'The Walking Dead' recap, episode 210: '18 Miles Out'

'He just sat and ate birthday cake and listened to the Lord of the Rings book on tape'

  • Shane Walsh (Jon Bernthal) and Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln).
Shane Walsh (Jon Bernthal) and Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln). (Gene Page/AMC )
February 26, 2012|By Andrew Conrad, aconrad@tribune.com

Billy Crystal and LeBron James ain't got nothing on a zombie being shot in the head through another zombie's head!

The producers of "The Walking Dead"had to compete against both the NBA All-Star Game(Dumb) and the Oscars (Plum dumb) on Sunday night, and Team AMC brought it hardcore. I think most fans would agree that this may have been the best. episode. ever.

What made it great? Here's a quick rundown:

1. The zombie kills. You'll have to wait until the "Best zombie kill" section below for all the gory details, but suffice it to say that I deleted what I wrote down in my notes as the leading candidate about five times.

2. The witty dialog. There's usually some funny quote in each episode to use as the subhead for these blogs. This week there were like six such lines. I think I chose the best one.

3. The arguments. Lori and Andrea had a good pissing contest about who does more work on the farm, and who has been tormented more in the zombie apocalypse, then Andrea and Maggie had a good cat fight. Rick and Shane really got some stuff off of their chests and fought like only bros can fight. You could tell how tense it was when they couldn't man up enough to look each other in the eyes. Speaking of...

4. The no-holds-barred WWE-style fight between Rick and Shane. When Rick was duking the crap out of Shane's face on the ground, the Foley artist went a little bit overboard. It sounded like Rick was putting his fist through a pile of eggshells and balsa wood with every strike. When the shot changed to Shane's face I fully expected to see something that looked like a Cannibal Corpse album cover. But Shane was just panting heavily, like "Is that the best you got cowboy?"

5. The music. It started when we got Clutch in the midseason premiere. But this week we got music from both Sniff 'n' the Tears and Wye Oak! AMC must have some good licensing agreements. I hope this keeps up.

6. The symbolism. What was up with that walker out in the field? Was Shane like "I feel so alone, like a lonely walker in the field. I don't want to be lonely anymore." and what was up with Rick looking at those two dead zombie cops? Was he like "Shane and I used to be just a pair of hombres like these two, maybe I should go save him from his school bus death trap." I don't know, but it's fun food for thought, and it makes me feel like I'm watching some high brow indie movie instead of some pulp that applies to the lowest common denominator.

I don't want to just sit here and stroke the show's ego, though, so here are some cut downs.

1. Sloppy make up. Sometimes the zombies are all hording up in some crowd wearing tattered Harvest Festival scarecrow outfits with their faces all banged up and rotted away. But then the camera angle changes and you see their hands raised up like they're at some Jay-Z concert, and their hands look all nice and healthy like when George Can't-Stand-Ya was a hand model. I don't expect them to be missing fingers and have holes in their hands and stuff, but at least rub some dirt on there or throw some darts at their hands or let a dog bite their hands just a little.

2. Lazy editing. The beginning of the episode started with a scene that we saw later in the episode. I guess it was supposed to be cool foreshadowing or something, but it really seemed to me like they just came up a little short this week and needed 30 seconds more footage so they tacked that on at the beginning. Maybe they had to cut out a scene at the last second because Dale was showing his good ones through his pants zipper like that famous scene in "Teen Woof."

3. Too many computer graphics. Back in the day, when everyone was saying how sick"The Matrix" and "Spiderman" were because of the special effects, I was like "No those movies suck with all their dumb cartoony computer graphics." This show has been good about using real life special effects, but this week, for example, some of the head stabbing was computerized, and when Shane threw that giant "American Pickers" wrench through that window, it was so obviously digitzed. Let the man throw a wrench, dammit!

4. Abandoned characters. There was lots of great violence this week, so I'm not complaining too much, but did you notice that Carl, Daryl, Glenn, Hershel, Dale, Carol and T-Dog did not show their face even once? Were those actors on furlough or something?

Onto random thoughts!

Best special move

Shane's motorcycle slam against Rick. Second place: Randall's zombie arm-break stomp. Sidenote: Rick and Shane's fight reminded me of "Rowdy" Roddy Piper and Keith David throwing down in "They Live."

Behind the music

The music that they blared in Randall's ears so he couldn't get audio clues to get back to the farm seems to have been Sniff 'n' the Tears 1978 debut album "Fickle Heart." At the end of the episode, they play Wye Oak's "Civilian." FYI: Like Clutch, Wye Oak is also from Maryland!

Better choices to blare into someone's ears

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