Last week’s episode of The Walking Dead really made it clear that it is a show with some problems. The writers seem determined to make viewers hate Shane, but to that point he’d always been right, the one member of the group to really wake up to the reality of the world after a zombie uprising. There’s only one rule now, survival, and Shane seems to be the only person who truly understands that. The real bad girl is Lori, who was last seen whispering sour nothings in Rick’s ear, trying to make him turn on Shane.
In episode 10, Lori continues to be annoying and bitchy; inexplicably turning on Andrea by telling her she shouldn’t be outside working on her shooting skills when there is laundry and cooking to be done. Thankfully Andrea fights back, making it clear in no uncertain terms that she knows about Lori’s affair with Shane, and also making sure Lori realises that what she is doing is more important than domestic chores. Elsewhere on the farm, Beth (the previously catatonic girl) is now more alert and talking, although she’s hardly full of life, talking morosely about life being pointless and suicide. It should be pointed out that the episode takes place a week or so after the events of last week, which explains why Rick and Shane are out on the road.
They reach a crossroads, and get out of their car to talk about, you know, stuff. Rick tells Shane he knows about his affair with Lori, as well as what happened to Otis. Shane doesn’t attempt to lie to Rick; he explains his decision to leave Otis behind, while reminding Rick that he only did it to save Carl’s life. While there appears to be an uneasy truce between the two, the reason they are out there is because Randall, the kid with the hole in his leg, has apparently healed sufficiently for the group to err, mercilessly dump him in the middle of nowhere instead of taking him in. It doesn’t really tie in with Rick’s decision to save him before, why bother if he was only going to release an injured young man back into the walker infested wilderness?
But before Rick and Shane can leave Randall alone, they get into a fight after arguing over what to do with him. It’s a no holds barred fight, one that only ends with Shane wildly launches a wrench at Rick, only to miss, smash a window of a nearby building, and awaken a horde of walkers, eager for some delicious human flesh. Again, like last week, the action away from the farm is satisfying and exciting; with Rick, Shane and Randall getting decidedly stab happy using knives to off walkers in an attempt to save ammunition. Rick is forced to improvise though, as he gets trapped under a pile of walkers, and decides the best way to save himself is by shooting a walker in the head through the head of an already dealt with walker. Yup, you read that right and it’s awesome.
But the problem with this episode is that Rick once again makes it clear that he wants the group to stay at the farm. You can understand where he is coming from, with the farm providing food and shelter for his family, but the series will get very old, very quickly if season 3 begins at the farm too. One hope for the show is the idea that Shane and Andrea could be forced to leave the farm by themselves, allowing what seems like the only two characters in the show that actually realise what living in a world after a zombie apocalypse means to have their own adventures on the road. The show literally needs a new direction, there’s a whole world out there, what is happening in Washington or California or even on other continents? The Walking Dead can still be a gripping show when it wants to be, the question is, how badly does it want to be?