When you’re a fan of “The Walking Dead,” you have to accept some trade-offs. If you want an exciting episode, one where the ragtag gang of zombie apocalypse survivors do more than just ruminate and furrow their brows, you have to accept some amount of plot holes in with your story development. And last night’s next-to-last episode of the second season had plenty of holes… and not just the one that Rick (Andrew Lincoln) created in Shane’s (Jon Bernthal) gut.
Yes, we all knew this was coming, but we weren’t sure how: Shane is no longer among the living. Thanks to both AMC and Frank Darabont‘s casting leaks, we figured it would happen during the final two episodes. We also thought that having Shane go out in a flurry of walker attacks wasn’t quite going to cut it as an exit for a character that has turned from good ol’ boy buddy to Rick to a supposedly “crazy” loose cannon who actually turned out to be more right about things than the rest of the brooding gang. No, an epic battle between “good” (Rick) and “evil” (Shane) seemed to be the proper way to send Shane off.
But, until he led Randall (Michael Zegen) into the woods and broke his neck, all as part of a plot to draw Rick out and kill him, was Shane really evil? That’s the problem with this entire season of “TWD”; we seem to have personalities that shift faster than what we’ve seen from the kids on “Glee.” It seems to be the only time during the entire second season when Shane was truly whackadoodle was right before he died; wouldn’t it have been better if we saw him slowly go crazy instead of make way too much sense?
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Speaking of not making much sense, why did Shane lead Rick all through the woods, only to bring him to a clearing that’s so close to the farm of Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson) that Rick’s young-and-dumb son Carl (Chandler Riggs) was able to wander out there with the gun that he wanted to give up a few hours before, but now all of a sudden can use like a pro?
And where did all those walkers in the woods come from, streaming out of the woods in the final shot after they heard Carl finally put Shane — who popped right back up as a zombie after being gutted by Rick — come from? Sure, the river beds and swamps are drying up as we push into autumn, but you’d think all the shooting we heard earlier in the season would have motivated a few of them to wade through the muck, like the walker who got Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn) after Carl taunted him.
As for Shane — and Randall, for that matter — becoming zombies without getting bitten, we got a reference to that in “18 Miles Out,” when Shane and Rick saw the guards where they were going to dump Randall had no bites on them, either, even though they had become walkers. Something tells us that either the virus that creates zombies is dormant in everyone until they die, which the gang is only finding out now, or something even more sinister is going to be discovered. Maybe something along those lines is what Dr. Jenner whispered to Rick as the gang was about to flee the CDC.
Either way, it’s something to pay attention to as we move towards next week’s season finale, as the farm gets overrun by walkers. Who will survive? Will Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) be Lady Macbeth again or nice and apologetic, as she was to Shane right before he finally lost his mind? Will T-Dogg (IronE Singleton) get even more lines than the three he got this week? We’re looking forward to finding out.