Written By: John
At some point in all of our lives, we will be faced with the notion of the second chance. Often times the majority of us simply play the game of “what if” and move on. But there are a few in this world who receive the genuine opportunity.
Those are the stories we rarely hear of, and in television land, one that is rarely presented in frank fashion. Last night’s The Walking Dead brought us to the conclusion of one such story, and it is the focus of today’s “Horror Monday”. Be warned my friends, spoilers lie ahead.
Last night’s episode; “Better Angels” presented us with the fallout of last week’s major character departure in Dale. His loss brought lasting impact to the group by alerting them to the growing number of walkers gathering in the countryside and returned the group to their moral center with the decision to release their prisoner Randall.
This episode also featured Carl’s redemption, and even brought about the terrifying fact that anyone who dies in this world will return to life. But all of these plot points were overshadowed by Shane.
After an apology from Lori that reinforced their “love” to be a terrible mistake, and after finding himself no longer trusted by Rick and replaced as his right hand man, Shane finally snapped, taking Randall into the woods to murder him and injure himself before returning to camp to claim that the prisoner got the jump on him, escaped and swiped his gun.
It leads to a frantic search that turns out to be part of a master plan for the broken Shane; to get Rick as far away from the house as possible and murder him, pinning the act on the “escaped” prisoner. It is here that we finally see Shane for who he is, a man consumed by fear.
Long before the dead were returning to life, Shane was a best friend, a surrogate brother and impromptu uncle when it came to the Grimes family. He got by in this life, just like the rest of us do but it is clear now, he wanted something more.
When the end of civilization came, he was thrust into the role of leader, father and lover and relished in it, there was no more living vicariously through Rick and Lori, and he had the good life now. This was not the second chance that he was clearly waiting for, that came when Rick arrived at the camp last season.
It was here that Shane lost sight of his opportunity. No longer was he a second fiddle to Rick; he was treated as an equal. Shane’s opinion was now valued and while overridden at times, he had Rick’s ear.
Yet Shane was never able to see this, instead he saw himself taking the backseat once more, robbed of his value. One must wonder now if all the lectures about making the tough choices in a brave new world were really intended for Rick, or for himself.
Because in the end, Rick is forced to kill Shane, and as a final insult Shane turns into a walker before being gunned down by the boy he saw as a son.
It is perhaps the most heartbreaking death on The Walking Dead to date. While some may view that as blasphemy in the wake of Dale’s death, I stand by it. Dale was an amazing moral center and a good man who sadly was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Shane however squandered away the all-important second chance because he was blinded by his own insecurities and his inability to let go.
Shane now leaves behind a legacy of bloodlust, that will only be overlooked by Rick Grimes, who will forever remember his fallen friend as a simple and good man who merely lost himself in the madness of the end of the world.
Written By: John
If anything, I happen to find the zombie to be one of the more frightening aspects of the horror genre. The finality of death, robbed away from humanity and replaced with the perversion of mindless creatures walking around with the sole goal of recapturing the lost vestiges of their past by consuming the few that remain.
It is a universe that has terrified me ever since I laid eyes on George Romero’s living dead masterpiece Dawn of the Dead and it is a universe that continues to influence me creatively.
So imagine the joy flowing through me when AMC announced that Robert Kirkman’s comic series The Walking Dead would be coming to television. As a zombie fanatic, my first response was hop up and do myself a little happy dance, while the skeptic in me wondered if it would fall flat upon its face, perhaps marking the beginning of the end of the zombie mania sweeping the country.
Instead the little voice of doubt inside my mind was instantly silenced as I sat on my couch, blown away by the pilot episode and its epic nature. This was not only a great adaptation of the comic book, but something that is rarely captured on film or television; a hard look at life after the end of the world.
I bring that point up for one simple reason, the consistent discussion I see on the web regarding the “slow” nature of the second season of the show.
I’ve seen a full battery of complaints, but the ones that continue to resonate with me starts with the criticism that the characters are too dry. Second only to the top grievance…the show is just too damn slow, not providing the audience with enough zombies or gore.
Both of these claims have some merit, but I think pure impatience has given way to these issues being blown out of proportion. When it comes to the characters, their development suffers from the short amount time this series has been on the air. To date, we’ve only seen sixteen episodes of the show, with six of those encompassing the entire first season. Nowhere near enough time to really let these characters grow, especially considering the circumstances revolving around them, an issue that makes that ties together both complaints.
While I appreciate and enjoy the gore that goes into every single zombie film or episode I watch, there is truth behind enjoying too much of a good thing. At some point excessive gore numbs you completely, and in the case of zombie flicks that are nothing but intestines and headshots, it almost detracts from the experience.
Now before someone goes off regarding the amount of violence in the aforementioned Dawn, let’s take a good look at one particular trick Mister Romero implemented to keep the violence fresh and shocking. He gave us a break. The violence gave way to quiet little lulls that allowed us moments of levity and safety, only to have it come crashing down.
It’s a device The Walking Dead uses successfully, and it is starting to pay off in season two. The pause at the farm was a nice break from the horrors of Atlanta and the CDC that wrapped up in season one’s “TS-19” and brought about an important matter that I feel is lost in zombie lore these days, the importance of humanity.
The hunt for Sophia that so many have lamented as slowing down the series was essential to give us what some just aren’t seeing, the genesis of character growth. Rick and his group were now challenged with the importance of maintaining the civility of a world forever lost, and figure out how to survive while doing it.
Even now, with “18 Miles Out” having aired yesterday, that virtue continues to be challenged. Rick himself pointing out that he will do whatever he must to protect his family and his group. This is what horror needs more of, and this is why I stand by the show and as we make a mad dash toward the season finale, these virtues will only continue to be challenged as we eventually journey with these rattled survivors to the prison and the horrors that await them in Woodbury next season.
I hope they stick to the current plan. Give us the steady growth we’re now starting to see, and give us the living dead when necessary. Because in the end these stories are not just about walkers who rip skin from bone, it’s about that which defines us, and the one true evil that lurks in the shadows…man.