggie, and if not, asks Maggie to lie next to her in bed while she does it. (God this is a heavy one). Maggie doesn’t have an answer.
Back to Shane. He’s inside the school bus from earlier, struggles to get the door closed. He looks like he’s starting to lose it. He takes out his knife, slices open his palm, and smears his blood on the side of the bus. One of the zombies tries to lick it and he stabs it…you guessed it…in the head.
Andrea comes into the bedroom to relieve Maggie. Maggie heads out to take a break, leaving Andrea and Beth alone.
Andrea simply walks over to the bedroom door and opens it. She is giving Beth the opportunity to leave the bedroom and find something to kill herself with. Her one piece of advice: the pain never goes away, but you can find ways to tolerate it. And then she leaves. The choice is Beth’s.
Rick’s freed himself from the zombies, and now he’s caught up to Randall, who’s still got his wrists tied together and is trying to get away. Randall again pleads with Rick not to shoot him. But then Rick notices, there aren’t any zombies around. The zombies have all gathered outside the school bus. Rick and Randall have an opening. They could escape.
The wheels are turning in Rick’s head. What will he do? Abandon Shane? Use Randall as bait to lure the zombies away from Shane?
Signs point to: abandon Shane. Holy shit! Shane watches from inside the bus window as Rick and Glen run from the depot.
Maggie comes back into the bedroom. Beth is gone. She hears glass shatter inside a closet. Beth is inside and the door is locked. Maggie pleads with Beth to open it.
Lori enters and finds a fireplace poker and uses it to pry the door open. They find Beth, sobbing. She’s cut her wrists. It doesn’t look TOO life-threatening, but this is not good. At least Beth looks like she’s just now realized this is a huge mistake.
Of COURSE Rick isn’t abandoning Shane. He takes Randall out to the spot where the two dead zombie-cops are lying, where he and Shane have left extra guns and a pile of clips. Things are gonna get shoot-y.
But first, Rick looks over the zombie-cops again and lingers. Is he doubting his scratch theory?
Back at the bus, another zombie gets its face into the bus and Shane stabs it, but loses his knife this time. Not good.
Fortunately, the car comes roaring up. Randall is behind the wheel and Rick is leaning out the passenger side window, firing. The car stops at the back of the bus and Shane runs out through the emergency door and dives into the car. They peel out of the depot to safety.
The cut wasn’t deep. Herschel is stitching Beth up. Outside, Andrea comes running up to the house to see what went down. She’s grateful to hear that Beth didn’t actually kill herself, which means Beth doesn’t actually want to die. But Maggie doesn’t quite see it that way. She feels Andrea is responsible because she left Beth alone.
Andrea holds her ground but it comes with a price. Maggie bars Andrea’s entry into the house.
For what it’s worth, Lori agrees with Andrea…sort of. Now they know Beth wants to live.
Rick and Shane replace the mask on Randall and chuck him back in the trunk.
So what now? Rick still wants to sleep on the decision to kill Randall or not, so it looks like they’re taking him back to the farm for now. And Rick reiterates what he said earlier: Lori is his wife, Carl and the fetus are his kids, and Shane has to play by the rules to stay on Team Rick.
Shane doesn’t say anything, but doesn’t object either. Rick hands him his gun back.
On the way back to the farm, Shane looks through the window, in “lost in thought” mode. They pass the same lone zombie in the field again.
-They pimped Mass Effect 3 during every single commercial break this week because it comes out next week. Fair warning: my recaps are going to be noticeably shittier in March because I will be busy killing Reapers. (I am seriously chubbing right now).
-I really, really liked the “lone zombie in the field” image. It fits with one of this episode’s themes, which is, what’s the point of staying alive? It’s a single zombie wandering around creation with no destination or purpose, while Beth is questioning her own existence, and while Shane is contemplating what he has to fight for if Rick, Carl and the baby aren’t his. But also, I just liked it as an image by itself. Mostly the zombiepocalypse movies focus on enormous scary hordes, but on TV, you can also think about how there really would be single harmless ones just wandering around. It’s so lonely and haunting to me.
-The other theme, of course, is “stabbing things in the head”. What the fuck?
-Does anyone know the significance of 18 miles? Why did Shane and Rick pick that distance specifically?
-I really do think seeing two zombie-cops like that is a bad omen. A zombie-cop to me symbolizes brutality. They mean that Rick and Shane’s former lives as cops, and responsibilities to uphold law and order, are gone. In the present, the only way to resolve conflicts is by violence, so this would foreshadow an upcoming showdown between them. Either way, this is a bad omen.
-Looks like we got a new Wildfire update…if those zombies didn’t catch it from bites or scratches, could it be airborne now? We were talking about this a couple weeks ago, weren’t we?
-Is there anything worse than giving Kevin Smith his very own comic book store and THEN giving him his very own television show ABOUT that store? It’s not Kevin’s fault because, come on, what’s he gonna do, but AMC should be prosecuted.
-In the flash-forward cold open, did anyone else think it looked like Randall had lost his arms? I thought that’s what happened, and then I saw that he just had his arms tied behind his back. And then I remembered this is only cable, not a grindhouse movie.
-No seriously. My 360 broke last year and took my saves from ME1 and ME2 down with it. But I still have a PS3, so last week I bought the PS version of ME2 and am playing the game AGAIN so I can import my character into the final chapter. Pimping Mass Effect during a zombie show…am I this easy to market to?
-When Rick first left the depot with Randall, did you notice how Rick didn’t give Shane any signal to indicate he was coming back? Do you think this was intentional? What if Rick meant to scare the daylights out of Shane so that when he came back Shane would be grateful, which would make it easier to get Shane to agree to bring Randall back. Or was Rick just in a hurry?
-Do you believe Randall’s claim that he went to school with Maggie and knew the Greene’s before his injury? I’m not sure. Maggie and Herschel didn’t seem to recognize him, but maybe you guys are right and they just went to a big school.
On the other hand, HE didn’t seem to recognize Herschel back in town. And then, he easily could have overheard enough to fake being a local. And then, if Dave and Tony really were from Philly–and they sounded like they were–why would they let a local Georgia boy into their gang? Why would he join THEM? My guess is, Randall is really from Philly, overheard Maggie and Herschel’s names, and is faking a southern accent to save his skin.
All right, I got other shit I gotta get to. See you next week!