The Walking Dead, Ep. 2.06: “Secrets” acts as a plot-point clearing house

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The Walking Dead, Season 2, Episode 6: “Secrets”
Written by Angela Kang
Directed by David Boyd
Airs Sundays at 10pm ET on AMC

Simon Howell:

At what point does a show’s pacing shift from “deliberate” to plain old “slow”? The blandly, but aptly titled “Secrets” mostly works as a clearing-house for a whole set of plot points that could and maybe should have been resolved a little more swiftly: Lori keeping her pregnancy and quasi-infidelity to herself; the reasoning behind Hershel’s keeping a barnful o’ walkers; Shane and Andrea’s growing attraction; Glenn and Maggie’s push-pull dynamic.

That The Walking Dead is essentially a soap opera with zombies isn’t in and of itself a problem. When you’re tracking a group of survivors over an extended period of time, incestuous relationships and interpersonal complications come with the territory. The qualifier is that, as a show that takes place in a world overrun by zombies, we should feel like our characters are, you know, in danger. Despite the sharp increase in walker population this week, “Secrets” doesn’t generate even a momentary sense that any of our esteemed survivors are really in harm’s way. The closest we get to that this week is Maggie’s close encounter at the drugstore, but did anyone really think they were going to kill Maggie off this week, while she and Glenn were in the middle of an argument? Before they even get to kiss and make up? It was never in the cards. Similarly, Shane and Andrea’s sojourn in the suburbs is clearly, from the outset, an excuse to get her surrounded and shooting – right down to Shane’s mention of having “a lead” on Sophia’s whereabouts. Are we meant to believe that Andrea really believed that? (The show’s sharpest character this week, actually, is Carl, whose responses and sentiments are all whip-smart. Boy’s earned the hat.)

As for the titular “secrets” and their unveiling, mostly it’s nice to be unburdened of these very familiar plot points, but once again, much of the sense of revelation and development was hampered by predictability. The moment Lori opens up the morning-after pills, it’s clear she’s not really going to go through with it, principally because this is still TV, no matter how “edgy,” and it’s still exceedingly rare for characters to go through with that decision, no matter how apocalyptically dire the circumstances. (This means, by the way, unless Lori changes her mind, that Grey’s Anatomy is actually a more forward-thinking show on this score.) Hershel’s rationale for keeping the herd of zombies is more or less exactly what you’d expect, though it begs the question: if he really wants the group off his property, why is he keeping the walkers a secret? If it’s in the interest of them not killing off his undead family, that hardly holds up, since they’re far more likely to blow their brains out if they come upon them unsuspectingly. If he’s upfront about it, why would they want to stick around some creepy guy with a barnful of zombies, especially with kids around?

That fits the show’s pattern, though, of having characters not speak up when just getting it over with would be both more sensible and usually safer – espeically since it’s inevitable that the truth will emerge one way or another. Hopefully, with most of these contrivances dealt with, the show can pick up the pace and once again feel genuinely tense and exciting.

****

Ricky D:

And once again Simon is completely wrong. Before I get into my review, I just want to state that I totally disagree with his comments above.

Taking into consideration that everybody reacts differently to tough situations – and also taking into consideration that I, nor anyone I know as ever lived through a zombie apocalypse – I will just go on record and say that I am sick of bloggers/critics continuously attacking The Walking Dead based on the fact that they don’t buy into why and how the characters in the series hold on to secrets. Truth be told, people in general, under any circumstance hold on to secrets for two main reasons: Either they don’t want to get caught and more importantly punished for a wrong they’ve committed, or they simply don’t want to hurt someone they care about. Those are the only two reasons.

Tonight’s episode of The Walking Dead was like spring cleaning. The writers finally had a chance to clear some air, end off any long lived plot points, and make way for a new start – and hopefully a better future. Rick now knows Lori is pregnant and that she had an affair with Shane. Andrea finally makes the move on Shane, who’s she’s been clearly eyeing for quite some time, and Maggie admits her strong feelings towards Glenn. We know what lies inside the barn, and we know that Hershel’s hospitality won’t last much longer.The only unanswered question is where is Sophia, but as I’ve mentioned before, I am hoping we never find out. “Secrets” may be slow, but it was a necessary episode to finally get the show moving forward and away from always looking back. The episode served as an emotional payoff to several storylines that have been developing over the course of the season, and more importantly as a setup episode hinting at what lies ahead.

Maggie’s attack at the drugstore only helped build a stronger bond between her and Glenn, and Maggie’s monologue in which she identified Glenn as a leader and hero will undoubtedly make him second guess if he should stick with the group. After all, she is right when she states that the group has not only been using Glenn, but has never really once taken into consideration just how valuable he is. Maggie calling out Lori as a bitch was a highpoint in tonight’s episode, simply because she is right. The Walking Dead clearly has a “lady problem” in the sense that almost all the women on the show are over-emotional, whiny, selfish, and almost always putting someone else’s life in danger. Thankfully, we at least have Maggie around… but for how long?

Glenn played a major part in the episode by proving just how bad he is at keeping secrets. Some of the best episodes from the series are those that offered Glenn a good amount of screen time, and “Secrets” is a prime example of how his character can elevate the show. It’s always nice to have someone around who can offer some much needed comic relief and you have to love just how fast he tells Dale every major secret, with so little words: “There are walkers in the barn and Lori’s pregnant.”

”Secrets” does a solid job in exploring the decision to raise a child during a zombie apocalypse and the possibility and consequences of finding a cure. The hot topic – the pro-life debate, was nicely contrasted with Hershel’s Pro-Undead stance. Lori’s decision whether to keep the baby can raise some heavy heated debate around the dinner table as does Hershel’s decision to keep his family-now-walkers alive and roaming about. This isn’t the first time we’ve come across a character having to make the hard decision of either killing of a zombie who was once a loved one, or keeping them alive-and-undead. We’ve seen it time and time again starting with the series pilot in which Morgan was unable to shoot his walker-wife when having her deadlocked in his crossfire.

“Secrets” could have maybe been aptly titled “Motherhood” as well. Apart from Carol dealing with the disappearance of her daughter Sophia (although she hardly had any screen time this week), Lori quirky becomes a train wreck. Apart from the heavy burden of deciding wether or not she should have a baby, she is also faced with the reality that her young boy is fast growing and losing his child-like innocence. “Everything is food for something,” he tells her just before she is coaxed into letting Shane give him a lesson on how to shoot a gun.

Does anyone else wonder if Dale has a spidey sense? How exactly did he figure out that something terribly wrong happened to Otis, courtesy of Shane’s doing? I can easily believe that he would pick up on Shane and Andrea’s sexual outing and Shane’s affair with Lori, but his knowing that Shane did Otis wrong seemed a bit of a stretch. It did however solidify that Dale indeed harbours strong feelings toward Andrea, and not the father-daughter kind. Their encounter was without a doubt the best scene of the episode and once again gave us a good reason as to why the show-runners opted to keep Shane (a character who quickly dies in the comic book) still very much alive – the reason being: he is simply the best actor on the show.

Since next week’s episode is the midseason finale, it seems a safe bet that those geeks in the barn will be a set up some sort of cliffhanger.

7 Comments
  1. Shawn says

    Honestly, after all of Carls taking about how he wanted to help find Sophia I think in the end he MAY be the one to do it.

  2. sillytee says

    I am still holding out hopes that Sophia is a zombie!!!!

  3. Shawn says

    Sorry Simon, but I am with Ricky on this one, but like Ricky I have foreknowledge of what is/might be to come. This show is moving along at a fairly good pace towards a VERY natural break in Kirkman’s narrative that, if the show holds true to his original through line and I can only assume they will, will see out motley band having many difficult decisions to make. With some rather devastating payoffs. Also, there was a lot established in this episode that will have FAR reaching implications, and just seeing those threads started got me to sit up and take notice. Honestly, I think that the quiet character driven moments behind this show will be how the show pulls the majority of the audience in, and then the shock of losing these people will be the payoff.

    Great reviews guys and well thought out. Even though I disagree with you Simon thus making you WRONG … ;).

  4. Ricky says

    also it seems like even the writers are sick of the Sophia search – she was hardly mentioned in last night’s episode

  5. BoB Marley says

    The pacing is fine, but having to wait until February for six more episodes is a bit tortuous. I suppose it’s better than having to wait an entire year for six more episodes, though. TWD does offer several outlets to the fan who doesn’t want to wait for the walker-like pace of the series. The comic book comes out about once per month, and the Rise of the Governor book was pretty good as well. I’m told it will be a trilogy, which will be interesting to read. Then, there is the video game which quite frankly I’m expecting to be a rushed and lousy piece. I can’t blame an author/creator for trying to make money off of their creations, but at some point you’re over-doing it and watering down the product. Walking Dead bedsheets and lunchboxes are next, I suppose. Or, zombie pencils that run down and rot over time…:-)

  6. Ken from Chicago says

    Secrecy
    Uncommunication
    Noncommunication
    Lack of communcation

    However you call it, it has been the Ulimate Big Bad of Buffy, Smallville, Heroes, Lost, etc.

    — Ken from Chicago

    http://groups.google.com/group/alt.tv.buffy-v-slayer/msg/ee86c3526f1146cb?hl=en

  7. Mario in Philly says

    I liked this episode and am not bothered by the pacing. I’m involved with the characters and take in their every expression. Like the Sophia storyline, I don’t really care about the pregnancy storyline but it does set up conflict and trust issues. Perhaps this lends itself to the appearance of it being a soap opera since these are more melodramatic topics. And I guess we can expect a Rick and Shane blow up next episode. But overall it’s still about characters trying to survive with this big messy world all around them. I’m glad I’m not slaying zombies. I have enough on my plate.

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