Monday, February 27, 2012

The Walking Dead Season Two, Episode Ten: 18 Miles Out

The episode begins with Rick confronting Shane about Otis, who claims that one of them wasn't going to survive. Shane asks if Rick thinks that he can keep, Lori, Carl or his baby safe, and Rick says that he is not the good guy anymore, and that to save Carl's life, that he would do anything.  Rick warns Shane that he is not going to be dangerous to anyone anymore.  "You don't love her, you think you do, but you don't. Now the only way you and me keep on is that you accept everything I just said right here, right now and we move forward with that understanding," Rick says. 

Shane says that he tried to get Rick but he couldn't. He tells him that in the hospital, the military was shooting civilians. "Lori and Carl kept me alive, and I want you to know that I didn't look at her before like that, and if I could take it all back I would," Shane says.

This whole exchange was very much a pissing contest between the two men.  Though Shane seemed very much like he regretted his relationship with Lori, that man is not to be trusted.  If he was so sorry, he would have admitted to Rick that he tried to rape Lori when she rejected him. 

Back at the farm, Maggie talks with Lori about Glenn. It seems that Glenn is still not himself.  "Men are going to blame the little woman for the reason they do, or they reason they don't, and we're just trying to keep it together until they come back.  If you have nothing to apologize for, tell him to man up and put himself together, just don't say man up, Lori advises.

In these two scenes we can see the clear division between men and women in this series.  It seems that if the world goes to hell, gender roles become even further entrenched.  The little women stay home and the men go out and face danger. Instead of carrying clubs, the men carry guns and knives.

She who has taken to her bed (read:Beth) is finally awake. When Lori goes to Beth's room to check on  her, Beth says, "You're pregnant, how could you do that?" Lori answers that she doesn't have a choice, and leaves the room. Great, and now we have she who has taken to her bed, believing that she has the right to question.  Is there a woman on this show who is not going to throw in her two cents about Lori's pregnancy? Beth may well be worried about the state of the world, but the writers did not have to include this question. It's policing, and just because they put these words into the mouth of a female character, doesn't make them any more appropriate.

Shane notices that they have gone more than 18 miles, and Rick says that he is looking for a place to give Randall a fair shot. Rick pulls into the Merit County Public Works, and decides that this is the place. They notice a walker, and Shane goes to shoot, but Rick draws his knife slices his finger to attract the walker and then sticks a knife through his brain. They cut through the chain link fence and start looking for supplies. Rick sees a pile of burned bodies as Shane climbs on a school bus.  There looks to be sheets and blankets, almost like someone was living there at one point. 

Rick is siphoning off fuel, when Shane calls him back to examine two bodies who are coincidentally two former police officers, and notices that there are no bite marks. Rick tells him that there have to be scratches. I get the imagery of the two cops lying together in death but it feels a bit forced to me; however, this makes me wonder, if they are taking a page out of the comics, and have everyone who dies turn into a walker?

Lori checks on she who has taken to her bed, and discovers that Beth is crying.  Lori tells her that she knows how hard it is, and that she tried for days to get her own mom on the phone. Lori reminds she has taken to her bad that she has Maggie, Hershel, Patrica and Jimmy, and that she's gotta stay strong for them. "I wish I could promise that it will be alright,"  Lori says as she gives her a plate of food and leaves  When Lori returns to the kitchen, she realizes that she who has taken to her bed, still has the knife and walks back into the bedroom to collect it. Once she gets the knife back, Lori runs out and asks Andrea to find Maggie.

They undo Randall's bindings and he says that he can't make it alone, and that he lost people like they did. In desperation Randall says that he went to school with Maggie, but when Rick and Shane walk back, he admits that Maggie didn't know him or that he existed. "There is no way I would do anything to hurt her or her family. I'm not like the guys I was with," Randall says.  Shane tells Rick that Randall knows where the farm is, and he grabs a gun to shoot him, but Rick pushes him out of the way. Shane is livid over Ricks actions, and asks when he is going to deal with this. Rick says when I have had a chance to think about it, and then he says they're going back, and that he needs a night to think it through. Shane reminds him that Randall shot at him, and that Rick is bringing Randall back to his family. Shane says that the right choice, is the one that keeps us alive.  Rick tells him to stop acting like he knows the way ahead, and that he knows the rules. Finally, Shane says he doesn't think that he can keep them safe, and a fight breaks out. As the two men grapple, Randall spies the knife and starts to crawl towards it. 

When it is clear that Rick is the victor, Shane throws a tire iron throw a window, alerting the walkers to their presence. Rick throws a walker over his body to hide, and Shane has to take off running.  For someone who is so concerned about the walkers, it appears that Shane is not thinking clearly.  Didn't Rick make a point of telling him at the beginning of the episode that they need to be quiet?

Maggie tells she has taken to her bed that "this isn't just about you, we all lost mom". Downstairs, Andrea and Lori listen to them fighting.  Lori tells her that this is a family affair.  Andrea says that Lori shouldn't have taken the knife away, and that it was like Dale taking the gun. "She has to choose for herself to live, she doesn't need to be yelled at it and treated like a child".  Really? So in a zombie apocalypse, life no longer becomes precious, and it's okay to just let someone kill themselves. The idea that agency is not important when it comes to pregnancy, but it's okay to let people choose to die, sends a very strong message about gender.

The conversation suddenly shifts and it becomes about domestic duties. Lori tells Andrea that it's  a burden on everyone, and that she does nothing but guard, while she is working on her tan. Lori says they (read: the women) are providing stability, trying to make a life worth living. Andrea counters claiming that Lori is self centered, and takes it all for granted. Lori says that her husband is out there.  Andrea replies that the rest of us have piled up the losses, and that Lori is laying down the rules for everyone but herself. She points out that she has a baby, her son and her husband. 

I have to say that Andrea has a point about the fact that Lori does have a lot of good fortune; however, reducing Lori for the domestic labor that she does is absolutely wrong.  Whether Andrea would like to admit it or not, the fact that Lori and other women are willing to do the cooking, the washing and the cleaning makes Andrea's life easier.  I also believe that it is worth saying that Lori would never have made this accusation about working on a tan to a man. Dale, Glenn and T. Dog (when they allow him on camera), spend as much time watching for walkers, and yet none of them are expected to do any domestic labour. Andrea's attitude with regard to domestic labour shows the internalization of patriarchal ideal.  The division of labour on the farm is not equal, no matter how much guarding is going on.  The very least she could do is acknowledge the reciprocity of the labour without reducing it.

Upstairs, Maggie tells she who has taken to her bed, that mom would be ashamed to admit she raised such a coward.  When Maggie tells her that she can't take another funeral, Beth says we should be do it at the same time. "It would be our choice and then it would be over." Fuck, really, this is the only choice given women?  I really resent the language of agency and choice, while at the beginning of the episode there was so much shaming for Lori's pregnancy and earlier in the season her consideration of abortion.  Rick outright asserted that she shouldn't have an abortion, but hey, women have so many choices in The Walking Dead universe.  She who has taken to her bed, doesn't want to wait until the farm is over run.  Beth say, "we are all alone, and the others will save their family first". Beth goes on to say that she doesn't want to be gutted, and that she wants to die in this bed tonight with Maggie beside her. 

Andrea knocks on the door and tell Maggie, "you can't sit on top of her". Andrea sends Maggie to wash up and get something to eat, and promises to stay with Beth.  Andrea opens the door and asks Beth if this is what she wants. Andrea says, "the pain doesn't go away, you just make room for it," and walks out of the room, leaving the door open.

Shane is trapped in the school bus, and Randall tries to convince Rick to leave him there.  Shane watches from the bus as they leave. The look on his face is priceless.  It seems that leaving someone behind for your own personal survival is only a good thing when it comes to Shane.  I don't know about you, but I didn't even get my hopes up about him being killed off, because IMBD says we are stuck with him for the rest of the season.

When Maggie goes back to the room, she finds Beth has locked herself in the bathroom. Maggie hears a crash like glass breaking and begins to panic. Lori wedges the door open, to find that Beth has slit her wrist. 

Rick goes back to the corpses of the two police officers.  I suppose this is to remind Rick that he and Shane are BFFS.  Rick gets to the car and drives around to the back of the bus, picking Shane up. Randall drives off as the walkers stumble after them. This scene also includes the best walker kill of the night - the car using a walker as a speed bump.

Andrea comes back to the house, and asks how Beth is doing.  Andrea says Beth wants to live, and that she made her decision. When she goes to enter the house, Maggie tells her to stay away and that she shouldn't step foot inside the house again, as Andrea walks off.  Lori says I'm not going to say that she was right, but Beth made her choice, she wants to live and now she knows it. Really? Yeah, yet another great framing of choice.

Rick and Shane blindfold Randall again.  Rick says to Shane, "if you want to kill me, you're going to have to better than a wrench.  It can't be that easy killing someone, killing anyone - you know that.  That's my wife, that is my son, that is my child. If you're going to be with us, you have to follow my lead, you've gotta trust me". He says, "it's time for you to come back," and Rick hands Shane a gun.  This makes absolutely no sense to me.  I guess they're trying to tell us that Rick is a better man than Shane; however, Rick has said that he will do anything to protect his family, and his actions seem to be a direct contradiction of that.  He should never have gone back for Shane, and he most certainly should not have given him back a gun.  Given what he knows about Ottis, if the situation were reversed, you can bet Shane who should be dead, would have left Rick to rot and it seems to me that Rick didn't consider that fact clearly.