So, it probably wasn’t the point of the season finale, but I suddenly find myself far more interested in the Rick-Lori-Shane triangle than I was previously. The flashback in the beginning of “TS-19,” where Shane saves Rick’s life by correctly guessing that zombies are too stupid to push a cart out of the way of a hospital room door, made Shane about 10 times more interesting. I admit, on one hand, it may be a bit inconsistent after he seemed to consider shooting Rick last week, but I think Shane can hold all of these conflicting feelings — love/lust for Lori, affection for Carl, deep love for/resentment of Rick — in his head at the same time. He did what he could to save Rick, but told Lori Rick was dead in order to get her to leave town — effectively saving her and Carl. In other words, I don’t doubt that Shane loves Rick, but he is also really confused, and with the incredible internal and external pressure he’s under, is making really poor decisions.
But poor decision-making doesn’t include rape. I’m not sure where the producers are going with Shane, but rape or attempted rape is generally considered a sign that a character is irredeemably bad (notable — and still somewhat troubling — exception to this rule: Chuck Bass). After Shane, predictably and drunkenly, tries to rape Lori and she fights him off, there are no consequences for him aside from a couple of scratches. I don’t much care for the rape device because it portrays rape as romantic desperation/desire for a woman who is withholding sex and affection, even though rape is about anger and a desire for power (both of which, granted, Shane is probably feeling). At any rate, I get the impression from my friends who have read the books that Shane is not likeable, so maybe that’s where this is headed.
As for the rest of the episode, I found it uneven, but still interesting. It was good to get some sense of what happened during the days when Rick was unconscious, and to see some science-y stuff. I hated the CDC-will-explode-in-an-hour plot point, and I was disappointed that Jacqui turned out to be a redshirt. Despite being interested in Andrea in the last episode, I found myself not particularly invested in whether she stayed at the CDC and died, or went with the group (though it was kind of amusing that Dale didn’t even bother trying to talk Jacqui out of staying). Watching it with a maritime reporter meant that I found out grenades don’t actually work the way Rick’s did. And my roommate pointed out that if they hadn’t been killed by the huge CDC explosion in their Winnebago that looked like it was only 50 feet away, they probably would have suffocated. So that was stupid.
A strong finish? Sorta. I think last week’s episode was better, but this is a finale that will make me return to the show next fall, for sure.
In the meantime, I’m trying to decide whether or not to read the comics. Conveniently, Scott Meslow has an interview up at The Atlantic with the series’ creator Robert Kirkman, where Kirkman talks a bit about adapting a comic for television. The whole thing is pretty interesting, but one thing I think we definitely need is a better-defined set of rules for zombies. Kirkman is attempting to do that, but I find his vision of zombies conflicts with World War Z and The Zombie Survival Guide (which would be my votes for zombie canon). This isn’t bad, necessarily, but Kirkman doesn’t seem to have put as much work into defining his zombies as Max Brooks has. But maybe my preference for having the rules defined before we focus on the stories is making me impatient.