Taking a life changes you. Agatha Christie once wrote, from the mouth of Hercule Poirot, that once someone had taken one life, it was much easier for them to take more lives. That however hard the first murder is, the second is always easier. We are wired not to be able to kill another human being. Break that wiring, so it goes, and the wiring stays broken.
This, then, is why Shane, dangerous even before, is more dangerous now. It’s not just that he’s unstable, lunatic, and unraveling. He’s all those things and has killed the living already. He can do it again.And so, with Rick having joined that club, Lori realizes that maybe she can use him against Shane. Finally, an action packed episode, but in inverse of the “mid-season finale” (don’t get me started on that phrase) it was the final scene that resonated for me, talky in an action-heavy episode. It wasn’t just the Lady MacBeth-like quality. It was a promise to the audience that there would be character stuff moving forward and things happening. I don’t even know if Lori believed what she said about Otis. Her words about Shane and the group were all true. But that’s not why she’s saying it. She’s afraid for herself, and she’s afraid for her baby. And, well, not acting very sane. Her stupid insistence on going off alone to rescue the guy who knows how to rescue people almost got her killed. For someone who needs her husband to protect the group she certainly doesn’t have a lot of faith in his ability to mount a rescue mission. Rick predictably comes back home, three-legged puppy in tow, just in the nick of time as people are setting out on their mission, causing me to exclaim out loud “Dammit! T-Dog almost had something to do this episode!”
Meanwhile, a character whose name I can’t even remember who is apparently Maggie’s sister? Is still lying on the bed, stiff as boredom, and we’re expected to give a shit. This show needs to put its balls on the table and kill off a main character we actually care about already. Look at everyone who’s been killed off so far and tell me which deaths you cared about. The answer is “Amy.” Why? Because she’d been established. She was part of the cast we knew. The writers need to kill Shane, or Carl, or Dale, or even fucking Hershel. Someone whose name we can remember. You cannot expect television audiences to care about what’s happening to a character with almost zero screen time. Except in the case of me caring about the complete lack of screen time happening to T-Dog.
Part of why Amy’s death succeeded at getting us to care was Andrea. Laurie Holden’s performance was phenomenal, and there was the serious element of danger in there. And Andrea’s been going through serious character development lately. Her interplay with Shane makes a lot of sense as their characters have so much in common. People of practical action, rather than careful consideration of consequences. They have too much in common for Dale to ever succeed at convincing Andrea to go against Shane, not that he’s succeeding much anyway. The problem with Shane’s comment that he’s the “odd man out” is that everyone else in their little group is too. Shane, Andrea, Dale, Glenn, T-Dog, Daryl, Carl; they’re all the odd man out. So are Carol and Rick in their ways. And when you’ve only got a few character who aren’t left, they pretty much are too. Anyway, Andrea had a good point which addresses both the pro- and anti- Shane camps in the audience and in the show. Right decisions, horribly wrong ways to go about it. You can’t convince me the barn full of walkers wouldn’t have held long enough for Shane to play bad cop and bully Hershel into letting him demonstrate why they aren’t living anymore. It was definitely the right decision too, to lie to Lori about Rick being home safe. You’ll notice that Lori was walking in the direction of town, not the farm, when Shane found her. She wasn’t in the most rational of places and hasn’t been for a few episodes now.
Of course, it wasn’t particularly a great idea to fucking out her in front of everybody and Carl about being pregnant. But Shane hasn’t been acting too rationally lately either. His conversation breaking up the horribly awkward “We never had the talk” scene was a mercy on the audience, but not on Lori. “What we had was real” Uh, no it wasn’t. “Remember what you felt.” What Lori felt was dead inside. Cold, depersonalized, and disconnected. That’s why she shacked up with Shane. To feel something. Or at least try to. That’s why it wasn’t real, and Shane just has no idea and still wouldn’t even if Lori spelled it out to him.
It was nice to see Shane get verbally bitchslapped by Hershel this episode, whether or not it will have any lasting effect. I have to wonder what it’s like for Hershel, knowing he just shot someone who then screamed and screamed while being eaten by zombies, unable to get up because he’d been shot. I don’t blame Glen for freezing up in that firefight. It’s a firefight; bullets are flying at you. Sometimes you freeze. But he evidently blames himself for it and Maggie… Well, Maggie doesn’t really ever understand Glen’s point of view about anything. It’s occurred to me that, while not a one-dimensional character, she only exists on this show as Glen’s love interest. If this group ever leaves Hershel’s farm, Maggie will probably follow Glen. She clearly values him more. Which, I’m sorry. Running past your father to hug your boyfriend when they both might have been dead is a dick move. It was played as comedy, but I suspect it was largely Maggie being angry at her father for leaving. Or it was the writers thinking it would be funny and not much else. Felt more like the latter.
So let’s talk about Carol/Daryl. You’ll notice, at the end of the kitchen scene, the women go to their respective men. Andrea to Shane, Lori to Rick, Maggie to Glen, and Carol to Daryl. Daryl seems disinterested, but he’s beating himself up for other reasons. This was his chance. This was his opportunity to be a good person for a change, for a big change. He was going to find Sophia, and the group was going to love him for it, and he was going to be someone so, so different from Merle. But he was robbed of that. Sophia had been in the barn the whole time. Otis was the one who brought her in, which means she died fast. He was chasing an illusion the whole time. So he’s upset and acting out, saying things he doesn’t mean just to hurt Carol because she’s still treating him like the person he’s now convinced he can’t become. But he put on a long-sleeved shirt and got his crossbow to head to Rick’s rescue. Make what you will of that. Daryl is never going to strike Carol. Carol expects it, Carol would probably be okay with it, but it’s not going to happen. Granted, she probably still misses Ed. I highly doubt she’s capable of thinking “He was a monster and now he’s gone. Good riddance.” She’s an abuse survivor. That’s probably a big part of Daryl’s appeal to her—his behavior is what she’s learned love feels like. But as long as it stays verbal and his violence is directed at objects, the audience stays sympathetic to him. It probably didn’t hurt that he talked about himself rather obviously—the stuff about how Carol was afraid because she was all alone was clearly not about Carol. Having been reminded so recently of what Ed was like was helpful towards showing Daryl as sympathetic. And Carol, for her part, knows how to take Daryl’s abuse, since what she’s survived was so much worse. In a sick way, it’s a good pairing. He benefits from someone who will look at his verbal abuse as a light breeze to a hurricane survivor. She needs someone who will act in abusive ways but isn’t a piece of shit to the core. Clearly she hasn’t had the time or the ability to do the work needed to become a psychologically healthy survivor, otherwise her recognizing Daryl as another potential abuser would be conscious, not unconscious, and a warning sign, not appealing.
Rick’s got the trying-to-be-a-good-person thing down much better than Daryl. Although sometimes doing the right thing, or trying to, means doing the stupid thing. The people were walking away when Rick called out. He was trying to reassure himself more than them, anyway. “They drew on us” would be a lot more convincing to people who weren’t friends with the guys you just shot to death before looting their bodies for guns and ammo. But Rick always has to be the hero. Calling out “I killed your friends but I didn’t want to so please don’t shoot at me” is not smart, but it is typical of the hero-type Rick is. So is rescuing the kid on the fence, which, Jesus, is there anyone on this show who isn’t gruesomely accident-prone? Nobody just gets a papercut or a sprained ankle, do they? So Rick comes to the rescue, as always… And does the opposite of protecting the group.
I suppose that’s the theme of this episode: “I… I tried to do the right thing.”