“So, let’s chalk this up for what it is…wrong place, wrong time.” — Rick Grimes
It looks like no matter what some viewers may complain about The Walking Dead moving as slow as the zombies that ended the world it still manages to surprise everyone with scenes of great tension and burst of quality that we all want the show to be. This was most evident with how the mid-season return episode “Nebraska” at first seemed like it was going nowhere once again, but actually moved the story along. The ending of the previous episode helped Rick as a character grow though it also manages to make his fairer half in Lori become even more hated by most everyone with her stupid decision to try and go into town by herself.
Tonight’s episode continues the two major storylines which ended the previous episode. We get a cold opening which is terrifying despite what people may think about Lori as a character. That scene of the zombie trying to pop it’s head through the crack in the car’s windshield while Lori remained out of it then just before we segue into Bear McCreary’s opening theme she wakes up to see the half-eaten face pushing through.
The title of this latest episode is “Triggerfinger” and for the first third of the night it’s quite a proper one at that. No sooner as Rick, Hershel and Glen gather the weapons of the downed Dave of Tony from the previous episode do the trio get penned in the bar by the very friends the “would be” raiders spoke of. The episode shows just how much a danger survivors continue to be toward other survivors as cooler heads rarely prevail. Soon enough both sides are trading fire like a scene out of Rio Bravo but this time with the added danger of zombies in the midst.
During this scene between two groups trying to just survive we see differing philosophies. Rick’s group tries to defuse the situation even once the bullets start flying and when casualties begin piling up we see Rick still trying to hold onto his humanity by trying to save one of the opposing numbers who have seriously hurt himself in an attempt to leave town. The other group was shown to be more willing to cut loose anyone too injured to save themselves thus leaving them behind to the mercy of the approaching zombies. Mercies that involve the very thing some fans have complained about and that’s not enough zombie carnage. For just the second time in this show’s short life we see someone still alive being set upon by a group of zombies and eaten while still alive and screaming.
The other continuing story from the previous episode has Lori trying to survive the night after crashing her car. No matter what people personally think about Lori as a character this sequence show’ that she can go into survival mode when circumstances needs for her to suck it up and survive. She doesn’t whine or appear helpless despite the precarious situation she put herself in. The fact that people back in the farm don’t even realize she’s been gone for hours must just add fuel to the fire fans have been fanning since the show first started. The series has a role for Lori and while it seems to be one of wet blanket for the most part the ending of tonight’s episode showed that she too will do anything to try and protect her family from dangers both zombie and human.
If the last couple episodes show’s anything it’s that Glen Mazzara’s turn as replacement showrunner has added much needed energy to the show. With last week’s episode and then tonight we’ve seen more action and character developlement than the first half of this second season. There now seems to be a feeling of desperation in how things have started to unfold. We still get some quieter moments between characters back on the Greene farm, but they’re not as prevalent as they’ve been in the past. Again I think this positive development has to be laid down at the feet of veteran tv show producer Glen Mazzara who understands that tv shows rely on keeping it’s audience’s attention focused on what’s going on the screen. So far, he and his writers have been doing a good job in moving the show with much forward momentum and keeping things that would slow it down to a minimum. As much as I love Frank Darabont for bringing this show to tv I think him being replaced was just what this show needed to succeed in the long run.
- Now that is what I call a scary opening. I’m sure many people watching tonight’s episode were hoping the zombie got through the windshield and chowed down on Lori, but then we wouldn’t have seen how badass she can be when the chips are down. Her actions in this sequence and in the episode’s end was a nice bookend in helping grow this character beyond the harping shrew many have been calling her.
- Her reaction to another Shane lie and then her own reveal to him about their relationship to Rick goes a long way in making her go beyond much-hated character to one that’s conflicted but set in trying to fix what she thinks was a mistake that should never have happened.
- It doesn’t bode well for the rest of the group, especially for the Grimes clan, now that Shane looks to have been shot down once again by the woman he says he love and done so in a way that leaves him with no opening for redemption. The fact that Lori has repeated Dale’s own suspicions about Shane’s role in Otis’ death all the way back in episode 3 of this season show’s that Shane was losing the support of the very person he believes he’s protecting. With talk of actor Jon Bernthal being coveted by Frank Darabont to star in his police detective tv series it’s almost a foregone conclusion that Shane’s much-delayed demise will not have a clock counting down. Whether that clock strikes “zero” before or right at this season’s finale will be speculated on by fans for weeks to come.
- I like how the show has made the little character details really stand out since Mazzara and crew took over from Darabont. I don’t know if anyone else picked up on it, but during the gunfight back in town we finally hear Hershel leave behind any notion of what he thought about the zombies as being people just sick when he began to call them walkers as he and Glenn tried to survive against the other group of survivors.
- Tonight’s episode goes a long way in making Hershel the new right-hand man for Rick. While Hershel looks to still be upset by what Rick’s group did with the barn zombies he has at least begun to admit both in his language and mannerisms that Rick had been right all along and that he now needs to protect his own family and Rick’s group may be a key to their survival.
- Love Hershel puts Shane in his place after Shane once again tries to kneecap Rick’s place as group leader. Tonight really was a coming out party for Scott Wilson and here’s to hoping his Hershel continues to back Rick.
- On the Glenn and Maggie relationship front…we see Glenn becoming more gunshy and clumsy when it comes to taking care of business when away from the group. Seems Maggie’s professing of her love for him has muddled his brain. We see him make several mistakes tonight that’s damaged his confidence. It will be interesting how both he and Maggie deal with his crisis of confidence as the season moves along.
- Daryl looks to be pulling himself back from the group emotionally and it’s good to see Carol trying to prevent that from happening. This subplot looks to be in it’s gestation period but if done right it could turn out to be a good sign in keeping Daryl from further isolating himself from the group and at least keeps Carol busy trying to be savior for the show’s resident badass.
- T-Dog watch: one line of dialogue and not much else. Please, Mazzara and crew just kill him off and bring in Tyrese.
- We see some great work from Greg Nicotero and his make-up FX wizards from KNB EFX with tonight’s zombie carnage. Whether it was the zombie peeling it’s face off in an attempt to get through the busted car windshield to get to Lori or the face ripping of the wounded shooter as they begin to eat him alive. I know shooting these scenes at night and in the dark helps in keeping the tricks if the trade from being more obvious, but I think even if the scenes were filmed in the daytime I believe the effects work would be even better and much more bloody.
- Finally, the show ends with Lori channeling her inner Lady MacBeth as she tries to turn Rick into solving the Shane problem (by any means necessary) which looks to be a spark away from destroying everything the group has worked for since they left Atlanta.