In last week’s return of The Walking Dead, we learned a little more about the fate of the rest of the country: Ft. Benning is overrun with zombies. D.C. is as bad as Atlanta. And rumors remain about safe havens in Nebraska. But we were also introduced to good ol’-fashioned human-on-human violence.
Sure, Shane shot Otis and pounded Earl’s face in pretty good. But since the stand-off between groups of survivors in “Vatos” last season, the biggest danger posed by the living is that they’ll eat your food, sleep with your daughter and slaughter your walking dead relatives. For there to be a struggle between survivors, there must be something to fight over. In Atlanta, weapons were at a premium. But with only a handful of humans left and presumably more than one idyllic farmhouse in rural Georgia, we need to suspend a little more disbelief about the specialness of Hershel’s farm.
It’s a useful narrative device, though, as it leads to one more example of the difference between Rick and Shane—the main tension unfolding this season.
Trapped in the bar by friends of the two Philly boys they just gunned down, Rick, Glenn and quickly sobering-up Hershel find themselves in a shoot-out. As Glenn nearly takes a bullet, he finds himself frozen—afraid for his farm girl back home. But gunfire is like a dinner bell to the walkers and the rival group retreats. Their sniper jumps down from a roof to get away, but impales his leg on a fence in the process. And here, Rick shows the kind of man he is.
Shane, meanwhile, is off to once-again save Lori—and once-again lie to her. After she quite able dispatches a pair of walkers with whatever happens to be within reach (badass Lori!), he finds her on the road and tells her Rick is safely back at the camp.
Shane’s love for Lori and his desire for a return to those heady post-apocalyptic, pre-return-of-Rick days has turned into a downright obsession. And now that Lori is pregnant with what he believes to be his baby, he believes heading the Grimes family is his right. Every action he’s taken has been to preserve Lori and Carl at the expense of anyone else. And Rick’s latest decision—to save the kid who’d been shooting at them by bringing him back blindfolded to the camp—is his latest failing as their protector.
Those of us who have purposely avoided the graphic novels can only guess at an impending showdown between the former partners. But walkers no longer seem like Rick’s biggest problem this season.