You know the Rick/Shane power struggle that Season 2 of “The Walking Dead” has been building up for the last nine episodes? Well, it finally led to a zombie-filled showdown in Episode 10, “18 Miles Out.”
The hour opens with a taste of what’s to come — Shane chased by a hoard of walkers, Rick on the verge of becoming zombie lunch, and Randall — the outsider kid they rescued last week — crawling toward a knife, hands tied, in the midst of all the chaos. …
But first, let’s recap the B story.
The juiciest B-plot moments came during an epic confrontation between Lori and Andrea. Essentially, Lori finds out that Beth — Hershel’s youngest daughter who has been in shock since the massacre of her zombie friends and family — is suicidal. Andrea insists that death, in their current situation, is a fair option. Life or death is a decision that Beth should be allowed to make. Lori and Beth’s sister, Maggie, insist that Andrea is crazy.
Lori calls out Andrea for “working on her tan with a shotgun in her lap” while sitting on zombie lookout. Andrea chastises Lori for focusing on providing “fresh mint and lemonade” to the survivors, which Lori calls “creating stability” on the farm. But it’s Andrea who gets the last word: While everyone else has suffered immeasurable loss, she says, Lori has a husband who woke up from a coma, a son who survived a gunshot, and a baby on the way. Can Lori promise Beth she’ll ever have those same things in a walker-filled world? Of course, everyone knows the answer is “no.”
Turns out, Beth does try to commit suicide — Lori and Maggie break down the bathroom door after Beth has slit her wrist. But it’s not a deep cut, and Andrea feels her “death is OK” pep talk with Beth was successful: “She wants to live,” Andrea breathes. “She made her decision.” Maggie doesn’t quite see things that way and bans Andrea from entering the house.
Now to the real action.
After that tasty tease in the episode’s first few minutes, we flash back an hour or so, when Rick and Shane are driving through fields — about 18 miles outside of the farm, where it becomes clear they are looking to dump “the outsider” for the good of the group. With Randall tied up in the trunk, headphones blaring, hood over his head, Rick uses this quiet opportunity away from the others to give Shane a good old fashioned talking to.
Rick confronts Shane about what happened the night Otis was killed. Shane finally admits to using Otis as zombie bait. At this point it becomes clear just how carefully Rick has thought out this confrontation — he uses Shane’s admission of guilt to pose a test of his own mettle, both to himself and Shane. “You don’t think I would do that?” Rick asks. “You think I can’t keep them safe?”
“Them,” of course, is wife Lori and son Carl and the baby Lori’s carrying that both Rick and Shane want to claim as their own. Shane says Rick can’t be the good guy anymore. Rick says he’s not — that to save Carl (the excuse Shane gives for killing Otis) he would have done anything. Shane remains silent.
“Lori says you’re dangerous,” Rick says. “But you’re not going to be dangerous anymore.” Shane still says nothing.
Rick flat out says he knows Lori and Shane leaned on each other — in more ways than a wife and best friend should — while he was in a coma. He gets it. But not breaking Shane’s jaw and letting him choke on his teeth when he found out about the affair wasn’t a sign of weakness. Shane, for once, still keeps his trap shut.
Lori is Rick’s wife. Carl is Rick’s son. The baby is Rick’s unborn child, Rick spells out like the A, B, Cs. And the only way Rick and Shane can move forward is for Shane to accept that. Rick walks away.
“I didn’t keep Lori and Carl alive,” Shane pleads. “They kept me alive.”
Rick says he wants to check on the ropes.
Randall’s still all tucked in like a good prisoner in the back of the SUV. They drive a little farther and come upon a complex for the Department of Public Works. The place is another one of those horrible ghost town memories of what life used to be, strewn with blankets and rations and burned bodies and — oh, a walker. Rick, always thinking ahead, uses a new strategy to kill this zombie. He nicks his finger, smears the blood on a fence between himself and the walker, and allows the dead guy to come over to furiously lick the human juice. At such close proximity, Rick slams his knife into the zombie’s brain. Another walker approaches. Rick instructs Shane to perform the execution in the same fashion.
Later, while examining the bodies, they notice these people hadn’t been bit. Walker scratches, they surmise, which sounds like a new way one of our beloved survivors is going to eventually die. …
The pair pulls Randall out of the SUV. The kid freaks out when he realizes what is happening. He pleads with Rick and Shane — he can help! He went to school with Maggie!
And there it is. No matter how far from the farm they drove, Rick and Shane can’t leave this kid alone — HE KNOWS WHERE THE FARM IS. He knows where they are living, where their supplies are. Randall, the outsider, is even more of a liability than they realized.
Shane wants to kill the kid and tries to shoot him. Rick wants to sleep on it and figure out what to do in the morning. It’s a classic Rick/Shane battle that leads to the knockdown drag-out brawl we’ve all been waiting for. There are plenty of bone-crunching sound effects and bloody punches thrown, and the adrenaline of the scene is only heightened because WE KNOW THE WALKERS ARE COMING.
Shane grabs a gun to shoot Randall, who, feet away from the battling duo, is inching toward a knife. Is this the bullet that will act as the siren’s song for the walker hoard?
No. Rick screams, “You don’t get to make these calls anymore! I won’t let you!”
Shane picks up a wrench and wails it at his friend. It narrowly misses Rick, instead crashing into a window. This. Oooooh, THIS is it.
Shane sees his own horrified reflection in a broken piece of window. And then a zombie hand grabs the shattered piece of glass.
The resulting battle is a zombie-fan highlight. The undead stream out of the building like it’s rush hour at Grand Central Station. Rick kills one, and uses it as a walker shield to hide from the others, who all seem particularly interested in Shane’s innards. Shane seeks refuge in a bus. Randall catches the attention of another walker.
Rick moves away from the building and more zombies follow him. He finds a gun and shoots one walker. It lands on him. Immobilized, he’s still able to shoot a second walker. Unfortunately, that one lands on him as well. A third walker grabs at Rick, buried under a rotten flesh mound. Left with few other options, Rick puts the gun in the first zombie’s mouth. You know what’s coming next. He pulls the trigger … and blood spatters everywhere, the third now-dead zombie, shot through two other zombies, falling on top of the pile.
Rick escapes and finds Randall, who stabbed a walker or two on his own after freeing himself. Randall insists they flee. Rick doesn’t want to leave Shane. They can’t take on all of those walkers surrounding Shane’s bus, Randall insists. The walkers don’t see them. … They could make a getaway. … “Let’s go,” Rick says, turning on his friend, proving he really will “do anything.” “He did this,” Rick says. “We’re going.”
Shane watches Rick and Randall flee the compound, horrified. The audience cheers!
But the celebration is cut short. Rick stops by those “scratched” people’s body to contemplate the ramifications of his actions, of leaving Shane. So next thing we know, the SUV comes barreling back into the compound, running over walkers left and right. Rick, hanging out of the passenger window, shoots more zombies. Randall pulls around the back of the bus and he and Rick rescue Shane.
Rick and Shane, reluctant teammates again, put Randall back in the trunk. They begin to drive back to the farm.
“If you want to kill me, you’ll have to do better than a wrench,” Rick says. Shane says nothing.
“We’ll probably have to kill that boy,” Rick adds. “But I’m going to have to think about it. It can’ t be that easy killing someone, anyone. You know that.” Shane remains quiet.
“That is my wife. That is my son. That is my child,” Rick reiterates. “And if you’re going to be with us, you’ve got to trust me.” Shane remains mum.
“It’s time for you to come back,” Rick says, displaying trust himself by handing Shane a gun.