The Walking Dead Review: 18 Miles

“Randall while squealing about wanting to live, and not being left alone drops a bomb that this whole blindfolded sound torture bullshit is all for naught because he went to school with Maggie – and therefore has known where the farm was probably this whole time. I saw this as savvy but Shane just heard “I know where the farm is and I eat babies” because he just went straight to killing him again. Rick was as “wait let’s think first” and Shane was all “killy-killy stab-stab bang” and just like all schoolyard fights ended in violence. Sweet-sweet violence.”

This week’s episode of The Walking Dead was the week of the road trip with a side order of personalized music trunk torture for outsiders.  Within the following I will recap and review the actions and misdeeds of this episode. This ranges from Rick and Shane getting physical in a non-Olivia Newton John sort of way, Ricks struggles as not the “good” guy, Shane’s struggles with losing his marbles, and one of Hershel’s forty seven children, Beth is having some extreme suicidal tendencies. I will also season with speculation and humbly flavor with opinions.

  

For the sake of keeping my negativity at a minimum let us pretend the whole stereotypical beginning the episode with the climax did not happen. It was shot beautifully and it looked amazing but it looked just as amazing as it did when it actually happened. It also helped build a false tension that was not needed. This is a zombie movie turned TV show ladies and gentlemen and we do not need false tension. Just being out in the open should be enough – which it was. Shane and Rick are both driving their new captive, Randall, 18 miles away from the farm to drop him off, like he’s going to band practice. You know except they aren’t coming back and they also see this as their only safe option. This whole shindig just appears to be a plot device to let Rick and Shane go on a road trip episode together to share feelings, trade punches, and every other expected confrontation we’ve expected from them over the course of two seasons. All these scenes did something positive though. We got a closer look at each character, and saw a pretty crystal picture of what they think, what they see, and what their seedy underbellies look like. That’s right everyone. I did not hate it. In fact it created some nice dialogue, action, and exposition.

Some special moments from their more touchy feeling talking time was Rick letting Shane know he “knows” about Otis. He said it the same way your mother “knows” that you didn’t clean your room. Shane cut straight to the chase, no denials, connecting the event to saving Carl’s life, legitimately. Rick took this much better than I imagined – Perhaps it is because in my mind Rick has much more in common with his comic counterpart and has his “good guy” gene stapled to his forehead for much of the comic.  This Rick is a bit grimier already shedding his illusions of being a “good” guy – I couldn’t help but remember his confrontation with the gang/senior citizen babysitters – But I suppose these writers are pretending a lot of the first season fluff never happened. This whole revelation was just another vehicle for Rick anyway. He knew about Shane and Lori and their whole sexytime business and the shame that bleeds through on Shane’s face is enough to convince me he isn’t the stereotypical villain this season keeps trying to make him out to be. I also don’t buy Rick’s whole “I’m not the good guy” approach as seen by him accepting Lori and Shane little relationship extremely well. Shane, dripping in self-loathing says he never even looked at Lori before this whole apocalypse mess and Rick believes that but he also believes that Shane actually does not love Lori: “You think you do. But you don’t.”

With that drama out of the way Rick moved on to some strategy talks about switching from guns to knifes to killed the walkers to keep sound down and use less ammunition.  This was something I expected to come out from organically and less “just because” there was a chain link fence on set but felt gratifying to see. Rick also goes on to mention further thoughts about winter and how that might affect the walkers. Shane zones out and watches a lone walker in an empty field as the drive past. This notion is both something I hate and somewhat enjoy. It also happens a second time so I will explain further then.

Rick and Shane dump Randall – our resident stranger from another group – at an empty dead infested school. This whole business was silly to me. From Rick’s point of view he looks like a freakin’ schizophrenic: He shoots two strangers in a bar. Their friends show up and Rick admits to said fate. Their friends bring the expected retaliation, which includes this poor Randall sucker up on a roof working a sniper-sort for them against Rick, Hershel, and Glenn. He misses his shots. Then his group goes on to leave him behind as when he jumps of the roof to get in their truck he impales his own leg on a fence. Hershel wants to put him out of his obvious misery. Rick doesn’t though so obviously they try to get him out because… I don’t even know. They get him out and bring him back to the farm where Hershel saves him. Then we miss all the middle and next catch him with a basically healed leg, being taken away from the farm in their truck making him listen to music. As Randall points out, it’s stupid, to just kill him or even leave him to his own devices. Brother, knows how to shoot, knows how to kill a walker, and avidly admits to just wanting to live.  Sure they don’t “know” him but this is some sort of “stranger danger” class for second graders. You want fighters and he is obviously one of those. Maybe unpredictable but so is Shane and Daryl. This whole thing, as I said earlier, just felt like a constructed plot device to get Rick and Shane some quality talking and fighting time.

Randall while squealing about wanting to live, and not being left alone drops a bomb that this whole blindfolded sound torture bullshit is all for naught because he went to school with Maggie – and therefore has known where the farm was probably this whole time. I saw this as savvy but Shane just heard “I know where the farm is and I eat babies” because he just went straight to killing him again. Rick was as “wait let’s think first” and Shane was all “killy-killy stab-stab bang” and just like all schoolyard fights ended in violence. Sweet-sweet violence. The fight started as any other scuffle but quickly turned much more homicidal. It felt reminiscent of the They Live fight which probably made it better just be association. The fight seemingly ended with Shane throwing a wrench at Rick, who dodges it as it careens into a window. Cue to stampede of undead we knew was coming because of the beginning of the episode. This could have been more unexpected and surprising but this show tried to be smarter and savvier than it actually is. It’s like the cool kid in high school – They know they are cool and the more they know the less cool and more douchy they seem.

 

Anyway back to the undead coming through a freshly broken window. Right before they broke the silence Shane caught a glimpse of himself in the window glass. He was bloody and his eyes were hollow with hate. He seemed to see a zombie. Dun dun dun. Thanks for taking the entire second season to make that point but I think we already got it when Shane tried to rape Lori back at the CDC plotline that we are all pretending didn’t happen. Back to the stampede of flesh hungry zombies, Shane, Rick, and a still tied up Randall are fighting them off in their creative individual ways. Rick is has one confusing mind, family life, and accent but he sure jumps head first into fight scenes. He utilized his knife, he used his gun THROUGH another zombies head, all while using other zombies as shields and hiding places. Shane got into a school bus and proceeds to try to hold the door shut – he also utilized the little bloody knife trick Rick has showed him earlier because he was gun-less.  Randall, being a new character I’d rather hear from had what I saw as the hardest time: Crawling toward a knife, cutting his leg and hand binds, while head stomping a zombie. Cool Randall.

Rick grabbed a freshly freed Randall who gets all giddy and extra southern while in the midst of zombie violence and makes the decision to leave Shane trapped in the school bus surrounded by many walkers. For as silly as this show is this decision really validated everything Rick has been saying about being the right person to be making the hard decisions. Then about 3 seconds later he took a look at some dead-dead security guards that him and Shane as investigated earlier and decided to go back and get Shane because let’s face it Rick wouldn’t be Rick without showing that amount of heart in this situations. As for the dead-dead security guards, he and Shane discussed the possibility of them being infected by not bite but mere scratches. Cue the TV show assuming none of us has heard of Night of Living Dead, or 28 Days later, or even Resident Evil. Hell, let’s pretend we all know nothing about infectious diseases spread through bite. Are all southern people this stunted mentally? Or are they assuming their audience is? An interview with creator Robert Kirkman flat out says this whole thing is to show “what a bite does” and how they are still trying to actively investigate what makes someone a zombie. My question to him then is what the hell was the CDC for? Fun?! I am going to guess this is someone foreshadowing Shane’s death/redemption in some way but until then it is yet another stupid plot point in this plot-hole hell.

 

Later on, on the ride home with Randall once again tied up in the truck listening to some awful battery powered Walkman (they really have to stop using power so freely) and Rick and Shane are back to being conversation buddies. Shane reiterates the need for Randall to die (which I am no longer pretending to understand) and Rick agrees but admits killing someone shouldn’t be this easy and wants to sleep on it. It’s not easy Rick because that is not going to be the thing to save people. You HAVE to kill the walkers, not the alive people. Sure they are going to run into a lot of bad people who are not to be trusted but how do they know this?? They don’t run into hostile groups of humans at every turn – if anything they are the most blood hungry group we’ve seen other than  MAYBE Randall’s “friends”. This whole situation feels forced and not real to me but it’s not complete shit so I should probably get over it. The basic fact I got out of this whole thing though is that Rick ultimately sees Shane as someone who can still be redeemed. Me too. As for Shane he gazed out the passenger’s window much like earlier in the episode and saw what I am assuming is the very same zombie making the familiar lonely trek.

This lone walker was a great visual during both times but the implication of it was somewhat lost on me. It felt too smart for this not-subtle show. Well smart while not being apparent. I suppose this visual will make sense after we find out what will become of Shane this season. Most people think he will die – whether zombie related or human related is up in the air. However, I personally after thinking about the implication of this episode and this scene in particular will theorize that he will not die. My guess is that Shane will either strike out on his own, in an act of redemption or perhaps takes some other dissenting voices out on their own while Rick takes care of the others much like the “Jack – Locke” dynamic on Lost. However, this is more of a dream as Shane will most likely die or leave alone, hence this actors new staring roll in the new series, LA Noir.  According to an interview with Robert Kirkman the meaning of this lone walker is to show that while they’ve been having their own drama at the Farm the zombies are still populating the outside world and this population is growing. This sounds a little cool but ultimately silly if the episode chose to focus on this moment TWICE and it was essentially for some filler information that was already assumed.

 

Of course this episode had to splice in some suckage as we go back to the farm. Beth, Hershel’s daughter who was basically catatonic last week is suddenly eating and talking which makes me bullshit enough. Then to make matters worse she spends the entire time doing exactly what every other character has had an episode to do: sulk, cry, and complain about there being no hope and then seeing the suddenly magical side of rainbow covered in addictive optimism. Beth ultimately wants to commit suicide and this is one of the only times in which it is socially acceptable to bring this up as solid conversation point in life without fearing being thrown in a loony bin. Her argument is horribly valid and the cast is far too large so I was cheering her on. Then in walks Lori. Sigh.

Lori talks about life being worth living because that’s what it said in the script this week. Then Andrea is all opposite because she’s cool like that. Then Lori was all down on Andrea for skipping out on her “womanly” chores and trying to do that “men’s” work. She actually says the phrase “The men can handle their own”. I hate bitches like this. No wonder she doesn’t have a clue how to behave. She seems to only find her own happiness in her husband (or whatever man she is boning down with) and doesn’t really know how to function as anything other than “Rick wife” or a cops wife. This is essentially what makes this argument so interesting. Lori, the stay at home housewife versus Andrea, the childless career woman. Battle Royale. This ends in a slight stand still until Andrea says she’ll help watch Beth and then proceeds to leave her alone so she can try to kill herself. Of course she doesn’t succeed and decides afterward that she does in fact want to live much like Andrea did herself. Lori of course doesn’t see any of the silver lining (because she loves to be bitter and angry at people who disagree with her).  This whole thing would be more interesting if the writers didn’t seem to agree with Lori. This is show if anything is insulting in its use of the feminine mystic, and lack of quality female characters.  Really the annoying pregnant housewife who can barely load a gun and crashes cars is often the leading female voice? No wonder I hate this shit 90 percent of the time.

And with this episode the show is beginning to take a new shape. It is a bit more fast-paced, and action themed.  That is really what was needed for this show to be taken more seriously. Have you ever heard of a slow burn zombie movie that worked? I guess some things can only exist in dreams.

-Sagebeth

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~ by ATOM on February 28, 2012.

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