Secrets is a very apt title for this episode as the two secrets that Glenn has been tasked on keeping reverberate through our group of survivors and the host. This is also an episode of tests as well, some of which have to do with the secrets being held, and others have to do with with the realities of the ongoing struggle for survival in a during zombie apocalypse. As one of the most complex, and perhaps best episodes of the season so far, we get significantly more insight into what is holding our group of survivors together and what may tear them apart.
But what’s no secret is the classic traditional man-woman dynamic which is presented here (with of course a perverse twist or two.)
One of the more enjoyable and perverse qualities of this episode is in it’s exploration into the more primal drives of human nature. And the opening sequence works well to make viewers squirm a bit, especially hard core PETA types. So yeah, not only do the Greene’s have a gaggle of zombies tucked away in a barn. They also feed them. And make it easy for them to eat, by ensuring the live chicken that are dropped down can’t run away.
Yes, it’s always bad day if you’re a chicken on Herschel’s Farm.
Glenn’s having a hard time keeping mum about the barn full of walkers the night before, which Maggie sees and tries to control with a gift basket, even if she won’t explain about the barn walkers.
“You’re trying to buy my silence with some fruit,” he wonders accusingly.
“No,” she tells him, “there’s also some jerky.”
He even tries to reason with Lori, regarding her pregnancy.
“If your not going to let Rick take care of you, then some one has to,” he insists chivalrously, but she also shuts him down. Bursting at the seams, unable to carry the burden by himself, he turns to the one who, probably culturally for him, provides the best option for sharing the secrets with: Dale.
Now Dale, like Shane, thinks he knows better than anyone else what to do to keep the group together and alive, and works on using this new knowledge in his own passive aggressive way, but perversely, his efforts don’t really help at all. He confronts Herschel and Lori about their secrets, and while they share the truth, but demonstrably refuse his support. Things go from bad to worse when he confronts after his gun & zombies date with Andrea (more on this later), coming a hair’s breath of accusing him of killing Otis (referring to the time he raised his gunsights on Rick) and telling him to leave town.
Understandingly, Rick decides to get the old man to back off by scaring the willies out of Dale in his best Clint Eastwood rasp:
“Say I’m the kind of man who’ld gun down his best friend, what do you think I’d to to some guy I don’t even like, when he starts throwing accusations my way.”
The message: nobody likes an old man meddling in their lives. The other message: you don’t get approval from the patriarch by teaching a woman that she can be self reliant and make her own decisions. And Rick, it’s right to get permission, because there’s nothing will make a woman sexually ravenous than watching (or participating in) splattering zombie brains (apparently the lat word in female Viagra.)
Another message: There’s nothing like a zombie of horde of zombies to spice up a date.
Now it’s important to note that the sexual politics in this show are strictly pre-feminism and the writing is guy oriented. The women do the domestic work while the men go out hunting and gathering. The women barely interact with each other, except, again, over domestic issues. Andrea is about the only woman who isn’t presented as a housewife/girlfriend is Andrea. But even was immensely angry at Dale for forcing her to act the hero. Maggie, who was all action-heroine the first time we saw her, has devolved to the position of Glenn’s girlfriend. When they go back to the pharmacy to get drubs for Lori (which Maggie invites herself to) she does nothing to defend herself against an attacking zombie, allowing Glenn to be the action hero (she later declares confused Glenn an intelligent, capable, leader before practically sexually assaulting him.)
Andrea, on the other hand grabs for deserving Shane’s privates after their zombie date. Now, all through this episode, Shane’s been trying to teach her the finer points of gunplay, getting her all riled up (coming across like a crazed drill sergeant) after she couldn’t hit a moving target. To his credit, though, he wouldn’t treat her like she needs to be protected like a little girl (even if he told her she shot like one.) And even when the zombie horde attack them (while searching for Sophia) in a ruined subdivision, his main thought is to bolster her self reliance.
Still, she’s been presented as too much of a self-centered narcissist to be a genuine leader any time soon, I reckon.
But she’s kind of the exception that proves the rule, as when the two Herschel Farm women show up to get gun training by Shane, they note that it’s because Otis isn’t around any longer to protect them.
Poor tormented pregnant Lori. Still on her ‘The Road‘ kick, she tries to overdose on morning after pills, then forces herself to throw them up. Yes, the show has to throw the ultimate womanly horror out at us.
“You threw up the pills,” a distraught Rick tells her during their end of episode spectacular emotional blow up. “You want that baby.”
“Not this,” she insists. “I’m not giving birth in a ditch.”
But you see, It’s all about not forcing the decision on Rick. She’s being a hero, but the womanly kind of hero. Rick almost breaks down in tears about her behavior. After all, she just accused him of keeping secrets from her, and her she is acting the hypocrite.
On the other hand, he’s pretty understanding when he learned what she was doing with Rick. But then, that he understands. He was dead, the world went to shit, and she’s a woman. She surely needed a man to protect her.
Rating: 4 out of 5 (-0.5 for the continual level of genderfail presented)