February 27, 2015 at 07:53 PM EST

The Walking Dead

TV Show
Drama, Horror, Thriller
run date
Andrew Lincoln, Lauren Cohan, Danai Gurira, Norman Reedus

Rick seemed satisfied with their conversation. He started talking plans. He told Shane his big idea about using knives instead of guns to take down the walkers. He noted that the arrival of winter might make their life easier, freezing the undead in their tracks. Shane wasn’t listening. He’s not a man who’s built for the brutal banality of governing. He’s a soldier. He looked out the window and saw a lonely walker ambling through the tall grass.

Rick and Shane took Randal to a schoolyard, because apparently the only buildings in this particular corner of the world are farms, taverns, and schools. They left him tied up, dropping a knife a few crawls away. He begged them not to leave him on his own, and dropped a bombshell: He went to school with Maggie. Which means he knows how to find the farm. Shane said, and I quote, “Kill kill kill kill!.” Rick said, and I quote, “Bwuh bwuh bwuh, um, waffle waffle waffle, [sad trombone sound].” Like all good schoolyard debates, it ended in a fight.

Walking Dead has an mix track record when it comes to staging action scenes. The freeway zombie-herd that kickstarted this season was awesome, but the Shane-Otis gym escape looked exactly like a bad Syfy movie  — Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus, but without the poignance. But I gotta give the show props: The Shane/Rick fight was great, a brilliantly extended scuffle that started out with an air of boys-will-be-boys pettiness but quickly escalated into something genuinely homicidal.

At one point, Shane threw a wrench at Rick, who narrowly dodged it. The wrench broke a window, and in the reflection, Shane saw himself. Blood pouring from his mouth, dead eyes staring blankly — he looked like a zombie. Now, you might argue that the only way to make that shot less subtle would have been for Shane to exclaim, “Holy crap, I’ve symbolically become a zombie!” But Walking Dead is at its best when it’s unsubtle — a fact that was immediately proven when a flood of walkers emerged out of the window, chomping for blood.

Rick killed one walker with a knife and then hid underneath it. Shane fled into a nearby school bus, slicing off the fingers of the grasping deadites. Randall took down one zombie with both his hands tied. There was a lot of impressive zombie-cide. Without question, though, Rick snagged the Zombie Kill of the Week prize when he put his gun in the mouth of a fallen walker and shot another walker through the first one’s head — all this while he was pinned down by the two walkers. It was sort of like a ménage a trois, except less awkward.

Rick grabbed Randall. He saw Shane in the school bus, hopelessly surrounded. He made a decision to leave Shane. This seemed to validate what Rick has been saying lately about being able to make the tough decisions to keep the peace.  But no, good ol’ Rick had an instant change of heart: He drove back into the schoolyard and grabbed Shane off the bus. Status quo: Maintained!

NEXT: Meanwhile, back in the zone of mediocrity

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