SPOILERS AHOY, AS ALWAYS: So, now, a dozen episodes into the season, everyone on the farm seems to realize that hey, there are zombies out there, and maybe we should try to protect ourselves from them! It’s another instance of a show that doesn’t always seem to want to act logically; the farm has been a place of solace, almost entirely free of zombies, for the entire season, and now, all of a sudden, just when the show needs a bit of drama or excitement, it’s made clear that it’s not all that safe of a place, after all, and now there are hordes of zombies ready to bear down on the group. What changed?
Well, the death of Dale obviously acted as an impetus for beefing up security, but it’s still funny how no one thought it was worth maybe fortifying a bit earlier in the season, and funnier still how zombies simply don’t show up on the land unless it’s convenient for them to do so. Obviously, this being a written drama, zombies can appear whenever a writer wishes to budget them into a script, and the existence of the farm as a sanctum sanctorum has allowed the writing staff to explore internal issues as a driving factor this season, but still, the notion of zombies being a danger only now gives the universe that those writers are building a distance from the feeling of death lurking around every corner which it had in season one.
Those internal issues of course rotated around the persons of Shane and Rick, and came to a head in a moonlit showdown between the pair at the end of this episode. Shane’s portrayal has been somewhat inconsistent this season, varying between murderous and merely unsteady, but his plot to finish off Rick had a sick kind of logic to it: break the prisoner, Darrell, free from his cell, lead him out into the woods, claim that he’s armed, break off with Rick to hunt him down, and shoot him, leading everyone to believe that Darrell was the one who did it. It’s a smart plan, even if the director of the show pushed Jon Bernthal a bit too far into snarling, serial-killer mode.
The denouement also had some nice twists on the way Shane exited the comics; there, he was shot by Carl as he and Rick had an argument, which the writers here turned around into Carl shooting zombie-Shane after Rick stabs him to death. As to how Carl managed to sneak into the woods, though...for all her talk at Andrea about helping out around the house and performing more womanly duties, you’d think that Lori would be able to keep an eye on her fucking kid when there’s theoretically an escaped convinct with a gun, not to mention a buttload of zombies, in the very near vicinity of the farm.
And so, exit Shane from the show. His character has been an interesting one this season: his opinions on the defense of the group and the cut-throat, us-first need for survival are valid, which could’ve led to some interesting debates on the part of the group, but his portrayal as a barely-sane rapist/murderer have always seemed to make those debates a bit less impactful than they otherwise would’ve been. It’s fine for the writers to want to make this season about the group’s internal dynamics before focusing on external threats in Season 3, but making Shane such an obvious villain has always seemed to enervate those conflicts rather than intensifying them.
With him and Dale out of the way, it’s clear that we’ll have a tighter, leaner group fighting against the enemies of Season Three, the identities of which were spoiled by some casting news not too long ago. Now we only have one more episode to go, and as it’s the season finale, it’s pretty clear that we’re going to have a decent body-count. Who do you think is on the outs?