Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 8: Nebraska

When we last left the group, Shane had rallied the group to his side and broke open the barn where they were storing the walkers. After they gunned the walkers down like a line of gunmen at an execution, poor Sophia appears at the barn door, and we learn that she had been attacked and turned into a walker. With everyone stunned by her appearance, Rick steps up and kills her.

Everyone is in shock over Shane's violent outburst. He finally got his way, drew the group to follow his lead, and left a pile of corpses in his wake.

Carol pushes Daryl away, angry at him- Daryl was an agent of hope for her and her daughter, but it appears that hope is a dangerous thing to have in a zombie apocalypse. Carol runs to the RV, where she had been sitting, waiting for them to find Sophia.

Beth, Hershel's youngest daughter, runs to her mother's side (she was one of the walkers that was in the barn), calling out her name and crying. When she turns her over, her undead mother attacks her, and she screams. Andrea, Glenn, T-Dog come to her aid and Andrea drives a scythe through the back of the walker's head.

Hershel leaves the scene of carnage at the barn with Maggie and Beth, and Shane pursues them, demanding to know why they didn't tell them that Sophia was in the barn. He is rightfully angry in this respect, and it is very hard to believe that no one knew that there wasn't a girl in the barn. (Otis's wife Patricia was feeding them for crying out loud. So even if Otis didn't tell Hershel, Patricia would have known as she stayed to watch them eat the chickens.)

Maggie slaps Shane and tells him that he's done enough and forces him to back off as they retreat into the farm house. Rick and Shane argue about what just happened. Rick believes that he had things under control that and he was about to win Hershel over to their side, whereas Shane knows that Hershel is a lying fool that could've gotten them all killed.

Carl tells Lori that he thought that he'd be the one to find Sophia. And that he would've done it- he would've shot Sophia too. This disturbs Lori more than anything else that has happened lately, as she believes that her child is becoming a cold blooded killer, when in fact, it is a mercy killing to end a walker's miserable existence. Lori sends Carl into the farmhouse to rest, and tries to tend to things, getting the men to dig graves for Sophia and the dead people from the farm, and start a bonfire to throw the rest of the walker bodies on.

Andrea tenderly covers Sophia's body with a blanket. The scene is eerily reminiscent of what she did for her own sister, Amy, when she was killed and came back as a walker. Andrea hates walkers, but isn't afraid to acknowledge that they used to be people either. There is a look on her face of regret that tells us that she isn't quite sure that they went about eliminating the walkers in the right way. Andrea is beginning to have doubts about Shane after seeing how quickly he can rally people and whip them up into anger in order to incite violence.

Hershel goes into his room and starts packing up his dead wife's belongings. He never moved them from where she left them, not once giving up on the hope that he could save her, that she was still alive. When Shane shot her and showed him what the walkers truly are, it shattered his view of the world. He leaves out his father's whiskey flask, leaving a visual clue as to his whereabouts once he disappears.

Daryl joins Carol in the RV. Carol tells him that she knew, deep in her heart, that Sophia was already dead. Daryl is disgusted by her sudden lack of faith in him, and in life in general. When they are informed that they are going to be burying Sophia, Carol refuses to go and says that the walker wasn't her daughter, that Sophia died in the woods a while ago, all alone and hungry. Daryl leaves, frustrated by the fact that after all everyone went through to find her, their efforts were in vain.

Daryl is standing on the right, away from the group. Even now, he still feels like he doesn't fit in.

They have an informal ceremony and then bury their dead. Then T-Dog, Andrea and Shane go about picking up the walker corpses and driving them out to the bonfire.

Shane gets into Otis' truck, and Dale is sitting on the bed of the farm's other truck, watching Shane closely. Shane sits there in the cab for a moment, and then gets out and confronts Dale. Dale says nothing as Shane berates him and attempts to justify his actions to him. When Dale says nothing, Shane leaves in an angry huff. After this, Dale approaches Lori.

Shane, Andrea and T-Dog throw the dead walkers on the fire. T-Dog admits that he's glad that Shane did what he did. That it made them all safer. However, it's apparent that Andrea is starting to have her doubts about what they did.

Later, Carol goes out into the woods and rips up the Cherokee rose, which was Daryl's symbol of hope for Sophia's life. Hope kept her going, but at what cost? To her, it was a fragile illusion, one that was shattered all too soon.

Shane sees her coming out of the woods, covered in dirt, her hands and knees all scratched up from pulling up the rose. He stops her, and makes her sit down and then tenderly cleans off her dirty hands. He speaks kindly to her, and says that he is sorry about her daughter. Shane then tells her that he just wants to protect people and that he did what he thought was best. Carol doesn't protest, and mutely accepts his kindness. Carol isn't threatened by Shane, after all, it was he who beat up her husband when he was abusing her in front of the women at the lake in the quarry.

This is just another example of Shane drawing people over to his side. He won over Andrea when he taught her how to use a gun so that she would no longer be a victim and able to protect herself and the camp. He won over T-Dog when he took action and got rid of the walkers in the barn. For a while he had Carl on his side, but Lori damaged their father-son like relationship that Shane was cultivating. Now, he is drawing Carol in.

Shane's actor, Jon Bernthal, has said that his character is like a Shakespearean villain and I think that he's right. Shane is like Iago from Othello. Iago is a bitter jealous man who plots to kill the man who was promoted to the position of Othello's lieutenant, a position that Iago felt should be his. Iago purposefully does things to bring people to his side and cultivates trust. He only reveals his true nature when Othello discovers that he had been deceived and lied to by Iago, that a man he held in utmost confidence had driven him into a jealous rage and convinced him to murder his own wife.

Like Iago, Shane is carefully cultivating his relationships within the group dynamic, slowly maneuvering and manipulating people, getting them to trust him and support his cause, which is to protect the group. Shane is the usurped leader of the group. When Rick returned, everyone immediately took to liking his honest, no-nonsense approach to life and he took over. The woman and child Shane had taken under his wing were ripped away from him, and all of his efforts into gaining Carl's trust and Lori's love were for naught.

Shane cuckolded Lori, and probably wanted to be with her since he met her, but stayed away out of his respect for Rick, who is his best friend and like a brother to him. By telling her that Rick is dead, Shane wins Lori's heart and a place in her bed. (Although he didn't leave Rick in the hospital on purpose, he panicked and didn't know what to do, as he is a cop, not a doctor and Rick was in a coma) Shane started treating Carl like a son, and still loves him like he is his own, even though Lori has told him to back off. When Rick told Shane that Lori is pregnant, it was obvious that Shane believed that the baby is his.

Lori asked Shane to stay after he saved Carl's life and they have called a truce of sorts between them. Lori still believes that Shane is a good man, even when Dale (ever the voice of reason in the show) takes her aside and tells her that he firmly believes that Shane shot Otis and left him for bait so that he could get away from the walkers at the high school.

Lori doesn't really believe this story, but Dale insists that it's the truth, and thinks that the only way it could've happened is if they were pinned by a crowd of them. Otis knew how to handle himself, and how to take care of walkers; he was the one that put them in the barn after all. Shane sacrificed Otis to get back and save Carl's life. Dale then tells her that he's known men like Shane before, and its only a matter of time before he turns around and kills someone else.

Back at the farmhouse, Glenn asks Maggie if she knew that Sophia was in the barn. Maggie doesn't answer, and it's not clear if she did or not. Shortly after, Beth, who is in the kitchen, suddenly collapses. Patricia and Maggie take her up to her room and set her on the bed. Beth is just lying there, staring at the ceiling, unresponsive. She is in shock.

They try to find Hershel to get him to help Beth, but he's nowhere to be found. Rick, Shane, Glenn, Maggie and Lori look through Hershel's room and they find that he was beginning to put his wife's things away and finally start mourning her death. He also left out his father's liquor flask. Rick deduces that he returned to drinking. Maggie tells them that he might be at the town's bar, and Rick decides to go find him and bring him back. Lori and Shane object, but Rick tells her that he is going to try to make things right, because they need his help for the delivery of her baby, in case she has any complications during labor.

Rick takes Glenn with him, and Maggie stops him on his way out and kisses him goodbye. On the ride into town to find Hershel, Glenn tells Rick that Maggie told him that she loved him and that he doesn't believe it. No one has ever said that to him before, aside from family members. He feels bad that he didn't say it back, because at the time, he didn't know what to say. Rick tells him to accept her feelings and that in times like these, you need to take what you can get.

Rick and Glenn find Hershel at the bar, getting drunk. He tries to get them to leave him alone, but Rick refuses. Unsure of what to do, Glenn hangs back and lets Rick to the talking.

After some prodding, Hershel admits that they should've mourned the loss of his wife and son weeks ago. Rick tells him that he can't give up on hope, even if they don't believe in it, because it keeps people going. It prevents them from giving up on life. Hershel replies "Hope? I had a glimmer of hope for your boy and Carl survived. But it was a sham. A bait and switch. I was a fool Rick and you people saw it. My daughters deserved better than that."

Nervous about Beth's condition, Lori finds herself unable to wait for Rick, and approaches Daryl, asking him to go and get Hershel and Rick and bring them back to the farm. Daryl refuses, and tells her that he's done looking for people. After all the injuries he sustained in his search for Sophia and the end result, he's bitter and angry and doesn't believe that he has time to be running around doing her errands as he's busy carving new bolts for his crossbow.

So, being the stubborn hot head that she is, Lori decides to go out on her own after them, for some reason believing that she could convince Hershel to return to the farm faster than her husband could.

Neither Rick nor Shane are present to talk her down from the anger and frustration (caused by feeling helpless about Beth) and convince her to stay at the farm. Their absence makes it clear that thus far they have been able to get Lori to calm down and  prevent her from doing something stupid that could quite possibly get her killed. With them gone, she runs off half-cocked, and does something incredibly stupid and leaves to get them on her own.

Lori takes a car and drives away from the farm. Unsure of exactly which way to go, she picks up the map while driving and is busy reading it when a walker steps out onto the road. She hits the walker and then rolls her car over. (Seriously? How in the hell did she manage to do that?)
Watch the accident below:

Back at the bar, Hershel tells them to go. Rick refuses, telling him that he promised Maggie that he'd bring him home safe. Hershel responds bitterly, "Like you did that girl? You people are the plague," before going on a rant about how Rick's lack of leadership caused such a disaster to occur. Rick tells him that he's there now, acting as the leader. Hershel gets quiet for a moment before confessing that he didn't want to believe what Rick told him about there not being a cure for the walkers.

"When Shane shot her in the chest, I knew you were right. I knew there was no hope. I saw the look in your eyes when you saw Sophia. There is no hope, and you know it now, like I do, don't you? There is no hope for any of us."

Rick responds by telling him that even though the world has gone to hell, nothing has changed. Death is still out there. It's just in a different form than before. "Hope is a reason to go on. It's not about what we believe anymore, its about them." (it's about keeping their people alive and giving them a reason to remain alive). To Rick, hope is still an agent of good, even if he doesn't believe in it himself anymore.

Before Hershel and Rick can finish reconciling their differences (Rick had just about convinced Hershel to return to the farm to help his daughter) two strangers enter the bar. They introduce themselves as Dave and Tony. They share a drink with them and the situation is tense. Rick doesn't trust them, and apparently has been around long enough to spot a con man when he sees one. When he sees Dave's gun, Dave tells him that he got it off a dead cop. Rick informs him that he is a cop, and you can tell that he doesn't like them.

Dave is all smiles as he fishes for information, mentioning that they spotted their cars, and they aren't dirty, which makes him think that they live close by. Glenn tells them that they came from a farm, which is a mistake. Rick is curt with them, and asks if they've heard anything about Fort Benning, and Dave tells them that Fort Benning is gone and that they were thinking of heading off to Nebraska.

Tony pees on the floor on the bar, which is not only unsanitary, but utterly disrespectful- showing that these two men have discarded whatever rules they used to follow in this harsh new world where the dead walk the earth. Not only that, but while he is doing it, Tony asks if they have any cooze (i.e. women to have sex with) as they haven't been with any in a long while. The way he talks makes him sound like a former prisoner or rapist intent on slaking his lust on any available woman he comes across. His uncouth behavior clues Rick in on the fact that these men are not to be trusted, as they only see women as sex objects and have no respect for the living at all.

Dave asks politely for them to take him and Tony with them to the farm. Rick curtly refuses and tells them that they don't know anything about them. Dave laughs it off,telling him that no one's hands are clean in this world. and goes around the bar. As he ducks down to grab a good bottle of liquor, Rick's hand drops to his holster. He senses what is coming next, and when Dave draws his weapon on him, Rick pulls his gun and shoots him, then swiftly turns around on his heels and guns Tony down before the man can fire on him.

Rick kills Dave and Tony because they are a threat to the group and Hershel's farm, proving that he is capable of being cold in order to protect his people. His actions highlight the difference between Shane and himself. Shane killed Otis to survive and to get vengeance for Carl. Rick shot Dave and Tony not only because they were going to kill him, Glenn and Hershel, but to save everyone else they know from violence. 

Final Thoughts:

What we are seeing now in "The Walking Dead" is a discussion of the question of what is more dangerous to people: Hope or Denial?

Hershel's denial and refusal to believe that walkers are undead people is dangerous, as they were rounding them up and storing them in their barn. Not only that, but they were feeding their rotting corpses food that should've been saved for the living. Hershel's naive belief in his ability to find a cure for his dead wife and son allowed him to ignore the fact that they are already dead. He did not mourn them and kept them locked up in the barn because he was in denial about them being dead.

Rick's hope and firm belief that they will find Sophia alive resulted in a fruitless search through the woods, during which Carl was shot by Otis. Daryl's hope for Sophia sent him on a wild goose chase that nearly got him killed. Carol's hopes for her daughter's return were dashed and now she has nothing left to keep her going. Daryl tried to use hope to keep Carol going, but unlike Rick, Daryl does not have a solid resolve or a firm belief in the kindness of others. His jaded view of life causes him to easily become discouraged.

Rick still believes that hope is the best way to keep people alive. All denial does is allow you to make excuses and ignore what is going on around you, which is dangerous during a zombie apocalypse. Denial is dangerous, and hope is a double-edged sword.; on one hand it gives you a reason to keep moving forward, on the other hand, if your hope allows to grasp for an unrealistic goal, it can crush your spirits once you realize that you cannot reach it.


  1. The show took a turn for the darker side of survival this episode, where humans are worse then zombies because everyone is only worried about their own survival and not the survival of the race. This also works in the group dynamic at the farm as well. Shane isn't worried about everyone else's safety, he is only worried about his survival, and if right now that is served best in the group then it will be, but the minute that it doesn't we will see Shane do whatever is needed for him to do to ensure his own survival. Rick is also turning down that road, but he is looking out for the groups survival not just his own. You can however see the change in the group itself, as hope is lost on what seems like every front. These people just don’t have any luck whatsoever. I had to watch the episode again online just so I could catch all the little things threw the episode, but thankfully AMC has the episodes streaming on DISH online, I just wish they would have left the first 7 episodes up as well, but I got to show up the Walking Deadhead that I work with at DISH, I actually caught things that she missed, and that in itself was a bonus.

  2. nice plot..havent seen the full episode of season 2 but with this plot, its like i've watched it already.. thanks.