After seemingly weeks and weeks of build up and wheel spinning, we finally get a healthy dose of action in the last two weeks of The Walking Dead. Not only that, but some long-simmering plot points seem to finally be coming to the forefront.
This week’s episode, Triggerfinger has a couple different focuses. First is Rick, Glenn, and Hershel at the bar in town. Rick managed to off both the dude from Philly last week, but wouldn’t you know it? Their friends show up in this episode, eager to find out what happened to good old Dave and Tony. After a pretty tense stand-off in the bar, Rick tells them that they guys they’re looking for are dead, on account of them drawing down on our heroes, and coming up short. The friends aren’t terribly enamored of this answer, and it’s siege time.
This was a pretty solid episode for Rick, as we get to see his leadership develop a little – I’ve been asking for weeks now how he’d become the de facto leader anyway. We also get to see one of his major character traits, his almost psychological need to do the right thing come out and almost bite him in the ass again. Had he kept his mouth shut, or come up with a compelling lie, those dudes from Philly might have kept moving without a fight. But of course he didn’t, and of course there was a standoff.
Thankfully, tension like this is one of The Walking Dead‘s biggest strengths. I have to give the show credit for making the beginnings of the standoff take seemingly ages, allowing for the tension to simmer to a fast boil. By the time Glenn and Hershel duck out the back, adrenalin is running high. And it pays off with a couple horrifying moments. First, a wounded man is torn to shreds by a pack of zombies, screaming in agony the whole time. Then, another man jumps off a roof and impales his leg on a spiked fence. Ouch. While Hershel attempts to extricate the poor bastard, the dead are closing in. You get a real sense of the walls closing in on you as more and more zombies show up on scene, until Rick finally just tear’s the man’s leg off the fence. Kudos to the sound design team on that one.
The other focus of this episode is Shane and Lori. Lori, whom you might remember, somehow managed to roll a car while taking a leisurely drive into town. When she comes to, a zombie is pushing it’s decayed face through a hole in the safety glass, tearing off a layer of skin and exposing the bone and musculature underneath. Some damn fine effects, there. But Lori, perhaps sadly, manages to escape. She’s later found by Shane, who convinces her to return to the farm by lying to say the Rick has returned safely. You can imagine how that worked out when Lori discovered the truth.
When they got back to the farm, I expected The Walking Dead to spin its wheels, but it actually got pretty compelling. Shane turned the crazy up to eleven, telling Lori and she and Carl were his. This set off alarm bells for Lori, who’s not firmly in the Dale camp. The unhinged Shane continued to stew throughout the rest of the episode, finally storming off after Rick and company return with the injured assailant. Andrea chases after him, telling him that everything he does it right, he’s just kind of a dick about it. And really, isn’t that just what Shane needs to hear? No, you’re not crazy, everyone else is wrong. That’s not going to lead to trouble or anything.
Finally, in a minor side plot, Carol works to bring Daryl back into the folk, telling him that he’s more than earned his place in camp. But of course it isn’t about that for Daryl, who’s still wracked with guilt and anger about Sophia. In a fairly powerful scene, he berates the mother for failing to keep an eye on the child, and asserts that none of this was his responsibility. It seems that this was somewhat cathartic for him, as Daryl has rejoined the group by the end of the episode.