Feb 132012
 

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Jesus Christ we’re still on Hershel’s farm?

Well, yes, we are. And, even if there’s no geographic movement, there’s still movement in the character sense. People are having things happen to them, although some of it is still in the Final Destination-lite run of luck these people have.

But there’s movement! Of story, if not of bodies. Well, okay, there are moving bodies, it’s a zombie show. But you know what I mean.

Spoilers, as always, below the fold.

So, uh. What is up with that car crash? Like, seriously. She can’t just wrap the thing around a tree, can she? Damn thing has to flip the fuck over and we don’t get to see what happens to Lori until next episode. But whatever. You have to keep the show exciting and the writers are determined to not throw zombies in our faces all the time the way some fans are asking for. But Jesus Christ. I really hope Hershel doesn’t have a working electric blender in that home. (Oh, they have a windmill! That’s where the electricity comes from.) So that’s not the really confusing part. The really confusing part is…. Why the hell is Lori driving off to rescue Rick? Rick doesn’t need to be rescued. Rick is the one who does all the rescuing. Like, a little too much even. She should trust him to get Hershel. After all, it’s like he said: They need the veterinarian around in case Lori has to deliver a baby. (Wait, what?) But instead she hops in a car because… Uh, because… Maybe she desperately feels like she has to do something and so she drives off ALONE (Have these people not heard of the buddy system? You’re living in monster fiction!) but she doesn’t know the way so she looks at a map while driving.

Take that to heart, kiddos: Keep your eyes on the road or you might run over a zombie which will make your car flip over. Plausibility! At least they never seem to worry about using too much gas.

Anyway. If I sound bitter it’s because snark is my natural element. There was, as always, great stuff in this episode. T-Dog continues to have nothing to do and also continues to deliver the best freaking lines while he does it. (“Man, how many times we gonna have to do this?” in regards to burning dead bodies. Also him kicking the freaking zombie in the head was cool.) Further evidence for the “psychic powers exist in this series” theory of mine in the form of Dale’s apparent mind-reading showed up this episode. He pretty much knows exactly how shit went down between Otis and Shane… based on, um. Judgment of character? The same body language skills that let him instantly know Andrea and Shane had sex? Well, that second one was kinda obvious. Still, it’s freaky how Dale knows exactly what happened when he wasn’t there and it’s Shane’s secret, and “Dale is slightly psychic” seems to be the most plausible explanation, keeping in mind you’re watching a TV show with zombies.

Meanwhile, Dale continues to attempt to handle things with subtlety while not actually having any subtlety. He thinks he’s Mr. Guile but his attempts to poison the group against Shane continue to be hamfisted and clumsy. Nobody is fooled. Lori certainly isn’t. If Dale was the master of manipulation and subtlety he thinks he is, Andrea, T-Dog, and Lori at a minimum would think it was their idea to consider Shane dangerous and potentially a killer. Instead Lori tells him “I know you two don’t get along.” or something to that effect.

Shane, meanwhile, continues to unravel. Which makes me think he’s not going to react well to the news that Fort Benning is bust. There was something very creepy about the scene where he washes Carol’s hands. And as Dave Navarro pointed out on Talking Dead, all he really said to the woman who just found out her daughter died was “Poor me.” Shane asks Dale what he’s ever done to protect the camp, seemingly forgetting that Dale is their main keep-watch guy and the one who spotted the zombie horde in time for people to hide under cars. He accuses Hershel of knowing Sophia was in there, which if he stopped to think he’d realize was ridiculous. But Shane doesn’t really stop to think, does he? Hershel wanted them off his farm. He wanted them off his farm ages ago. Since this is a world where a child can be up and walking around a few days after major stomach surgery from a shotgun wound, the only thing keeping Rick and co. on the farm was the search for Sophia. If Hershel knew Sophia was in the barn, he knew exactly how to get what he wanted out of our heroes. “You’re sticking around until you find Sophia? Well here she is! Buh-bye now!”

And that, my friends, is exactly why we know Hershel had no idea Sophia was in the barn. Like Robert Kirkman told us, Otis wrangled Sophia from the mud, then died before he ever found out there was a missing little girl. Which, come to think of it, means Sophia got turned fast after running away. Incidentally, Carl really committed himself to his fantasy of him being the one to find Sophia. I wonder if all children are like that: This is how I fantasize it being, therefore this is how I believe it will happen. Okay, scratch the children part. I know plenty of adults who’ve thought that way.

Glen, on the other hand, is closer to “This is something out of my fantasies, therefore it can’t be real.” Or maybe that’s projection on my part. I have to wonder why Glen refuses to think Maggie really loves him. Maybe he’s afraid of that in this world they live in. And while that’s possible, I don’t think it’s a big part of it. I think most of it is, like he said, that he’s only heard “I love you” from family before, and he never thought he’d ever have a girl love him in the romantic sense. I think Glen is completely unable to understand why Maggie wants to be with him even after she’s explained it to him, because unlike Rick he lacks any sort of awareness of his own heroic qualities. Plus there’s the low self-image part which he lets the group reinforce.

Maggie, for her part, is as able to understand Glen’s perspective about as well as Glen is able to understand her view of him. Glen turns to her and says, “I have to ask you… Did you know she was in the barn?” Well, of course he has to ask. And “I have to ask” is the key part of that. He believes her, trusts her, probably even loves her… But he has to ask. He’s gotta know, because if he doesn’t ask he’ll wonder, and it’ll gnaw at him and come out at a bad time. Maggie, naturally, says nothing, answering the question with her disgust at it being asked, probably not understanding that he really did have to get it off his chest.

Because, as we know, Glen can’t keep a secret. He was going to confess what he did about Lori to Rick eventually, and he did here for writing reasons. Namely, so that Rick could say this:

You did what you thought was right. It just so happens that it wasn’t.

And that, in short, is the keystone of this whole episode. Shane did what he thought was right by breaking open the barn and shooting enough bullets to be audible to any walker in a 50 mile radius. But as a result Shane or the whole group is getting kicked out of Candyland. And Shane still thinks he made the right choice, even though it blew everything apart socially and psychologically. If there was someone in the group with lots of savoir faire, that person probably could have solved the situation single-handedly and accomplished the finding of zombie!Sophia too. Hershel, too, thought he was doing the right thing. But he sees what the walkers are and he knows in that moment how wrong he was. Rick, finally, has been doing the right thing all along. But being the sentimental hero-type that he is, Rick doubts himself greatly.

So let’s talk about the ending. First of all, my mom and I agree that the whole bar scene was very talky. I didn’t mind the talkiness so much, though upon second viewing it was a lot of exposition in a short amount of time. But we get a lot of character establishment for these two in a short time—and yes, Tony pissing on the floor helps with that. Rick suddenly finds himself in the position he put Hershel in: Here are these people looking to him for asylum, and he doesn’t want to grant it because he just can’t trust these characters. As we are non-coincidentally reminded of, Rick is a cop. And has a cop’s instincts for a certain kind of character judgment. These are exactly the kind of people a cop is gonna be on light guard against in case they get violent and disorderly. It probably didn’t help their case that Dave said “Nobody’s got their hands clean” as if he expected Rick to have pulled the death-of-Otis-type stunts Dave’s admitting to. It’s the wrong thing to say to Sheriff Rick Grimes, let me tell you. And when Tony says “I’ll shoot you three assholes in the head and take your damn farm,” well, that was Rick’s cue to be ready to shoot first.

Here’s another safety tip: Pulling a gun out on a cop is a good way to get killed.

Final semi-random thoughts: Rick may have had his back to Tony while watching Dave, but there was a mirror behind Dave that Rick could probably see Tony in. Rick’s extra shot to Tony’s head was likely out of habit from killing zombies all the time. When Lori goes to Daryl he’s whittling sticks to make more arrows. And finally: Holy crap are these people’s clothes all dirty all the time.

Until next week.

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  11 Responses to “The Walking Dead—Episode 2.08: “Nebraska””

  1. I didn’t mind the talking once the Philly Boys showed up, it was more when it was just Rick & Hershel (who is not Jewish and is therefore not spelled Herschel). I minded that these threatening guys were stereotypical Northerners; invaders in Southern space–that’s a strange sort of metaphor and an uncomfortable one, particularly with a Confederate flag visible on the wall during much of the confrontation.

    A different metaphor is how Rick just did to those Yankees what Shane did to Otis, in a way, and how everyone’s okay with it–so that places Shane in a different light?

    • I am from the South and I didn’t consider the “Northern” perspective. Thank you for yours. I just thought they were 2 assholes that gave off a lot of “vibes”, through their words and actions, that said “trouble”. The two final actions of putting the cop in the middle between the 2 new guys, after the pissing on the floor, made my antenna go up (Too many bars in my past).

      I get a kick out of Hollywood’s betrayal of the South, so I can can certainly see your point. I think one of the things I like about this show is that everybody is affected the same. Doesn’t matter your religion, race, rich/poor, or if you are from Philly or Georgia. Zombies is Zombies, assholes is assholes, good people is good people, and in this show, they all can end up dead.

      Rick defended himself. Shane wounded an innocent man and fed him to the zombies. Even so, I don’t think Glenn was OK with it. Your last question will lead to a lot of drama–so, well done, Deb.

    • “A different metaphor is how Rick just did to those Yankees what Shane did to Otis, in a way, and how everyone’s okay with it–so that places Shane in a different light?”

      While perhaps seeming similar on the surface (and thus becoming a legitimate debate topic among reasonable people), I don’t agree that the two killings are equivalent in any way. To use a different example, in The Dirty Dozen, Clint Walker (who has anger issues) is sentenced to hang for beating a man to death in a bar fight while Charles Bronson’s capital offense was the shooting an officer who tried to desert during an intense battle while taking all the company’s medical supplies he carried with him (thus, endangering more lives). Yes, BOTH men killed. But, the film clearly establishes that the situations under which the incidents occurred were quite different (that’s why, Bronson gets to live in the end, but Walker not).

      Rick acted out in self defense against the object of the danger facing him. Shane faced danger saved his skin by unilaterally deciding to let Otis (NOT the object of danger) be a martyr to the cause of Carl (whose wounds, ironically, Otis caused). Shane’s acts are, at least, morally questionable and at worst deplorable. Rick’s were totally justified (IMHO).

      NOW, had Rick, deciding that the two men posed a threat based on a few minutes of conversation (and after he saw the one urinating on the floor while asking about “coos”), suddenly whipped out his revolver and shot them down preemptively in cold blood, the moral equivalency with Shane’s acts would be stronger.

  2. I agree with Matt Maul on the false equivalency between what Rick did to the yankees and what Shane did to Otis. No comparison. However, I’ll note one caveat: Rick specifically said in S1 “we don’t kill the living.” So, Rick already set himself up as morally superior (not to Shane, specifically, but to the others in general). I’d argue that, since his actions in “Nebraska” directly contradict his earlier words, his crime is more egregious – in a way – than Shane’s, who never claimed moral superiority. Kind of like how horrified we are when priests molest kids: molestation by anyone is horrible, but when you’re supposed to be a moral authority, it’s somehow even less forgivable.

    Thumbs up: A main theme of the show is about how people can be just as dangerous as zombies, and I think the sequence with the yankees at the bar illustrated that perfectly. During that scene, I really felt tension mounting. This is contrasted to the scenes with the zombies where it’s just sort of gleeful horror; they’re shocking and go from 0 to 100, so to speak. A zombie attack often comes out of the blue and their motivations are simple and easy to understand. This scene with live humans escalated slowly, with tension mounting gradually. We weren’t sure if these guys could be trusted or not and couldn’t predict their actions, and it ended with our hero murdering two people. It shows that the uncertainty of human behavior can often be just as dangerous as predictable, super-aggressive zombie behavior. It was a beautiful scene.

    Thumbs down: It’s episodes like this that make me wonder if the writers are actually trying to make Lori unlikable or if it’s just bad writing. In addition to everything Arthur wrote, she really had the nerve to try to send someone else on a dangerous errand (Daryl) for her? Did she not learn her lesson when she sent Glenn on such a mission to get those morning-after pills, during which he and Maggie were attacked by zombies? In this episode, she comes off as stupid, impetuous and entitled, which makes me lose more faith in the writers. What’s more: If the previews are any indication, the next episode may show her taking up the mantle of Damsel in Distress. It’s great to see the writers shunning sexist tropes for the female lead. Truly compelling TV.

    Predictions: I think the sick chick on the farm has the zombie disease too, and I predict that whatever Dr. Jenner whispered to Rick before the CDC blew up has something to do with it. Also, I don’t think the storyline where Rick saw that helicopter will be tied up at the end of the season, but I don’t think it was a mirage either.

  3. Wait– who says everyone is okay with it? I mean, probably everyone is, but it just happened a second ago.

    And Dave actually says “Nobody’s got their hands clean” shortly after whats-his-name weirdly washes whats-her-name’s hands? So that’s interesting.

    (yeah I don’t know anyone’s name on this show. Rick. Carl. That’s it. Dale and Shane are too much alike in my mind, and everyone else is even more blurry. I don’t know why that is.)

  4. That last scene in the bar was one of my favorites of the entire run, not only for my Terriers-related affection for Michael Raymond-James. (The black-haired Philly guy) It was also incredibly frustrating, as all the things it did right were things the show has done incredibly wrong for most of its run. It was subtle, it was tense, it was impeccably acted, and none of the characters acted like complete morons for like, a whole five minutes. (Corner peeing notwithstanding)

    I was beginning to think the writers were just unable to write characters that were actual people, but now that we have proof they can, I’m more angry than relieved, because why the hell haven’t they done so since the pilot?

  5. From my perspective, the second season of this show has been a massive disappointment, and this episode did nothing to reverse that trend. I keep tuning in hoping there will be some true forward movement in the narrative (like the first season which covered more narrative ground in six episodes, and this season has in two more) or the other AMC shows (especially MM) which often cover so much ground in 13 episodes it’s nothing short of astonishing to me when I reflect on a completed season. Character development is all well and good, but eventually something actually has to happen, yes?

    That’s all I got.

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