The Walking Dead continues to deliver thoughtful material to fans of the genre, but needs work on its plot-to-zombie ratio. The surprise ending, as well as the short zombie encounter mid-episode, give us a taste where we want a meal.
The episode begins with a flashback of no particular consequence. It shows Lori, Shane, and Carl stuck fleeing Atlanta while locked in a complete traffic jam. They meet the Peletiers, Dale is there, and we suppose this is where they originally banded together. They stand witness as Atlanta is attacked by CGI helicopters that napalm the city flat. Again, a little backstory with no real impact on the rest of the episode aside from the fact that Ed Peletier is once again portrayed as the misogynistic wife-beating stereotype which gets touched on later in the show.
Roll opening credits… and then to the plot for the week:
Rick’s crew (for lack of a better term…band? followers? disciples?) is still searching for Sophia, paired up in grid searches. Sophia has been missing for several episodes now, and the continued weariness of searching for her is making some raw nerves.
First, we have Shane and Rick arguing the classic zombie movie argument: Do we cut our losses or cling to our humanity. Shane has revealed himself as increasingly selfish and survival oriented, possibly sociopathic. He wants to move on with the group to Fort Benning. “It’s math, man. Alive or not, she matters to the degree in which she doesn’t drag us down.” Rick refuses to give up the search as he feels personally responsible (he hid Sophia in a creek bed and was the last to see her), stacked on the fact that the entire crew just pitched in to save his son from the brink of death. We can tell that Shane wants to be The Man, but hasn’t worked himself up quite enough yet to challenge Rick. We’ll see how that plays out.
Next, we have Daryl, who continues to be an interesting character. He stole one of Hershel Greens horses and went off searching for Sophia with one more arrows than he’s had baths since the series began. He makes encouraging progress, finding Sophia’s doll, right before taking a spill off his horse down a steep hill. He manages to stab himself through the gut with his only arrow, and knock himself silly on the way down.
Daryl definitely wins Zombie kill of the week next as he comes out of his delirious concussion with a zombie chewing his boot. He manages to bash its skull in good, only to face another walker ten yards and closing. He pulls the arrow out of his gut, cocks the bow, and takes the walker down with an arrow in the forehead in glorious fashion. (Twenty seconds of zombie action in the whole damned show…dammit). Then, cajoled by delusions of his missing or dead brother Merle, he binds his wounds and tries to climb the giant hill. Merle’s phantasmal heckling reveal that Daryl has some serious self-worth issues, and feels the rest of the crew consider him beneath them somehow. He finally climbs the embankment and starts the long walk home.
To make matters worse, he approaches the Greens farm from the west at sundown. He’s hurt bad, staggering like a drunk, and of course is mistaken for a zombie. Andrea, who wants to learn to shoot guns instead of wash clothes for the group, ignores everyone else’s admonitions not to shoot, and she…of course… shoots Daryl right in the head. Thankfully, it was a grazing shot, but that’s small consolation to either Daryl or Andrea.
Carol Peletier goes out of her way to thank Daryl, which is just the kind of reassurance he needs right now. Everyone is encouraged by the discovery of the doll, except Herschel. Hershel Greene resents Rick’s crew more with each passing day. They eat his food, steal his horse, expose his family to risk, cost him Otis, and are apparently diddling his daughter.
Speaking of, Glenn and Maggie Green are knocking boots, mostly for lack of any age-appropriate alternatives. Glenn slips Maggie telling her to meet him in the barn. Maggie races to intercept but is too late to prevent him from discovering the truth behind the Greene’s farm. Their barn is chock-slap-FILLED with zombies, and apparently the Greene’s all know about it.
So, in summary? This was a fair episode. Moar Zombies plzkthx. It was heavy on plot, but the plot was engaging. Norman Reedus shines as Daryl Dixon. Lori (who I managed to almost completely neglect) needs to stop sniffling and whining, which is apparently all she’s been good for this season. I can’t wait for the controversy between Rick and Shane to come to a head.
Next week? BARNYARD ZOMBIE FUN! *banjo music* ‘Secrets’ airs on AMC Nov. 20th.