It's the grudge match we've all been waiting for: Rick vs Shane...
"18 Miles Out"
Writers: Scott M Gimple and Glen Mazzara
Director: Ernest Dickerson
THE ONE WHERE Rick and Shane take their prisoner Randall miles away to release him, and end up coming to blows.
VERDICT Great episode – the best of season two so far. It has everything: action, explosive arguments, difficult decisions. Best of all, much of it takes place out in the world, away from Hershel's-bloody-farm.
We’ve been waiting for the situation with Rick and Shane to come to a head for such a long time, and when it does, it doesn’t disappoint. The scenes where Rick lays down the law and explains how it has to be from now on are intense, and the punch-up between the two of them is no-holds-barred, dirty and brutal (love the moment where Shane tips a motorbike on Rick’s head !).
It’s shocking when Shane hurls a wrench at Rick’s head, but even more shocking that Rick is prepared to cut and run and leave him for dead. Rick’s change of heart when he looks down at the two dead walkers on the floor and is reminded of the friendship between himself and his former partner is a beautifully played moment, which speaks volumes without a single line of dialogue being uttered. The fact that, come the end, he’s willing to trust Shane again after all that has gone on between them is genuinely touching.
For once, even the subplot pays off. Beth’s misery doesn’t look like a particularly promising avenue to explore, even when it becomes clear she’s intent on suicide – you expect the situation to be resolved with a pep talk and a hug. Then Andrea intervenes, leaving Beth with the option to follow through on her threats, and gambling with the girl's life. It’s a jawdropping moment. How she walks away from it without earning a slap in the chops from Maggie, I’ll never know.
Indeed, Andrea is at the heart of much of what’s great about this episode - it’s so good to see her climb down from the roof of the RV for long enough to get some interesting material. The argument between Andrea and Lori is crackerjack stuff. Offering an alternate perspective on the thorny issue of why it’s generally the show’s female characters who get lumbered with the household chores, it’s fascinating - no matter whether you disagree with Lori or not.
FEATURED MUSIC The songs heard leaking out of Randall’s headphones are “Lazy Bones” by Wooden Shjips and "Driver's Seat", a 1979 track by Sniff 'n' The Tears . The former is doubly interesting, since none of the characters strikes me as a likely fan of pretty obscure San Francisco psych bands, and because the album the track's on was only released in August 2011. Oh, and the song that plays right at the end is “Civilian” by Wye Oak .
SPECULATION Once Randall has cut himself free he stabs a female zombie in the head repeatedly, with a great deal of enthusiasm… is he really the harmless ordinary Joe he claims to be? For those of us steeped in the comic, it wouldn't come as a great surprise if he turned out to be some kind of misogynist psycho with a hair-trigger temper. This episode also appears to confirm that you don’t have to be bitten by a zombie to become infected – a mere scratch will do. So... who do you think’s gonna get scratched before the season is out?
BEST LINE Shane: “You just can’t be the good guy and expect to live. Not any more.”
Ian Berriman twitter.com/ianberriman
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The Walking Dead airs in the UK on Friday nights on FX .