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The show seems to be settling into a rhythm with it’s episodes. We have one with a lot of violence and then the next will be at a lower ebb. This is likely wise ““ if we had episode after episode of midnight zombie attacks, the show would be just nihilistically oppressive. There has to be some sort of hope, even if it’s just that someone will survive this, or there’s no reason to feel connected to the characters.

We pick up a few hours after we left off. Camp Fear is trying to deal with the aftermath of the attack, making sure that everyone who died is not coming back for another round. Daryl is pickaxing the corpse’s brains. Their people get buried in Jim’s holes. The walkers get burned. We don’t burn the people we’ve come to love. We don’t burn the people who got this far.

Andrea is unable to move from her sister’s side. She is violent to the suggestion that Amy needs to be disposed of, refuses to hear how she might be putting everyone in danger. This is about her and how she needs to say goodbye. We bring into the apocalypse the baggage we packed before it. We might even recognize the weight of it a little better. Andrea needs to apologize for all the times she wasn’t there for Amy, because she was busy or too old or too grown up for her little sister. This was the birthday Andrea was going to be there for and she even got her a present, but Amy was already gone. She gets the chance to tell Amy this, after Amy becomes un-Amy, and right before Andrea blows her brains out.

Jim’s been bit. He tried to hide it, because the bite is a death sentence. I’m going to guess it’s not some special zombie disease that kills you, but the disgusting germs they have to be carrying in their mouth. Daryl advocates killing Jim right away, before he can turn, and Dale thinks that Camp Fear should ask Jim what he wants, but Rick shuts him down before he can finish his thought. Rick and Shane believe themselves to be the moral compasses of the show, despite how hollow their leadership is. Daryl is quick to point this out, when Rick puts a gun to his head. We don’t kill the living, but we sure don’t have any problems threatening to do it.

[pullquote]I felt just as weird realizing throughout this episode that Daryl is my favorite character, just like I felt strange when I realized Tigh was my favorite person on Battlestar Galactica.[/pullquote]

It strikes me that the show constantly highlights that the people with the best ideas or the best strategies are not Rick or Shane, who are nominally our heroes and the guys we should be looking up to, but the individuals on the margins of the narrative ““ the elderly, the minorities, the women. Even Daryl, though an able bodied white male, is sketched as this broad southern redneck guy, the kind that’s not usually thought of as being very bright, but when it comes right down to it, he’s not wrong very often. There’s definitely a moral difference in the way Daryl is approaching the apocalypse and most of the group is, but when it comes to straight survival, he’s got the clearest line on the terrible choices the group is going to have to make.

Rick makes an argument that the group should take Jim to the CDC because he heard they had been working on cure. Shane wants to go to Fort Benning. Rick wants to do what’s “˜right’. Shane wants to do what’s “˜safe’. The group needs leaders, but these two are all they have.

Later, in the woods, Rick and Shane fight about their ideas, and Shane’s burred resentment quickly rises to the surface. He took care of the group. He took them to the quarry. He cared for Rick’s family. It was him, but as soon as Rick showed up, everyone turned to him for leadership. And what has it gotten them?  Shane lines Rick up in his sites in the woods but he’s not able to pull the trigger. But not before Dale sees what he meant to do.

Shane capitulates to Rick’s plan, but if that’s to cover up for what Dale saw is not quite clear. Camp Fear will head to the CDC. The Morales family decides to make for Birmingham. The group gets smaller.

Jim is progressively getting worse. He’s having visions of zombies and vomiting up bits of his insides. He begs the group to leave him by the side of the road, to pass in peace. Rick starts hemming and hawing about the morality of it, til his wife cuts him off. “˜It ain’t your decision’, she reminds him. And it’s not.

Jim doesn’t want to be put out of his misery. He just wants to die in peace. That’s where the caravan leaves him, under a tree, alone, waiting.

Intercut between these scenes are bits of information being broadcast from the CDC, which seems to be one lone scientist. He’s not even doing any research any more after an accident in the lab destroys all his tissue samples. He’s going to blow his brains out, but not until after getting really drunk.

The CDC is littered with the bodies of the dead and the soldiers who had been defending the complex. Seeing all of the corpses raises yet another question about how the zombie apocalypse works. Who killed all of them? Not just the walkers, who were presumably killed by the soldiers, but who then killed the soldiers who were overwhelmed? We saw in the last episode that the walkers seem to fall into inactivity, for the lack of a better term, and as the group bangs on the shuttered doors to the building, a couple of walkers get up. But not a lot of them do, certainly not nearly as many as could, when you weigh how many bodies are on the ground. So do the walkers just”¦ die? Do they eventually exhaust themselves?

The doors don’t open. The sun is setting, the walkers are rising, and everyone is sure Rick has killed them. Rick sees the camera eye move to track them and loses his shit ““ he’s screaming, flailing, something we haven’t seen him do since he woke from his coma. Rick is scared out of his mind. Please, please, please, throwing pleas and prayers at a camera and a shuttered door.

The doors open. Our heroes need to go into the light.

Next week: Camp Fear hangs out at the CDC.

Predictions for next week:  Crazy CDC guy is not the hero the group had hoped for. Jim’s infection but not yet death will be important. CDC guy will insist on going out to harvest cells from Jim, but Rick will have an ethical objection. Daryl will not. Rick does not find out about Shane’s various betrayals.

[pullquote]Predictions from last week: They wait too long to destroy Amy’s brain and traumatically need to rekill un-Amy. (check) More people die. (no!) Merle hits someone with the truck. (no! I am off my game with the Merle angle.) People regret not picking up crossbows when they had the chance. (I’d like to think this is true.)[/pullquote]

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