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Review #3151: The Walking Dead 2.6: “Secrets”

Posted on the 23 November 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Gregg Wright

“Secrets” is a rather drama-heavy piece that focuses primarily on the escalating tensions between characters and between camps. The acting and writing is reasonably good throughout, but one does get the sense that the drama is a bit more forced than usual, particularly in regards to Lori’s pregnancy, which is probably my least favorite aspect of the episode.

Review #3151: The Walking Dead 2.6: “Secrets”

The title of the episode is a pretty good indicator of the subject matter. “Secrets” is all about the secrets that everyone has been holding onto, and the problems that arise when some of them are discovered by others. The biggest, and most interesting secret is the one discovered by Glenn in the closing scene of the previous episode. Hershel is keeping a number of zombies in the barn, and even feeding them meat to keep them alive. Creepy? Yeah, a little.

But from a certain perspective, what Hershel is doing makes sense. He’s a veterinarian; medically-minded. From his perspective, this could very easily be just another curable disease. But the survivors who have been out on the road have completely dehumanized the Walkers. Not only that, they’ve seen direct visual evidence that the Walkers are not curable (at least not any more than any other dead person), through Jenner’s MRI video back at the CDC. But Hershel hasn’t seen this evidence, and he and his family/friends haven’t been put through the same hell that the other survivors have, out on the road.

Even Glenn, the most timid of the Atlanta survivors, has no problem viciously taking out a Walker that threatens Maggie. Maggie is disturbed by the group’s callous treatment of Walkers. It’s easy to look at Hershel and co. as being completely crazy for seeing things this way, not just because we’ve experienced everything the Atlanta survivors have, but also because we, the audience, kind of take it for granted that zombies aren’t people. That’s just how it works in the zombie genre.

Poor Glenn is also stuck with the secret of Lori’s pregnancy, so it’s not surprising that he eventually spills his guts to Dale, who he sees as something of a trusted elder. Dale generally tries to be the most reasonable member of the group and the peacemaker, which can make him seem a bit too self-righteous at times, but typically this makes him one of the more likable characters on the show. This episode is a great showcase of his role in the group.

Dale approaches both of Glenn’s secrets tactically, avoiding a major conflict by approaching each person quietly and calmly, in as non-threatening a manner as possible. The one place where Dale loses a bit of his calm is when he sees a problem involving Shane and Andrea. Dale’s powers of intuition seem to border on the magical, as he knows almost immediately that something went on between Shane and Andrea while they were gone, and he’s not happy about it.

Dale is probably the only member of the group who’s realized that something is wrong with Shane, and that something has been wrong with him for a long time now. I liked the callback to that scene in the first season where Dale catches Shane almost shooting Rick, and Shane has to wriggle his way out of guilt. At the time, you could tell that Dale didn’t really buy Shane’s explanation. Dale has probably been suspiciously keeping an eye on Shane ever since, eventually pushing him into a direct confrontation, which must only further confirm Dale’s suspicions that Shane is wrong in the head.

The problem with Shane is not so much that he’s a pragmatist. What’s wrong with Shane is that he’s starting to like being a pragmatist a bit too much. He’s practically reveling in it this week. The other problem is that Shane’s pragmatism may be more based in serving his own interests than humanity in general. Shane probably would have sacrificed a whole lot more just to save Carl, if he’d had to.

The pregnancy issue is, not surprisingly, the most tiresome and annoying aspect of the episode. Here I was, hoping that Rick would respond to the discovery like an adult. But he gives Lori the third degree for keeping the pregnancy a secret from him. And since it’s a nearly 100% certainty that Rick has known about the pregnancy since Jenner told him about it, Rick is made to look like a hypocritical jerk. He’s known about the pregnancy longer than Lori has! Apparently, he also claims to have known about Lori and Shane for an unknown amount of time now.

Overall, this was a fairly strong installment, but some of its attempts at forcing drama out of the characters feel a bit overly unnatural. There have been plenty of dramas that effortlessly get away with drama that’s regularly several levels of intensity higher. But characters acting out their emotions only works when these emotional outbursts make sense in the context of the character. “Secrets” has done a fairly good job of establishing Shane’s state of mind, but some of the material involving Rick and Lori feels overly artificial.

Rating: 7/10

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