The Walking Dead 2.8 – Nebraska

“I hear Nebraska’s nice.”  — Sheriff Rick Grimes

This episode starts right where the last one ended—with Rick setting his jaw and putting one clean shot into Sophia’s small head. Daryl keeps holding Carol who is inconsolable. He tells her not to look and she doesn’t. Instead she wrestles from his arms and runs away from her daughter. A little farther back, Lori sits on the ground holding on to Carl. She hasn’t thought to cover his eyes or move him away from the sight of his father killing his young friend.

Herschel is crouched down, his hands covering his face. He is clearly a broken man. Beth is weeping and weeping. She can’t control herself and runs to find her dead mother who is underneath a very dead man. She pulls his corpse away, touches her mother’s arm, and calls to her as she rolls her onto her back in the dirt. (Mom must have been one tough country broad because she’s NOT dead dead.) She snarls and claws at her daughter’s hair and arms. The girl’s crying turns to screaming and it takes a few stunned beats for everyone to jump into action and come to her aid. T-Dog starts stomping in the undead woman’s head, while Glenn holds her down. Then Andrea—acting the part of the Grim Reaper—grabs a handy scythe and decisively smashes it through the back of the woman’s head. It goes through with such focused force that several inches of the blade’s tip juts through her forehead above her left eye. (Okay. I think it’s safe to say mom’s double dead now.)

Everyone stands around lost for awhile. The only sound is Beth still crying for the mother who just attacked her and then was dispatched with boots to the head and a brutally sharp farm implement. Real horrorshow.

An overhead shot of all the human wreckage that has spilled from the barn and lay every which way made me think of news footage of Guyana and the misguided flock of followers who Jim Jones convinced to opt out with a lethal Flavor-Aide/pharmaceutical cocktail. The walkers from the barn were well into decomposition and already looked like they were returning to the earth. Their clothes, bodies, and hair were filthy. In Jonestown there were colorfully dressed corpses. Herschel’s barn guests are well on their way to “dust to dust.”

As the group walks back to the farmhouse, Shane rages with yet another indignant diatribe. He accuses Herschel of knowing that Sophia had been there all along and letting them endanger themselves searching for her. He claims Otis—yeah, the one Shane used as a zombie snack for a diversion to save his own ass—was the one who put the people into the barn. Since he was killed while helping Shane, he was never asked about any little girl.

His disavowal of any knowledge about Sophia enrages Shane further. He knows Herschel thinks he’s a fool and as he puffs out his chest and comes after the old man, Rick tries to diffuse the situation. But it’s Maggie’s hard slap to Shane’s caveman face and her forceful demand that Shane not touch her father that puts a stop to what would have amounted to elder abuse before society went to Hell. She asks Shane, “Haven’t you done enough?” By then it isn’t surprising that Herschel orders Shane off the property. As he and his family go inside together, Herschel tells the group, “I mean it. Off my land.” Glenn follows Maggie inside the farmhouse.

As Shane starts to stalk off, Rick wants to know what he’s doing. Since Shane believes Herschel has known about Sophia being in the barn ever since their group arrived at the farm, he is furious that they were allowed to risk their lives looking for her daily. He knows Daryl almost died searching and that it could have been any of them at any time. (Personally, I don’t think any of the others would have survived what Daryl did. And anyway most of them were too busy at the shooting range, cleaning out the town pharmacy, and fucking to really do any kind of effective search.) Rick doesn’t think that Herschel would endanger them intentionally, but Shane points out that since he’s kept a barn full of walkers, he is a son of a bitch. Rick takes issue with Shane starting an insurrection and massacring Herschel’s family right in front of him. Shane responds that his family was already dead.

When Rick tries to explain that Herschel didn’t think his family was dead, just sick, Shane says he doesn’t care what Herschel thinks. Rick angrily tells Shane that he was handling it. But Shane finally comes out and says that what Rick did was have every single one of them out in the woods, every day, looking for a little girl who every single one of them knew was dead. (Probably true. Real searches start at dawn. They always seemed to be planning to go when the sun was already high. Probably after noon. And they always ran out of light and told Carol that they’d start again tomorrow.) He accuses Rick of being just as delusional as Herschel. Shane stalks away. (A visible trail of testosterone follows him like Pepe Le Pew.) Rick looks worried. Of course, Rick always looks worried.

Andrea compassionately covers little Sophia with a blanket as Carol sits mute, staring blankly out the window of the Winnebago. Daryl comes in and doesn’t really know what to say. He’s tried the hardest. Kept the most faith. Nearly died. And he’s crushed that he wasn’t able to save Sophia.

In the farmhouse Glenn asks Maggie if she knew Sophia was in the barn. She is disturbed, but says nothing. Glenn says maybe it’s for the best since now they know and can move on. Maggie is hurt since she doesn’t want him to move on. He thinks the search for Sophia was what was keeping the group together. Maggie wants to know what happens now. Glenn’s answer, “We bury her.” is probably not what she was hoping to hear. He also says they will bury her family. “And then?” she asks. He kisses her on the top of the head and says, “I don’t know.”

Back at the barn with the yard still strewn with rotting corpses, Carl and Lori are having some quality time together. He tells his mom that he thought he’d be the one to find Sophia hiding in a cave or a tree. She’d be safe and he’d bring her back. Lori looks disturbed by this admission. Of course, Lori always looks disturbed. When he tells her, “He did the right thing. Shooting her like that. I would have done it, too.” Lori looks at her son like he is an alien life form. (Maybe she should consider that he takes after his father and is learning quite well to survive in a mother-fucking zombie apocalypse! Yeah it sucks that he won’t know a life of PlayStation 3 and hanging out at the mall, but he seems to be doing fine.)

Lori asks Dale to take Carl to the house so he can rest. (What? He needs an escort across the yard so he can take a nap, but it’s okay to watch his father kill his friend and a mother take a scythe through the head?) As they walk toward the house, Rick tells his son that he dropped his hat and plops it on Carl’s head. Lori is more disturbed.

After a nice close-up of the rotting corpses, T-Dog asks Rick if he wants them to start burying. Andrea says, “We need a service. Carol would want that.” T-Dog agrees that they all want that.

Lori tells the group to dig graves for Sophia, Annette, and Shaun over by some trees and that they’ll need a truck to move the bodies. Shane wants to get the truck. (He’s got something else bothering him. Does the town pharmacy not stock something that would chill this caveman out?)

Since digging three graves will be very hard work (What? No backhoe?), it’s decided that the group will bury the ones they love—and burn the rest.

Lori asks Rick about Herschel and is told he wants them off the farm, or Shane at least. With all the gunfire, more walkers could have heard. Rick then launches into a little pity party about how he went after the walkers who tried to get Sophia, but she still got bit and was there all along. Carl still got shot. People counted on him and he had them chasing a ghost in the forest. He refuses Lori’s comforting gesture and stalks off.

Shane gets to the truck and has a stare-off with Dale. (What is he? 17?) He wants to know if Dale, Mr. Moral Authority and the voice of reason has something to say. When Dale says nothing, Shane punches the truck door. (Yup. About 17, I think.) He continues his lead in this one-man pissing contest by exiting the truck to confront Dale about what good HE is to the group since ALL he does is fix the old RV and babysit the guns. Shane rails on him about not being able to pull the trigger when he had a gun pointed at him since Dale thinks Shane is so dangerous. Then he brags about saving Carl, and “cleaning” out the barn, before he walks away, telling Dale he’ll call next time he needs a radiator hose.  Shane then gets in the truck, and drives off. Dale never says a word. (He wins the stare-off! Yay Dale!)

The three graves have been dug with shovels. Hot, sweaty work. (Nobody is wearing work gloves. I’m pretty sure I’d be a little more concerned about any open wounds during the damned zombie apocalypse myself.)

Lori goes to the Winnebago where Carol and Daryl seem to still be sitting in uncomfortable silence. She tells them that they’re ready for the burial and service. Carol doesn’t seem to want to go. Lori prods her. Carol asks why she should go. Daryl says, “Because that’s your little girl.” She shakes her head and says, “That’s not my little girl. It’s some other thing.” Then she says, “My Sophia was alone in the woods… All this time I thought… She didn’t cry herself to sleep. She didn’t go hungry. She didn’t try to find her way back… Sophia died a long time ago.”

Lori leaves. Then Daryl, who is visibly angered at hearing of Carol’s lack of faith through this whole ordeal, walks out too. (C’mon guys. Give her a break. She shouldn’t have to people-please anyone on the day she witnesses her zombie daughter’s shooting and burial.)

In the house, Herschel is boxing up his wife’s belongings since she’s been dead now for a few hours. (Not a procrastinator, that man.) He comes across a flask in one of the drawers. (He caresses it lovingly—like an alcoholic. Uh oh.)

At the funeral service everyone stands in a line by the graves with the creepy-ass barn in the background. Nothing is said. Nothing. There will be no hoping or praying here today.

In the woods Carol sits alone by a Cherokee Rose shrub and plucks off a petal. Then she finally has an emotional outburst and rips the plant to pieces. (A sad scene, but I kept thinking of how gorillas rip up plants and throw them around to show dominance. Maybe Carol will become more dominant and strong.)

Andrea and T-Dog are loading nasty corpses into the back of a truck. (Why they don’t pull the truck closer to the bodies seem strange. But then, they’re still not wearing gloves. I’d have me a fucking supplied-air hazmat suit and triple gloves before I touched one of those things.) T-Dog remarks that it’s good that Shane did what he did now, when the number of bodies to be burned was still manageable. Dale says, “You can’t tell me this was right.” Rick quickly responds that it wasn’t and that it’s going to cost them with Herschel. Andrea thinks he’s grieving and that he’ll come around and see that they had no choice. Andrea admits that she shot two people. It wasn’t all Shane. (She doesn’t mention the scythe killing.) T-Dog doesn’t want walkers in his backyard. Dale says he doesn’t mean that the problem shouldn’t have been dealt with, but that creating a panic was unnecessary. Lori tells them to quit arguing. It’s done and there’s nothing they can do about it. (Huh? Lori is not going to worry about something? Really?)

As T-Dog drives off with Andrea riding in the back with the pile of putrid bodies, one of the walker’s arms falls off. She calls for him to stop and runs back to pick up the arm. Really gross. (And no gloves.)

In the house, Glenn and Maggie are discussing whether or not he will leave with the group when the time comes, or if he’ll stay with her. He’s cute. Fumbling for words. Flustered. And then in the background, Beth, who was attacked by her zombie mom earlier collapses while washing dishes.

They put Beth on a bed. She’s unresponsive. Lori thinks she might be in shock and wants to know where Herschel is. Glenn says they can’t find him anywhere.

The two former cops are going through Herschel’s room looking for clues to where he might have gone when Shane comes across a flask and says in a condescending cop way, “Looks like he might have found an old friend.” Maggie explains that it was her grandfather’s, that Herschel gave up the booze when she was born, and that he didn’t even allow liquor in the house. Rick asks for the name of the bar in town. Maggie tells him the name of the place and says that he practically lived there in his drinking days. Rick wants to go there. Glenn knows where it is and offers to go with him. Maggie doesn’t want him to go. Lori doesn’t want Rick to go. Shane doesn’t care at all about Herschel.

Then Lori brings up what Carl said earlier, that he would have shot Sophia himself. She’s horrified that their son is getting cold and needs a father like Rick around and alive to grow up in a world like this. (Duh. Seems to me that he’s following Rick’s example pretty well. Probably better to be cold than crying all the time anyway.) She doesn’t think Rick needs to solve everybody else’s problems. He tells her that they need Herschel for the baby and that he’s going to get him.

Outside by the car, Rick is loading his handgun and waiting on Glenn to finish talking to Maggie. He can tell there’s something going on between them. She glares at the car and then stomps into the house as they drive off.

Shane is washing himself using an old hand water pump and a bucket when he hears something moving in the woods. He draws his weapon to investigate. When he sees it’s Carol, he puts the gun away. She’s dirty, cut up, and emotionally used up. He takes her to the pump and helps her wash up. He is gentle with her and offers his condolences about Sophia. He  had no idea she was in the barn. He’s speaking softly. (Maybe he’s a nice guy after all.) But then as he washes her left hand, he lingers too long on her bare ring finger. (NO! NO! NO! Not Shane. Daryl is the one who cares!)

Dale finally tells Lori that Shane is dangerous. She thinks he’s just a hot head. Dale believes Shane sacrificed Otis. He says he can’t prove it, but he thinks he shot him and left him for bait so he could get away. Dale tells her he knew guys like him and that sooner or later he’ll kill somebody else. Lori looks like she believes this is a possibility.

On the way to the bar, Glenn tells Rick that Maggie says she loves him. He’s never had a woman tell him that besides somebody in his family. Glenn didn’t tell her he loved her back and he doesn’t know what to do. Rick advises him to tell Maggie he loves her when they get back to the house. Then Glenn fesses up that he knows Lori is pregnant and that he got her those pills. Rick figured.

At the house, Beth, who collapsed while washing dishes is not looking good. Her heart is racing. She’s burning up. They need Herschel. They need him now. (They NEED to look for wounds and restraints. That’s not shock. That’s her going zombie.)

Lori decides to send Daryl to town to get Herschel. He’s not having it. He refers to her as Olive Oyl (AWESOME!) and says he’s done looking for people and if she wants to get them to have a nice ride.

Rick and Glenn find Herschel at the bar. (He’s still suspicious of Glenn.) He’s also drunk, but aiming to be drunker. Rick explains Beth’s condition. He thinks she’s in shock and probably Herschel is too. Herschel asks if Maggie is with her. Since she is, he doesn’t think there’s anything he could do. He says, “She needs her mother, or rather to mourn like she should have done weeks ago. I robbed her of that. I see that now.”

Rick is gentle with old Hersh. He says that since he thought there was a cure, he can’t blame himself for holding out for hope.

Herschel says that when he first saw Rick running across his field with his boy in his arms, he had little hope Carl would survive. Rick says, “But he did.” Herschel nods and says, “He did. Even though we lost Otis. Your man Shane made it back. And we saved your boy. That was the miracle that proved to me miracles do exist. Only it was a sham. A bait and switch. I was a fool, Rick. And you people saw that. My daughters deserved better than that.” He finishes his drink and pours another.

Back at the house, Lori has decided she’ll go get Herschel and Rick herself. She checks her gun and ammunition and drives toward town. (Her speech to Rick about needing a live dad seems pretty hypocritical at this point. Carl could easily end up with no parents.)

In the car she has a map and her gun on the passenger seat. She picks up the map for a quick check of where she’s headed (since she usually has people to do this kind of thing). While her attention is on the map, a man suddenly appears in front of her in the road and she hits him, smashing her window and sending him flying over the car and back onto the road. It’s hard to tell whether he’s a walker or not. He looks beat up, but his clothes are suspiciously clean. Lori over-corrects and the car goes out of control, off the road, and rolls over a couple of times before landing on its side.

Meanwhile Herschel is refusing to leave the bar. Glenn asks if they should just wait for him to pass out. Hersh tells them to just go. But Rick says he’s promised Maggie he’d bring her dad home safe. “Like you promised that little girl?” (Low blow drunky drunkerton.)

Now Rick is angry. He asks, “So what’s your plan? Finish that bottle? Drink yourself to death and leave your girls alone?” Herschel tells Rick to stop telling him how to care for his family, his farm. He says, “You people are like a plague! I do the Christian thing; give you shelter. And you destroyed it all!”  Rick says that the world was already in bad shape when they met. Herschel says Rick takes no responsibility and that he’s supposed to be their leader. Rick yells, “Well I’m here now! Aren’t I?” Herschel gives up a little and says, “Yes. Yes you are.” He goes back for another drink.

Rick tell Hersh that his girls need him more than ever. Herschel responds, “I didn’t want to believe you. You told me there was no cure. That these people were dead, not sick. I chose not to believe that. But when Shane shot Lou in the chest and she just kept coming, that’s when I knew what an ass I’d been. That Annette had been dead long ago and I was feeding a rotting corpse. That’s when I knew there was no hope. And when that little girl came out of the barn, the look on your face? I knew you knew it too. Right? There is no hope. And you know it now like I do. Don’t you? There is no hope for any of us.”

Back at the farm T-Dog, Shane are stacking up the corpses and are ready to start the fire. T-Dog wonders aloud how many times they’re going to have to do this.  (Ninety-three more times.)

Rick finally says, “I’m not doing this anymore; cleaning up after you. You know what the truth is? Nothing has changed. Death is death. It’s always been there whether it’s from heart attack, cancer, or a walker. What’s the difference? You didn’t think it was hopeless before, did you? And now there are people back at home trying to hang on, and they need us. Even if it’s just to give ’em a reason to go on. Even if we don’t believe it ourselves. You know what? This isn’t about what we believe anymore. It’s about them.”

After Rick’s impassioned speech, Herschel finishes off the glass and puts it down on the bar upside down. He’s been convinced.

Then the bar door squeaks open and two men are silhouetted against the light from outside. One says, “Son of a bitch. They’re alive.”

After pouring a drink one man introduces himself as Dave. “That scrawny-looking douche bag over there is Tony.” (Tony is very fat.) He responds, “Eat me, Dave.” Dave replies, “Maybe someday I will.” Dave tells them they met outside of Philadelphia. Glenn introduces himself and says it’s nice to meet some new people. Rick introduces himself. When Dave asks, “What about you Bill?” Herschel says he just quit.

Dave is trying to come off as an easygoing joker. But when he’s told that Herschel lost a lot of people today, he says he’s truly sorry to hear that. Dave toasts to “Better days and new friends, and to our dead. May they be in a better place.”

Then Dave shows off his handgun and says he got it off a cop. Rick tells him he’s a cop. Dave says “This one was already dead” and then laughs. Tony shoots a creepy, predatory look at them.

Things are getting tense. This is not going to end well.

Rick wants to know why they came south. Dave tells them that they first went to DC after hearing about some kind of refugee camp, but the roads were too jammed so they got away from the highways. Then every group we came across had a new rumor about a way out of this thing. They heard a rumor that the Coast Guard was running ferries to the islands from the Gulf. A railyard was supposedly running trains to the middle of the country. Places like Kansas and Nebraska, since Nebraska has a low population and lots of guns. Glenn says Nebraska makes sense and gets teased for never having been there. There’s a reason it’s called a fly-over state.

Dave asks about Rick, Herschel, and Glenn. When they say they were planning on Fort Benning, they’re told that it’s been overrun by “lame brains.” Dave says there’s no way out of this mess.

Dave remarks that it doesn’t look like they’re living out of the bar. He wants to know where they live. Rick says nothing. Dave has noticed that their cars are not full of gear. Herschel says they’re with a larger group out scouting and thought they could use a drink.

Dave wants to know if this area is safe. Glenn tells him it can be, but there are some “walkers.” Dave’s never heard them called that. He says he likes it better than “lame brains.” It’s more succinct.

Things just don’t seem quite right about these guys.

Dave asks if they’re set up on the outskirts or something. In the new development? Trailer park or something? Farm? Dave softly sings, “Old McDonald had a farm…” You guys got a farm?

Tony takes a piss on the bar floor. The guys want to know if it’s safe and has food, water, and cooze? Rick decides the conversation is over. These guys don’t need any more information from them.

Dave decides the farm that nobody has admitted to sounds pretty sweet. And offers to bring his buddies and pool their resources. Rick says that’s just not an option.

Dave doesn’t think it’d be a problem. Rick and Hersh continue to say that it’s just not possible. But Dave says that he thought they were friends. When they say they don’t know anything about them, he talks about how hard it is out there and that it was rough, the things they had to do out there. He looks to Rick and says he bets that he “got to do some of those things, too.” (Got to? Got to? Alarm bells should be deafening by now.) Ricks eyes are deadly cold.

Dave says everyone is the same. Nobody has clean hands anymore.

“So lets take a nice friendly hayride to this farm and we’ll get to know each other.” (Nice segue there Dave. I’m sure you’re in now.)

Rick, with cop-like calm, again says it’s not going to happen. Then Tony starts to get all excited and when Rick actually tells him to “calm down” he threatens to shoot all three of the men and just take their farm. Dave tries to diffuse the situation.

But everyone is touching their guns even as Dave says that they’re all just friends having a drink. Rick has a guy with a pistol in front of him and another with a rifle behind him.

Dave lays his gun on the bar to show he means no harm. But when he goes down behind the bar to find the good stuff. Rick puts his hand on his gun.

Dave tells Rick he doesn’t know how hard it is. But Rick, who is now letting a little of the cop calm slip away, says he does and that the farm is just too small. He tells them to keep looking. When Dave asks where they should look, Rick says, “I don’t know. I hear Nebraska’s nice.”

Dave smiles, “Nebraska. This guy,” and goes for his gun. But Rick is quicker. Much, much quicker. He shoots Dave in the head splattering the mirror behind the bar with gore and turns and shoots douche bag Tony three times before he can even get his rifle off his shoulder.

Herschel and Glenn seem stunned at the speed of the killing. (Note to self: Always be nice to Rick Grimes.)

In the last scenes Andrea, T-Dog, and Shane burn the pile of corpses while the men in the bar examine Rick’s work. (He decides to go understated and not put a fourth bullet in Tony’s head. I guess he was dead enough.)