Recap: The Walking Dead, Episode 2.08, “Nebraska”

You told me that there was no cure. That these people were dead, not sick. I chose not believe. But when Shane shot Lou in the chest and she just kept coming, that’s when I knew what an ass I’d been. That Annette had been dead long ago and I had been feeding her rotten corpse. That’s when I knew there was no hope.  And when that little girl came out of the barn.. the look on your face? I knew you knew it too. Right? There is no hope and you know it now, like I do, don’t you? There is no hope for any of us.

Welcome back, zombie lovers. The Walking Dead Season 2 came back on Sunday night, in care you missed the 8 million excited posts about it on Facebook. If you need a refresher, this is my review of the previous episode “Pretty Much Dead Already.”

If I can beg your indulgence, allow me to quote my own question at the end of that review, because it becomes immediately relevant in this episode: “How long Rick can hold onto that moral center is going to be the big question of the series.”

The killing of Zophia – a mercy killing, by any measure of it – broke the building tension of the first half of the season, the push and pull between Rick’s desperate optimism and Shane’s numbers game. I said previously that Zophia’s appearance showed how hollow Shane’s bravado really was – as much as he said that zombies were nothing, they were just corpses, you cut your losses and move on, he couldn’t do anything in the face of that little girl he knew, couldn’t lift his gun when her mother was wailing behind him. Rick is the one who pulled the trigger. Not out of malice or anger, but empathy. Put them down, don’t abuse them.

Random observation: How awful would it be to not only see your mother turned into a zombie, but then to be attacked by her reanimated corpse, and then have one of these random people staying on your farm attempt to curb stomp your mother into final death, before someone else puts a scythe through her head? I’m sorry pretty blonde girl whose name I don’t know. I’d go into shock too.

Everything dissolves after this. Shane fluctuates between rage and guilt and a painful need for forgiveness. He talks without anyone prompting him, projecting his anger at himself onto everyone else – at Hershel, who guesses what we suspected, that Otis found Zophia and died before he could tell anyone. At Dale, who says nothing but whose horrified expression doesn’t flinch as Shane tries to justify what he did in slaughtering those zombies in front of their family. At T-Dog, while they burn the corpses, it was OK because they were dead already. And finally, at Carol, as he washes the dirt from her hands and murmurs his confession. He wants, so badly, to be the man he argues will save everyone – no emotions, no guilt, nothing but survival instinct, but he can’t shed his humanity as easily as that. Shane remains one of the most compelling characters on the show, because he just has so much to work with.

Hershel is destroyed by the massacre, as is most of the farm family. Only Maggie had come to terms with what the walkers really were. Hershel gives up some 20-odd years of sobriety and slips off the farm, to get drunk in a saloon that looks like the backdrop of any generic Western film. Rick knows he owes Hershel, even if he wasn’t the one who threw open the barn doors, because Rick feels responsible for everyone. He needs the group to stay on the farm, where they’re relatively safe and fed, and he needs Hershel to be there for Lori’s baby. He just has to pull it all together. So Rick and Glenn head off into town.

Random Observation: I could not stop staring at Glenn’s shotgun leaned towards his head during the ride into town. I half expected Rick to hit a pothole and blow Glenn’s head off. [Me, too! -PoM] I get that it was just a trick of the framing, but it was just so right there.  Later, Lori also points a gun at her head while checking to see if it’s loaded, and I just can not believe they are all not dead yet.

In town, Hershel articulates the same despair that Rick and the others fight against, the death of hope. That’s why they spent so much time looking for Sophia. That’s why they refused to leave without finding her. That’s why Rick needs Hershel – because a baby means hope to him, it means that there’s still life left in the world.

And that’s also why it was so sad to watch what happened next: two other survivors, men from Philadelphia, stumble upon the bar. We know we’re not supposed to trust them. I mean, they’re from Philadelphia. We once threw snowballs at Santa. The new men easily find out that Rick’s group is holed up on a farm – thanks, Glenn – and try to find out the location. And suddenly Rick is in Hershel’s shoes, having to tell this other man – this living, breathing, man – that there is no room at the inn. They can’t take in any more survivors. They can’t help them. And one of them, the one who pisses in a bar, says, “You don’t know what it’s like out there,” which is exactly what Rick said to Hershel, and it must just kill Rick, just destroy him to hear those words spit back in his face. We can’t help you. We have no room. And True Blood Rene, who quite intentionally resembles Rick, tries to reason with them, puts down his gun and begs for the rest of his group who are dying at their camp.

In the end, True Blood Rene is more of Shane than a Rick, and reaches for his gun. Rick puts both newcomers down, drops them. Because Shane’s right, in his own way; the world isn’t the way it used to be. This is Rick’s compromise. Here is his move away from his moral certitude.

Published by

[E] Slay Belle

Slay Belle is an editor and the new writer mentor here at Persephone Magazine, where she writes about pop culture, Buffy, and her extreme love of Lifetime movies. She is also the editor of powderroom.jezebel.com. You can follow her on Twitter, @SlayBelle or email her at slay@persephonemagazine.com. She is awfully fond of unicorns and zombies, and will usually respond to any conversational volley that includes those topics.

37 thoughts on “Recap: The Walking Dead, Episode 2.08, “Nebraska””

  1. I know I’m late to the party here, but I would like to say that I am so happy that there is a Walking Dead recap here. I’m so excited to get into the Persephone groove!

    Anyway, I don’t know about Shane. Either he’s a monster or he’s not – they need to choose where his character is going to go (which I thought they did when he shot Otis, but whatever). It’s frustrating to me. I’m far more interested in Rick’s descent into… Shaneness than I am in Shane’s attempts to make himself feel by being less of a dink. I wish the writers could committ to Shane being a complete asshole. It was seriously entertaining when he just didn’t give a fuck.

  2. My biggest issue with this show: Shane is despicable. He is always yelling his dumb ideologies at people and does unforgivable things. And yet…..I am so attracted to him.

    I just want to kill a bunch of zombies with him and then frolic in a meadow.

    He probably wouldn’t frolic.

    Just scowl and clean the guns.

    1. That’s a fair interpretation of the scene. I only came to the position I published after watching the episode a couple of times and noticing the progression of scenes with Shane’s monologues. He’s hella manipulative and he’s actively working against Rick, but I also think he seems just really torn over his actions. I do think he feels guilty about everything he said about Sophia when he’s face with Carol, because its hard to look at a grieving mother and bitch about the wasted time spent looking for her dead kid.

  3. I have a friend interviewing T-Dog (IronE Singleton) tomorrow and she has yet to see the show. I am trying my best not to attempt to shove her out of the way so I can ask about the nitty gritty details. If you could interview anyone from the show, who would it be?

    (Hi, btw. Newbie Jez expat here. You had me at “Recap: Walking Dead”…must be love)

    ETA: Actor’s name.

    1. Hi! Welcome! Oh that’s so cool that she gets to interview him! From what I’ve read, a lot of people who act in that show are really commited/knowledgable about the show’s artistic direction. I read a great interview with Jon Berenthal recently, I can’t remember where though, and I was impressed with how thoughtful he was.

      I would actually like to interview the woman who plays Andrea, personally.

      1. Yup, I’m going to beat the dead horse that I met most of the cast/exec crew at NY ComicCon ’10, and they were incredibly gracious and awesome. Andrew Lincoln asked to keep my Sharpie after he autographed our TWD Book 1. I stalked Norman Reedus and got a picture with him, and my husband and our friend got THE BEST picture with Robert Kirkman. The awesomeness of the people involved is one of the reasons I’m giving this show so many chances.

  4. Ooh, I thought of one thing I liked about this episode. I like that Herschel called Rick and crew a plague or something to that effect. Because that seems to be the general gist of the comics… Rick and crew arrive somewhere that was somewhat functioning in an insular bubble and destroy everything before moving on to the next place.

    1. There’s plenty of moments I like in the show. For instance, its just beautifully shot. Every time I go through the screencaps, there’s so many gorgeous stills to pick from.  Its just as a coherent narrative that it can really piss me off.

      I couldn’t even get started on Lori’s fucking car accident.

      1. I have previously held out judgment (for some reason) about Lori despite all the hate–and there’s a lot, particularly over at “Television Without Pity”–but her driving into town after Rick and Glenn, seriously, like, 20 minutes later, as another commenter said, was just the stupidest thing ever. Sorry, Lori, but you lost me, the last holdout.

  5. SHANE. You continue to be the most interesting character to watch, even if I hate you sometimes. Please take your time before going Full Evil so I can enjoy you as long as possible.

    What else. I really enjoyed the casual way that Andrea flung that zombie arm back into the truck. In fact I think with her limited screen time this week, Andrea is showing signs of being the cool character I’ve been wanting her to be this whole time.

    Also Maggie was being a little weird. She’s super-attached to Glenn, to the point that she didn’t want him to go find her father because it was too dangerous? What, had she already written her Dad off and just didn’t want to lose Glenn too?

    The last scene was, obviously, great. I actually am really excited to see how this will play out next week in terms of how Herschel regards Rick. Also doesn’t it make you realize how vulnerable Herschel is, and even if the group eventually leaves him in peace at the farm he’s still pretty much effed if anyone more resolute shows up? He really has just been so protected of the realities of what’s going on.

    And finally, was the beginning of that scene a little weird, dialogue-wise, or was I just slow to catch on? The way they said “Well dang, they’re alive!” right before the commercial break, I thought they were people that knew either Herschel or the other survival group. So it was only several lines into the dialogue that I realized they were strangers. Just me?

    1. It was oddly shot. The framing was very old-western throw down — the entrance line, the way they were framed in the doorway.

      I was irritated that the strangers were broadly painted as bad guys — they stole their gun off a pig, they peed inside, they were coarse. I think it would have been a more interesting scene if it hadn’t been set up as Rick-is-good-guy, strangers-are-bad. The last time Rick made that assumption it was with the gang members protecting the old folks home. And he was wrong. Which is what made it interesting.

      Hershel really has been blessed. He has no protection from the woods direction, he’s sitting on the post-collapse version of Fort Knox, and he doesn’t keep guns on the farm.

  6. A number of things pissed me out this episode. Rick’s moral high horse. Lori’s running off. Shane’s macho crap.

    But I think the thing that pisses me off the most are the constant fuckups. Someone is always screwing up and dragging everyone in their mess. It’s just so unbelievable at this point. I get that there will be a lot of problems but it gets rather ridiculous at times.

    1. I go back and forth on the screwing up. To a certain extent, a random group of people thrown together who survive through luck of the draw would screw up a lot. The scene where they dragged the water logged zombie out of the well? I completely believed this group of imbeciles would decide to do that.

      However, they just never seem to learn. And Lori and the car? Why did Lori go to town? Rick had just left. Why does Lori always have to be the unlikeable one?!

      1. Lori taking off to go after Rick was really really dumb. I am afraid that they might be doing this as a way to kill off the fetus without making her have an abortion, which does annoy me. They already kind of messed up the whole pregnancy thing to begin with… And the way it is going, it seems as though the group will still be at the farm for another while.

  7. Are we going to talk about how infuriating the episode was in regards to Lori? First, Rick’s comment to Glen “You thought you were doing the wrong thing [re: keeping Lori’s confidence]. You were actually doing the wrong thing.” Fuck you, Rick Grimes… Lori’s the one who was having to think about the possibility of navigating a zombie filled countryside in her third trimester, let alone all the valid concerns about the inability to keep a baby quiet if need be to hide. It’s not Glen’s place to tell you what is going on with you wife.

    And then the completely unnecessary car trip she decided to take (did it feel like it had only been like 20 minutes since they left to anyone else?) and the subsequent lack of looking at the freaking road? They just seem to make  Lori more and more helpless and stupid as the series goes on and I don’t like it.

    LOVED the tension of the bar confrontation, though.

    1. You said exactly what I said (as I was yelling at the TV).

      I was like, seriously Rick? Go fuck yourself and your paternalistic bulkshit. He thinks he’s so moral up on his high horse.

      I also was infuriated that she went off and then wasn’t even paying attention while driving! Come on, lady. Get your damn self together!

      Those two things pissed me off the most about this episode.

    2. I was pretty much screaming at the TV/Lori. I mean – she didn’t even tell anyone she was going, she doesn’t know how to use a gun, and she didn’t look at the map before she left! Not to mention that going to find Rick and Glen to basically say “No I’m serious, hurry up!” was really worth the incredible risk.

      I didn’t read the comics so I don’t know to what degree their doing the “original” character justice, but Lori is just this weird boomerang between resolute behavior and hanging back and finding problems with what everone else has done. Bleh.

    3. Second everything you said about how stupid Lori was.

      As for the bar confrontation, I feel that it was almost too easy for Rick to shoot down those two guys (from a moral standpoint). I mean, they already gave off a shady vibe, but having the one reach for a gun left no room for doubt that Rick was acting in pure self-defense. I think it’d be more interesting to have a bit of moral ambiguity–maybe this is why I find Shane more interesting.

  8. These people and their total lack of self-preservation! STOP AIMING GUNS AT YOUR OWN HEADS, IDIOTS.

    I thought the scene with True Blood Rene was really tense, so it worked for me, even as I could tell I was being manipulated by every technical aspect of those few minutes: the blocking, the scoring, the lighting, everything. I thought having Rene (I can’t remember his character name, dammit) reach for his gun was sort of a cop-out, because it un-Shanes Rick’s actions a little by having him shoot in self-defense.

    1. Yeah, they did kind of cop out on that one. Also does anyone remember Rick freaking out at Darryl when he wanted to kill [insert that dude’s name here] way back at the original camp after he’d been bitten? I’m pretty sure Rick “WE DON’T KILL THE LIVING” has made a rather-impressive 180. I just worry that we don’t get to see enough of Rick’s evolution as it happens. We just see him act differently, you know? You’ve got this crazy ensemble cast, but maybe in the last several weeks when you slowed to a crawl you could have spent a little time letting us get to know our main protagonist a little better, beyond him just going “Please, Herschel? Can we stay here forever? Pretty please?”

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