"The world aint coming to nothing son, it's the same as it always was."
The opening lines from Hell On Wheels.
SPOILER ALERT: And once again, I welcome your comments, but please keep them to only discussing this show, not the comic. Thanks!
I don't think any words I could have chosen for the last episode of The Walking Dead until February could have been more appropriate. The episode makes a pretty huge political statement hidden within zombie drama. People killing people. When Rick was helping Scowl pull the zombies out of the swamp, scowl was preaching about the fact that there are a lot of sick people roaming around out there, and Rick picked up on his meaning. He was not talking about zombies.
The world is the same as it always was. Zombies, indians, survivors whatever. It is all just about people killing people. Or as Carl puts it, "every thing is just food for something else." The walking dead got all philosophical on us!
Last week I said that in order for the series to move on/survive, they need to wrap up two loose ends pretty quickly that have really put a cork in Season Two. The zombie barn and Sophia being gone. Who would have guessed that they would wrap them up both at the same time! Seriously though, were any of you surprised that Sophia was zombified and in the barn? She had been missing for weeks. The fact that they had not found her, or found her body meant that she must be a zombie walking around at this point.
The question is, did Scowl know that she was in the barn? If you caught the sneak peak of the new episode you see him deny it and blame Otis, but really? It makes more sense now. It is one thing to have a barn full of zombies, but Scowl was being ever more persistent that the gang had to leave, especially once they found out. It was really bordering on crazy. Which is why Rick could not understand. Now that they know about the zombies, of course Scowl would not want them to find out that he had been keeping the little girl that they were looking for locked up.
A couple of important things happened in this show.
Rick Takes Charge:
Shane had been going on for weeks about how Rick needs to take charge and make the tough decision. Here is the difference between the two of them. Shane takes the easy way out, as Dale points out in their confrontation. When the world goes to shit, it is easy to let loose your human morals and become an animal. Hell, it may even be necessary. Shane says that Rick does not have the tools to survive in the new reality. But is it Rick's lack of tools, or his possession of the one tool that Shane lacks that divides them? Rick has morals. Shane does not. Shane is also a coward in a lot of ways as I spoke about a few weeks ago.
The way Shane dealt with the barn at the end of the episode displays this fact. To give kudos to AMC once again, the final 10 minutes of this episode were some of the finest I have ever seen on ANY tv program. Shane busted open the doors in a psycho anti rule melt down. When he cannot handle things, he resorts to violent outburst. Case in point. The inability of Scowl to see the zombies for what they were sent Shane over the edge. Shane started shooting Scowls neighbor zombie in the chest to prove his point. He shot that chick 8 times before finally ending it by putting a bullet in her head. At this point, every one was just standing bye and watching. Rick was trying to get some one to take the rod attached to the zombie he had. Every one just stood there in a daze. The only one who was trying to act, aside from Shane, could not.
It actually amazed me how every one else just stood there all slack jawed. Even Scowl. I kept waiting for him to attack Shane, or even scream. But he just stood there staring. His world unraveling right before his eyes. Exactly what he feared was going to happen did. Now people he cared about were being shot right before his eyes, hell he was even the accessory to the killing by holding the zombie there for Shane to shoot! But was his inaction bad acting or good? None of us can imagine ourselves in the same situation. I guess that is animal nature. When things become too hot for some of us, we shut down. Scowl's look and in fact all of them, reminded me of the beheading video I had the misfortune to have watched. Disbelief. Somethings are just too insane to wrap our minds around. "This isn't happening!"
But it did. Shane busted open the barn. Every one stood there except for Rick until Shane finally killed the other tethered zombie. Then every one lined up and started shooting. The chaos of the scene was delicious. I honestly cant imagine it any differently.
In the end though, it was not Shane being decisive. It was Shane being a coward. He knew he could break down the doors because he had a dozen guns behind him. He was not making the tough call. He was taking the fast track out of responsibility. One way or another, opening those doors was going to allow them to move on and force the decision from Rick. The only brave decision to happen here was Rick's. Hence the division between the two. When the time came to be in charge, Rick stepped up and put a bullet in Sophia zombie's head. No hesitation. In a split second, Rick made the only decision of the season that has any real consequence or ramification. He shot Sophia. Sometimes a leader has to make the tough call.
Glen the ladies man:
So let me get this straight. All you have to do when a chick is pissed off at you is tell her your thoughts, and she starts making out with you and doing your laundry? Perhaps Glen knows a bit more about women than I thought. "I don't always drink beer, but when I do I drink Dos Equis!"
Glen took a couple of steps in character progression. First of all, he wanted to step up and be a group leader. He is young and he wanted Dale's support first, but when it was time he blurted out the secrets he was keeping. But more than that, he became a man in other ways. Glen is our little Luke Skywalker and is coming of age. All good stories need one. You see, the audience needs some one they can associate with. In our case, the audience is a bunch of ravenous nerds. What are some other examples of good Television characters inserted for the audience to latch onto?
Stargate Universe: The nerd genius. Don't remember his name.
Battlestar Galactica (the new one): Tough one, but definitely Starbuck
Heroes: At first Peter, but actually Sylar in a weird way took over that role, and that of the vilian. (Unique)
In movies we can tap an endless list of characters like Rocky and Marty McFly.
So Glen is coming of age. He has a pretty clear obstacle to overcome. The fact that he is considered a goofy kid. Rick even refers to him as their group's "go to town" guy. He is not really respected for what he brings to the table. Father figure? He has two, though only Dale is the true mentor. Rick is too busy dealing with other stuff. Love interest? CHECK.
Good drama is created by taking these characters and allowing us to see how they grow and respond. Eventually they win the day and get the girl. Today was Glen's day. He established himself as a man with the group by finally spilling his guts, and then supporting Shane when it mattered and taking up arms. He established himself as a man with Becky by setting her straight and showing her that he is more than just zombie bait. He played it right when the zombies were charging out of the barn by nodding to Becky for support, as if he needed it, then joining the gun line and getting the job done. Now all we need him to do is confront Vader and the circle will be complete!
As you figured out, I am a little weird in that when I watch something, I like to analyze it and break it down. I like to get in the heads of the characters and try to figure out what makes them tick. Good acting makes this easy. But also, I like to try to watch shows for blatant tricks of story telling. In this case, foreshadowing is something I always try to catch, to see if I predicted the future right.
Well I saw a couple of glimpses involving Carl that scream FORESHADOWING! First of all, Carl aggressively talked down Shane. Even swearing at him! He, wearing Rick's hat, spoke his mind and put Shane in his place. Then later, Shane and Carl shared a little scene where Shane handed him a gun. Carl's dressing down of Shane made Shane understand that he was not a boy any more and worthy of carrying heat. But more importantly, sets the stage for the future.
A few weeks ago I predicted that it was going to come to a head between Rick and Shane. I predicted that Daryl was going to have to make moral decisions regarding this confrontation, and the show has been dropping hints lately about which way he might go, but I more importantly predicted that it would be Glen who steps up and backs up Rick, perhaps even shooting Shane. Now I am convinced that the confrontation is still going to happen, but it won't be Glen or Daryl that steps up to help. It will be Carl.
Carl confronting Shane while wearing Rick's hat foreshadows the inevitable battle that will occur. And Shane handing Carl the gun, foreshadows how it will go down. Neither of those scenes were important for the story, other than to set the stage for what is to come.
In fact, this episode did a lot of stage setting. How about a little mature loving between Sophia's mom and Daryl? How bout a great big fizzle between Dale and Shane. Dale definitely did not have the minerals to do what it takes in the new world. Who will?
It's easy to say by the way, but if it were me, I think I would have pulled that trigger when Dale did not. The world is gone, it is now Wild West time. You are a predator, or prey. Dale is prey. Shane is a predator. The only problem is, there is always a bigger predator. Every one is food for something! They always say that if you are going to level a gun at some one, you better be prepared to use it. Dale was not. I'm pretty sure that in an end of the world situation, I would have pulled the trigger. When you are facing a bigger predator, and you are prey, you need to act not hide if you have the chance. That is one decision that will come back to bite Dale in the ass.
So where does this leave us? Waiting for February! The barn and Sophia are resolved. All of the secrets are out. The group is now free to go, a little stronger, and a little weaker. The preview for next episode shows them looking for Scowl who disappears and talking about Benning again. But frankly I don't care. No matter what they do, I will be watching.