Okay, Devin, I can concede that Rick being reunited with his family and then deciding to go back into the city teeming with the undead just to save Merle does make his rationality a little bit questionable. But in the series and the books that’s just the kind of guy he is.
Now, there were plenty of other reasons for him to go, of course. There were the guns. There’s the walkie talkie and all of the contrived reasons the writers came up with to make that almost matter (what about the option of putting up a sign to warn people that Andrea brought up in ep. 1?). But there’s also the general well being of the camp to worry about - you don’t really want a crazed redneck mourning his brother hanging out anywhere near your kids, do you?
Ultimately I think it’s just in his genes; he’s going to go and do the right thing, and he’s going to make sure that it’s done right by doing it himself instead of just sending some other able-bodied men from the camp to do it.
And when I say in his genes, I mean it genetically - think about it: Rick goes off into the city the day after finding his family. That same day, Carl tells his mom that he isn’t worried because of all the stuff Rick’s been through already and he hasn’t been killed yet. Carl thinks his dad is immortal, and why shouldn’t he?
RICK THINKS HE’S IMMORTAL, TOO.
His first thought when he gets shot (in the vest)? He doesn’t want Shane to tell Lori about it. In the tent when he get’s “cocky” he tells her how sure he was that he was going to find them. So he knows he’s going to go into the city, and he knows that he’ll be back okay. So why worry? It’s the right thing to do, and he’s the right man for the job.
As for Shane’s rationality, I can’t even go there. Yes, there’s a love triangle of sorts, and so far that’s the only real drama of the show, but I’m not gonna get into Team Shane vs. Team Rick. It’s all about my boy Officer Friendly, and even Shane knows it.
I agree that it’s nice to see more of Shane, though, and to have the chance to sympathize with him at least a little bit. I wouldn’t trust him, but you can see that he wanted more out of spending time with Lori and Carl than just gathering mushrooms.
Because of all that I’m surprised to hear you call this episode a wheel spinner. Episode 2 had a lot of action, but none of it really amounted to much. As I’ve said, it’s pretty clear that the love triangle aspect is going to be the emotional core of this super short season, and this episode was the first one that really let that drama start unfolding; everything else has been preamble. Yes, it had been super gory and fun preamble, but there was no real tension when Rick and Glenn walked past the zombies. But when Rick walked out of the truck, Shane saw him first, and then everything went into slow mo? That was when the plot finally started moving forward for me.
It also helped that we learned that Shane told Lori Rick was definitely dead. I had asked how the writers were going to get me to give a shit about her after she was full of self hate and Shane love. But hearing that Shane told her that, no matter what his reasons were, let me imagine a scene of heart break that hadn’t been in the story before. It wasn’t quite enough to make me like this version of Lori , but it made her motivations a little more clear and set a roadway to likability. It was one thing when we were thinking that she assumed he was dead but actually abandoned a comatose man. It’s quite another when she’s told that he’s dead.
And for all of you Team Shane folks - Sure, Shane could have told that for any number of reasons. He could have been telling her what she needed to hear so that he could get her to move on to safety. But let’s not forget that theoretically he also could have somehow engineered the entire zombie apocalypse just for a chance to fuck his best friend’s wife; the show hasn’t really let us know how that went down yet.
So yeah, she’s still not a fun character to watch, but at least she’s one that I don’t feel the need to punch all the time.
Speaking of wanting to punch people all the time, though; I will freely admit that I could see how women would dig Shane when he was all punchy with Ed. My only concern with that plot line is that it seems as if every episode of the show is going to take on a new Serious Topic of the Week. Last week we learned that if people from different races can’t get together one of us will end up handcuffed to a roof. This week we learned that Domestic Abuse Is Bad. At this rate it’s pretty much a given that by the end of the season Carl will be experimenting with drugs and sexting.
All in all, though, I found this to be a well rounded, satisfying episode. Having another Dixon even made the inclusion of Whitey McStereotype seem okay, as did the fact that he’s going to be a continuing character - there’s even a chance for the show to be setting up a really cool twist on one of the comic’s main plot lines.
I’ll save any speculation for the end of season wrap ups, though. Meredith, we’re halfway through season one now. Are you over on Team Shane with Devin, or is your love for Glenn too all-encompassing? Did you catch yourself noticing how boring it would be to camp out with low fires and no beer night after night after night? And do the walking dead really need to migrate for food, or do they just attack whatever’s near them?