The Walking Dead: Season 2, Episode 8 – ‘Nebraska’

Please note: Spoilers ahead.

This episode opens post-barn massacre. As we discovered in the conclusion of the previous episode, Sophia was a zombie and had been corralled into Herschel’s barn at some point. The emotional scene surrounding the killing of the zombies in the barn is a little much. While discovering that Sophia is a zombie does have emotional impact, the neurotic performance on the part of Herschel’s daughter Beth is over-the-top. Shane and Herschel have tensions between them because Herschel was keeping zombies in a barn near their camp all without informing anyone of the potential danger at their doorstep.

‘You’re just as delusional as that guy.’

In many ways, it would appear that Rick’s optimism for the situation is increasingly misplaced. The undead are drawing in on the small circle of survivors and, as their numbers thin, questions of leadership and direction are inevitable. The choice between the two different visions for the group, that of Rick’s optimism or Shane’s realism, will probably form the basis of a lot of the tension and action going forward for the remainder of the season.

While Glen talks about Sophia being different from the rest one can’t help but think that, in many ways, it has taken so long for this conclusion to occur that it has no real effect for the audience and Sophia is, unfortunately, like so many of the rest who have died.

Carl’s dialogue with Lori concerning this very subject is stilted beyond believability even for this show. Hopefully Sophia was hiding in a tree or a cave? All said without a tear. It’s beyond ridiculous to a point, or maybe I just don’t like Carl and Lori…or maybe I just don’t like most scenes involving Lori.

The pressure of being leader coupled with the perceived failure to save Sophia is taking its toll on Rick.

Carol, in a moment of unnecessary darkness, attempts to break Daryl’s spirit by bemoaning her daughter’s death. As the audience is well aware, Daryl, more than any of them, worked hard to find Sophia so the discovery is particularly jarring for him. While her being depressed at the loss of her daughter is understandable, Carol’s general worthlessness as a character underlies her screen time.

Carol didn’t search for Sophia with near the enthusiasm of Daryl or most of the others in the group so her selfish expressions of grief are somewhat out of place – especially since it has taken a lifetime to discover what some would say was inevitable.

While discussing their future, Maggie and Glen are interrupted when Maggie’s sister Beth goes catatonic in the kitchen. Rick is going to head off to town to find Herschel who is believed to drinking at a bar to drown his sorrows. Shane and Lori both think this is a bad idea, while Rick confides to Lori that they need Herschel for their baby.

Shane shows humanity when he finds Carol wandering out of the forest after her solo histrionic fit in which she pointlessly ripped weeds from the earth while sobbing loudly – all behavior that is advisable when faced with a zombie infestation. The tension between Shane’s survival instinct and his social persona is increasingly fraying but, as shown in the scene with Carol, Shane is still somewhat human – even if his humanity is slowly slipping away.

Without a lot of proof to back up his claim, Dale basically accuses Shane of murdering Otis and tells Lori about his suspicions.

‘I knew guys like him and, sooner or later, he’s going to kill somebody else.’

Given the now public power struggle between Rick and Shane for leadership of the group, Dale’s predictions about Shane’s increasing instability have particular pertinence, especially after Shane’s horrific betrayal of Otis.

Lori asks Daryl to bring Rick and Herschel back to the farm. Finally, Daryl’s emotions explode at Lori.

‘You want those two idiots, have a nice ride. I’m done looking for people.’

Daryl is one of the best characters in the show as far as I’m concerned. His humanity and heroism are constants while the others waver so it is horrible to see him upset. If the group needs anything it needs stability.

Rick finds Herschel alone in the bar drinking to himself and quite a defeated man. Even after Rick tells Herschel that Beth is in a catatonic state, he is unmoved to go help his daughter. There’s a point between defeated and pathetic and Herschel may be crossing.

‘I was a fool, Rick, and you people saw that.’

With gun in hand, Lori takes the Mercury for a drive into town. She hits a zombie while glancing at a map and ends up flipping the car in the process.

The bar scene is filled with drama and hopelessness. Herschel is trying to infect everyone with his defeated attitude while Rick and Glen are stressing out about getting him back to his farm to help his daughter.

‘This isn’t about what we believe anymore, it’s about them.’

The bar scene becomes infinitely more interesting with the introduction of Dave and Tony. From the onset there is something off about this pair. First, they’re both from Philadelphia and they’re obviously outsiders in other ways.

Dave shows off his gun that he got from a policeman prompting Rick to tell him he is a policeman. The use of the present tense sets up a dichotomy between the two of them, with Rick identifying himself by his former profession while Dave and Tony do not introduce themselves by what they used to be in life – hinting that perhaps they existed outside the law as criminals and thus Rick’s natural enemy in the ‘urban jungle.’

Immediately it is apparent that Dave and Tony want in on Rick’s shelter. Tony pisses on the wall and expresses interest in food, shelter and women. These two are animals, likely accustomed to getting what they want and taking it if it is not freely given.

‘You guys are something else, I thought we were friends.’

‘Ain’t nobody’s hands clean in this new world. We’re all the same.’

Tony threatens to shoot Rick in the head because he asks him to calm down. Dave sets his gun on the bar under the pretense of fixing a drink. It’s a veritable Texas Standoff.

In one of the best scenes in the series, Rick deftly handles the two grease-balls who have encroached on his territory. Rick shoots Tony three times making good on Tony’s hotheaded threat directed at Rick promising the same. This act signals that, unlike Herschel, even in the face of hopelessness, Rick is going to push forward.


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