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The Walking Dead: Better Angels

Rick: “That kind of honesty is rare and brave.”

This episode was jam-packed but oddly unnerving for me. Finally, it seems that some of the group wakes up and gets down to business. It seems that Shane was right. They were all still living in la la land. Unfortunately, Shane has been staring reality in the face for a while and it has driven him mad.

Shane seems like the strong, typical macho man (he fixed the sink when Rick couldn’t; he kills when it is necessary) but he can’t hold it together. Lori and Carl saved his life but now there is no one and nothing. He doesn’t have the skills to dig himself out of the hole he’s dug for himself and he can only see one way out. Get back Lori and Carl and lead the group the way he thinks they should be led. Some small part of me wonders if he is right about Rick ruining everything. Shane was the leader of the group when Rick showed up. Rick dragged them to Atlanta and then to the farm house on the way to Fort Benning. Would Shane have helped more people to survive? I think I have to continue to come down on the side of Rick, who is interested in long-term survival and hanging on to some aspect of humanity. Of course the point is moot now. Rick is in charge. I thought I would be happy about that, but now I’m not so sure.

I love the way this show complicates everything. The relationship between Rick and Shane has been troubled since Rick returned. I guess it couldn’t help but be. On the other hand, I just wanted to shout at them to stop being stupid, boys, and get on with it. A zombie apocalypse is no time to play my dick is bigger than yours. But, of course, it is more than that. My friends and I often play "what would you take with you if the zombie apocalypse hit" and one of my friends suggested a psychological test so you could pick out the people who were going to be trouble for the group. The problem with this is that it is very difficult to tell how people are going to break under such extreme stress. Watching Shane go to pieces was awful but this show is relentless. We have been watching, and are going to watch, every character we love fall apart. Some of them will make it through and some of them, like Shane, will not.

The scene where Lori thanked Shane for saving her was very painful. It was difficult to understand why she was doing it. She was probably trying to manipulate Shane again, trying to fix the rift between he and Rick, but watching Shane’s face during that exchange was heartbreaking. He so obviously cared for Lori and Carl and that more than anything was what finished him. Shane also couldn’t kill Rick in cold blood. If Rick had made one, even mildly offensive move, then Shane would have shot him, but Rick used that last shred of love for him, that last shred of humanity to get the upper hand and kill Shane. I guess Rick really isn’t a nice guy anymore.

It will be interesting to see how the loss of Shane impacts the group. Losing Dale was like losing a piece of their heart. He helped the group hang on to their humanity. I actually think that losing Shane may be worse. Shane is like the troubled child who holds onto and illustrates all the difficulties in a family. Once you deal with the child, the family has to deal with all the dysfunction that has been masked. Although, Rick had little choice but to kill Shane, I’m not sure how he is going to live with having to kill his best friend. And although Lori most definitely wanted to get rid of Shane, how will she cope with this? Or poor Carl, who had to shoot his zombified other father figure? I hope they don’t just move on, having rid themselves of the “difficult” member of the group. Who gets to be the “difficult” one next?

As I said above, I was happy to see that it was finally “down to business” time. They should have fortified things long ago. Things have changed and Rick’s chat with Carl and insistence that he take the gun was the perfect illustration of this. Carl isn’t going to have the childhood that Rick had and he is going to be dealing with death as a fact of everyday life. (Just a reminder that there are many children in the world who deal with that now). Carl needs to grow up and stop wandering around like the world is his playground. I don’t think Carl is weak, as Shane says, but he does need more care and direction. Right now he seems to be an after-thought for his parents, let alone anyone else. I’m glad he was there to take care of zombie Shane but seriously, he needs to stay where he is told to stay. Maybe giving him some responsibility will help.

It’s obvious from the final scene that our group is going to be on the move again. The farm is not going to be a safe place for long. People may be falling apart but they will have to keep on fighting while they do if they want to survive. The group may be broken, but I hope they come together and realize that they have to put aside whatever differences they have and work together.

Bits and Pieces

The camera work in this episode was awesome. The shots of Rick and Shane in the moonlight were wonderful and eerie. The shots of Carl as lookout illustrated how alone he is. Watching the emotions working their way across Shane’s and Rick’s faces made this episode. Not to mention the excellent acting that conveyed so much that was going on in their heads.

Important fact, made very clear in this episode: everyone who dies, unless their brain is destroyed, comes back as a zombie. So it isn’t the bites of the zombies that make people zombies, it is death. Obviously, the zombie bites kill people, probably through infection, but if you could treat that infection, would it mean that people would not zombify? (Please remember, I have not read the graphic novels.) This also means that everyone, unless their brain is destroyed, will become a zombie. That’s a lot of zombies.

The scene with Glenn and Andrea was very touching. Andrea seems to be at peace with Dale’s death. I wonder how she is going to feel about Shane’s?

Randall seemed to be still loyal to his group or he was just a young kid trying to say whatever would keep him alive.


Rick: “We’re not broken, we’re going to prove him wrong.”

Rick: “You don’t agree, but this is what’s happening. Swallow it and move on.”

Rick: “He’s turning over a new leaf.”

Rick said many things in this episode where my response was - um nope, don’t think so.

Glenn: “With your dad in the house?” Glenn still isn’t sure he wants to be in love. I can't see Maggie putting up with this for very long.

Daryl: “Ain’t no reason you should do all the heavy lifting.”
Rick: “So you good with all this?”
Daryl: “I don’t see you and I trading haymakers on the side of the road. Nobody’d win that fight.” I love Daryl (just saying).

Rick: “It looks like there’s a lot of that [death] going around. That’s why I need you. No more kid stuff. I wish you could have the childhood I had, but that’s not going to happen.” What do you do when your dad is so tired he hands you a gun to protect yourself?

Daryl: “If you’re going to do a thing, you might as well do it right.”

Rick: “Their life won’t be worth a damn. I know you, you won’t be able to live with this.”

Rick: “Damn you for making me do this. This was you. Not me. You did this to us. This was you, not me. NOT ME.”

Lori: “So after Sophia, I thought, 'We’ll figure this out, we’ll heal somehow,' but after Dale? This is real. We can’t keep it at bay. It’s already got us and it just keeps coming.”


  1. I'm so glad Shane is gone! Jon Bernthal is an awful actor — all flared nostrils, gravel voice and mouth breathing all the time.

    Jon Bernthal even screwed up his minute as a zombie. He couldn't even zombie-shamble the right way.

    Andrew Lincoln comes across as a master thespian next to Bernthal and Lincoln is also an awful actor.

  2. Great review, Dr.! Like you, I'm still not sure how I feel about this one, but it was certainly thought-provoking.

    Even though, thanks to spoilers, I knew this was coming, I was still moved by the showdown between Rick and Shane. There was an interesting chat on "The Talking Dead" about Shane's goals and motivations: did he want to die? Did he really want to kill Rick? Was he turning zombie before even dying?

    I think Shane wanted Rick to kill him--not because he wanted to die, but because he wanted to drag Rick down to his level, killing for pragmatic reasons. He was forcing character development: either Rick goes pragmatist, or dies.

    I'm really looking forward to next week!

  3. Shane sent a racist redneck, an african american and an asian american to town to gather supplies back in the first episode. That didn't seem leadership to me.

  4. I have been enjoying the 2nd half a lot more than the 1st half. The momentum has been picking up, and two major characters have died in the last two weeks, a big contrast to the slow 1st half. Regardless, the show is still receiving mixed responses from critics and fans alike. If you are a big fan of the show, stay away from the imdb boards, they are animals.

  5. Roman wrote: "...stay away from the imdb boards, they are animals."

    Good point. I swear, sometimes I think fans are our own worst enemies. The ratings for The Walking Dead are great, and nearly every episode hits me where I live. It would be awful if the producers actually listened to those fans.

    Dale's death made me cry. Shane's just made me feel relief. He was a character that desperately needed to go. And I really do wonder why Shane didn't pull the trigger. Maybe some part of him knew deep down that Rick was the better leader. Or maybe Shane really did love Lori and Carl and knew Rick was a better husband and father.

    Like everyone else who has mentioned it, I highly recommend Talking Dead, which AMC airs after the episode. It's probably available online, too. It's like sitting around with your friends afterward talking about what the episode meant, and it helps lighten up the heaviness. I almost invariably dream about this freaking show, and I absolutely did have zombie nightmares last night.

  6. I don't know if this counts as a spoiler, but, to answer your question: in the comics, the infection from the bite acts really fast.

  7. I don't mean to be nit picky and a spoil sport, but is there any chance of keeping the start of people's comments spoiler free? I glanced at the recent comments tab earlier, and got spoiled by accident!

    Anyway, great episode. Very intense, but I'm finally sold on this series once and for all. I imagine the death toll next week will be high.

    My predictions: Hershel, Carol and one other character will be killed.

  8. Thanks for the response Billie. Everybody has the right to their own opinion, but imdb boards in particular are horrible. I trust their ratings system a lot, but those boards are filled with cynics.

  9. I'm also enjoying the second half of this season more than the first half, although that highway scene at the start remains my favourite bit in the whole series. I'm glad Shane is gone now, but they really had me going there. I couldn't tell what he was going to do. At first I thought he was tricking Randall into revealing the location of his people, then he'd drag him back and tell everyone what he'd learned. Then I thought he was genuinely going to join up with the other group and the main characters would find themselves at his mercy later on. Then of course he just killed the kid outright.

    I like Daryl. When Shane tried to make out Randall had got the jump on him I was saying "Yeah right, like that skinny twerp could have taken you!" and then Daryl pretty much goes and voices the same thought. I thought he and Glenn would show up at the last second to save Rick from Shane, but that didn't happen.

    My guess for the next episode is that they end up under siege at the house and then get saved at the last second by Randall's group showing up (30 guys with heavy guns? If he was telling the truth). For a given value of 'saved' given what we've heard about those guys.

  10. Actually I think Dale and Shane dying will, in the long term, prove good for the group. Dale was oo soft. Shane was too hard. rick hasn't quite found the proper balance between the two extremes but I think he's getting there and Daryl will make a much better second in command than Shane if only because he doesn't have the personal issues with Rick and Lori that Shane did.

  11. My guess for the next episode is that they end up under siege at the house and then get saved at the last second by Randall's group showing up (30 guys with heavy guns? If he was telling the truth). For a given value of 'saved' given what we've heard about those guys.


    Maybe Merle rides in with the Latino gang from Season One's VATOS and they save the day!

    There, I said it!

  12. P.s. pls add a Facebook Share button to your reviews.

  13. I copied the URL. Worked just as well - thanks!


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