Last week’s episode ‘Chupacabra’ was a standout episode because it delved heavily into Daryl (Norman Reedus), but TVangie and I had issues with the secondary storylines, particularly Glenn’s (Steven Yuen) and Andrea’s (Laurie Holden). This week focused on both of these secondary characters, almost as though the showrunners knew what we were thinking. Maybe we should stop reviewing television and work as fortune tellers?
A full breakdown of ‘Secrets’ is coming up…
Let’s start off with a statement: I thoroughly enjoyed last night’s episode because it felt like the show is finally figuring out how to tell engaging stories utilizing the majority of its large cast. Sure some characters like T-Bone /Bag/Pain (IronE Singleton) and Carol (Melissa Suzanne McBride) remain human wallpaper, but ‘Secrets’ did an excellent job of giving most everyone something to do.
The bulk of the episode did not focus on, as expected, last week’s cliffhanger of Herschel’s (Scott Wilson) walkers in the barn. In fact it was only referenced in a few scenes. One occurred early on and proved to be one of the weaker moments for an otherwise solid episode. Maggie (Lauren Cohan) told Glenn to keep the secret to himself as though it was obvious why he shouldn’t tell anyone. This was one of those times when you wished a character on television would react like a normal human being and ask why, but Glenn just agreed without any questions. As a viewer, this as Very Frustrating (please note the capitalizations).
There was really only one scene of note regarding the barn, which was when Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn) not so subtlely referenced the imprisoned walkers to Herschel. DeMunn, who in this episode acquired some more screentime, nailed all of his scenes this week (the others were with Lori and Shane (Jon Bernthal)). Here Dale put Herschel on the spot for keeping the walkers around and, as I anticipated last week, Herschel confirmed that they are members of the community, including his wife and stepson. Of note was the way that both Herschel and Maggie continue to see the zombies as humans. Dale didn’t let Herschel off the hook, however, explaining that they’re no longer people. The scene ended with a nice bit of foreshadowing: Herschel told Dale that he could “help” by saying nothing and confirmed that while he thinks Rick (Andrew Lincoln) is a man of conscience, he isn’t sure about everyone else in their group.
This ominous statement was addressed in one of the two main storylines: the burgeoning relationship between Andrea and Shane. After everyone and their dog decided to learn how to shoot, Shane takes a shine to Andrea and her sharpshooting skills (it seems she’s improved since last week when she could only graze Daryl). Rick suggests that Shane move Andrea to intermediate level, which is apparently bro-code for shooting a moving target. Shane, however, takes things too far in his attempt to force Andrea to focus when he references the death of her sister. Andrea stalks off, forcing Shane to follow her in his sweet new ride and convince her to accompany him on a little trip to the suburbs (the bit on the highway was a little too rom-com to me, with Andrea’s haughty refusal to get into the car standing in for a lovers spat in the third act of anything starring Katherine Heigl). Shane claimed that he had a lead on Sophia – who shall be heretofore be referred to as the MacGuffin – so they make their way to an abandoned house with a pile of extra crispy bodies in the garage. This was a strange detour as it was never clear why Shane thought MacGuffin might be hiding in the house, but it did provide a nice opportunity for Andrea to quell her nerves and successfully pull off a few headshots in the zombie horde that attacked them. After that all that was left to do was have dirty car sex (Sidenote: They would both smell really bad, so eww…).
When Shane and Andrea returned to camp and Dale saw that their dynamic was different, he manned up and told Shane that maybe the time was right for him to hit the road. What followed was a tense stand-off as Dale questioned Shane about the night Otis was killed, and even brought up the moment in season 1 when he came upon Shane preparing to shoot Rick in the woods. Shane, being all muscle and very little brains, threatened to silence Dale and stalked off. It’s becoming increasingly clear that not only are battle lines being drawn between Rick and Shane for leadership of the group, but that Shane’s disintegrating morality will be a key factor in determining the group’s future. Could he be the one that gets them booted from the farm?
The other main storyline focused on Lori’s pregnancy. These scenes was often more emotional, and provided some good moments for both Lori and Glenn. After spilling the beans to Dale about both the walkers in the barn and Lori’s pregnancy, Glenn offered to make another pharmacy run for Lori. It was there that Maggie confronted him about spilling the beans and when she saw their shopping list, she became even more upset. At least until she was attacked in an obvious “here it comes” that was nevertheless effective. By keeping the framing on Laurie Cohen’s face and her hands as she searched through the racks, the show really built up tension so that when a hand shot out to grab her wrist, it still caused a nice jump, even though you knew it was coming. Glenn turned into an action hero to save his lady-love and smashed the zombie’s head in with a board before finishing it off with a half dozen blows to head (overkill Glenn!).
Maggie was incredibly shook up – it’s becoming increasingly clear that the farm crew has led a pretty sheltered life so these kind of attacks are pretty jarring. Now, that doesn’t mean that she was in the right for ripping into Lori when she and Glenn returned to camp, but it was pretty fun to hear someone cuss Lori out for being a self-centered bitch. Glenn calmed Maggie down afterwards, but not before she addressed what many of us thought a few weeks ago when the group encountered the well zombie: why is the group so comfortable sacrificing Glenn for these kinds of tasks? She tells him that he’s a leader and that the group doesn’t want him to realize it because to them he’s simply “walker bait.” This is the second week in a row when an outsider has reminded a secondary character that their position in the group is expendable (the first was Merle to Darryl last week).
The episode ended with Lori and Rick spilling all their secrets after Rick finds the abortion pills Glenn brought her. She took the pills, then reconsidered and vomited them out in the woods. When Rick confronted her, they had another conversation reminiscent of their bedside chat a few weeks ago when it appeared Carl might die: is it fair to raise a child in a world without hope. It’s harder for Lori to consider having the baby because it won’t have any joyful memories – she has many because she’s an adult, but she’s already fearful that Carl’s are slipping away and that the baby won’t have any. Rick is just pissed that she didn’t tell him, but surprisingly handles the news of her affair with Shane with resignation that she thought he was dead. I’m not sure if I was expecting fireworks when the truth came out, but the way it’s been handled, it was always clear to me that it was something Lori fell into unintentionally after she, Carl (Chandler Riggs) and Shane left Rick behind in the coma. What happens when Rick and Shane meet up next, however, may not be calm…
- Andrea gave Daryl a book in his only scene of the evening, The Case of the Missing Man. There’s very little information out there about the book, though there is a movie with the same name about a photojournalist who accidentally takes a picture of a jewel robbery and lays a trap for the criminals. Significant or no? (Generally when shows make the title of books or movies obvious, there’s an allegory in play, but that may just be conditioning from years of watching Lost)
- Was anyone else wondering what the hell Carl was doing out of bed, much less joining the others at the gun range? Didn’t this kid have major invasive surgery about three days ago? Umm…continuity issue
- Shane telling Andrea that she shoots “like a girl”: Misogynistic or no? I’m not fond of blanket statements, so this one felt needlessly stupid. Was it simply to reinforce that Shane is a dumbass who doesn’t know when he’s being inappropriate?
- Was the situation with the barn handled the way you expected or do you think the zombie shit will hit the fan once Rick finds out?
- Were you happy that so many secrets came out? For me, this was reminiscent of last week’s episode of Homeland when all the cards were laid on the table. I think it’s exciting when a show pays out on a storyline because it’s also a stepping stone to future conflict, and in this band of survivors, keeping secrets is apt to get them killed.
As a reminder, we’re in spoiler free territory, so please refrain from discussing future episodes of the show or what occurs in the graphic novels.