Monday, December 5, 2011

TV Recap: The Walking Dead 207, "Pretty Much Dead Already"

The conflict of The Walking Dead's midseason finale "Pretty Much Dead Already" comes from each leader -- or wannabe leader -- feeling the standstill of their situation come to a boiling point. Hershel's secret is out, putting pressure on Rick to challenge their host's belief structure, while Rick is continuously undermined by Shane's impatience towards their sitting still. It's probably the only thing that Shane shares with the viewing audience. Even Glenn's feeling the strain of his former complacency, and the scene opens on his inability to not act.

Camp's quiet, in the aftermath of secrets spilled, and everyone sits in contemplative quiet with the slow-burn of anxiety and Andrea's persistent whet stone. Til Glenn drops the bomb, partly, it seems, by Dale's influence. A quick hop-skip over to the barn ensues, where Shane decides to stick his face right up to it. Shane proposes leaving -- he's sick of looking for a girl who's got no chance -- which gets even Darryl to call him out being an asshole. Ah, the familiar sound of internal squabbles and punches being thrown. "I was going to tell you this morning, but Glenn wanted to be the one" explains Dale over why he knew already. Good thing nobody asked how long Glenn's known. Their yelling clearly upsets the zombies, who don't like to hear mommy and daddy fighting.

But as the action returns-- there is no action. Just Shane getting some scouting out around the barn, deciding that sticking his face into it once wasn't enough. He's pretty keen on opening it up. Glenn goes to talk to Maggie, but sort of gives himself a bad start by already starting out on the other side of a literal fence. He wants to talk; she breaks an egg over his head. It's going well.

In the other neck of the woods, Carl continues to ask the difficult questions. Which is probably more entertaining than the homework he's doing. Even the apocalypse can't stop math. But while he's disillusioned towards Shane, he's not lost hope in Sophia.

Sophia's mother catches Darryl heading out on another probably stolen horse while still injured. She expresses doubt for the first time, confessing that she's come to care for Darryl, and losing him while Sophia's already gone would wreck her. But emotion makes Darryl cranky, so he calls her a bitch and retreats to where he can pretend he has no heart.

In the RV, Dale expresses his doubts towards Shane to Andrea. She's caught in the allure of Shane's ability to turn off his emotions-- her own twisted and burdensome to her. "He's not a victim," she tells Dale, who remains unconvinced. For as much as she says she doesn't like his concern, when Dale says he's calling it quits, Andrea can't quite let it go. But she leaves anyway, to hang out with her bald hunnybunny. Dale hovers rather suspiciously over his bag o'guns as he tells Glenn to give him a moment.

Hershel's enjoying a lunch and light read when Rick arrives. Hershel tells him to leave, and Rick tries to reason with him, telling him that there's only two kinds of people out there in the world. You either get dead, or become "something a lot less than the person you once were." He gives Hershel a state of the world address, trying to convince the stubborn patriarch that the physical cocoon he's embalmed his family in here has blinded him to how harsh conditions truly are. When Hershel seems unwavering, Rick lays the last card on the table: by the way, my wife's pregnant, you insensitive bastard. Not in so many words. Hershel sends him out, but the damage is done on the nerve of eavesdropper Maggie. Storming outside, Rick manages not to get into it with Shane about sleeping with his wife, just everything else.

Maggie pleads the case with Hershel, but they're interrupted by "it". What is it? Hershel comes upon Rick planning a new course of action over Sophia, and asks for Rick's help with "it", denying Andrea's assistance. With the husband away, Shane confronts Lori, calling Rick out: "He ain't built for this world" and claiming that he's saved Lori's life more than Rick ever has. Which... is a weird grading system. Even though the world's gone to shit, Lori wants more than a bulldog; she wants a husband. Shane wants the baby to be his. Shane gets no leniency anywhere; Carl even tells him what's what, and that his attitude is full of crap. That's about as much as Shane wants to put up with, but when he storms into the RV, he discovers the guns are missing. So's Dale. Convenient.

Hershel brings Rick to a swamp where walkers often get stuck, testing him by asking him to help rescue the walkers out who are trapped there. The swamp is apparently a dangerous place. It's also the chosen hiding place of Dale -- except that Shane's already found him. Dale levels a gun on Shane but is unable to pull the trigger. When Shane takes the weapons, Dale defends his actions. "When the world goes to shit, I didn't let it take me down with it." Dale's moral stability continues to make him a candidate for early death.

Darryl and Sophia's Mum have a heart to heart where Darryl proves less allergic to his own one. "What else I got to do," is how he puts it. Rick struggles with steering a walker out of the swamp. Glenn tries to talk to Maggie, finally defending his own action "I'm sick of secrets; secrets get you killed." He has it out, finally realizing that he's been treating the apocalypse like a video-game but that doesn't mean his view is less valid than Maggie's. Walkers are dangerous. But they also get you some action, apparently, since his newfound balls have Maggie forgiving him pretty quick. Only Glenn is getting any.

Oh yeah, there's a black guy in this. He walks up just in time for Shane to give a call to arms -- and some arms. He even tries to give Carl a gun, before everybody spots Rick herding the new walkers in with Hershel. This pretty much is about all Shane can take. So he flips his lid and shoots the walker Hershel's been herding. Then he decides all the walkers in the barn should join the party. As he breaks the locks and walkers begin to wander out, the rest of Rick's camp step up to the shooting gallery, each taking their stance of survival -- Glenn shooting a look to Maggie for permission to put a lead one in the face of her loved ones. Opening fire, they determinedly gun down every single one of them until there's only a pile of corpses as Hershel and his family stare on in mute shock, their precious world stability crumbled like so many downed walkers.

There's just one more moan to attend to. The tiny shuffling feet belong to none other than Sophia, who emerges from the barn with white hungry eyes to the horror of everyone looking on. And looking on is all they do. Previously trigger happy, the band stand there like hypocrites when it comes to as efficiently taking out one of their home. Sophia is left to hobble over the bodies of the others until Rick's face hardens. He purposefully moves past each other person to confront Sophia -- confront the task -- straight-on with a practical but empathetic stare. He shoots. Sophia falls. No one else would.

This is why Rick's the leader.

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