“You killed the living to protect what’s yours? Shane thinks I’m his; he thinks the baby’s his. And he says you can’t protect us – that you’re gonna get us killed.”
I could easily open up nearly every WD recap with the words, “Let’s talk about the gender issues.” I refrained last week but since the show is giving us such rich material to complain about, let’s talk about the gender issues.
I’ve noted before that the women on the show are given the rough end of the character development stick. Lori is shrill to the point of unlikability. Carol is almost entirely defined by her role as a mother. Andrea’s righteous grief over her sister’s death was twisted into making her almost entirely unsympathetic for much of the season. (Not that T-Dog’s plot line is a richly mined depth either.) The women do stupid things. They get regulated to the sidelines. They go into comas from stress. They get inconveniently pregnant. No one did the laundry this episode, but on the same day the survivors slaughter their former family members and neighbors at the barn, they cook a formal sit-down meal where Shane sits at the head of the table. This would be a perfectly OK occasion to point the gang at the paper plates and make them cook their own goddamn food.
Lori, of course, remains the biggest point of contention. Last week, she drove into town without telling anyone she was leaving, for no reason at all because Rick and Glenn had gone to town only twenty minutes or so before that, for the exact same reason she was going, and she knew this, and because ladies are terrible drivers, she hits the only goddamn thing in the road during the apocalypse. Her flipped over car of course attracts walkers. The entire car accident, the reasonless trip into town all build up to allow Lori 45 seconds of badassness. It’s totally Buffy-level badassness too – she rips a piece of her car off to stab one walker in the eye, wallops another in the head with a hubcap and then calmly retrieves her gun and shoots him in the head. She doesn’t horror-movie scream, she doesn’t freeze, and she doesn’t panic. She is entirely competent.
So why did the writers have to show her doing something ridiculous in order to give her a moment of glory? Are they trying to suggest that she can only be competent if there is no one else around? That she’s using and manipulating the men for her own survival? That would almost make her interesting. But I’m fairly sure they just thought this would be an opportunity to make the critics of the show shut up already.
But then they go and pair that with her following scenes: Shane tricks Lori back into camp after finding her on the road and then reveals her pregnancy to everyone, so she can make outraged face, which will lead to Shane once again telling Lori they belong together and that he knows the baby is his, which leads to Lori finally admitting that Dale was probably right about Shane being two steps from total cuckoo. So what does she do with the information? Or better yet, how do the writers portray her passing on this information? Lori tells Rick what’s been going on with Shane and her concerns about his dangerousness, but the whole scene, in dialog and framing, is shot to cast Lori as this Lady MacBeth type figure, conning her husband into”¦ what? Was she trying to convince Rick to murder Shane? Because it sure seemed like she was goading him into being the proactive party in the inevitable Shane-Rick showdown.
Andrea has her own moment of what-the-fuckery in the episode, but at least it’s character-consistent fuckery. Despite finding out that Shane lied to Lori to get her back, finding out that Shane is probably the father of Lori’s baby (oh, hello, pregnant character), and seeing Shane advocate murdering a man in cold blood, she follows him outside to confront him – on his personality . His big problem, Andrea insists, is that he’s just not presenting his otherwise-not-at-all-manipulative-and-psychopathic plans in a friendly manner. She’s the goddamn Dale Carnegie of the survivor set.
And now the boys:
Herschel, Glenn, and Rick are trapped inside the bar when True Blood Rene’s friends come looking for them. Instead of, you know, just hiding quietly until they leave, Rick waits until they walk away to yell out he just murdered their friends. (A million gold stars to the first person who brings me a gif of Herschel’s “the fuck you say” face in reaction to this.) Then there’s a firefight. Why not? It’s the Old West after all.
The gunshots bring walkers into the town. Before the group can escape, Rick goes to play hero rescuing one of the bad guys who had fallen off a roof and impaled his leg on a wrought iron fence. I don’t blame him for this – this is entirely in keeping with Rick’s character. And they had a few minutes before the walkers were really upon them. But when it because apparent that they couldn’t get him off the fence and he’d bleed to death, Rick makes Herschel attempt a leg amputation with some dirty knife he had in his pocket. The fuck? Come on. Even humanist Herschel advocates putting the guy out of his misery. And in the end, Rick just rips the guy’s leg free anyway. Why didn’t he do that to begin with? Rick, why are you making it so hard to like you? You’re the hero of the piece!
The boys blindfold their new captive and bring him back to the farm, where Herschel will repair extensive damage to the guy’s leg which will end up leaving him with only a limp. Sure. Whatever. Shane, of course, wants to just straight up murder the dude and storms out when everyone else stares at him like, you know, straight up murdering some guy might be distasteful, but not before Herschel gives him a piece of his mind. Herschel’s had a very rough 24 hours on the farm, but his character is given a lot of depth in these last two episodes – he’s definitely growing on me.
Next week, it looks like we’re going to get the beginning of the Shane-Rick showdown, since we see the beginnings of a fight in the trailer. Since time moves in a weird spiral on this show, I’ll guess they’ll stretch the fight out over three episodes, all of which take place in the same 4-hour time period, at the end of which Lori will have had her baby.