“We tried to kill each other man….Did you think we were going to forget about it all and ride off into the sunset together?” – Shane

Whew. I don’t know about you but I’ve got to catch my breath after that episode. I guess last week’s episode really was the calm before the storm. We got several great zombie kills, but as always The Walking Dead was at its best when the humans were providing the biggest threats. No threat has been more menacing to Rick and his family than Shane.

The episode starts off with the funeral of Dale, a character we cared far more about than tiny Sophia. Interspersed with the funeral scenes we get some sweet walker rampage killings featuring Shane, Andrea, Daryl, and T-Dogg. Believe it or not T-Dogg actually appears several times in this episode, and GASP! utters a few lines even. (Including what I thought was cool foreshadowing when he says, “Governor called…you’re off the hook.”) Andrea’s deadly use of a pitchfork was especially satisfying to watch. Rick tells the group that the best way to honor Dale would be to pull together…….sorry Rick but this group is pulling together about as well as Dale’s abdomen after being torn in two.

Several minor story lines occur in this episode that were obviously overshadowed by the shocking ending. For one, Herschel has gone from wanting the group to leave his farm… to inviting the entire circus into his house. Carl confides to Shane that he stole the gun and failed to kill the zombie that ripped Dale open. Shane convinces Rick to talk to Carl, where he gives the gun back to his son after a nice heart to heart. Apparently Glenn is attempting to singlehandedly kill the “Asians are really smart” stereotype, because he inexplicably refuses the beautiful farmer daughter’s invitation to bunk in her room. Glenn does fix Dale’s RV though, and he and Andrea have a nice conversation that seems to give the two some closure with regards to Dale’s death. Daryl seems to be coming back to the group. He shows support for Rick saying he “shouldn’t have to do all the heavy lifting”, and for the most part seems to be returning to the heroic walker assassin he was at the first of the season.

Then there’s Lori. If anyone is to blame more than Shane himself for his demise……..it’s Lori. She can’t leave well enough alone, so she pulls Shane aside to let him know that a) she is sorry for the pain she caused b) she has no idea whose baby she is carrying and c) she really wanted to thank him for saving their lives. Ummmmm you already did thank him Lori….surely you remember……it’s why you don’t know whose kid you are carrying. Way to go Lori! You just single handedly signed your husband’s death note OR you planted the seed to send Shane on a suicide mission.

Armed with newfound hope from Lori, Shane heads over to see Randall. We see that Shane is really going off the deep end, looking more like Jack Torrance from The Shining than the former cop we met back in season 1. He nearly kills Randall, but instead hatches an elaborate plan to end his feud with Rick once and for all. Shane brings Randall out to the woods and breaks his neck. He then channels his inner Tyler Durden and smashes his own face on a tree. Shane returns telling the others that Randall attacked him and has escaped. This prompts Rick to form a search party which inevitably ends up with him and Shane alone in the woods (just like Shane planned it).

The much anticipated Rick/Shane showdown did not disappoint. From the outset you got the feeling that Rick knew Shane was up to something. Once Rick pieces together the story, he and Shane are at a standoff under a full moon at night. Shane believes that Lori and Carl will be able to go back to their dysfunctional blended family just as soon as Rick is gone for good. You could see that Rick is quickly realizing that Shane can never be trusted again. Much like Shane claimed that Randall was too big of a threat to allow to live, he himself has become the biggest threat to Rick’s family. I honestly thought Rick was going to draw on him and gun him down like an old west showdown, but when he plunges the knife into Shane it was a much more personal kill that better satisfied the end of such an intertwined relationship. For those of you wondering how The Walking Dead survives without Shane….have no fear, the comics killed him off on like page 8 and have gone on to enjoy widespread success.

Like all things in the world of The Walking Dead, the answer to one question has only raised a much bigger one. Turns out that those two officers we saw who had turned without being bitten really were foreshadowing something bigger. After having his neck snapped by Shane, Randall turns and has to have his head split by Glenn in the woods (as far as we know he was never bitten by a zombie). Then in the climactic scene Carl (once again free from any adult supervision during the apocalypse) strolls up on Rick right after he has stabbed Shane. Carl has to put a bullet into zombie Shane’s head as he rises and sneaks toward Rick. I can only assume he said, “This one’s for my mom!”, or is it possible he dislikes her as much as the rest of us? Anyway, now we definitely have a disease that is somehow being transmitted other ways besides just bites from the infected. Maybe the whisper from the CDC actually had to do with THIS?

The episode ends with a wide shot of Rick and Carl, and you can see a fairly large horde of zombies closing in on them. I guess next week’s season finale will begin with a heavy dose of walker action. We also learned that Randall’s group of lowlifes is living only a few miles away. Perhaps a run in with them could end the season by setting up the Governor character, who has already been promised for season 3. No matter what I have a feeling that next week’s episode will continue the rapid pace, and end this season with a bang. What did you guys think? Are you glad to see Shane go?

***There was a lot in this episode that can be related to the graphic novels. I would ask that any comments try not to give away upcoming events from the source material for those that haven’t read it. Other than that…..let’s discuss!