‘The Walking Dead’ 2.09 Recap: “Who the Hell Is That?”

This week’s episode of ‘The Walking Dead’ begins where we left off, but you wouldn’t be able to tell by the daylight. The last episode ended with Rick dispatching two real live humans with copious amounts of light streaming in through the bar windows, but at the start of this episode, right after the gunfire, darkness has descended on the town in mere seconds. Darkness comes fast in Zombieland, I guess.

Poor T-Dog has been relegated to the back of the pack. It’s like the writers are grooming him for a gruesome, scream-filled demise as a group of hungry zombies devour him whole. Maybe they’re distancing us from a once semi-likeable character, so that we don’t feel too badly when he becomes zombie chow. He only has one line in this episode, which is part of the reason I picked it for the title of this post. However, it does serve a greater purpose. I think we could ask the question “Who the hell is that?” about any one of these characters. Maybe I haven’t noticed it until now, but real character building has been somewhat absent in this series altogether. I mean, we spend most of our time worrying about Rick and Lori, the two least interesting characters in the show. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found myself screaming at the television because Lori has another idiotic idea that doesn’t help anyone except for whatever starving Walkers may be waiting around the corner, or when Rick launches into another one of his speeches about human decency in the land of the undead.

I’ve said it numerous times already, but if I were stuck in the middle of the zombie apocalypse, I’d want Shane watching my back, not Rick. I can do without the lectures of morality in a time where morality must be pushed to the wayside in order to let survival instincts take over. This world is about surviving, and the last thing I’d want to listen to is the likes of Rick and Dale go on and on about their righteous ethics.

Apparently, the other living people of this world have had enough of Rick’s moralizing too. After his misguided but impassioned speech to Dave and Tony’s friends, who pull up outside the bar, they promptly open fire on Rick, Glenn and Hershel. Why? Because this is the world these characters are living in now. It’s every man for himself. Rick got a taste of it when he killed Tony and Dave (who by the way was one of the most interesting characters to come along in a long time), but he goes right back to his old self, thinking that he can talk down a group of guys with guns.

Meanwhile, Lori in her infinite wisdom is laid up on the side of the road in her demolished car, face-to-face with a Walker trying desperately to get through her shattered windshield, like opening up a really stubborn bag of delicious human-flavored candy. My assumption that Lori would be hurt enough that she’d need to be laid up a few days turned out to be incorrect. In perfect movie fashion, Lori walks away from the nasty rollover with only minor scratches. A screwdriver to a decaying eye socket is all she needs to escape and wait for Shane to rescue her yet again.

By the way, did anyone think about how amazing it is that Hershel wasn’t swaying about after his drinking binge? He hadn’t touched the stuff in years and then fell off the wagon all at once. He was downing shots by the time Glenn and Rick found him, yet only moments later, Hershel is Dead-Eye McGee when it comes to shooting down would-be assailants attacking the bar in the dark.

After the attack on the bar, and just so we know that Rick really is the Good Guy of the series, he insists that they risk their lives to free a young kid who has been impaled on a wrought-iron fence. The kid was just shooting at them, but no matter. This is the kind of stalwart helper Rick is. He doesn’t think of the consequences that will no doubt arise later, once the kid’s friends come to find him and eventually the farm. No, Rick is a nice dude and he’ll show it any chance he gets – whereas Shane has to walk around with a scowl, washing his hand incessantly and hissing at anyone who gets in his way. I know that Shane is supposed to be the Bad Guy, but isn’t this laying it on a little thick – especially when Shane is right and Rick is oh-so wrong.

Shane may be a little overzealous in the way that he goes about things, but he spends this entire episode cleaning up messes and saving people just to be piled on at the end by Dale, Lori and everyone else in the camp. Lori thanks Shane for saving her by turning around and telling Rick all the horrible things Shane has done and probably will do if left unchecked, not once thinking that she’d probably be nothing but ragged pieces of torn flesh if Shane hadn’t found her and got her back to the farm.

Rick versus Shane is coming to a head. The writers want you to root for Rick, Lori and their family, but I find myself rooting for Shane. He’s got an anger problem, but in a world full of undead people wanting to eat your flesh, that’s not really a bad thing. Tallahassee had an anger problem in ‘Zombieland’ and we loved him for it. He simply channeled his anger toward the zombies into comedy, whereas Shane is stuck in a drama and therefore must act accordingly. Rick may be the Good Guy, but Shane is the Right Guy.

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