Interview by Matt Barone (@MBarone)
Wonder what all of those "Give us more action!" complainers are going to say now. Feeling like a ferocious response to all of the recent moaning and groaning that’s surrounded AMC’s slow-paced The Walking Dead, the ninth episode of Season Two, fittingly titled “Triggerfinger,” spent the majority of its 43-minute (commercials not included) duration in pure run-and-gun mode. The result was one of The Walking Dead’s best episodes to date, one that both went for it gore-wise and didn’t abandon the show’s established sense of dialogue-driven character development. And it all started with an atypically brief cold open that brought the quick-hitting, pre-title-card sequences of the network’s other grim drama, Breaking Bad, to mind. Which is never a bad thing.
"We all know this is not gonna end well!"
First, about that cold open—Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) appears to be all kinds of screwed. It’s nighttime, and she’s still pinned down inside the car we saw her flip and crash last week after stupidly reading a map and smashing through a drifting zombie. The vehicle’s blinker light is flashing, Lori is slowly returning to consciousness, and there’s a famished walker biting its way through the smashed passenger’s side window, with the spikes of broken glass ripping through its cheeks as it viciously gnaws like a pit bull that’s been denied Snausages for months.
Deeper into town, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) isn’t doing much better. Along with Glenn (Steven Yuen) and Hershel (Scott Wilson), Mr. Grimes is trapped inside the bar in which he gunned down two those two disrespectful, potentially harmful guys from Philly. Outside the drinking hole’s front door, three of the Philadelphia-born corpses' friends are armed and looking for their pals; Rick, ever the peacekeeper, shouts out to them that their friends are dead, and that he had no other choice but to kill them. Naturally, this doesn’t sit too well with the dead men’s buddies, who start unloading bullet rounds into the bar’s windows at will. And just like that, The Walking Dead turns into Assault On Precinct 13, which suits Rick quite well.
The standoff spills out into the streets after Glenn and Hershel attempt to get their car, and it’s fortunate for Glenn that the elder Hershel apparently has experience handling firearms; earlier, when Rick makes a crack that all of their on-the-farm gun training would’ve benefited Hershel now that they’re fighting for their lives in the bar, the old guy replies, “I can shoot—I just don’t like to.” So it’s without joy that he guns down one of their newfound enemies as the foe shoots at Glenn; Glenn, always the one called on to help everyone else out, clams up during the shootout, though, while Rick and Hershel handle their business.
Said biz involves killing off several zombies (or “roamers,” as one of the antagonist’s refers to them), since all of the gunfire has signaled swarms of walkers to their location. And, in George Romero-esque ways that The Walking Dead had previously only hinted at, a few of the flesh-eaters dig into the guy Hershel shot, who’s, unfortunately, still alive and able to cry out in horror as one zombie bites half of his face off and others yank out his intestines. Again, we’d like to hear those Walking Dead haters cry now.
In the chaos, one of the other Philly associates tries jumping onto his friend’s truck to make a getaway, but his ill-timed leap sends him right onto a garbage bin, with his leg pierced by a spiky fence post. His boy leaves him behind, so, naturally, Rick comes to his rescue. But not before Hershel suggests “putting him down,” a notion that Rick shuns off in favor of Hershel using a hatchet to perform some impromptu, unsanitary surgery. The zombies steadily approach, though, and Hershel’s medical procedure is taking too long, so Rick just rips the poor kid’s leg right through the spike. And that, folks, is how The Walking Dead satisfies naysayers with balls-out action.
"What we had, that was real."
Back on the desolate highway, Lori manages to squeeze out of the aforementioned car, but only after ramming an indecipherable, but surely automotive, object through the window zombie’s eyeball. Outside, while trying to get her mental shit together, another walker creeps up behind her, forcing Lori to pick up one of the wheel’s spokes, bash the dead thing upside its head, and then empty a slug into its non-working brain.
At the farm, Shane (Jon Bernthal) sits at the head of the table as the whole crew sits down for a nice, home-cooked meal, one where Shane curses and gets reprimanded like a little schoolboy (“No cussing inside this house!”). Quickly, though, he notices that Lori isn’t in attendance, and word soon travels back that she’d asked a now pissed-off-at-the-world Daryl (Norman Reedus) to go into town and retrieve Rick, Hershel, and Glenn, and that Daryl refused and Lori went in on her own. Always looking to play the hero, Shane hops in his whip and heads off to find her. Instead, he locates the flipped car, but no Lori. Further down the road, he comes across her walking aimlessly, and tells her that Rick and the others are back at the farm, “safe and sound”—a bold-faced lie, of course, meant to get her back in his arms.
As soon as they get back to the house, Lori immediately learns that Shane lied to her face, and, understandably, she’s pissed. Especially since Shane drops a bomb in front of the whole crew: “I gotta make sure the baby’s all right.” Remember, most of the group, namely Carl (Chandler Riggs), didn't know that she’s pregnant, so Shane basically blew her spot up. Inside the house, Carl asks if they can name the baby Sophia if it’s a girl, a sweet moment that’s promptly interrupted by an apologetic Shane. He pleads with Lori to forgive him, and Lori rocks his world by telling him that she informed Rick of their past trysts; Shane, dumbstruck, emphatically tells Lori that their once-hot affair was “real,” which Lori flat out denies. She also once again chastises him for lying to her about Rick’s status in the hospital (he said Rick was dead), and questions what went down between him and the now-dead Otis (who Shane did indeed sacrifice to save himself).
The next day, Rick, Glenn, and Hershel arrive back at the farm, with the injured shooter in tow. His name, we find out, is Randall, and, as is to be expected, Shane is none too happy about his being on their property. In Shane’s eyes, as well as his recent sexual conquest Andrea’s (Laurie Holden), the newcomer’s vengeful friends will eventually make their way to the farm to rescue their chum and start an all-out war; Rick, on the other hand, doesn’t see it that way.
And Lori doesn’t see a different matter in Shane’s way, either, that of her unborn baby’s father’s identity. As she bluntly tells Rick while they’re having some shirt-less alone time in a tent later, “No matter what happens, [the baby is] yours.” And then she fills her husband in on everyone else’s scared views toward hot-headed Shane, and how Shane has been quick to tell her that Rick’s not fit to protect her and Carl. Rick just sits there, listening, with an increasingly agitated and concerned look on his face. “He thinks that we’re supposed to be together, no matter what,” Lori says to him.
“I killed two people myself because, and Carl, and the baby,” Rick replies. “It was gonna be me, and not them—no matter what.”
“You killed the living to protect what’s yours?" she asks. "Shane thinks I’m his. He thinks the baby is his. And he says you can’t protect us… He’s dangerous, Rick, and he won’t stop.”
Cue an even more intimidating look on Rick’s face. And the promise of four more sure-to-be heavy Walking Dead episodes before season’s end.
Interview by Matt Barone (@MBarone)