There are episodes of AMC’s The Walking Dead that seem empty, with not much progression in the story or evaluation of the characters. What keeps viewers coming back for more is the kills and the gruesome nature of the zombie apocalypse. However, what most of us don’t want to admit is that character development is key to our devotion. This episode gave us exactly what we’ve been craving.
The episode began with Rick, Shane, and their prisoner Randall in major trouble. Rick hid near a window which poured out walkers, Randall was tied up and crawling awkwardly towards a knife to set himself free while Shane barricaded a school bus door from a pack of ravaging dead brains. And this in only the first thirty seconds.
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Flashback to before the attack when Rick and Shane are transporting Randall eighteen miles away from the farm. Shane is convinced that taking Randall as prisoner was a mistake. In Rick’s defense it was a spur of the moment decision to save Randall’s life. Rick and Shane have come to yet another impasse.
They represent two sides of a coin, the yin and yang, eternally bound by their police partnership as well as their friendship. While in reality most of us would ditch a loose canon like Shane or moral stickler like Rick, as characters they cannot function without one another and they know this. Shane makes cut throat choices in order to survive while Rick weighs his options to save lives and this often leads to more trouble.
Rick finally confronts Shane about Otis’ death in the school yard. He also tells him that Lori, Carl, and his unborn baby belong to him and him alone. Shane tries to explain himself, but Rick already seems to know his partner all too well. Now Shane is angry with Rick about keeping Randall alive and risking the location of the farm as well as the safety of the crew. The plan is to leave him in the middle of nowhere with a single knife and allow him a chance to live.
Randall however, is not that intelligent. After all the trouble of blindfolding him, he still admits that he knows Maggie from the farm and that they went to school together. Now his death is imminent. Rick and Shane find an abandoned public works building and leave him for dead. But then Shane tries to shoot him.
Que the most anticipated BFF throw down in recent television. Rick and Shane begin to kick each other’s asses. Shane gives Rick the old forehead to the face technique, but then Rick gets a few left hooks in. It doesn’t really matter who’s dominating, all that we care about is watching it happen. Yes, maybe I was rooting for Sheriff Grimes, but I digress.
After Shane throws a wrench at Rick and busts a window in the public works building, the walkers come spilling out. Rick hides underneath one of the brutes while Shane retreats to a bus. Meanwhile Randall is trying to reach the knife before he is eaten alive.
But there is more to this story than just Rick and Shane. Maggie’s little sister Beth is on suicide watch after she hid a kitchen knife under her covers and refused to eat any food. Maggie was already distraught by Glen’s existential crisis when he left his friends for dead. Lori tells her to support her man by telling him to pull himself together and give him time.
Lori wants to prevent Beth from killing herself while Andrea wants to let her make a choice. Lori tells Andrea that she is worthless and as an audience it’s hard not to agree. She sits on top of a camper and watches the perimeter, which Lori feels that men can handle. This was somewhat annoying, but amazingly one of the most realistic portrayals of morale on the show yet. You know bitches would be bitching about laundry and dishes. When it comes down to it, the ladies like it fair. Lori isn’t exactly a great specimen and Andrea finally tells her that.
Maggie takes a break from watching Beth and allows Andrea to take over. Andrea then leaves Beth to slit her wrist in the bathroom, which infuriates Maggie and Lori. Luckily Beth is alright, but where is old man Hershel in all of this?
There were some pretty sweet zombie kills this episode. Rick got pinned down by a massive walker and shot him in the face. Then came more and more, forcing him to shoot one walker through the head of another. Shane learned the fine art of knifing zombies in the face. Randall did come in handy by freeing himself and helping Rick drive the car to save Shane. It was pretty badass watching Grimes sit out the window shooting down the goons while Shane dove into the back of the SUV.
In the end, Rick could never leave Shane for dead. While getting guns from the two public works security officers’ bodies he remembered that being partners is more than just a precaution, it’s about survival. Sometimes the decisions one makes saves the other from having to make them. Now let’s just hope they don’t kill each other before the walkers get to them.