Walking Dead - Mid Season Finale
No spoilers, except I'll stipulate at the beginning that I'll speak of the necessity of one character's death (and thereby reveal s/he's still alive at the end of the episode).
All right. The glacial pace finally picked up, and the violence finally erupted. All to good effect. But I think, really, to reveal what everyone is really up to, what they "value" or what kind of people they are. And that's good violence. That's the kind of violence that has me sit up, put my drink down, lean forward, and clench my fists. That's effective and they should be commended for it.
I think everything's come together around the "real" central question or issue of the show: The dead (or becoming dead) aren't the real problem - it's becoming a self-serving, narcissistic sociopath like Shane, who masquerades as a hero - that's the real issue, that's the real danger. Of course, how can someone shoot him in the face, w/o becoming a judgmental, self-righteous prick like he is? Quite a dilemma they've gotten themselves into, but I think a fruitful one.
And my God - how many times will that asshole ask for credit for what he's done (and enjoyed doing, too, I might add)? It's my baby! I saved you! I saved Carl! I didn't mean to leave Rick behind, and besides - he's just not cut out for this! Gimme, gimme, gimme! Wah, wah, wah.
Or, put more positively, I think the show now revolves around the question of how to be a leader (and the related question of democracy, as everyone marginally supports the idea that everyone gets a say). I don't think there's any question that Rick wins in this contest, in the abstract, but he's got to prove himself in the concrete, nitty-gritty of day-to-day existence:
Herschel: "I'll decide what what needs to be done for the community, because I'm older and wiser than anyone else."
Shane: "I'll decide who lives and who dies and how we live, because the rest of you dumbass weaklings just aren't up to the task!"
Rick: "I'll take point, I'll be drained dry of blood, I'll go out in the woods or into a zombie infested city to look for people who probably aren't even alive anymore; I'll even look the other way and pretend I don't know my so-called 'friend' has been boinking my wife, and her baby might be his, because otherwise the rest of you will just start fighting each other and we'll all die."
Yeah, Rick doesn't have a lot of competition in the leadership race.
Now, the other race that's heating up is the "Who gets to Shoot Shane in the Face in the Real Season Finale?" race! I like that race a lot! Rick remains the logical choice, but I give you others:
Carl: That'd be stone cold and so, so satisfying. That'd be the ultimate rejection of Shane's way of "life" (which is only a way of death and meaninglessness). That'd be the ultimate "Fuck you, I'd rather die than live the way you do, get away from me and my mom."
Lori: Similar to Carl's motives, but tainted by self-interest, guilt, and her desire to undo her mistake of hooking up with him.
Dale: I would've bet on him previously, and maybe he'll pull it together, but his speech tonight makes it sound like "no," he just can't do it.
Andrea: I don't think she'll pull the trigger, but I do think her loyalty will be crucial in the weeks to come. She's made it clear she admires Shane, but she also doesn't have all the info; maybe she'll side with him even when everything's revealed. She seems so damaged that it's conceivable. But maybe she was just vulnerable to his ripped-body, alpha-male protector charms, like Lori.
Glen: That'd be a "wow" moment. But they're building him up as quite the unexpectedly assertive guy who's sick and tired of being pushed around.
Maggie: The preview for the next episode made it look like a possibility, or I wouldn't have mentioned it.
Herschel: Another big "wow" moment if it could happen - the pacifist who won't kill zombies decides the living, macho asshole needs to be shot? Like Lori, tainted with revenge and selfish motives, but it'd be satisfying.
And, I think, we're all now pulling for...
DARRYL! - the racist, redneck criminal with a heart of gold shoots the handsome, psycho cop because it needs to be done? Yeah, that'd be a great finale!
So, I think you can tell, I'm rooting for Carl or Darryl!