Alright, The Walking Dead. That is what I’m talking about! After dicking around for so much of the season, we finally got another top-tier episode of the series. It may not match the heights of the pilot or “Chupacabra” but tonight’s episode was easily one of the best of the season. Rather than jerking the audience around by repeating the same argument that we’ve heard a million times this season, the episode made these differing philosophies take corporeal form with the epic showdown between Rick and Shane that we’ve been waiting for all series long (even if it still ended with both men standing). Unlike last weak’s episode which started strong and hten imploded. This episode understood the power of actual established plot structure with a great, draw-you-in beginning, a simmering tension for the build-up, and then all hell broke loose by the end. If only we didn’t have to watch Lori and Andrea go through a fairly pointless cat-fight/battle of wills as filler, this could have been one of the best episodes of the series yet.

The episode begins with a short flashforward before the action officially starts later on. We see Rick and Shane running through a junkyard of sorts that’s overrun with Walkers while the boy the group had taken hostage after the shoot-out in town last week crawls to a knife while he’s tied up. After that exciting intro, we go back to Rick and Shane driving to this junkyard as Rick pulls over his car and he and Shane finally have the talk about how the camp is going to be run (sorry. I’m watching the Oscars right now and it’s very distracting). Rick eventually lets Shane know that Lori’s his, Carl’s his, Lori’s unborn baby is his, and the group will be run under his philosophy. Shane apologizes for sleeping with Lori and it seems like things have finally settled between the two, but of course, things can’t be that easy. When Rick and Shane finally arrive at the junkyard, they are all set to leave their hostage behind (I think his canon name is Randall) when Randall suddenly spurts out that he knows Maggie. If he knows Maggie, he knows where the farm is. Shane nearly kills him, but Rick stops him and the two proceed to beat the fuck out of each other for a good ten minutes. When Shane throws a wrench at Rick and it crashes through a window, all of the Walkers (and there are a ton of them) in the area swarm our hapless heroes.

The group quickly gets separated after the zombies attack, and while Rick nearly finds himself getting eaten after a pile of zombies lands on him (and he shoots one zombie through another zombie like he’s Raylen Givens [I feel like Raylen has become my go to comparison for bad ass cred]), Shane winds up getting locked in a bus while the walkers swarm the door that Shane is barely managing to keep shut. Their hostage manages to untie his binds, but Rick gets a hold of him before he can escape. While it looks like Rick’s initial plan is to abandon Shane to his fate, Rick is still a good guy at heart, and he comes back with the hostage to make a daring Shane rescue. While it seems like this has settled things for now, we know it won’t be long til Shane’s inner-douche bag comes back out. Also, back at the farm house, it turns out Hershel’s daughter wasn’t bitten. She’s just suicidal. Lori stops one of her suicide attempts and then Andrea essentially encourages a second go, but when the daughter tries again, she realizes she wants to live. However, this means Andrea is now forbidden from being anywhere near the farm house. Have I mentioned how little I give a fuck about what happens at that damn farm anymore?

So, I realize that earlier in this post I talked about how I started writing this review during the Oscars. Well, that proved far too distracting, and I haven’t touched it again til today since yesterday was my birthday and I had plans with a friend after I got work. I just didn’t have any time for the blogging. So, we’ll keep this review short and sweet (especially since I have to review a disc of Doctor Who and a new episode of Justified comes on in 50 minutes. Thank god there’s no new eps of Glee til April). If you take the unnecessary drama that arose between Lori and Andrea (because I seriously thought we had moved past the whole Andrea suicide thing and this just seemed like another opportunity for the show to rehash “drama” that we’ve already dealt with many times before), this was definitely one of the best eps so far. I love it when shows experiment with non-linear storytelling, and while the only thing here in that vein was the intro, it definitely added to the tension of just exactly when the hell we knew was coming was going to break loose. Similarly, the show has been building up to this fight between Rick and Shane forever, and it didn’t hold back. It might not have had the same emotional power as Walt and Jesse beating the fuck out of each other on Breaking Bad (because neither Rick nor Shane will ever be half the characters as Mr. White or Jesse), but it certainly made up for it in sheer testosterone. Also, the make-up work on the zombies was top notch as well. It’s been a while since we’ve seen so many walkers in action and so many walkers up close and personal and the make-up department has always been the unsung hero of the program.

Like I said, this review will be short (it’s weird that in my universe, 1000 words means short), but here are some final thoughts. I was very excited to hear that David Morrisey had been cast to play the Governor, a villain from the comic book series. David Morrisey played the decoy next Doctor in one of the mini-movies that ended David Tennant’s run on Doctor Who and he was wonderful. The Governor is (along with Michonne, seriously where the fuck is this woman) one of the best characters from the comics that hasn’t been seen on the TV series at all and at this point, I had just begun to assume that he wasn’t going to be used. I’m really getting fucking tired of the farm house. Like, in the comics, they were there, but they weren’t there for very long. It was like exactly one trade paperback (6 issues maybe) and then they were off to the prison. I know the season has only been going for 10 episodes, but I feel like we’ve been at that damn farmhouse for years. I want to go to the prison. The best stories from the comics occurred at the prison and a change of setting is probably exactly what this series needs to find its way again. Still, even with an increasingly flawed structure, there’s no debating how genuinely entertaining and exciting this week’s episode was.

Final Score: A-