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TV Diary | The Walking Dead: “Triggerfinger”

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TV Diary | The Walking Dead – Episode 2.09 – “Triggerfinger” – Original Airdate: 2/19/12

Episode Grade: A-

After seeing “Triggerfinger,” I’m convinced of one thing [1]: Shane isn’t making it out of this second season alive. The devolution of the Shane character – which one could argue began with his brutal beating of Carol’s abusive husband in season one’s “Frogs” – has been one of the most intriguing things to watch play out in this bifurcated second season. Watching Shane alienate one person after another [2] even as Andrea and T-Dog, to a lesser degree, seem to have his back has put him out on an island and his decision to abandon Virgil to a fate as walker food was the first completely clear sign that he was cracking and becoming The Walking Dead’s villain but – and here’s the interesting thing that the show’s done – both of these dickish decisions were made for ostensibly noble reasons. In “Frogs,” he was meting out punishment for a lowlife wife- and child-abuser. In “Save The Last One,” he sacrificed Otis in order to get back to Hershel’s farm in time to save his surrogate son, Carl. And that’s what’s so interesting about the way The Walking Dead’s second season is playing out – the moral ambiguities of life in an apocalyptic world are coming to the fore. On almost any other show, Shane would be a villain without question. But here, he’s trying to spare victims of abuse and trying to save a child wounded by a gunshot, albeit through excessively brutal means. That’s not to say that some of his actions this season (and last for that matter) aren’t despicable because they are. But there are humanistic reasons behind many of them. Contrast that with the final scene of “Triggerfinger” and the turn that Lori seems to be taking. After surviving the car crash in “Nebraska” [3], Lori returns to the farm after being told by Shane (in a lie) that Rick had arrived safely back at the farm as a way of securing her own return because of Shane’s worry about her and the unborn child that he believes is his. Upon realizing she’s been lied to, she makes it clear that she wants nothing to do with Shane, a fact that’s picked up on by Dale and leads to his sharing his theory about Otis’s death with Lori. This possibility seems to spur something in Lori because, in the episode’s final scene, she confesses Dale’s theory to Rick as well as paints Shane to him as a dangerous person who’s still in love with her. She seems to be hinting – none to subtly – that Shane needs to be dealt with. Permanently. Positioning her this way is fascinating thanks to her status as the de facto female hero of the show yet she’s now, to use Hitfix’s Alan Sepinwall’s characterization, “gone all Lady MacBeth on Rick.” And as we’ve seen, Rick can be pretty malleable so a lethal showdown with Shane seems to be in the offing. While some critics feel the show hasn’t done a good job with regard to character development over its 16 episodes [4] which is a fair assessment in some respects [5], I’d counter that the show has in fact done an effective job of developing the essential characters (Rick, Lori, Shane, Glenn) and uses the others to fill in when needed. I’d also argue that the way the last two episodes have played out, I’m more excited to watch how the rest of the season develops than I was since maybe the pilot. And that’s no small thing.

[1] Beyond the fact that The Walking Dead is developing into a more confident show by the episode.
[2] Rick, Lori, Hershel, and Dale are the ones that immediately come to mind.
[3] And the resulting tangle with walkers, only to eventually be found and taken back to the farm by Shane.
[4] What basically amounts to a little more than a full cable season. The Walking Dead was rushed into production and only produced six episodes in its first season, which is half of what’s usually seen with other cable drama series.
[5] Too often characters seem to be introduced with little to no warning and then we, as an audience, are expected to immediately care about them. Witness Hershel’s apparent other daughter in “Nebraska.”

Miscellany:
*Theory: For all of the hand-wringing over series creator Frank Darabont’s exit, is The Walking Dead actually better off without him? By all accounts, the first half of the season was the last swath of the show that he had any involvement in, making “Nebraska” and “Triggerfinger” the first episodes post-Darabont. Coincidentally, they’ve been two of the best installments of the season. Might be worth keeping an eye on as the season progresses.
*The sideways shot of Rick in the bar in the aftermath of the shooting gave a palpable visceral and disorienting feel to the situation. Kudos to director Billy Gierhart for that choice.
*Nice tension built into Rick, Hershel, and Glenn’s escape through the back alley of the bar. The Walking Dead is really beginning to get these pressure-cooker set pieces down to a science.
*So we all agree that this Daryl tough-guy act is a complete façade, right? Perhaps the first cracks were evident when Daryl joins the (ultimately unneeded) search party for Rick, Hershel, and Glenn after initially wanting nothing to do with it.
*I’m eventually waiting for Hershel to crack even more than he already has, particularly after watching the disappointment on his face when he, Rick, and Glenn return to the farm and Maggie comes rushing out… only to go directly to Glenn and not to him.
*Speaking of the Glenn/Maggie relationship, I liked the turn that it took this week when Glenn mentioned that his feelings for Maggie are affecting his ability to be a functioning member of the group since he fears dying and is putting others in danger because of his concern for her should anything happen to him. I’m looking forward to seeing where this is heading and I’ve enjoyed Lauren Cohan’s addition to the cast this season.
*This week’s Walking Dead Extreme Gore Moment: A walker disgustingly forcing its head through the broken windshield of Lori’s totaled car. (And source of the above banner photo.)
*This week’s Bonus Walking Dead Extreme Gore Moment: Lori yanking the turn signal rod off of her steering column and jamming it into said walker’s eye.
*This week’s Bonus Walking Dead Extreme Gore Moment 2.0: Rick popping the impaled leg of a fallen adversary (Damien from Rescue Me, if you’re playing at home) off of the fence upon which it was hanging.
*After the Shane faction of the camp strongly objects to Rick’s decision to bring Damien Leg Guy back to the farm, is there any doubt that Damien Leg Guy’s crew is going to end up finding him? Maybe this is the spark that’s going to proffer the ultimate showdown between Rick and Shane.
*Loved Jeffrey DeMunn’s delivery of this line to Carl after Lori confesses that she and Rick never had the sex talk with Carl: “Don’t look at me. That’s your father’s job.”
*”They drew on us.”
*”Let’s just chalk this up to what it was. Wrong place, wrong time.”
*”I can shoot. I just don’t like to.”
*”Maybe if you’d spent your time worrying about your daughter’s business instead of sticking it in everyone else’s, she’d still be alive.”
*”You just can’t stop lying, can you?”
*”Whatever happens, it’s yours.”
*”You killed the living to protect what’s yours?” “That’s right.” “Shane thinks I’m his.”

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Written by jeremylikestv

March 4, 2012 at 6:58 pm

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