Review: The Walking Dead - "Better Angels"

The Walking Dead returns again with another explosive episode! Much like last week's episode, "Better Angels" is not 100% thrilling but it is generally well-done and amplified by one or two "HOLY SHIT!" scenes that leave us shocked for days. In this one, the survivors begin moving in to Hershel's home, but chaos breaks out when Randall seemingly escapes the farmhouse. 


The episode opens with some great, gory walker kills. Shane, Andrea, Daryl, and T-Dog drive out to a field and butcher some zombies. The highlights are a pitchfork through the jaw and the final head splat. At first, the scene is confusing - why drive completely out of the way just to shoot zombies? But it looks like they did it for two reasons - a) to ensure the fence was intact, and b) to let off some of that Dale grief. As the four of them go crazy on these walkers, it becomes obvious they show their emotions very differently (more aggressively) than, say, Rick or Glenn.

"Better Angels" is dominated by a lot of emotional, dialogue scenes, but they are great. In one scene, Glenn works on the RV while Andrea helps, and they both begin to tear up. It is a bittersweet scene, to see these two characters who, despite their headbutting with Dale, loved him and miss him deeply. In another scene, Lori tells Shane she never thanked him for saving her and Carl and she is sorry. This scene seems inconsequential at first, but it is more important than you may realize. More on that later!

My favorite dialogue scene of the episode is between Rick and Carl in the barn loft. Rick insists Carl take the gun, and says he is "tired." He then says, "I wish you could have the childhood I had but that is not going to happen. People are going to die." This is such a great scene because it not only shows Rick's weariness as a leader and father, but it is Rick giving his son the go-ahead to be the man he must be now. For so long, Rick has wanted to protect Carl's innocence and shield him from this world, but he realizes he can no longer do that. This scene is very pertinent, especially if the show goes the way of the comic books. 

So this brings us to Shane. Once he visits Randall in the barn, there is a definite shift in him - the crazy is more visible than ever. He drags Randall out into the woods and says he wants to join Randall's people. But Randall only makes it a few steps before Shane snaps his neck. He then breaks his own nose on a tree to facilitate the lie that Randall jumped him. Shane is full-on crazypants at this point. 

At first, I was bothered by his shift into madness, as it seemed way too sudden. But I genuinely believe it was Lori's talk by the windmill that set him off. Obviously, his beef with Rick was not over, and Rick only emasculated him since the school bus incident. Then here comes Lori, who would not even talk to Shane before, and she brings up the "good times" they had together without Rick. So naturally, the emotionally-unstable Shane would get it in his head he could be with Lori still, and deserves to be. 

Cut to the forest at night, where Rick and Shane have broken away from Daryl and Glenn. Firstly, I loved the Randall zombie reveal. When Daryl and Glenn saw that walker, I thought for sure it was going to come toward them and start devouring Randall's body and that is how they would find out. Then the flashlight shines on Randall's zombie face and I went "OH SHIT, IT'S RANDALL!" And of course this scene confirmed the idea started with those two dead cops a few episodes back - the zombie disease does not require physical transmission.

Meanwhile, Rick and Shane stand alone in a field. The moonlight silhouette shot is gorgeous! I was convinced all season that Shane would go out exactly like he did in the books, but I was proven wrong! And it makes perfect sense too, because Shane lasted MUCH longer on the show than he did in the books. His relationship with Rick is much more developed on television, so it was essential that the blow be delivered by Rick here. And so brutally, too! Rick holds out his gun as if to surrender, and then totally shanks Shane! 

The scene proves once again that Rick can make the tough calls, but he does it only when he has to (unlike Shane). I love how he tells Shane, "You did this!" because he tried so hard to put it off but Shane forced his hand. Rick hates that he must live with this now. If I remember correctly, I think he even said "You did this to us" which is so heart-wrenching that he still considers him a friend - or family, even. The scene also makes you wonder if Shane wanted Rick to kill him. He could have fired at any time, and he's certainly not stupid enough to overlook Rick reaching for that knife (hell, *I* saw it!). 

So then, oh shit, Carl shows up and points the gun at his father. I would be lying if I did not wonder for a minute if he would shoot his own dad. I would have been pissed, but right now, I would not put it passed this show! Then oh shit again, Shane stands up and he's a zombie now! And sweet relief comes for us comic book fans when Carl pulls that trigger! The writers managed to keep the original scene sort of intact, but also change it to suit the show. And it incorporated something that happened much later in the books (Shane zombie). And we see once again that you do not need a bite or scratch to become a walker. SO much is packed into this one powerful, emotional scene! 

And that's not all, folks! A single gunshot fired arouses a nearby zombie hoard. That aerial shot of Carl and Rick as the walker herd approaches - holy fuckballs! The finale is going to be CRAZY with a zombie siege at Hershel's farm. Take a look at this preview:

So what did you think of "Better Angels"? And how great is the finale going to be?!

For more recaps/analyses from this season:

S2E11 - "Judge, Jury, Executioner"
S2E10 - "18 Miles Out"
S2E09 - "Trigger Finger"
S2E08 - "Nebraska"

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