Episode Title: "Triggerfinger"
Writer: David Leslie Johnson
Director: Billy Gierhart
Previously on "The Walking Dead":
Hours after she flipped her car on the road, Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) is awakened by a walker who begins pushing his face through the broken windshield. Lori's initial escape attempt is thwarted, so she stabs the walker in his eye and later shoots another walker that crept up behind her. Back in the bar, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson) and Glenn (Steven Yeun) stand over the bodies of Tony (Aaron Munez) and Dave (Michael Raymond-James); a pair of survivors who demanded sanctuary on Hershel's farm and drew their guns on Rick before he shot them both.
Although Hershel doesn't vocalize his approval, his nod seems like a tacit agreement that it was necessary to kill them. Unfortunately, Tony and Dave had friends who are now frantically searching for them. The trio hide near the windows to avoid the new survivors, who don't seem to be in a hurry to leave without their friends. Back at the farm, Maggie Greene (Lauren Cohan) and Patricia (Jane McNeill) sit down for dinner with Shane Walsh (Jon Bernthal) and the rest of the survivors before they all realize that Lori is gone and no one knows where she is.
Back at the bar, Glenn has to block the door to keep the new survivors from entering. Rick shouts out that Tony and Dave drew their weapons on them and they had to kill them. Rick urges the other survivors to let it go as a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Fortunately the new group is made up of reasonable people and they all come in to share drinks and laughs at the bar. Actually what really happens is that the new group responds to Rick's pleas by shooting out the windows and laying siege to the bar. Back at the farm, Shane learns from Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) that Lori took off after Rick when he refused to go himself.
Shane jumps in a truck and finds Lori's overturned car and two dead walkers, but no sign of Lori until he drives further up the road. Once Shane finds Lori, he tricks her into returning by saying that Rick and Hershel have already come back to the farm. Back at the bar, Rick sends Glenn out to get the car while Hershel covers him. But Sean (Keedar Whittle) from the other group of survivors fires at Glenn, while Hershel shoots Sean in return. And when Glenn freezes up behind a dumpster, Hershel initially thinks that Glenn has been hit.
When Rick emerges from the bar, they come under fire from Randall (Michael Zegen), who is on a rooftop across the street. But Randall's buddy tells him that a horde of walkers is coming and they need to leave. Randall tries to jump from the roof and ends up impaling his leg on an iron fence before his buddy drives off. While Rick and Shane run to Randall, Hershel witnesses Sean's grizzly demise at the hands of the walkers. With the walkers closing in on them, Rick and Hershel try to amputate Randall's leg before Rick lifts the young man painfully off of the fence.
At the farm, Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride) reaches out to Daryl to keep him from withdrawing from the group, but he verbally lashes out at her and he barely restrains himself from hitting her as well. When Shane returns with Lori, she quickly learns that he lied to her and she screams at him. In turn, Shane tries to justify his actions by saying that he had to protect the baby; which reveals Lori's pregnancy to her son, Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs), Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn), Andrea (Laurie Holden) and the rest. In private, Shane once again tries to plead his case and restate that his only goal is to protect Lori and Carl.
To Shane's astonishment, Lori reveals that she told Rick about the affair and she reiterates that Shane hasn't been the same since the night Otis died. Shane starts to lose his grip on sanity as he professes his love for Lori and Carl and he basically says that what they had was more real than her love for Rick. The conversation leaves Lori shaken. The next morning, Shane, Daryl and others are getting ready to search for the trio, when Rick, Hershel and Glenn return… with Randall in the backseat with a blindfold on.
In an impromptu meeting, Hershel and Rick lead a discussion about how to handle Randall after his injuries heal enough for him to walk. Naturally, Shane seems to advocate something drastic, prompting Hershel to tell Shane off. Afterwards, Maggie confronts her father about abandoning them as he checks on his non-responsive daughter, Beth Greene (Emily Kinney). And although Maggie feels closer to Glenn than ever, he's ashamed that he froze during the shootout right when Rick and Hershel needed him the most. Outside, Andrea urges Shane to work on the way he presents himself to the group, but they both agree that letting Randall go will only bring a war to the farm… or worse.
In their private tent, Lori softly relates her disturbing conversation with Shane to Rick and she tries to convince her husband that his best friend is dangerous and that he's deluded himself into thinking that Rick's family rightfully belongs with him. So she asks Rick how he plans to deal with that.
For the bulk of the second season, "The Walking Dead" had several episodes were very little happened, stories progressed at a snail's pace and characters had the same conversations over and over again.
This was not one of those episodes.
"Triggerfinger" seemed to have a lot of the qualities that made the first season of this series so compelling. It was exciting, things actually happened and there were some significant character moments. The zombie pushing his face through the windshield was particularly unsettling and disgusting. And I loved it. That was another fantastic makeup job. Also impressive was the death of Sean (from the other group of survivors), who had his nose bitten off as he was dismembered by the horde of walkers.
Some of the early feedback from this episode has painted Lori as a Lady Macbeth figure for seemingly urging Rick to take care of Shane. If Lori was actually playing both men against each other, I could see that comparison. But she seems to be legitimately frightened of what Shane has become. Under those circumstances, Lori is more than justified in telling Rick to deal with it. About the only two people who don't sense that Shane has changed are Carl and Andrea; both of whom have different reasons to admire him.
Jon Bernthal had one of his stronger performances as Shane during his private conversation with Lori. I don't know how else to describe Shane in that scene except as a wounded animal. Up until now, Shane has seemed fairly confident that Lori wouldn't betray their affair to Rick, even when Shane practically assaulted her at the CDC. And when Lori told Shane to stay with the group after he saved Carl's life, it gave him the hope that someday she'd dump Rick and be with him again as a family with Carl and their new baby.
Once Lori reveals that Rick knows the truth, Shane's fantasy is shattered and he practically begs her to realize that he and he alone truly loves her in a way that her husband never could. It's sad, pathetic… and a little frightening because he also lightly confirmed that he killed Otis as an example of his willingness to do anything for the family that he thinks that he deserves. In the face of Shane's growing mental instability, Lori has every right to be afraid.
In this episode, Hershel also seemed to come around to Rick's worldview and it appeared that he condoned Rick's actions towards Tony and Dave. Hershel also agreed to let the survivors stay at the farm, presumably because he realized that they are probably the best allies he could hope for in this new world… except for Shane, of course. That goes a long way towards resolving the "Will they stay or leave?" plotline that ran itself into the ground this season. Rick and his survivors have a home now. But can they keep it safe from walkers and a rival group?
Despite being an excellent overall episode, there were a few WTF?! moments. Early in the episode, all of the survivors at the barn (except Daryl) were in the house getting ready to sit down for dinner with Hershel's family… hours after the barn shootout! I'm fairly certain that the bulk of the last two episodes took place on the same day. So, did Hershel's family really invite the survivors in for dinner after Hershel told them to get off of his land?!
Also, Maggie and Glenn's scene together was a little too overwrought. I actually like them as a couple, but the writers have been giving Glenn a lot of on-the-nose dialog lately that kind of sucks the fun out of that relationship.
Small problems aside, if this is the type of "Walking Dead" episode we can expect from the post-Darabont era, then I'm totally on board with that.
Crave Online Rating: 9 out of 10.