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Tonight’s episode of The Walking Dead was a long time coming, and while the developing Rick vs. Shane feud is by no means resolved, things certainly got interesting as the two had it out and fittingly demonstrated their differing views on how to handle survival, and make choices for the good of themselves and the group.
The episode was pretty neatly divided between two different stories. On one side, we had Shane and Rick escorting outsider-Randall (Rescue Me’s Michael Zegen) to parts unknown where they could set him free to return to his own people, and hopefully never see them again. And on the other side, the women were chatting, bickering and trying to keep Beth from killing herself, or in Andrea’s case, encouraging everyone to let the girl make her own choice.
“That is my wife. That is my son. That is my unborn child. I will stay alive to keep them alive.”
The conversation between Shane and Rick needed to happen as much as their brawl did, and in addition to letting some air out of the bubble before it burst all over the place, it brought out a few interesting insights. Last week I suggested the idea that for Shane, it’s more about having/winning Lori than it was about loving her. Tonight Rick called Shane out for his feelings for Lori, or lack thereof. In turn, Shane admitted that he never looked at Lori “that way” before the walkers showed up, going on to say that Lori and Carl kept him alive after all of the chaos. The conversation added a bit more humanity to Shane as a character. At the very least, it shows that he is at least a little bit emotional. He still needs to “man up” and walk away from Rick’s family, though.
Randall nearly signed his death warrant by revealing he knew Maggie. At that point, he may have figured he was dead already since he was being left tied up in the middle of nowhere, but he nearly took a bullet to the head for launching that little tidbit of info at Shane and Rick’s backs. If he knows Maggie, he knows where the farm is and, Rick and Shane’s efforts to conceal their location from him were a big waste. More to the point, he could lead his people back to the farm if he wanted to.
Their impulses on how to deal with Randall, knowing he knew of their location, was a great demonstration of the difference between Shane and Rick. While Rick was willing to give the decision a day before figuring out what to do, Shane’s decision was to pull the trigger right then and there. If Rick hadn’t been quick to stop him, Randall would have been dead. Instead, Rick and Shane fought and grabbed the attention of every walker in the area (or in the nearby building).
At this point, it’s looking like Rick came out on top over all. He had the opportunity to leave Shane for dead and take off with Randall when the walkers were all over the school bus where Shane was hiding. But he didn’t. Instead, he took off and got the car, then came back, which was sort of evidence that there are alternatives to leaving someone for dead. Maybe in the case of Shane and Otis, there wouldn’t have been, but Rick coming back with the car shows he’s a team-thinker and he respects the value of human life, even if it’s a man who may pose a threat to his family and the group at some point down the line.
There may be some metaphor in the blood-bait approach, which Rick used to quietly kill a walker by the fence earlier, and Shane copied when looking for a way to distract the walkers outside the bus. Sometimes, it’s good to pause and strategize, rather than simply pulling the trigger and making a whole lot of noise (not to mention wasting a bullet). Rick’s the kind of man who would cut his hand open if it meant a better overall outcome. Shane’s more of the shooting type.
Strategy worked out well in a pinch for Rick when he was literally covered in walkers and seemingly out of options, as two dead walkers stood (or laid) between him and the one trying to eat him. We could see the desperation and possibly even fear on Rick’s face as he scrambled to figure out a way not to get scratched or bit. And then it came to him. Stick the gun in the closest walker’s mouth and shoot through the thing’s head. It was creative, and it got the job done.
“She just has to look on the bright side...”
Before we get to the bigger issue involving the ladies, I want to talk about the Lori/Andrea fight. For one thing, I realized as I watched them argue in the kitchen that I don’t particularly like either character all that much right now. While Andrea’s realism seems necessary among this group, she’s kind of a constant downer. She wears her misery on the outside and it makes it frustrating to see anything beyond that whenever she’s on screen. Meanwhile, Lori’s caught up in her own world. She has so much drama going on that she really seems to be all about that and less about anyone else. That might seem fair, given what she has going on in her life, but when we see the way Rick juggles his personal issues with the wellbeing of the group, it’s hard to appreciate Lori as being much more than a walking set of problems. So watching the two women argue, I didn’t know who I wanted to win. In the end, I felt more on Andrea’s side.
Lori hasn’t had it easy, but she does have a lot more than everyone else. And Andrea’s jab about the boyfriend was definitely the checkmate in that discussion.
“The pain doesn’t go away. You just make room for it.”
I love the above line because it defines grief so perfectly. Loss is like a scar. Some of it fades, but it never goes away and we’re forever changed by it. I agree with Andrea’s outlook in letting Beth make her own decision about wanting to kill herself, and her comment on grief. But given what happened to her own sister, I can’t understand how she could have gone about the situation the way she did. Yes, Beth needs to make her own decision. After all, Maggie and Lori can’t be constantly watching Beth to keep her from trying to take her own life. But it was a decision that affected other people, including Beth’s sister and father. For Andrea to semi-stage an opportunity for Beth to commit suicide, going around Maggie on the matter, rather than talking with her about it, was poor form.
The most heartbreaking moment during Beth’s part of the episode tonight was when she tried to convince Maggie to also kill herself. It showed how determined she was for all of this to be over. As difficult as the scene was to watch, this was a subject worth being addressed in general on a show like this, when hope and the question “What are we living for?” play such huge roles in the mentality of the survivors. There are some people who believe in a life beyond the chaos, while others may be tired of coping with grief and trying to live just to survive one more day.
For an episode that was so neatly divided, it certainly gave us a lot to think about. Randall is still alive, and back to being held captive while Rick decides what to do with him. He and Shane seem to have come to a sort of detente that probably won’t last long. And after slashing her wrist, Beth realized she wants to live. So Andrea was kind of right. But butting in on the situation to prove a point or represent her own school of thought on the topic of suicide does call to question her decision-making abilities, at least when it comes to other people’s lives. Last week it looked like she connected with Maggie on the bonds of sisterhood. This week, the opposite seemed to be the case, or perhaps the situation she went through with Dale when she was feeling suicidal overshadowed that.
What do you think? Was Andrea in the right to intervene? And what should become of Randall? He’s kind of a wildcard, but does that make it right to kill him? If Rick kills Randall, where’s the line after that?