Feb 27 2012 4:00pm

The Walking Dead S2, E10: “18 Miles Out”

The Walking Dead episode 18 Miles Out

Alright, dudes. This probably isn’t going to be the greatest review ever, but I just sat through 3 hours and 13 minutes of Billy Crystal doing blackface jokes and being angry that Viola Davis was robbed, and then immediately followed that by tuning into AMC too early and having to listen to awful Lori’s awful speech all over again. And starting “18 Miles Out” with one of those clichéd “2 hours earlier...” cold opens didn’t help matters. So, as you can guess, I’m in a bit of a mood.

None of that, however, changes the fact that this was a pretty darn good episode. Seriously. They went all Hamlet crossed with Night of the Living Dead on me. Where was all this quality the rest of the season?

It’s pathetic how much better this show gets when it moves off the farm. Every scene at the homestead lurched the show into a dead stop. And not just because the whole thing felt very “ladies have emotions, yo!” I get where they were going with that. At the end of the world, do you lay down and die or stand up and fight? Is either option worth it in the long run? Does either choice even matter? But that’s not what we got. Instead we had half an episode dedicated to angst and generic whinging about how life is sooo hard and two idiotic women fighting over someone as douchy as Shane.

More to the point, we already dealt with the philosophical question of to be or not to be last season with Andrea and the gun and again with Andrea and the exploding CDC. Maggie and Lori have decided that Beth (aka Little Blonde Piece) should suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, while Andrea’s perfectly fine with the girl’s desire to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them. Turns out the whole dying, sleeping, perchancing to dream thing comes with an uncomfortable rub and the kid decides she wants to live after all. Good for her, or whatever. It’s hard to summon empathy for a character the writers couldn’t be bothered to flesh out even when she was about to shuffle off her mortal coil. But that zombie attack out at the jail more than made up for the inanities at Hershel’s farm.

The Walking Dead episode 18 Miles Out

At the risk of sounding redundant, I get the writer’s point with this sequence, but it worked a heckuva lot better than the “will she or won’t she” non-story. Dumping Randall in the middle of nowhere hogtied and terrified makes sense given what just happened with Tony and Dave’s crew, but it’s also sad when you think back and realize the Rick from season 1 never would have even considered ditching the kid. Times, they are a’changin’.

The boys did manage to get in some stupid behavior (it’s always a good idea to shout and shoot at each other when there are possible roamers around), and the writers breezed over some rather large and ludicrous plot holes (such as how a whole murder of walkers somehow didn’t hear said screaming match/gun battle but did hear Rick break some glass). But those are little niggling points overall. It was nice to see some comics love with the shot of Rick stabbing the zombie in the head through the fence. And it was even better to watch Shane nearly piss himself in fear as he watched his only companion sacrifice him — albeit temporarily — in the way Shane did to Otis.

The Walking Dead episode 18 Miles Out

Of course, the episode ended like every other episode, with a failed mission that leaves everyone two steps back from where they started. But unlike most other eps, this one worked. The biggest reason for this (besides not being tied to the farm) was the scripting of an episode that both furthered the serialized plot and that was in and of itself a self-contained standalone.

Better still, it focused all its attention on just a few characters, giving the audience a chance to if not get to know these people then at least get a chance to finally hear what they’ve been thinking all these months. The writers picked two stories to tell and kept the cameras trained only on those characters who directly related to those scenes. Dale and T-Dog didn’t wander through the background, Carol didn’t pass by to nag Daryl about not being more sociable, Hershel wasn’t getting drunk, nothing. Glen Mazzara would do well to continue with this Lost-like model of storytelling. I am kinda looking forward to an episode with just T-Dog, Carol, Patricia, and Jimmy killing some lamebrains and chatting about their lives pre-apocalypse.

Final Thoughts

  • “I used to watch football and screw around on the Internet!”
  • Women be cookin’! All the time! They never leave the kitchen! Except when there’s laundry and cleaning to be done!
  • That was some hardcore zombie stabage there, Rick.
  • Andrea said everything to Lori we’ve all wanted to scream at her.
  • Even AMC agreed that the suicide plot was a waste of air time. They didn’t upload a single photo from that sequence.
  • Who’s got two thumbs and is überexcited that the Next Doctor is going to be the Governor? This chick. (Although I am slightly disappointed that Sol Starr turned down the role.)

Alex Brown is a research librarian by day, writer by night, and all around geek who watches entirely too much TV. One of these days she will go out and have a life, but right now she’s too busy re-watching Roar. You can follow her on Twitter if you dare.

Improbable Joe
1. Improbable Joe
I'm glad that the hinted-at sexism from the first season has moved front and center for this episode. Women are supposed to cook and clean and do laundry, or else! Rick is the alpha male, Lori and her spawn belong to him, and Shane needs to make due with the leftovers. You can see what the writers are trying to do here, force Shane and Andrea (Team Shandrea? Andreane? Does every couple need a portmanteau) together (and then off the show?) but they'd already done it once and then apparently forgot about it. I loved the way Rick was totally like "Shane, we all saw the recap of you shooting Otis three times since you did it, so just come clean" and then followed it up with "Murder is cool, but if you don't stop making googly eyes at my wife we're going to have serious issues." Just the worst plotting/writing on TV.

And as usual, I guess the writers want someone to be the bad guy but the one they pick is sort of doing the stuff we might agree with. This week it is Andrea being the bad one, mostly by not being barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen the way Lori wants her to be... the skipping out on suicide watch was just an illogical icing on the cake thing.
nicole rich
2. nrich
I have to admit that I was totally ready to write off this episode when they stopped at literal crossroads to have the "big talk," but I have to admit that this was a pretty darn good episode overall. Didn't care about the blond depressive (still don't know her name after an entire episode about her), but I was glad to hear Andrea have a valid and appropriate opinion for once. I did not approve of how she handled the situation, but the sentament seemed correct given the circumstances.

I totally agree about the cold open. It ruins all of the suspense and it's been done to death on this show. Someone shoot it in the head.

Lori's sexist and backwards ideas about appropriate work for women puts my teeth on edge.

The special affects on this show continue to blow my mind. It's like nothing else on tv.
David Thomson
3. ZetaStriker
Yeah, this cold open was probably the worst to date. I made me care less about the buildup to that situation, honestly.

As for the rest, all I really have to say is that I think they're giving Shane Tyreese's job since they already have a token black guy.
Alex Brown
4. AlexBrown
@Improbable: I haven't decided if it's just unintentional sexism, as if the writers really think we'll just revert back to our caveman roles of women cleaning and men hunting, or if it's just a bunch of Yankees who think the South is full of misogynistic rednecks. Not sure which scenario offends me more, but they're both pretty terrible.


The problem is that Shane was never meant to be a villan. Carl kills the dude, if I'm remembering correctly, before the end of the first volume. He is never given much of a character bio beyond being a dick who then tries to off Rick. The zombies also have a bigger role in the comics, making the time between Shane and the Governor seem less like filler. Each comic also has a specific story to tell but each tale fits within the serialized plot. On both points the show has thus far failed miserably. Now that Shane's about to go to the zombie apocalypse in the sky (both because you can't have him and the Governor share the same dramatic space, and because he's already been cast in Darabont's L.A. Noir series), the show should pick up, even if it's just by virtue of having David Morrisey get a blowjob from his undead 6 year old daughter. Unless Rick and co. spend the entire 3rd season moping about Woodbury and not actually doing anything. In which case I give up.


@nrich: TWD has never been good at subtlety. When Shane was staring dreamily out the window being all high school and emo, I zoned out. The whole thing was ridiculous. The time for feeling pity for poor, lonely, misunderstood Shane is long gone. They really need to just let him go all asshole and get it over with.

And yeah, the SFX are fantabulous. The scene where Rick was buried under a pile of corpses (SUBTLETY!) and shot the attacker through the other zombie's head was soooo cool.

@Zeta: I propose we put a ban on TWD from using time jump cold opens. Someone get Obama on the horn. For me they just taint the whole rest of the episode. Lost got away with time jump cold opens like that because they ACTUALLY DID SOMETHING with them. None of this drama-killing faff business.
Bill Capossere
5. Billcap
Yep, lose the opening

Laurie—where in the world did that come from—the women do the laundry while the men handle the tough stuff, etc. Have I somehow missed this all series? One of the worse conversations in the series. Then, she leaves the blond alone to go get the sister? Really? Cuz certainly she couldn’t kill herself in those two minutes. Nope. And then, of course, leaves again with no mention of perhaps Andrea shouldn’t be trusted in this particular situation?

Speaking of which, is it just me or is it kinda silly to be complaining about having your gun taken away so you don’t kill yourself and then patting yourself on the back for “getting through it” when of course, the only reason you had the time to “get through it” was because your gun was taken away?

That entire storyline had to go: horrible scene with Laurie and Andrea, implausible action, bad characterization, and it all centering on a character not a soul cares a whit about. Just a bad choice of plot line all around. Though they could have saved the “and a boyfriend” line for another scene. As mentioned, I liked (so much liked) the decision to narrow the lens and give us focus in a show that desperately cried out for it; I just wanted the lens turned elsewhere. I’m not sure why they felt enslaved to the idea that just because they have a cast list everyone on that list has to appear in every show. That entire house could have gone up in flames in that scene and I would have been perfectly fine, maybe happier.

The other half was so much stronger, despite its obvious and already remarked on flaws (they’re at a “crossroads”-we get it, the sleeping zombies who wake up when needed). The tension was among the highest we’ve seen I’d say: emotionally, physically, visually. The revelation that the boy knew where the farm was and the resulting conundrum/debate/fight, Rick pulling the zombie over him as the other clamber past and then unable to get a shot off later, the boy’s slow crawl toward the knife, the bus, Rick and the boy going out of Shane’s sight. All really well done I thought and a glimpse as to what this show could be with some focus and consistency.

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