Shiny Shelf

The Walking Dead #2.10: 18 Miles Out

By Julio Angel Ortiz on 09 March 2012

‘18 Miles Out’ is structured similarly to ‘Save the Last One’, where the teaser opens during the middle of the action, then we flashback to the beginning. Its a structure that serves a survival horror series such as ‘The Walking Dead’ well, considering the twists we’ve come to expect. Although not as good as ‘Save the Last One’, ‘18 Miles Out’ is a taut drama that allows some long-simmering tensions to bubble to the surface at last.

One of the key components to the episode is Rick and Shane finally coming to a head regarding Lori, the baby, and Rick’s role as the de facto leader of the group. Their discussion on the road is a dramatic treat, and exemplifies what the show does best. Andrew Lincoln and Jon Bernthal’s on-screen dynamic shines here, as they continue to drift at opposite poles of morality. Shane’s darker turn over this season has been a fascinating theme, and Rick’s continued attempts to be the better person and pull Shane back from the brink are well-served.

However, in the wider context of the series, Rick’s arc has faltered. His continued indecision is not a character strength, and yet the writers force him into situations where, when taken from a long view, make Rick look naive. In this episode, they drive Randall (the young man whom they saved previously from zombies after falling on a fence and impaling his leg) the titular 18 miles away from Hershel’s farm to let him go off on his own.

After going all of this way, it takes one sentence from Randall – that he went to high school with Maggie – and the implication that Randall may know where the farm is, to cause Rick to balk at their plan and need a night to reconsider. It’s a thin conceit that does no favors for Rick’s character, given his continued holding out hope for Sophia’s safety, going back Daryl’s brother, going after Hershel, and more. Rick is hellbent on being the good guy, but whose decision can be suspect at times. Thankfully, Lincoln’s acting covers a multitude of these sins.

The other key component is the confrontation between Lori and Andrea. Although I don’t care to compare the comic book and television series too often, this is one area where the TV has expanded upon and explored some opportunities. In the comic, the group moved on from Hershel’s farm after the barn incident. Here, the series has used the farm as a way to explore the microcosm of the survivors’ dynamic in a quieter environment. Most telling is the confrontation between Andrea and Lori. It’s interesting that Lori has fallen back to a classical (if antiquated) mode for their mini-society: men are the hunters, women are the homemakers. Lori’s disinterest in such a role, and her objection to Andrea taking a more active part in their defense against the walkers, makes for a fascinating scene. Again, these two represent a dichotomy in the series, and neither is necessarily wrong or right (although Lori reveals a bit about herself in her snipe about Andrea working on her tan while holding a rifle). The best part is that this is realistic; no group would function in perfect harmony, and the prevalent pettiness from pre-apocalyptic society is alive and well here.

The entire Beth suicide watch sub-plot didn’t work for me. Part of the problem is in Emily Kinney’s role and performance. She has had limited time to really develop as a character, so I found myself not really caring about her, and Kinney’s performance is rather flat. There was potential with the tease of an Andrea / Beth discussion about life, suicide, and going on in a world that has fallen apart, but their scene together is unfortunately too short and never really goes anywhere.

And the Rick and Shane comment about the walker guards not having any bites? A potential tease for down the road? I hope so, because the fact that it had non bearing otherwise in the episode makes it an odd, superfluous piece of dialogue.

‘18 Miles Out’ continues a strong second-half of the season, and although light on regular characters (Daryl, Carol, Carl, Dale, Glen, T-Dog, and Hershel are all conspicuously absent this episode), the limited cast, writing, and zombie action shines.

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By Julio Angel Ortiz

Julio Angel Ortiz maintains his collection of curiosities at You can also Like him on Facebook as well and check out his latest writing projects.

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