As always, this entry will be filled with spoilers.
So, a number of dangling plot threads were resolved in this episode, including the missing little girl and precisely what the hell the gang was planning to do with the walkers in the barn. Plus, we learned that Shane is the master of the Angry Walk.
In brief recap, everyone was all angry at everyone else as news of the barn's inhabitants was spread by Glenn to the rest of the group. Shane took the knowledge somewhat personally, as he did the knowledge of Lori's pregnancy (which might be his, but it's not like they have DNA testing available to them or anything), and took it upon himself to verbally emasculate Dale in the process of taking all of the available guns that the group has, and finally putting an end to the barn nonsense by knocking it open and encouraging the rest of the group to shoot its inhabitants, despite the fact that Herschel still believed they could somehow be saved. Despite what the rest of the internet would lead you to believe, it didn't feel especially "explosive" or "shocking." I was mostly just surprised that Shane decided to use all that ammo rather than simply burn the barn down.
It was an interesting episode, even if it didn't have quite the cliffhanger that I had hoped it would - it was good to finally (finally) get some resolution to the missing-girl quandary (and I have to admit that I didn't see it coming), but on the flip side, it appears that we're in line for at least another episode on the farm when the show comes back. I was somewhat hoping that the last episode before the break would end up with the group finally picking up stakes and heading off to some new adventure, but alas, it wasn't meant to be. I'm not sure I can take another half-season all spent on the farm, though, so hopefully the group will be moving on as soon as possible when the show comes back in February. (You can check the name of the next episode on AMC's website if you want a clue as to what might be coming next.)
Again, it's interesting that the Shane/Rick dynamic has played out like it has: while Shane might be a bit of an asshole, and doesn't precisely make his points as eloquently as he could, he is still kindasorta right about risking everyone's lives on a search that was ultimately futile, as well as kowtowing to Herschel's wishes with regards to the walkers in the barn. Rick's ultimate decision to shoot a little girl zombie in the head will likely go pretty far in regards to confirming his leadership potential with the rest of the group, though, which all seemed to be a little phased by Shane's fireworks.
Still...still. I can't help but think that establishing this entire first half of the season around the search for a character no one really cared about anyway wasn't a fantastic idea; it gave the group time to pause and wrestle with one another, but it felt like an excuse to cheapen the production values of the show to bring them in line with an AMC budget that is now perhaps too restrictive to let the show live and breathe as a zombie drama; it feels like it's now more something along the lines of a drama, with zombies included. I know that there's been plenty of discussion in these recaps this year about whether or not the show is about zombies first and foremost or whether it should be about the characters, and perhaps this season has been a bit of a corrective to the non-stop survival questions raised in the first season. Still, I'd like the shift a bit more if I actually cared a bit about these characters, and for the most part I still find that somewhat difficult to do.
I'm not sure precisely what the correction there is except perhaps to clean house a bit and find a way to introduce some new characters, and I suspect that that's what they'll do next season. If the last six episodes have taught us anything, it's that this isn't a show that breathes well on stasis: things need to shift and move around a bit, in ways beyond just the interpersonal. Hopefully they'll do something along those lines in the next half-season, even if we have to wait three months to find out.
What did you think of the "mid-season finale," as AMC called this episode? Hit the right notes? Do you have February 12th marked in on your calendar, or are you just as likely not coming back to see how things shake out?