The Walking Dead: "Eighteeen Miles Out" (Season 2, Episode 10)


Good episode: focused, violent and poignant. It’s a simple story well told.

We open with one of my least favorite framing devices, though, the flash forward showing us where we’ll be later in the story. That device is generally a crutch for weak plotting. When it isn’t, as in this case, it’s also generally not needed. So I’ll pretend it isn’t there.

As you may recall from last week, the Farm has picked up a new survivor. That would be Randall, a young man associated with the other side of last week’s shoot-out. He’s healed up enough that Rick and Shane intend to drive him eighteen miles out, find a safe location and dump him. To cut him loose but, as Rick says, give him “a fair chance.”

Questions of life and death. On the road and on the farm alike.

We open with Rick stopping the car on the way. He gets out. Shane gets out. They proceed to talk, and it’s effective: just two guys who care a lot about each other saying a bunch of stuff that needs to be said in a post-Apocalyptic world. About loving the same woman, about killing to survive, about Shane saving Rick’s family when they thought Rick was dead. Rick tells Shane flat out that he’s not going to be dangerous anymore. That he has to accept what Rick says and they move forward with that understanding. Shane, still not a cartoon villain, kind of agrees.

Back at the farm, Lori lets Maggie vent about Glenn. Then she tries to get Beth to eat. Beth hasn’t really recovered from seeing her zombie mother cut down by a scythe. She’s eighteen miles out in her head. Beth says going on is pointless; Lori gives her the standard pep talk about hanging on. If I was Beth, I wouldn’t be impressed, either.

Rick and Shane stop at what looks like a depot for the Department of Public Vehicles. They dispose of two walkers with knives through a chain link fence. The subsequent search turns up nothing but burned bodies and empty vehicles. So it seems like our young stray Randall has found a new home.

Lori takes the lunch tray from Beth’s room. She notices the knife is missing, a nice big ole’ steak knife. That can't be good. She rushes back to the room and takes it from Beth.

Rick and Shane drag Randall out of the trunk. They drop him on the ground still tied up, drop a knife some twenty yards from him. He’s begging them not to do this, explains that he’s just a normal guy like them. Heck, he even went to school with Maggie.

Not a good thing to say.

Rick is pissed. Shane is pissed. That boy can lead others back to the farm, so eighteen miles out suddenly doesn’t feel far enough. We’re in the ethical badlands once again. Rick tells Shane that boy is probably going to have to die, but he wants to take him back to the farm and think about it overnight. Shane accuses him of yet again flinching in the moment of truth. They argue. Shane’s tries to force it: “you can’t keep them safe.” Meaning his wife and son. Meaning let’s do this and be done with it. But that hits a raw nerve with Rick.

Rick tries to punch Shane. Shane head butts him in return, and we’re off to the races. While Randall crawls toward the knife on the ground, Shane and Rick go at it no holds barred, eventually sounding like walkers themselves as they huff and puff. It’s a nice bit of symbolism about the thin line of civilization left.

Shane wins. He goes to shoot Randall, only to be tackled by Rick. Rick wins round two. Shane is so pissed he picks up a huge wrench and hurls it in Rick’s general direction. It goes through a window. Unfortunately, there happen to be a lot of walkers inside, and they “wake up.” Rick kills the first one out and hides under its body. Shane runs with a good dozen in pursuit.

Back at the farm, Maggie reads the riot act to Beth. Beth doesn’t care. She has a very simple question: “What are we waiting for?” After all, there current situation gives a whole new meaning to the cliché “you and me against the world.” Beth doesn’t want to die gutted by walking carrion; she wants to do it today, on her own terms. Meanwhile, Andrea and Lori go at it in the kitchen. Andrea thinks Beth should be allowed to make her choice, that she’ll keep wanting to kill herself, keep trying, unless and until she has the chance and flinches. Lori freaks out. Off topic, she unbelievably complains about Andrea standing lookout for walkers instead of cooking and doing the laundry. Andrea gives her a good tongue lashing about Lori’s own queen bee status. It’s again an effective sequence of dialogue.

A working out of issues, as it were.

Rick and Shane’s workout is a little more volatile. Shane barricades himself in a school bus, cracking open the door and stabbing the first zombie available in the head. Rick kills two zombies who fall on him, then dispatches a third by shooting through the mouth of the dead one lying on him. It’s gross and clever. Randall manages to trip a walker coming for him, break its arm, and stab it in the head with his knife.

Andrea tells Maggie to get some rest. Left alone to watch Beth, she opens the door to the bathroom to give the girl her chance. Beth breaks the bathroom mirror and tries to cur her wrists. But she can’t go through with it; the end result is only one shallow cut.

Beth flinched. Andrea is pleased. Maggie and Lori are royally pissed.

Shane sees Rick and Randall leaving. He’s trapped in the school bus. He stabs another zombie in the head but looses his knife. Then we see good old Rick returning in their car. Shane races to the emergency exit in back and jumps out on to it. Later, poor Randall is tied up again and deposited in the trunk. Rick says again that they’re probably going to have to kill that boy, but he wants to think about it overnight. He hands Shane a gun and tells him its time to come home.

We shall see.

Will Conservatives Like This Episodes?

Yes. Good morality plays, and not simple ones either.