I’ll be honest. The show had me a little scared this week. When the first half of the episode so heavily featured Rick Grimes and The Background Players, I was worried we were in for as big a bummer as we got last week. Fortunately, that was not the case, and we got a taste of how good ‘The Walking Dead’ can actually be.
Miracle of miracles, Rick’s alive! And while it’s great because, hey, it’s Rick, and he’s alive, it sucks because it’s seriously going to turn out the lights on Lori and Shane throwing down and having sex in the middle of the woods. And while you might expect Lori to still struggle with her feelings for Shane despite the fact that her husband’s just returned from the dead, she’s having an easier time of it because, before leaving for Atlanta, Shane told her and Carl that Rick was dead. Now, I can understand Shane wanting to sleep with his best friend’s attractive wife. As a man, I can say unequivocally and without doubt that all men do nothing but think about bedding their friends’ wives, but telling Lori that Rick was dead? That’s pretty low, and feeds in to my theory that Shane isn’t just a man being led around by his circumstances. He’s using the end of the world to live out some crazy messianic delusion of his. He takes his best friend’s wife and is already raising his son, and he’s set himself up as the de facto leader of the survivors. He may not be the big boss, but people certainly acquiesce to him.
So Lori tells Shane that she wants nothing to do with him. No more talking to her. No more talking to Carl. Nothing. That’s the price he’ll pay for lying about Rick. Harsh words for any man to hear, but Shane’s in a unique position to blow off a little steam, and does so by beating the ever-loving hell out of Ed, the redneck, wife-beating a**hole who, come on, really had it coming. And it was here, friends, that we saw exactly what this show is about. The world’s gone to hell, and our heroes can try and set up a small oasis amidst all that chaos, hunt deer, wash their clothes in the lake and talk about how much they miss their vibrators, but none of it matters. As Doc Brown might say, they’re not thinking fourth-dimensionally. The walker (why the do people in zombie movies act like they’ve never heard of zombies?) they found in the woods won’t be the first they’ll encounter. There will always be more, and just keeping one step ahead of them will be a constant struggle. The question is, how do you keep your head, your humanity, in the middle of all that? Shane will probably face no consequences for what he did to Ed, and when that’s the world you live in, what’s to keep you from beating up the next Ed, or the one after that? Getting in the middle of all that is a little disturbing, and I was glad to see the show go there so early in its run.
Speaking of Ed, I thought it was a great idea to add a character like him into the mix. With these sorts of things, you usually see everyone pitching in and helping each other, and Ed is just not that person. He’s lazy and he hits his wife, and at the end of the world, he’s happy to be lazy and hit his wife. There may be something a little Sun-and-Jin about their relationship, but it’s interesting to see how the rest of the group reacts to him, and how that’ll play out going forward. I would say that it’d also be interesting to see how much his wife and daughter develop as they come out from under his thumb, but after all of her wailing and gnashing of teeth after Shane tussled him up, I’m hesitant as to whether or not that’ll happen at all.
And speaking of disturbing, Shane’s tussle wasn’t the only thing we got this week. Rick, after a sudden attack of conscience, has taken Short Round and some others back into Atlanta to rescue Merle, who was left handcuffed on top of a building at the end of last week’s episode. Merle’s delirious, probably suffering from heat exhaustion, and zombie literally knocking down his door. And what does he do to get away from them? He saws his own hand off. Once Rick and the others got on the roof and the music started playing, you could see what was coming, but it really was a great reveal, and was truly disturbing. And while Merle’s hand was there, Merle himself was nowhere to be found. Spooky, right?
A rocky start, but “Frogs” really pulled it out in the end and showed us what the show can do. The season’s breezing by, which is unsurprising considering it’s only six episodes long. For those of you who were wondering, the show’s been renewed for a second season. Unsurprising, given the numbers it’s pulling in for AMC. So, six episodes to whet out whistles and then a long break. But the show will be back. And I have a feeling it’ll be sometime around Halloween. If I were a betting man, I might even place a bet on it.