This week’s Walking Dead may have been a plodding character developing hour, but it was interspersed with a few gripping moments of terror. Nothing overly exciting happened, and the search for the girl has become a complete bust. In fact that whole meandering plotline from last week became an afterthought for not only the viewers, but apparently the writers as well. But this was a character strengthening episode, and even those throwaway threads are immensely important to what’s about to go down at the Green farm.

Say Thankee, sai.
Last week ended with Carl being shot, and we get a brief flashback to the moment Lori had to tell her son that his dad was shot. I guess we’re supposed to wonder at the injustice of the world or something, because other than smacking us with the point this opening scene had no bearing on the show.

I love that we meet the first inhabitant of the Green farm while Rick runs frantically with a bleeding Carl in his hands. Otis tripping and falling, out of breath, shouting to get the boy to Herschel had me smiling for a while. It alleviated my biggest concern for the show going into a second season, that of introducing new characters. More people exist in the world and The Walking Dead has to get us to care for, or be interested by, them in such a short time. The follow up with the Green family’s immediate assemblage as a triage unit reinforced the creative team’s ability to flesh out characters in brief moments.

Otis, who I swore was played by the guy from Who’s Line Is It Anyway? but is actually Pruitt Taylor Vince, would typically be a yokel in other stories. Here he’s just a guy trying to help feed the people he’s chosen to survive alongside; and this horrible accident occurs. The man feels responsible for what happens, and it’s a glimpse into the Green farm mindset on the zombie plague. Despite what appears to be a slight delusion about how the world will bounce back, in their ways the residents on the farm are the most human people we’ve met so far. They have hope.

When it turns out that Carl will need to undergo surgery, and need anesthesia, Otis volunteers to go with Shane to get the medical equipment. And it’s here that I swear Rick tells the man, “I should thankee.” I listened twice and it sounds the same each time, not like a muttering of “thank you,” but I’m only 95% sure. If the reference is there it’s a great nod from Darabont to Stephen King, whose work Darabont has adapted a few times with fantastic results.

Who Rick Is
I have to admit that I love seeing Rick emotionally shackled to Carl the entire episode as his impulse to run off and help was eliminated. It gave us time to remember who Rick is, and where he’s been. Rick never made the transition from normal living to surviving the zombie apocalypse in the way everyone else did. He woke up and began surviving, he didn’t watch as the world fell into chaos. While he’s there now, fighting alongside the others, he has a distinct perspective on the current situation.

It never occurred to Rick that going after a lost little girl was something to be questioned. He has a cop’s mentality, and when a child goes missing you go look for them. This is what makes Rick such a great and true hero, that he is not brave in the face of danger. He’s just motivated to do whatever is right at the time, and that includes facing mortal danger if needed. Shane has lived through the horrific changes, and once had that cop mentality, but it’s gone for him. Rick may not always make the best decisions, he is still human, but for him the world needs some kind of order and justice.

The Wild Card
OK, so let’s all admit that while we love The Walking Dead the show does have some issues. As a reader of the graphic novel, and staunch defender of the show to those who think it should adhere strictly to the source material, I am pained to admit there could be some problems with the character of Daryl; a person on the show who has become one of the best things about the series. Tonight we saw the first hint that Daryl could become a crutch for the writers.

Seriously? He just happened to have the magic pills that T-Bone needs to help with his blood poisoning? That along with Daryl’s one-liners may be a bit much. It smacks of pandering with the “Shut up” line, that only existed to make Daryl look like a badass. We know he is by his actions, and the writers need to learn with the character when it’s time to ease off on the action hero clichés.

As an episode this week was far better than last week, which started the season off on a high note. And it leaves us wondering what’ll happen next in a way that I find more intriguing than the “Who shot Carl?” ending. How are Otis and Shane going to survive the zombie attack behind that gate? And more importantly who is Herschel, what secret does he hide, and how is life at the Green farm so serene? There’s something not quite right, and that’s more unnerving than a shambling zombie reaching out to make a snack of your innards.

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