Written by Matt Barone (@MBarone)
"The boy has no guile."
For once in its uneven second season, The Walking Dead didn’t waste any time. At the end of last week’s strong episode, “Chupacabra,” Glenn (Steven Yuen) discovered a gang of walkers inside Hershel’s (Scott Wilson) barn, and, with the still missing Sophia (Madison Lintz) in mind, it seemed highly likely that Glenn would hold onto that whopper of a secret for a few episodes—and, if so, inspire more than a few frustrated viewers to question whether they’re going to stick with AMC’s zombie drama any further than next week’s mid-season finale.
So be thankful for Glenn and his inability to keep secrets. Folding like a cheap tent, he spills both the barn information and Lori’s (Sarah Wayne Callies) pregnancy to Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn) in last night’s episode, “Secrets,” giving the elder character something to do for the first time all season, which just leaves T-Dog (IronE Singleton) without any real purpose for existence in The Walking Dead’s narrative; better luck next week, Dog. Dale confronts Hershel about the Barn Of The Living Dead, and the aged farmer/man of faith explains that, amongst other friends, neighbors, and loved ones, two of the zombies inside those walls are his wife and step-son.
In Hershel’s eyes, whenever Shane (Jon Bernthal) or anyone else in the group puts a walker down, they’re “killing a person,” not a flesh-eating ghoul. The zombies, furthermore, are just sick people in need of a cure; apparently, Hershel doesn’t know the difference between someone dying and coming back to life and someone falling asleep due to sickness and waking up hungry for human skin. What he does know, however, is that there’s a rotten apple in Rick’s (Andrew Lincoln) group: Shane, whom Hershel doesn’t call out by name, but his implications are pointed enough to open Dale’s eyes to the now-shaved-headed loose cannon’s dangerous ways.
And now that Shane has banged Andrea (Laurie Holden) in the front seat of his car, after his “advanced course” in gun training goes awry, Dale has a more personal reason to despise Rick’s longtime best friend. Realizing that Shane smashed his favorite group member, Dale bluntly recommends that Shane hop in his ride and drive away from their unit, citing Shane’s vagueness about Otis’ recent death and how he positioned Rick in his gun’s sights as cues for reckless behavior that could endanger everyone else around them. Shane, expectedly, doesn’t take too kindly to the old man’s thoughts, pointing out that if in fact he did want to shoot his closest friend, just imagine what he’d do to a person he doesn’t even like.
In a season where Rick’s been demoted to an ineffective peripheral character, Shane remains The Walking Dead’s most interesting presence aside from Daryl (Norman Reedus), who’s unfortunately relegated to just one brief, it’s-OK-that-you-shot-me scene with Andrea in “Secrets.” With Shane’s hands-on training, Andrea’s marksmanship, which Daryl experienced firsthand in last week’s accidental grazing of his head via bullet, is vastly improving, and it’s put to the test when she and Shane poke around for Sophia in a deserted suburban neighborhood full of walkers. She passes with flying colors, and for extra credit grabs Shane’s junk while he’s driving and then rides him like one of Hershel’s horses.
And just like that, Andrea’s irritatingly passive-aggressive behavior minimizes, giving way to a new potential badass in the crew. Of course, this is The Walking Dead we’re talking about here, a show that moves slower than a walker with shattered ankles, so there’s a good chance we won’t see the manifestation of Andrea’s rebirth until next year, but it’s a start.
"We’re not your errand boys!"
The only person Glenn’s capable of keeping a secret from is, oddly enough, the group’s de facto leader, Rick. Somehow, Glenn hasn’t cracked and told his leader about Lori’s pregnancy, instead heading back into town with Maggie (Lauren Cohan) to pick up some morning after pills. Maggie, like her daddy Hershel, is all about her religion, so the fact that she’s helping Glenn obtain “abortion pills” infuriates her, as does the zombie that nearly snacks on her arm inside the pharmacy. Glenn, protecting his jump-off, slices the walker’s neck in half with the edge of a loose shelf-board, leading to one of The Walking Dead’s cheesiest-looking pieces of CGI to date—what should’ve been a badass moment of zombie gore hardly looks better than the graphics seen in the first Resident Evil video game.
Back at the farm, Maggie flips out on Lori, barking at the pregnant “bitch” for nearly getting herself and Glenn killed all for fetus-killing pills. Maggie is also tired of seeing Glenn act like everyone’s “zombie bait,” giving him a big smooch and telling him that he’s a natural leader and too important to her to become another monstrous loved one fit for Hershel’s barn.
Lori, meanwhile, feels awful, which adds to her already crumbling resolve. She gulps a couple of the pills but then has a change of heart, puking them back up before the tablets can have any effect on the little man (or girl?) forming inside her belly. But Rick finds the pills’ box inside their tent and confronts her, which leads to both an admission of the pregnancy and her divulging to Rick that Shane tapped that while they thought he was dead.
Something tells us that Rick’s about to pull Carl (Chandler Riggs) out of Shane’s makeshift Weapons Training course, even though his immediate reaction to Lori’s heart-stabbing bomb of a news tidbit is surprisingly calm; as he puts it, he’s known about Lori’s trysts with Shane all along, or at least he’s presumed as much. It's a much more even-keeled and understanding response than his furious reaction to Lori’s willingness to kill their unborn child before he even knows that he or she exists (Lori tells Dale that the baby is Rick’s, or at least she thinks it is).
But still, Rick’s response to officially hearing about Lori’s sexy times with Shane is too matter-of-fact—show some backbone, damn it. In Hershel’s words, Rick is a “man of conscience,” but he’s also been too inconsequential this season. All he’s done since Carl’s recovery is debate the group’s chances of sticking around on Hershel’s farm with the land’s owner himself, and do little to sway the elder man’s opinion. Lori pleads with Rick that her pregnancy means they need to stay put, so is that motivation enough for Rick to man the hell up and stake his claim on Hershel’s property? And will his “conscience” outweigh common sense once he hears about those walkers in the barn?
And, for old time’s sake, let’s ask one more question: Will they find the frustratingly elusive Sophia by the end of next Sunday’s mid-season finale? For that matter, does anyone other than Carol (Melissa McBride) really care at this point?
Written by Matt Barone (@MBarone)