Sunday’s The Walking Dead gives us our last zombie fix for us until February. The mid-season finale finally delivers what TWD has been teasing us with the entire season. They wrap several plot points in satisfactorily dramatic fashion, and leave us hanging and waiting for more.
The episode begins with Glenn, at Dale’s gentle urging, confessing to the entire group that the Greene’s’ barn is filled with zombies. Shane starts shouting and freaking out, which is understandable. But his attitude really spoils his surprisingly valid points. Sophia is likely dead, and the group needs to either leave immediately or slaughter the zombies in the barn. Rick joins the shouting match with Shane (this is becoming a theme with them), and promises to try to work things out with Hershel Greene.
Rick marches right in and tries convincing Hershel that the walkers in the barn are dangerous. Hershel dogmatically rejects killing the zombies as murder. He holds out the hope that this is a passing plague, something that can be cured. He’s also using some seriously convoluted religious justifications to not only keep zombies penned up in his barn, but at the same time send Rick and his crew packing. He gives them until the end of the week to get off his land. Rick begs Hershel to reconsider, and tells him that Lori is pregnant, and that turning them all out amounts to a death sentence. Hershel is unmoved. Rick goes on out to give the bad news, and Shane is waiting for him. Shane learns that Lori is pregnant, and you can see him freaking out inside. Shane doesn’t say anything, and runs off to question Lori.
Shane is getting closer and closer to outright rebellion. You can see his rage bubbling here. He tells Lori that the baby is probably his, and that he’s a better survivor and protector than Rick. You can’t help but feel bad for Shane here, because he’s right in a lot of ways, but he’s both unloved and unlovable. He points out that he’s the more pragmatic decision maker, and that he’s saved her life four times compared to Rick’s (maybe) one. Lori tells him that even if the baby was his that the baby would never be his. Shane, more than any of the others, is on the edge of rejecting any kind of morality or humanity, and simply taking what he wants. He stomps off mad.
Meanwhile, Dale knows the barn zombies are bad news and that things are coming to a head. He makes off with all the guns to hide them until things cool down. Shane comes looking for the guns and quickly finds Dale. Shane and Dale argue over the guns, and Dale again accuses Shane of murdering Otis. Dale threatens to shoot Shane if he tries to take the guns, but it’s an empty bluff. Shane calls him on it, sticking the rifle barrel into his own chest and daring Dale to shoot. Dale stands down of course, as he’s not a murderer. Dale asks if Shane will kill him too, but Shane dismisses Dale as ‘pretty much already dead’, snatches up the guns and leaves Dale standing there impotently.
At the same time, Rick gets called on by Hershel to fill in Otis’ old role of ‘zombie rustler’. There are zombies stuck in the mud that Hershel wants to pen up in the barn and save from harm. He insinuates that if Rick can agree not to kill the zombies that his group may be allowed to stay. Rick agrees to help, if not to the entire general pacifism toward zombies. He, Hershel, and one of Hershel’s boys manage to collar two zombies, and start dragging them back to the barn.
Shane makes it back to the barn minutes before Rick and Hershel. He takes charge, throws guns to Glenn, Daryl, T-Dog, and Andrea, and makes toward the barn. Rick and Hershel see this coming out of the woods, and Shane sees that Rick is trying to capture live zombies and finally loses it. He goes apeshit screaming at Hershel to understand that these aren’t really people. He shoots the zombie Hershel is corralling several times in the torso, and asks Hershel how a person could live through that. Then he blows the zombies brains out, and Hershel sinks to the ground in a state of shock. Shane is still foaming at the mouth in a crazy rage, and he smashes open the barn door, unleashing the zombie horde.
They shoot the zombies one after the other as they come out of the barn. It’s target practice. You can see that watching all of his loved ones get shot up is crushing Hershel even more with every gunshot. Then, in an insane twist, our opinions on Greene are shifted instantly. The last zombie to crawl out of the barn is poor little Sophia Peletier. She’d been penned up in the barn all the days everyone was out risking life and limb searching for her. Daryl almost died twice looking for her. Her mom Carol has been a walking basket case. Now we know why Hershel wanted them gone, why he didn’t want his horses used to help look for her, and we see through his hypocritical piety. Rick, not Shane, does what has to be done, and shoots Sophia in the head.
This plot development diverges greatly from the comic story line (Sophie is alive and well for some time in the comic) and it makes us wonder what’s coming next. It was a fairly satisfying end to the too-long ‘search for Sophia’ plotline.
MOAR ZOMBIES. See you in February.