If you couldn’t tell by the title, then I suppose it is my duty to inform you that there will be a whole heck of a lot of SPOILERS in this article. SPOILERS, I say!
Let’s just come right out and say it: Rick is the new Shane.
I don’t have a problem with this at all.
While lots of folks whined and lamented Shane’s descent into “inhumanity” last season, I saw it more as a practical growth spurt. Protect your loved ones and those you’ve chosen to take up with; it made sense to me. Still, Shane was cast as rather a devil.
But, I guess I do have to grant a certain amount of that. I mean, he did try to murder Rick and take his family. Awkward! That probably wasn’t the best course of action.
Jump to last night’s episode, “Sick,” and we see Rick making some of those same kinds of Shane decisions (which, from here on out, I shall refer to as SDs). The episode picked up right where the last one left off: Rick had just hacked off Hershel’s leg and the reconnaissance group had stumbled upon a small batch of inmates holed up in what turned out to be the prison’s cafeteria.
Guns were drawn, and manhoods were flopped out and measured. Interestingly, the five prisoners only had one gun. Well, I guess it’s not that untoward; they ARE prisoners.
It became clear that Hershel was the priority of the moment, and Glenn found a rolling food prep table that could carry Lori’s fading hope of a successful delivery back to the secured cell block where our band of intrepid walker-wackers had set up camp.
As Maggie, Glenn, and Rick rushed big H back, T-Dog and Daryl brought up the rear, keeping a wary eye on the prisoners that followed.
Can someone please explain to me what happened to the mini-horde that threatened to break down the cafeteria doors? If you’ll remember, they barely made it into the cafeteria ahead of the man-munchers, before baring the door and seeing to Hershel’s leg like Jack Nicholson on a nice hotel door.
*Whack, whack, whack…*
But, no, there was just one miserable SWAT walker pawing and groaning when T-Dog threw open the doors, and the group rushed out. Lame.
So, Hershel is rushed back and transferred onto a cell bunk. Rick warns Glenn to stay by his side. No one really expects Hershel to make it (besides his dumb deluded daughter, Beth), and Rick wants Glenn to put the old guy down (again) if necessary.
Then, Rick heads back to the chamber right outside the secured cell block to deal with the prisoners. Carl is watching the cell block door, acting as a gate keeper, and it occurred to me that AMC is trying to make me like the kid. He almost seemed (dare I say it?) useful in this episode!
After another tense-ish standoff, Rick tells the prisoners that they will help clear out another cell block in exchange for half of the food in the cafeteria. An SD, if ever I saw one. Good on ya, Rick. The wily former sheriff has correctly surmised that the prisoners must have been well off in their hideout. So, they trek back to the cafeteria (STILL NO WALKERS), and return bearing a good number of supplies for our group.
Meanwhile, Hershel is all sorts of pale. Carol and Lori have done their best for him, but he’s lost a lot of blood, and they don’t have enough medical supplies.
Carl to the rescue! (I can’t believe I just wrote that. Stop trying to make me like Carl, AMC!) The boy everybody loves to hate found the infirmary, gathered everything he could, and brought them back. Mommy didn’t know he had gone, though, and scolded him in front of everyone. Carl, who is trying to be a big man, stomps off in a huff.
Since it’s still pretty likely Hershel’s going to die, Carol wants to be prepared for when it happens. She figures she’ll have to deliver Lori’s baby, and since Lori had Carl by c-section, Carol wants to practice the procedure. She’s actually pretty smart about it and convinces Glenn to help her take down a female walker outside the prison fence. (Eeeeeew) You can guess where this is going. I sure did, and I was right.
Rick, T-Dog, and Daryl prep to take the prisoners to stake out their own cell block. Once the prisoners are settled, there will be no contact between the two groups. Sounds questionable to me, and you can see the plotting in the eyes of the prisoners’ main wacko, a long-haired rage killer (You’ll see why I call him that in a minute.) named Tomas, so you know the issue is long from being really settled.
After explaining that guns aren’t a good idea in close quarters (too loud, will draw more walkers), both groups set out armed with various blunt and pointy objects, determined to cut a swath and claim a new cell block. It goes down about how you’d expect.
Tomas keeps giving Rick the stink eye, and New Shane knows it, so he’s keeping a close eye on him.
The first small nest of walkers they happen on die a gruesome re-death as the prisoners set on them rabid-dog-pack style, shiving and beating on the monsters like they’re in a prison riot. Rick, T-Dog, and Daryl just stand back, watching the display of unnecessary brutalness.
Just who are the monsters?
After explaining again that the walkers go down quickly with a brain shot, they seem better prepared to take on the next pod. In the midst of brain-bashing, Big Tiny (one of the prisoners) tries to sneak away, but he gets attacked. He makes it out of the scuffle alive, but with a large gash on his back –walker-inflicted, of course. Before they decide what to do with Big Tiny (another prisoner, Oscar, suggests just locking him up in case he doesn’t turn), Tomas flies off the handle and viciously beats Big Tiny to death, taking the large man off guard and spattering blood everywhere. See. I told you he was a rage killer! So, we’re down to four prisoners.
They make it to a laundry room where a pair of double doors is holding back a number of walkers. You can’t see the walkers, but audible moaning makes it clear the men are about to kick over a hive. Rick tosses a set of keys (looks like a master set the picked off a dead guard in last week’s show) to Tomas and tells him to open the door. Only one, though. Opening both will let too many in at one time.
Tomas gives Rick more stink eye and proceeds to “accidentally” open both doors. In the ensuing confusion, Tomas tries to take out Rick but is unsuccessful. Obviously.
They take out all of the walkers, and then Tomas offers a feeble excuse to Rick about how $hit happens, and it was nothing personal. New Shane does his best I-don’t-believe-you-and-you-know-I-don’t-believe-you head bob, and then calmly splits Tomas’ skull with a machete.
GO, NEW SHANE!
Andrew, one of the three remaining prisoners, gets peeved and swings a bat at Rick. He doesn’t connect and bolts through the double doors, running for his life.
Yeah, he’s not long for this world.
Rick gives chase, and they snake through hallways and doors, up some stairs and through a doorway that leads to an open air area. It is, of course, blocked in. Andrew skids to a stop once he realizes there’s no escape and doubles back to the door. Rick’s waiting for him and makes a chilly SD, locking Andrew out with the walkers. You hear screams, and Rick looks vaguely disconcerted, but then resolved.
NEW SHANE! NEW SHANE! NEW SHANE!
The two remaining prisoners, Oscar and Axel are on their knees when Rick returns. Axel pleads for his life, but Oscar does not, saying that he’s never begged for his life, and he isn’t going to start, now. New Shane makes a very un-SD and lets them live, fulfilling his side of the bargain by delivering the pair to a secure cell block. But, the area is far from empty, with dead walkers are strewn everywhere, and you almost feel sorry for Oscar and Axel.
I’m sure his decision to let the prisoners live will come back to bite Rick in the butt.
Back in Cell Block C, Hershel is barely clinging to life. In fact, he dies. But, Lori is able to resuscitate him…not without a cheap scare, though. As she’s giving him mouth to mouth, he comes back, lurching up and grabbing at her. I yelled, and I’m not ashamed to admit it! Even though I knew they weren’t going to kill Hershel. A guy with one leg in the apocalypse is just too darn interesting!
Rick, T-Dog, and Daryl return to the good news, and the group is together but for Carol. She’s still out in the prison yard with her re-dead walker, preparing to do a practice c-section. It’s gross. They don’t actually show Carol cutting in, but as a woman who’s had a c-section, I must say that I was grossed out.
But, a gross-out wasn’t the purpose of the scene. As Carol is working on the walker, the camera pulls back to a point of view shot from the bushes beyond the yard. Someone is watching!
The episode concludes with Lori and Rick outside on a fenced-in walkway suspended above an open area. Lori previously confided to Hershel that she’s sure Rick hates her for her manipulation in the Shane love triangle, and this scene feels like a pivotal moment in her relationship with her husband.
She confesses that she knows she’s not a good wife or mother, but jokes that divorce really isn’t an option, leaving it open for Rick to swoop in and forgive her, to make it right between them. Rick stays quiet for the most part, and you’re sure a reconciliation is eminent.
Then, he says, “We’re awful grateful for what you did,” referring to how Lori saved Hershel, and walks away, leaving her crying on the walkway.
Whoa! New Shane isn’t ready to pull any punches!
On the whole, Lori is been quite ridiculous this whole time, and I think she’s reaping what she sowed. Karma’s a mommy dog, ya’ll.
Andrea and Michonne were MIA this week, appearing only in the preview for the next episode, which was all Governor-y looking.
What do you think? Is Rick the new Shane? (Yes.) Should he forgive Lori? (Not yet.)
Featured image courtesy of AMC and found at http://blogs.amctv.com/photo-galleries/the-walking-dead-season-3-episode-photos/episode-2-hershel-stretcher.php.