This week’s episode, the aptly titled “Secrets”, is reminiscent of a confessional. The episode mostly concerns itself with mini vignettes, as characters swap secrets with each other bringing some of the best scenes of the series.
This time around it’s Dale who gets the best material. His conversation with Hershel about the contents of his barn is a great moment as he realises it is no longer the safe haven he thought it was. Jeffery DeMunn has a fantastically expressive face and he sells his surprise at Hershel’s words. In fact you get the sense that Dale thinks Hershel has lost it, as Hershel tells him that the zombies are in fact just sick and not actually the undead. Following on from this is the electrifying scene between Dale and Shane. After Shane and Andrea return back to the camp the ever-watchful Dale knows something is up. As the two square off, we finally find out that not everyone bought Shane’s tale of how Otis died. The tension is palatable and DeMunn and Bernthal are fantastic. These are two men who have never seen eye to eye and from this moment on are against each other. It is the best scene in the episode.
Staying with Shane, he continues to be an emotionless bad ass. Bernthal has really sunk his teeth into Shane’s new way of life. Teaming him up with Andrea is actually a good move. She has been bouncing around different characters for most of the season and it would seem that she has settled with Shane. In fact it seems like she looks up to Shane as a man of action. She wants to be ready for the future. After their encounter with a bunch of zombies it isn’t a surprise that all the adrenaline and mutual attraction leads to their in car antics.
But not to be outdone by Dale and Shane, Lori gets to drop a few bombshells of her own. Not only does she reveal her pregnancy to Rick, she also tells him of her relationship with Shane. Her confession works well as the cliff-hanger, but what is perhaps the most interesting is Ricks response. He is understandably angry about the baby and Lori’s decisions (more on that later), but it is his candid acceptance of her relationship with Shane that surprises. Of course it will cause tension later but for now it is a great way to take that subplot. Most shows would use it as an explosive confrontational moment, but The Walking Dead merely rationalises it.
Lori does get to deal with two moral dilemmas in this episode, which actually brings a lot of sympathy for the character. The first is whether or not Carl should learn how to shoot a gun. Shane and Rick agree that in this zombie infested world he should know how to defend himself. Lori goes along with it but not after voicing her disdain and issuing an ultimatum to young Carl. Lori has a point that if they let Carl use a gun it will take away some of the innocence inherent within children. It’s a dark day indeed when you have to arm children so they can survive. On a side note Carl is adorable in his dad’s sheriff’s hat and Chandler Riggs is a solid child actor, as his Carl never descends into annoyance.
Lori’s second big choice is what to do about the baby. She can’t see a future for the child and this point of view is reinforced when she finds out from Hershel that he wants our survivors to move on as soon as possible. She does stop herself from getting rid of the child but her viewpoint is logical and that’s why her decision is so hard. The baby’s cry would be like a dinner bell for any zombies near by. The survivors would never be safe.
It’s not all doom and gloom as Glenn still provides some good laughs. However even his life is made difficult due to his loyalty to his friends and not Maggie. It’s a shame that they fallout in this episode as they have a great chemistry. But you can imagine Maggie’s anger when a zombie attacks her. But these scenes between them serve another purpose; they allow Maggie to see what the zombies are really like. This will obviously play a part when Rick tries to convince Hershel to let them stay.
Even though this is a very strong episode it still has a few problems. Namely Carol, who continues to be utterly underwhelming. Even with her child missing her plight doesn’t really connect with the audience. She’s just seems to whine a lot. On that note it is time to address Sophia’s disappearance. Previous reviews have refrained from mentioning how much that plot point drags down the overall pace of the show. It needs to be resolved and soon.
But apart from those two criticisms the show continues to deliver great performances. This episode is perhaps not the best of the season but it has so many fantastic scenes it does come close. The Walking Dead continues to deliver interesting moral dilemmas, new twists on old plots and zombie action.