The Walking Dead: 212 “Better Angels” Review
WARNING – FULL SPOILERS
“Better Angels” (Season 2 | Episode 12)
Aka…the episode fans of the comics have been waiting for. That’s right, knowing that Shane catches a bullet (while he’s alive) from Carl is something that many of us have been wondering if we’ll ever see. The moment Rick and Shane went off in the woods together and Carl stared out of the window I just knew it was about to happen.
Before I talk about all that though let me talk about the rest of this episode. Up until the point where Shane broke Randall out, this was mostly another one of those editions of the show where characters were in mourning, mulling about having varied interactions with each other without much conflict. It was necessary given Dale’s unfortunate death but it felt like once again we were heading down the same road of distractions, preventing us from seeing any real action. This being the penultimate episode of the series it would’ve been a huge mistake to delay what happened any longer, thankfully it didn’t.
The opening sight of Dale’s funeral intertwined with Shane & Co’s zombie hunt was a great start, although it did have me worried that this would be the only taste of walker killing that we would see. After the title sequence we saw a few conversations between Lori & Shane, Andrea & Glenn and…oh my god, prepare your party streamers, bring out the cake because I can’t believe I’m writing this…T-DOG GOT A LINE! In fact it must have been his birthday because he got about a dozen. It looks like he’s been getting one piece of dialogue an episode and he thought he’d save them all up to make this episode even better. He did push his luck however – he didn’t get Hershel’s couch, oh well maybe for Christmas, T-Dog.
I digress. The collection of one on one scenes that made up the first half of the episode, as annoying as they were in keeping us from the action, were all individually very good. Lori and Shane had a nice moment, talking about moving on and putting things behind them, but it did feel like the overused TV ploy where a character finds redemption just before they are soon to be killed. Regardless of this, it was a emotional moment and it’s nice to see Sarah Wayne Callies bring it when reminiscing about the night of the fire. The scene between Andrea and Glenn was decent and lasted just long enough not to get too mushy and the father-son chat atop the barn was moving enough to bring the first half of the episode to a close.
Now to the action, I felt sorry for poor Randall, he might be a confused, annoying hick but he didn’t deserve what he got from Shane. As Shane stood over him in the barn he gave him what I can only describe as the ‘Phil Mitchell’ treatment – physically deflating over him with a distant look on his face. With what happened at the end of the episode you could just about think he was already beginning to turn. I’d guess this was just a moment the writers put in to give you a subliminal hint of what might happen, either that or to give fans of the comic books a heads up.
After Randall’s escape, Rick, Shane, Glenn and Daryl heading into the woods was pure brilliance. Every moment from here to the end of the episode was perfect. Randall reanimating to attack Daryl, Glenn taking him out with a pickaxe and then the pair discovering that he died of a broken neck was fantastic. It wrapped things up on their side of the woods with just enough teasers to understand what was about to happen.
The stand off between Rick and Shane has been a long time coming. ‘18 Miles Out’ gave us a nice appetizer of what happens when these two characters collide and tonight we got the main course followed by one bloody dessert. During the build up to the stabbing, the exchanges where sublime. Arguing about Lori, the baby, Rick unleashing with some untamed statements about Shane and Lori’s affair were all great bits of dialogue.
If you have read the comics then you’ll know that it’s by Carl’s gun that Shane dies and if so you were probably waiting for an off-screen gunshot followed by a cut to Carl facing down a smoking barrel. What a great twist then for Rick to stab Shane in the heart as he hands over the gun, if you were eagle-eyed in the build up you’ll have seen him reach for something in his back pocket a split second before he drops his gun. Andrew Lincoln was amazing as he leaned over Shane screaming and cursing that it was his fault. And then it happened…
Most of us probably thought that that was enough to end the penultimate installment of the show but that wasn’t to be. The flashes of teeth and uncontrollable walkers baying for flesh, re-ignited Shane like someone trying to jump-start a tank. When Carl appeared with a side arm the writing was on the wall for zombie Shane. The execution of this was critical and it put a great twist on what fans of the comic expected. If all that wasn’t enough the closing shot of the army of walker’s bounding up the hill was the cherry on Shane’s ice cream Sundae.
One thing that did seem a little bit of a snag to all this was that Carl’s bullet suddenly attracts a hoard of zombies, when there have been a whole bunch of shoot outs and target practices on the farm. But who cares, a lot of people have criticized the show for a lack of zombies in recent episodes, so ask and you shall receive…
With only one episode left of the season we now know three things to be true: Shane’s dead, the dead aren’t dead and now walkers are heading for the farm. Next week things are going to get messy…
Scene of the Episode | The Midnight Mexican Stand-Off – What else could it be? This was one of the pinnacle moments in not just this season but also the comics and the show as a whole.
Reviewed by Rich Jepson, cult TV enthusiast and author of 24: Terrorism Through Television.