Michonne takes Virgil to his island but discovers it's not what she expected.
Al's captured by a mysterious woman
Between past and present, we see how things went for Michonne and Daryl since Rick disappeared.
Michonne struggles with her relationship to Negan. Rick and Daryl face hard truths.
Rick and Carol go one way morally, as Maggie and Daryl go another.
Rick and Daryl are having troubles. Maggie finds being a leader tough.
Things have changed for Alexandria, Hilltop, and the Sanctuary. But in some ways, they remain the same.
Eugene continues his betrayal. Tara and Daryl lead an assault on the Sanctuary, as Michonne chooses if she'll stay, or if she'll go.
AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 2, Episode 12: “Better Angels”
Directed by Guy Ferland
Written by Glen Mazzara & Evan T. Reilly
* For a review of the previous episode, “Judge, Jury, Executioner” – click here
* For a review of the Season 2 finale, “Beside the Dying Fire” – click here
This penultimate Season 2 episode begins with a speech by Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln). As they bury Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn), he talks of honouring him. They will do things “his way” from now on. They will secure their safety and their future. Things are looking up, despite Dale’s death. Shane (Jon Bernthal) is a bit strange, as usual. T-Dog (Irone Singleton), Andrea (Laurie Holden) and the others are all pretty upset by the loss recently, as is Glenn (Steven Yeun), even Hershel (Scott Wilson) understands the sorrow.
Meanwhile, they’re planning on cutting Randall (Michael Zegen) loose, as was the earliest plan. Shane doesn’t want any of it, still causing friction between him and Rick. This only increases with every passing chapter of Season 2. Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) gives Shane the evil eye on the side, hoping he’ll eventually quit pining for her. He won’t, though.
Rick: “Dale could get under your skin. He sure got under mine, because he wasn‘t afraid to say what he thought, how he felt. That kind of honesty is rare and brave. Whenever I‘d make a decision, I‘d look at Dale. He‘d be looking back at me with that look he had. We‘ve all seen it one time or another. I couldn‘t always read him, but he could read us. He saw people for who they were. He knew things about us – the truth who we really are. In the end, he was talking about losing our humanity. He said this group was broken. The best way to honor him is to unbreak it. Set aside our differences and pull together, stop feeling sorry for ourselves and take control of our lives… our safety… our future. We‘re not broken. We‘re gonna prove him wrong. From now on… we‘re gonna do it his way. That is how we honour Dale.”
Carl (Chandler Riggs) tells Shane about the walker who killed Dale. That he didn’t shoot it. This is a tender moment, if it weren’t for Shane playing would-be-dad to the young boy. He tries to assure Carl it wasn’t his fault and tries to make him hold onto the gun he took from Daryl’s (Norman Reedus) bike. He doesn’t want it anymore, afraid of his own abilities.
Over in the shed, Randall (Michael Zegen) is still being kept tied up. Everybody else is trying to go about their business. Glenn is shacking up with Maggie (Lauren Cohan), or at least she’s trying to make that happen, even if he’s still a bit leery about the situation. Best of all, Hershel is offering up his home as a home for the whole group. He’s come around to having them as a part of his life and hopefully this will continue to be good, for all of them.
On the side with Shane, we find Lori revealing she doesn’t “even know whose baby this is“. A shocking moment, which we all should’ve seen coming. She seems to flop back and forth between things. Here, she’s falling back into things with Shane. Even if it’s only a brief scene. Still, she isn’t doing any favours. Shane now has more reason to believe there is something left for him and Lori.
At the same time, Daryl and Rick come together closer, as the former says there’s “no reason you should have to do all the heavy lifting“. Then there’s more bravado and angst from Shane, who guilts Rick about talking to Carl and so on. A confrontation, a nasty one, is on the horizon. Those who’ve read the comics already know this, but when will it finally come? And how? Will it be the same as in the comics, or different?
Rick sits with Carl, strangely under the noose that was once prepared for Randall. They talk about life, “no more kid stuff” Rick says. This is a new life, a new world, an entirely new existence. He tells Carl how everyone will eventually die, they’re all going to shuffle off eventually. Best of all, the tension with Shane, I think, has prompted Rick into making sure his own son grows into a man, in this new and vicious zombie world. I love these small father son moments which come out now and then, and still do on the series. Well written and also the chemistry between Chandler Riggs and Andrew Lincoln works excellently for their relationship as characters.
The darkness in Shane further leaks out. He goes into the shed where Randall is tied. He sits on a chair in front of the young man, quiet, almost going crazy right there. Something deadly is brewing inside Shane, it’s only a matter of time before it escapes and damages everyone and everything around him. This scene is intense, brooding. You never know what might go down next.
Lo and behold – I didn’t see this coming. Shane takes Randall out in the forest. He asks the kid to take him back to his group, he wants out of the one he’s in currently. There is no future for Shane, as he sees it, among Rick and Lori and the others. But then he ends up breaking Randall’s neck. He smashes his own face into a tree, then heads back to the farm with a concocted story. He makes it seem as if Randall is now a huge threat to the farm and everyone on it.
This all leads Daryl, Glenn, T-Dog, Rick and Shane out to look for Randall. Supposedly. What’s the plan here? It’s as if Shane has something up his sleeve, some nefarious deed in mind. With everyone out looking, Rick by his side, Shane might just soon try to craft the group into one with which he wants to stay.
Sly glances pass between Rick and Shane in the dark of the woods. You can see Rick isn’t so sure what happened, but goes on following his former best friend anyways. The suspense here is unbelievable, as they move deeper and deeper into the trees. Daryl is a tracker and notices some suspicious elements to Shane’s story, finding tracks “in tandem“, blood on a tree, a scuffle of feet. Shane isn’t looking so truthful now. But everyone is at risk currently, out in the open, in the dark, with zombies shambling around all over the place. Not to mention Daryl and Glenn come across the dead body of Randall, finding out he wasn’t killed by walkers, or anything else, except a snapped neck.
Off alone together, Shane keeps Rick going further. Away from the group, separating them more by the minute. Eventually, they come to a big clearing. Rick continually questions Shane about what happened, which doesn’t get a whole lot of response. We see Shane slowly grip his gun in his pants. The look on Rick’s face spells everything out, though, he holsters his own gun. “So this is where you plan to do it,” says Rick to his once best friend. Two great actors toe to toe in this scene makes it something special. Incredibly intense. Those who read the comics know how it ends, yet still there is an air of tension you aren’t sure about. Rick walks and talks with a gun on him. “You won‘t be able to live with this,” Rick tells Shane. “I‘m a better father than you,” Shane replies not long after.
But once Rick unarms himself, all but begging Shane to give it a try, the situation changes. He talks Shane almost into his arms, giving over his gun. Then Rick stabs him deeply: “You did this to us. This was you, not me – not me!”
With Shane bleeding out in the field, Rick is left with what he’s done. Although it wasn’t wrong the act itself had to be tough. They were once the best of friends, for what seemed a lifetime. So much history. All the while, we get cuts to images in the mind of Shane; the zombie virus working its way into the folds of his brain. Then Carl shows up, seeing Rick over the dead body of Shane. He pulls a gun on his father. But not really – he puts a bullet through the undead Shane coming up behind Rick. A heavy act, one that needed doing. Only problem is the gunshots caught the attention of walkers. Lots of them.
The end of this episode is intense, knowing what’s on the verge of stumbling into the farm. Stay tuned with me while I review the Season 2 finale, “Beside the Dying Fire”.
AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 2, Episode 1: “What Lies Ahead”
Directed by Ernest R. Dickerson & Gwyneth Horder-Payton
Written by Frank Darabont & Robert Kirkman
* For a review of the previous Season 1 finale, “TS-19” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Bloodletting” – click here
After Season 1’s finish and the destruction of the CDC, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his crew of survivors are on the road. Up on a rooftop, Rick talks into the radio again. Trying to reach Morgan Jones (Lennie James), whose fate is – as of this point – unknown. He tells Morgan, if he’s listening, that the CDC is gone. We almost get what Dr. Jenner (Noah Emmerich) told Rick at the end of the first season. But still, he conceals the information and even we as the audience know nothing. Sly and solid writing.
Everyone else tries their best to keep going – Shane (Jon Bernthal), Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) and Carl (Chandler Riggs), Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn) and Andrea (Laurie Holden), T-Dog (Irone Singleton), Daryl (Norman Reedus), Glenn (Steven Yeun), Carol (Melissa McBride). They pile in and out of the big R.V., their other vehicle, they head out into a great and diseased unknown, somewhere away from the city. Because now, the big cities have fallen. They’re infested like rat nests with zombies, far as the eye can see.
Where will Season 2 take the survivors? It’ll be exciting to ride alongside.
Rick: “I guess I‘m losing hope that you can hear me… but there‘s always that chance, isn‘t there? That slim chance. It‘s all about slim chances now.”
Speaking of ride, we get good shots of Daryl cruising down the road on his motorcycle. Even if there’s a bit of Nazi insignia. Though, I’m pretty sure it’s not actually his bike. This whole sequence at the start is a transition. We’re seeing them all start to settle down for a bit after the whole CDC debacle. Andrea and Shane bond slightly over gun maintenance. Rick and Lori and Carl remember a trip to the Grand Canyon.
Everything’s peachy until the group come across a massive blockage of cars across the highway. Weaving in and out between sections, there doesn’t seem to be much of a way through. The entire place reeks of death and decay. Something I have to mention: production design. Overall, there is an amazing amount of work put into this show. From the zombie makeup to the stunts, all of it is fun. But the production design, the massive job it must take to make this show look appropriately wasteland-ish is impressive. Even just seeing the interstate with all the cars and everything spread out, the scope of the production is wild.
After the R.V. steams out, everybody takes to the road and tries to gather as much as they can, from gas to random items, to hopefully car parts. Except Lori isn’t too keen, calling the highway itself “a graveyard“. Although, I can already feel an air of uneasiness, an ominous tone. Rick and Dale look through binoculars sharing an odd glance, Andrea finds a stray baby bottle on the roadside and looks at it, almost scared. Carl (Chandler Riggs) and Carol’s daughter Sophia (Madison Lintz) stay off to the side, but Lori tells her son to stay within sight. It feels like being on the edge of a cliff and waiting to drop off the side.
First, some walkers wander close to the area where everyone is scavenging. Not just some: a ton. A horde of them, extending back along the highway. Everybody does their best to hide, going underneath the cars, as Dale lays flat on top of the R.V. with Andrea inside on the floor. The massive pack of living dead shambles on ahead with the survivors attempting to stay quiet, and out of the reach or bite of the walkers. T-Dog gets himself a nasty, deep cut, which puts him in jeopardy while Andrea gets stuck in the motorhome bathroom with a zombie just outside, clawing to find her. I won’t spoil everything; an intense and at times pretty creepy, scary sequence.
When Sophia runs into the woods with zombies after her, Rick heads in. He ends up asking her to hide while he takes care of the walkers. Only when he goes back for the girl she isn’t there. For all he does, Rick is a good man. Now this one time, trying to help someone, it sort of backfires on him. Will that affect his standing in the group? Will people doubt him? They’re all searching now, hoping to find Sophia before the worst imaginable thing happens.
Rick clearly takes the guilt on himself. Perhaps he should in a sense, but he only tried to help, to do the best he could. And still there’s doubt in his own mind. He and Daryl go so far as to sift through the guts of zombies to try and determine if Sophia was eaten. He willingly dives into them, as if trying to make himself sure that he will do what it takes. In any and all cases. Back on the road, Rick has to tell Carol they still can’t find Sophia. The night is coming and the search has to stop, though, it does nothing to make her mother feel better.
Next morning Rick heads out again to search. Andrea and Dale are at odds; he won’t give her back the gun, afraid she has a death wish and wants to commit suicide. She only resents Dale for making her essentially save him at the CDC, after he stayed put with her. Sad to see, as Dale only felt a connection to her and didn’t want Andrea giving up on life. For now, Dale is left behind with T-Dog who awkwardly tries to pretend he didn’t hear everything.
Out in the woods, Shane is still playing would-be-dad with Carl. Except he’s acting like a child himself, wounded from his semi-relationship with Lori. This causes strain on them all. Everybody stumbles onto a tent in the woods, hoping maybe Sophia found her way into it during the night. No such luck. And so on they press.
At one point they find a church. Inside are only zombies, sitting in the congregation. Up they rise, not for a sermon, but for human flesh. Easily taken down, though, it is a super creepy scene. Along with a nice couple zombie kills and excellently executed makeup effects, as always. This series really gives us a lot of good stuff in that sense, with the makeup wizards at KNB – Howard Berger and Greg Nicotero – showing us their skills. They consistently do expert and fascinating work, from television to the big screen.
What happens afterwards is Andrea hears a conversation between Shane and Lori. An intimate one about their relationship, as Shane discusses leaving the group, striking out on his own. What will that bring about? More importantly, Carol has to bear the loss of her daughter. It’s likely the girl won’t survive on her own, yet still there is hope. Watching Carol have to deal with Sophia lost in the wilderness is touching, breaks the heart. And Andrea, she wants to leave with Shane. She wants to get away: “I see two people who don‘t belong,” Andrea tells him.
With some heading one way, Rick wants to stay put for now. For Sophia.
Rick has a heart to heart with a statue of Jesus in the church. He’s looking for a sign, an “indication I‘m doing the right thing“. I’m personally not a follower of any faith, but I love this scene. To know Rick has a deep faith of any sort, something to keep him going is interesting. It isn’t just his family, his wife and child. He has a deeper purpose in life, or so that’s what he feels. The contrast between him and Shane has never been more evident: “Get whatchu needed?” Shane asks Rick after the latter comes out of the church. I don’t believe in God, but those who follow, especially silently and faithfully, I admire and say: do as you will. Here, we see Shane is a lawless man and lacking in morals, even though before the fall of the world he worked as police officer. The divide between him and Rick is huge.
As the rest of the group moves on, Lori makes a passionate speech about Rick, hoping to take away some of the bad feelings, if any, about her husband over Sophia being lost. Although, I’m pretty sure most of those people realize how essential Rick is already. Even in Season 2. They’ll damn sure learn it better as time progresses.
The end of this episode is a shocking, brutal shot in the dark – almost literally. Carl is hit with an errant bullet that was headed for a deer. In the middle of the woods, cut off from society as it is to begin with in the zombie apocalypse, Rick and Shane panic as Carl begins to bleed out.
Excited to watch and review the second Season 2 episode, “Bloodletting”. Things are intense right off the bat with this season and it gets better with each passing episode. Stay with me, fellow fans!
Deanna is losing control. Maggie insists on going to look for Glenn.