By Andrew Conrad, email@example.com
9:07 PM EST, February 12, 2012
Sunday night's installment of "The Walking Dead" on AMC had it all: zombie deaths, human deaths, a car wreck, new characters, a working bar, heated arguments and — to cap it all off — a song by Maryland-based blues-metal band Clutch.
The pace has slowed down a little bit compared to the last ten minutes of the midseason finale on Nov. 27, when a bunch of zombies spilled out of the barn and got blasted away in a maelstrom of gunfire.
We've got five more episodes to go in season two, so I'm thinking that the producers plan on keeping our survivors in the same location (the farm) for the forseeable future, leading up to some sort of major event that will cause a location change in the season two finale (the whole farm burns to the ground, like Twelve Oaks?)
But it's going to take some creativity to keep them in this same location, which means lots more of those long, drawn out discussions between the likes of Lori and Daryl, Shane and Dale, Carol and Shane, Rick and Hershel, and so forth. This creates drama, but the characters also seem to be talking in circles a lot.
"You don't know how to lead this group, you need to be a good father for little Carl, get off of my farm, your cold heart is just as dead as those walkers, I just don't know what I believe in anymore, don't you tell ME what to do, I don't know if I can love anymore in this world, you shut up, no YOU shut up!," and on and on.
There will probably also be a few more lesser MacGuffins — that is, something that incites the characters toward action, but has little to do with the plot. An example this week was Beth Green, Hershel's youngest daughter, passing out in the kitchen and falling into some sort of trance, causing everyone to get all up in arms.
But enough talk about the filler, let's get into the action, which thankfully, there was plenty of this week.
My favorite scenes were at the local watering hole, Hatlands, where Hershel practically used to live during his drinking days. I heard Hershel used to drink at Hatlands so much that he always checked in with foursquare on his iPhone and he was the mayor of Hatlands :o)
Anyway, Hershel isn't a good drinker apparently, and everyone tells him to stop. They're like, "it's not funny when you drink man, it's not cool like in Budweiser commercials from the 80s where there's all these beach babes in American flag bikinis playing volleyball and guys water skiing with Bret Hart sunglasses on. When you drink it's more like Nicolas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas so why don't you just cut it out."
And then he actually does, but then these two other cats — Dave and Tony — waltz into the bar like "well, well, well, what have we here?" Immediately, you sense something off about these two clowns.
Tony is a "scrawny looking douche bag" according to Dave (it's a joke, cause he's actually fat), and Dave is wearing a sleeveles Strafford Sharks shirt with the No. 11 on the back. It's a pretty cool shirt. A quick search of the iNet reveals that there is a Stratford Sharks swimming club in England, but I don't think that's where his shirt came from. It's a mystery, kind of like that book Daryl was reading in his tent a few episodes back. (UPDATE: The Stafford Sharks are an 11-U baseball team from Manahawkin, New Jersey. Thanks Mark Maurer/TheStarLedger)
So next the guys all start drinking together and doing shots, except for Hershel (such willpower!), which was weird, because a few minutes before they were like, "we gotta get back to the farm and save Beth."
Dave and Tony, who met on I-95 coming out of Philly (Hey I've been there!), catch on that our survivors have a cool farm nearby and want a piece of the action. Slovenly Tony is standing there pissing in the middle of the bar, asking what kind of tail there is at the farm, and that's when you know that there's about to be trouble.
What follows is an awesome Old West standoff, and Rick does a great job of dispatching the fools. I'd say that this episode = Rick +1, Shane -1. So it was a good week for #TeamRickGrimes.
I didn't like Tony as soon as I saw that dumb newsboy hat and necklace that he was wearing.
In other news, Lori went driving off in a huff because Daryl was too busy acting like an angry teenager and whittling a stick (where was his Slipknot shirt?), went all Stephen King on a wayward walker, and cartwheeled that nondescript midsize sedan into a ditch. Did anyone else notice the problem? That's right, she didn't take the Hyundai. A Hyundai would have maneuvered through that sticky situation like Yoshi negotiating hairpin turns in Mario Kart 64.
Oh, and Dave and Tony revealed that Fort Benning is overrun by "lamebrains" as they call them (lame), and apparently Nebraska is the place to head for now because it has low population and lots of guns.
"Nebraska, this guy..." BLAM-BLAM!
Here's a quick rundown of what's going on with each of the major characters after this episode:
Rick: Stepping up to be more of an agressive leader, taking a more pragmatic approach to decision making.
Lori: Freaking out because Rick went running off to find Hershel, starting to worry more about Shane's intentions.
Carl: Would have also shot Sophia. Doesn't want to leave the farm.
Shane: Starting to lose it a little, still questioning Rick's leadership and feuding with Dale and Hershel.
Andrea: Siding with Shane?
Dale: Trying to turn people against Shane, still worried about him.
Glenn: Confused about his relationship with Maggie.
Daryl: Becoming angry Daryl again instead of helpful Daryl, telling people not to bother him anymore.
Carol: Starting to lose her mind. Had her hands bathed by Shane.
T-Dog: Glad that the zombies are out of the barn.
Hershel: Has become very pessimistic about the world around him. Still wants people off of his farm.
Maggie: Told Glenn she loves him, worried about how the dynamic on the farm has changed.
Best Shakesperian portrayl of a descent into madness
Carol Pelletier, who is still shaken up over how the whole Sophia situation shook out. She walks aimlessly through the woods, kneels amongst Cherokee Rose flowers, tearing them out by the roots and moaning ruefully, and has her hands and forearms bathed oh-so-creepily by loose cannon Shane.
Some things that I noticed in the bar
Best job of acting like a drunk guy
Tony. Standing up peeing in the middle of the bar and asking about chicks, that does really seem like something a drunk guy would do in Fells Point or at Pickles on opening day. Second place goes to Hershel. He just acts the same, but talks slower and slurs his speech a lot, like "shish-shash-shush."
Missed opportunity for some good jokes
When that arm fell off of the back of the pickup truck with all the zombie body parts in it. Andrea just picks it up and throws it back in, and it was all hefty and long, like Shaq's arm or something. But she could have been like, "Hey come back here and give me a hand with this" or "Hey look at me, I'm armed and dangerous" or she could have just gone up to T-Dog while he was eating Spam and started tapping him on the shoulder with it so he'd turn and get all freaked out.
A thing that I wish had happened
When Hershel is going through all of his wife's clothes and jewelry, I wish that the next shot was of him wearing the wedding dress and jewelry, manically applying her makeup, and then dancing around the room in a very queer fashion while singing to himself in a high-pitched voice. "La-la-la, such a pretty bride, the prettiest in all the land!"
Daryl calls Lori Olive Oil, striking a blow for the beautiful, full figured women of the world. Second place, Shane calls Dale Mr. Moral Authority. Shane could have been more clever, he could have called Dale Ned Flanders or something.
"I don't care what you believe!"
"I mean it, off my land!"
"Not enough!" (when asked by Rick how many drinks he's had)
"There is no hope for any of us."
"You people are like a plague."
"When Shane shot Lou in the chest, and she just kept coming, that's when I knew what an ass I'd been."
"I tell you what Dale, next time I need a radiator hose, I'll give you a call man."
"It looks like he found an old friend." (upon discovering Hershel's flask)
"People counted on me and I had them chasing a ghost in the forest."
"That's not my little girl, it's some other ... thing."
"So what do we do, just wait for him to pass out?" (wondering how they're going to get Hershel out of the bar)
The Greene mother, who was stirred by daughter Beth. It opened its eyes all wide and leaned in for a bite, like "Ahh, my sweet daughter, come, give us a kiss. A kiss GOODBYE!"
Best zombie kill
Zombies: 1/2 (the Greene matriarch, who we already assumed was dead, so we're still at 60). I'm gonna guess that the geek who got hit by the car is still crawling around. Humans: Two. Dave and Tony, gunslinger style, for a total of four on the season.
What did Jenner whisper to Rick? What has become of Merle Dixon and the father-son team of Morgan and Duane Jones? What happened to Lori after she wrecked that car? Did she exchange insurance information with that walker?
A look ahead to the next episode, "Triggerfinger"
Daryl keeps an eye on Carol because she's acting all nutty, and Carol keeps an eye on Daryl because he started acting mean again. Rick and Hershel hole up in Hatlands for a standoff with some hostiles while Glenn runs around outside with his gun. Lori holes up in her wrecked car, and more.
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