The Walking Dead Watch: 18 Miles Out

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Walking Dead fans (and critics) have spoken and it appears that the show’s producers might be listening. Much like last week’s episode, “18 Miles Out” began at a frenzied clip, this time with the kind of zombie swarming scene we haven’t seen since Shane sacrificed Otis in this season’s first half.

Last night’s episode started in the middle of a frantic scene, rolled the opening credits, then went back to the beginning to show us how we got to that endpoint. Immediately after the fade in, we’re treated to complete chaos, in some kind of compound with Rick fighting off three walkers while Shane is fleeing from another half dozen. Randall, the young man who last week impaled himself on a wrought iron fence, is crawling towards a knife, his hands tied behind his back. Just when Shane reaches the safety of a school bus and manages to pin the door closed, the walkers swarm, and we cut to the credits.

These are the kinds of scenes we love. Plenty of shows have drama. With The Walking Dead, when we’re lucky, we’re treated to that plus scuffles between zombies and humans that either end with torn flesh and lots of snarling or a bullet to the brain and spurts of black blood. It’s truly something to behold when done well.

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But this is more than just a horror series and we did have some plot housekeeping to take care of. After the credits, Rick pulls a car over on a country road and he and Shane walk into the middle of an empty intersection. It’s a fine place to chat — open lines of sight where they can spot any potential walkers from a mile away. Randall, our mysterious stranger whose leg is now healed, is in the back of the car, bound and blindfolded so he won’t know the way back to the farm. The plan is to take Randall 18 miles out and dump him, but first Rick wants to chat with Shane about the night Otis died.

This particular subplot — the ramifications of Shane’s decision to shoot Otis in the leg, leaving the big man to be torn to pieces in order that Shane could bring medical supplies back to the farm — has been festering for 6 episodes, not as long as the Sophia manhunt, but close. We seem to resolve it quickly. “One of us was going to make it out,” Shane says. “One shot to the leg and Carl lives.” Just like that, we’re back on the road.

When Rick and Shane hit the 18-mile mark, Rick spots a compound where they scrounge for supplies. Then after they dump Randall, he begins screaming anything that might prevent them from leaving him there. Finally he screams, “I went to high school with Maggie!” and suddenly Rick needs to think it over for the night before leaving Randall for dead. Shane, unhappy with this decision, draws to shoot Randall and then we have as good of a brawl as you’re likely to see on T.V. It’s not the greatest fight ever filmed, but it’s darn good. And just when it all calms down, a hand reaches out the window. First it’s one walker, then dozens, and Rick and Shane are in for some bad business

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The extended zombie battle, much like the parallel, but much slower action at the farm, finds a quick resolution. Glen Mazzara, the new showrunner, has promised that plots will be wrapped up more quickly. Shortly after Rick saves Shane, with Randall’s help, Rick makes Shane promise he’ll live under Rick’s rule. Shane agrees. Thankfully, whether he can keep that promise is a plot for another episode.

Zombie Kill Report: Our three imperiled heroes dispatch roughly a couple dozen zombies with the usual shots to the head and more than a few knife plunges to the skull. Our top kill of the week is a tie: When Rick has three zombies piled on him, he puts the gun in one dead zombie’s mouth, firing the bullet out the back of the head of a live walker; and Randall repeatedly stabbing a female walker in the head with the remarkably disgusting squishy sound over and over.

Most irritating scene: Lori and Andrea’s argument about whether Andrea contributes to the group. Lori is in favor of leaving the security and zombie fighting to the men folk — yet another reason she’s the show’s most annoying character. And it was very reckless, by the way, for Andrea to allow Beth to “decide to live” by nearly killing herself. Apocalypse or no apocalypse, sometimes our characters’ judgment is astoundingly poor.

Most exciting rumor from the Walking Dead universe: Several blogs and even a couple wires are reporting that AMC has tapped Brit David Morrissey to play The Governor in season 3. I have not read the graphic novels, but I’ve been told The Governor is the chief villain and one of the most important characters we have yet to met on the show. If half of the stories about him are true (and please don’t write any spoilers that deal with the comics in the comments below), we’re in for quite a ride. Can we go ahead and get the hell off this farm already?

What did you think of last night’s episode? Will the shaky alliance between our alpha males last?

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