In my last post, I complained rather loudly about the fact that none of the women seemed to have any balls, that they were all whiny scream queens doing little more than laundry while hiding behind the menfolk. I should’ve just waited a few days. On Sunday night, I was thrilled to see Andrea had gained control over her new skill. (Did you see that grouping she shot in the “o” on the “No Trespassing” sign during target practice?) She is well on her way to becoming the sharpshooter known and loved by readers of the graphic novels. All I can say about this development is HOORAY! Whiny, angst-ridden Andrea has begun to fade; she’s found her inner warrior now. Once her bad judgment issues are resolved, she’ll finally be of real use to the group.
Andrea’s sexual aggression with Shane showed she’s not stopped at being able to defend herself and the group; she’s taken more control of everything. Why the two of them hooked up has been of great interest to fans online. I believe the reasons Andrea took matters into her own hands with Shane are multiple: 1) The rush of power after proving that you’ve perfected a new skill, especially when releasing so much pain and rage in the process, can be a huge aphrodisiac; 2) Violence and sex can become very intertwined for us humans, especially when our emotions are already in overdrive; 3) Bad Boy Syndrome: even though or perhaps because he’s such a dick, Shane reeks of sexuality. Of course, he was the perfect target for Andrea’s, uh, affections. 4) When we are forced to stare death in the face, we cling even more to that which makes us feel alive. What makes you feel alive more than sex? It is the very act that can lead to life after all. This is something I’ve said for years and that was hinted at during Lori’s conversation Dale when she said she was with Shane because she needed to “feel something, anything.”
But Andrea isn’t the only one to grow a set. We saw even the minor female characters of Patricia and Beth as well as Carl grow some balls too in regard to firearms training. They, and even Herschel with his aversion to guns saw the importance of being able to defend themselves and the people around them. It’s about time.
This was not only the “grow a set” episode; it was also the “get things off your chest” episode. So many characters said things they’ve been thinking but keeping to themselves, both secrets and opinions. The most obvious example was Lori’s secrets, but I think the more important for far as character development were the things Dale said to Shane and Maggie’s ranting to Lori and Glenn.
Dale unloaded on Shane about the kind of man he believes Shane to be and that was the highlight of the show for me. Granted, it was because Dale didn’t like Shane and Andrea becoming involved and Dale probably needs to keep his nose out of most of the places he seems to be poking it. Still, he needed to know someone was on to him. Shane’s response, however, showed that he didn’t care. His character has been at a turning point for some time. The writers need to push him through it soon or it’s going to become the search for Sophia all over again. He needs to decide if he’s going to face off with Rick for control of the group and whether he’s going to accept that Lori chose her husband or continue his obsession with her and Carl. His decisions about those things will determine if he descends completely into madness or if he pulls himself back from that edge. Dale may have pushed him in one of those two directions.
Maggie found her voice as well and watching her stand up to Lori was priceless. It may have felt petty in some ways, but these are the day-to-day conflicts that would arise in such circumstances. Lori struck me from the beginning as spoiled. Maggie’s rant about Lori sending Glenn to get her “lotion and conditioner” showed us that Maggie, seeing Lori from outside the group, thinks of her this way too. Damn near becoming lunch for a walker certainly didn’t quell any of Maggie’s anger about the situation. Maggie’s shift in perspective about walkers was a big point in her character development and I think in the end it will make her character a stronger dramatic element. Her speech to Glenn emphasised that his place in the pecking order of the group is not fair. It was good to see him being told that the others don’t appreciate him for the intelligence and heart that he possesses. Let’s hope he remembers that. Maggie’s turning point about walkers and her verbalization about her view of Glenn are bound to bring conflict with her father. It may even act as a catalyst for her to go with the group when they leave the farm.
Lori and Rick’s scenes were interesting and made for good drama, but I didn’t see real character development in them. Rick stayed level-headed Rick when Lori confessed she’d been with Shane. Regardless of how much he may have figured out on his own, Rick reacted, unlike most men I know would have, no matter how reasonable they normally are. I wanted to see him lose it, yell at her, call her names, and tell her he didn’t care if she’d thought he was dead, but Rick disappointed me. Lori stayed hypocritical Lori when she went off on Rick for not telling her about Herschel’s expectation that the group leave soon while she still was keeping her own secrets from him. “I don’t understand how you could keep something like this from me.” Really, Lori? He should have given you every detail of this situation but you didn’t feel it necessary to tell him that you’re pregnant and the baby may not even be his? I’d thought earlier this season that I might be able to force a little sympathy for her, but that exchange killed it deader than one of Daryl’s squirrels.
And speaking of Daryl, no matter what I try to write about, he always seems to push his way to the front and demand my attention. This episode was no different. Although he was on screen for only 40 seconds - yes, I timed it - we saw a pretty significant leap forward for Daryl. When he told Andrea that he wasn’t holding it against her that she shot him since she was trying to protect the group, it indicated that he is focusing less on his ever-present anger and more on the group. (I can’t imagine the Daryl from season one taking such an event in stride.) Maybe Carol’s words did sink in and he is starting to see that people value him and that he is every bit as important as everyone else. I think Daryl’s assimilation into the group is important for his character to develop because if he continues to hold himself completely outside of it, he will never be able to become what he is capable of becoming. That said, I was still pleased to hear his parting shot to Andrea: “Next time you shoot me, you best pray I’m dead.” It shows that the writers are keeping his edges sharp. Good. We still need Daryl to be a badass.
I for one sincerely hope the forward momentum of character development we saw in this episode continues. After some dry, almost boring, episodes earlier this season, it was refreshing that the last two gave us so much meat to chew on. I am concerned, however, that after what is promising to be an excellent mid-season finale next week, things will drop off again and we’ll have less high drama to entertain us when the show returns in February.