Stars: Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies, Laurie Holden, Jeffrey DeMunn, Steven Yeun, Chandler Riggs, Norman Reedus, Lauren Cohan, Phillip DeVona, Emily Kinney, Michael Zegen
Writer: Scott M. Gimple, Glen Mazzara
Director: Ernest Dickerson
Network: AMC, airs Sunday nights
Original Telecast: February 26, 2011
In the tenth episode of THE WALKING DEAD Season 2, “18 Miles Out,” rescued survivor Randall (Michael Zegen) is on the mend. As Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Shane (Jon Bernthal) head out on the road to release their charge back into the wild, the journey becomes an expedition into mending much more than one injured leg. Can two men that were once like brothers find common ground after so much has happened? And back at the farm, will it be Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) or Andrea (Laurie Holden) whose philosophy holds sway – with Maggie (Lauren Cohan) caught in the middle – when Beth (Emily Kinney) decides to take matters into her own hands?
A beautifully acted scene between Rick and Shane opens the episode as Rick lays out everything he knows and demands that Shane accept things as they are. Symbolically, this confrontation takes place on a crossroads, but it also speaks to the heart of the series since day one – not a man alone, not even a man and his family, but thinking back to the first thing we saw before the apocalypse descended, a man and his partner; his brother. These two are joined by the oaths they took, the bond of friendship and love they shared, the woman and family they both need to survive.
In the comics, Shane was a throwaway, a quick first antagonist to drive home that danger often comes from within, but Bernthal’s Shane has had time to breathe and grow, and this is really his episode…or to be fair, his and Lincoln’s. In last week’s review I said that I like Shane although lots of viewers don’t. I also like Rick and Shane as a team, with Rick’s rationality balancing Shane’s unbridled Id. Is Rick the Ego or Super-Ego, and is Lori the other? I’ll leave that to the psychology majors to figure out.
As with the episode in which Shane sacrificed Otis, this one begins with a zombie-heavy action sequence that foreshadows an important aspect of the installment – Rick is once again wrong in judging the situation. Trying to find a safe place to leave Randall, he only succeeds in putting all three of them in grave danger. But when Shane is trapped in the bus, he adopts Rick’s method of dispatching zombies by knife, a telling and perhaps even touching moment that shows even in his cloud of anger, he’s capable of hearing his friend’s counsel and accepting it. That still doesn’t mean he isn’t capable of attacking Rick with a wrench and nearly killing him.
After the brilliant bit of business that is Rick’s three zombie pile-on (steady now), he seemingly reciprocates by adopting Shane’s “every man for himself” approach, only to come roaring back in to save his friend. It’s a triumphant moment, and it even offers a glimmer of hope that these two can heal. They are blending together in some ways, and remaining resolutely individual in others.
Back at the farm (yeah I know, that’s twice now), Rick and Shane’s story is counterpointed by a similar showdown between Lori and Andrea, and it’s a strange gender divide here underscored by Lori’s regressive comments about taking care of laundry and domestic issues while the men handle “man’s work.” Beth also tries to commit suicide…who? You know, the catatonic blonde, Maggie’s sister, one of the farm-based characters we never really met in any great detail and therefore can’t have much empathy for? Kinney’s performance in this episode goes some way to addressing that deficiency while giving us the opportunity to see all of Lori’s and Andrea’s past experiences crystallized in their approach to handling this new crisis. It’s solid character-building stuff,and very welcome.
This episode benefits from the tighter two-front focus, leaving out some of the large ensemble cast to give just a few characters enough time to make progress in what has otherwise been a pretty stagnant season. There are also some artful, symbolic shots in this installment, from the crossroads setting, to the two fallen officers that trigger Rick’s loyalty to Shane, to the sobering scene in which a bloody-mouthed Shane is reflected in a shattered window just before the walkers emerge. Which is the greater danger?
The episode is also somewhat bookended by Shane contemplating a lone zombie making its way across an expansive field. The poignancy of the scene is matched only by its ambiguity. What does that zombie signify for Shane? Does he see himself, an outsider lost in an uncaring world? The embodiment of an uncertain future trudging helplessly along an unknown path? The zombie accepts its plight – it has no reason to choose any other way – but can Shane accept his?
As you might be able to tell, I found this episode refreshingly moving and even profound, with just the right balance of zombies, action, great performances, and deftly interwoven strands of character and plot. More of this, please.
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Related Link: TV Review: THE WALKING DEAD – Season 2 – “Triggerfinger”
Related Link: TV Review – THE WALKING DEAD – Season 2 – “Secrets”
Related Link: TV Review – THE WALKING DEAD – Season 2 – “Chupacabra”
Related Link: ASSIGNMENT X’s complete Season 1 episode guide
Article Source: Assignment X
Article: TV Review: THE WALKING DEAD – Season 2 – “18 Miles Out”