Shane was wandering around the Greene Family Farm modeling a set of oversized overalls that made him look like a cartoon farmer. The clothes used to belong to Otis, the man he donated to hungry zombies last week. So it would be an understatement to say that Shane did not look particularly happy to be attending Otis’ funeral. Hershel Greene offered a kind eulogy for the man, noting that he “gave his life to save a child, now more than ever our most precious asset.” (All considering, in a zombie apocalypse, I’d value a child behind a chainsaw and a flamethrower.) Then he asked Shane to say a few words. Otis’ crying girlfriend begged Shane to share her man’s final moments.
Shane sighed, and came up on the spot with a story of elaborate heroism. “I was limping. It was bad. ‘We gotta save the boy.’ That’s what he said. He gave me his backpack. ‘Run,’ he said, ‘I’ll take the rear.’ And when I looked back…” Here Shane trailed off, and his murderer’s guilt was a perfect imitation of survivor’s guilt. “If not for Otis, I’d have never made it out alive. And that goes for Carl, too. It was Otis. He saved us both.” Shane set a stone on top of Otis’ memorial.
That was such a bleak, darkly funny, morally ambiguous sequence. It was also the undeniable high point of the episode, which quickly settled back into the narrative paralysis that is starting to plague The Walking Dead. We were reminded in last night’s episode that only three days have passed so far in this second season. That episode-a-day format can be incredible: In very different ways, Deadwood and Lost used that slow pace to give the viewer an uncannily detailed, you-are-there portrait of the formation of a community on the edge of civilization. And at its best, Walking Dead suggests a perfect narrative compromise between Lost‘s paranoid thrills and Deadwood‘s philosophical inquiry.
At its worst, though, we’re left with yet another episode of Daryl Dixon going into the woods to search for Sophia; yet another long-winded discussion about the possibility of religion in an apocalyptic landscape; yet another tease of zombie danger that results in zero casualties. There was a tiny inkling of interpersonal drama early in the episode, when the benevolent patriarch Hershel declared his farm a weapons-free zone. You might have expected that the survivors — let’s call them the Grimes Gang — would have revolted against that, considering all the times they’ve been besieged by the undead. But Rick quickly agreed, although he asked Hershel to promise to set a lookout.
Maggie, Hershel’s daughter, announced that she was going to run to town to visit the local pharmacy. Rick suggested she bring along Glenn, “our go-to-town expert.” Maggie walked over to Glenn. She was wearing a Farmers’ Daughter cowboy hat and a pair of serious-looking boots, and she said, “I hear you’re fast on your feet and know how to get in and out.” We have exclusive footage of Glenn’s reaction here:
Meanwhile, that devilish daredevil Daryl Dixon was setting off on the Neverending Sophia Search. Rick offered to help him, but he explained, “I’m better on my own,” which I view as a meta-commentary on the fact that Daryl clearly deserves his own show or at least a spin-off web series. Hershel off-handedly mentioned to Rick that his gang couldn’t live on the farm forever. “I expect you’ll move on,” said Hershel. “We need to be clear on that.” Rick had a vision of zombie herds on the freeway and started to make a plea for citizenship.
NEXT: Feeling a little bit bloated.