AMC’s The Walking Dead is back with the second half of the second season! Click More to see the review of tonight’s episode, “Nebraska”…
Season 2 Episode 8: Nebraska
The aftermath of the midseason finale is here and the fallout creates an even wider gap between Shane and Rick. After Shane freed and was responsible for the killing the loved ones in Herschel’s barn, the group’s somewhat unwilling host now wants them gone. The real division in the group begins to show when members of the group express their feelings one way or the other over Shane’s actions. When Herschel goes missing, Rick and Glenn head into town to find him against the wishes of some. Meanwhile, Dale pleads his case to Lori about Shane being responsible for Otis’ death.
Glenn and Rick find Herschel drinking in the bar in town. They try to convince him to return to help Beth (one of his daughters who collapsed in shock), but the process is slow so Lori takes a car and comes after them. While checking her map, Lori doesn’t react quick enough to avoid a walker crossing the street. When she hits him, she flies off the road and flips the car. Rick and Herschel have a frank discussion about hope, death, and why they need to keep going and help those who still depend on them regardless of how they feel. That’s when two people come into the bar surprised that “they’re alive”. These new travelers introduce themselves as Dave and Tony and they bring news of all the places that have fallen and turned out to be pipe dreams for safety. They are looking to find a place to stay and merge with them, but Rick refuses. When they start to make demands and act against Rick, Rick draws fast and kills them, showing Herschel he’s willing to protect the farm at all costs.
As I suspected, this episode was going to be less action and more focused on the fallout of Shane’s building frustration, irritation, and anger ultimately leading to him unleashing the pent up walkers in the barn. What this episode doesn’t have in action (and I don’t say “lacked”) actually comes through with setting a tone for this second half of the season and sets up a ton of tension.
Right off the bat, Shane and Rick’s relationship is strained as thin as it can be. Rick is trying to keep the group’s collective relationship with Herschel positive so the option of staying is still available. Shane is taking a hard line believing action is the best way protect the group. It isn’t enough for them to have a relatively safe location to set up camp, they need to remain vigilant at all times against any possible threat to them – be it an old man’s misguided hope those in the barn will ever be cured or keeping on the move and not growing lazy.
If you really look at how Rick goes about things with negotiation and how Shane approaches things with a colder, more black and white way, it’s really the perfect depiction of how the public in large would look the philosophical question of how we’d handle any kind of apocalypse situation. I’d always like to think I’m more of a Rick person – the people I would come across will, in some sort of way, be understanding of our struggles, possibly be helpful, but in the end, as long as I don’t pose a threat to them, they would be inherently good. We all dream of being the badass like Shane, but let’s face it, you’re either going to be king by killing everyone who pisses you off, or be dead quickly because your adrenaline has carried over the edge into carelessness. Then again, you could only be king until someone else gives you taste of your own medicine. This particular episode excels at portraying the two primary camps in how to handle the world that an apocalypse, or anarchy, would cause.
Within Herschel’s ever-evolving role, here you have a man who I believe almost all of us would identify with. If you watched your loved ones get ill, seemingly die, only for them to return as a zombie, you’d likely have a real hard time shooting them. Again, we’d all tell each other we’d be the badass and put them down, but we’re not. We just aren’t. I’m not saying we’d stash them away, feed them freshly killed chickens and hope they’d “get better” sometime down the road, but I am saying when we’d see a sibling, a spouse, or a parent trying to eat us, we’d have two problems on our hands. The first would be being personally responsible for putting them down for good. The second would be having hope that things would ever have some semblance of the way things were. There is a real identifiable element to Herschel’s story over the past couple episodes that’s been really interesting to see unfold.
There are still other threads that have been planted with this first episode back that, while not major to this episode, will play out over the rest of the season. Obviously, Glenn and Maggie’s relationship is progressing into something more. Something that may find Glenn staying behind if the group leaves the farm. Daryl is going though some dark places right now after learning all his searches for Sophia were fruitless and ultimately for naught. Lori’s going to have some problems with an overturned car and walkers out and about, however, it was a little surprising that we didn’t get a little more from that after it happened, but after the final scene, I completely understand why we’re waiting until next week to see more. Lastly, Dale may be putting himself in some immediate danger by continuing to push his position on Shane’s deteriorating mental state. As he continues to tell anyone who will listen that Shane’s dangerous, I’m fairly certain some sort of “accident” might be set up for the old man to run into.
Finally, I don’t think I could write this article without discussing the final scene of the episode. The two strangers that find Glenn, Herschel, and Rick in the bar seemed off from the start. If they were friendlies, they would have likely been seen before, and they certainly wouldn’t have right away made themselves so comfortable. They carried with them an attitude that I just knew was going to end badly. As they start to display their real personalities by pissing on the floor of the bar, talking about wanting to get sex, and pushing to find a place to stay without negotiating hardly at all. Yeah, there may not have been much “action” to speak of, but that last scene was about as tense as it can get and when the time came for Rick to act, it was about as awesome as it gets.
If you’re looking for solid story progression and a great set up for the remainder of the season, come no further. If you’re looking for more action, I bet you’re whetting your chops over the previews of next week’s shootout with those jerks’ pals in town.
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|Great tension building between Shane and, well, everyone. Spectacular final scene that shows Rick can be the guy who has to act while still being the negotiator.||Not much to really complain about. I’m just glad the show has returned.|