Walking Dead: “18 Miles Out”

Posted on February 29, 2012

Better late than never, but this’ll be a short one.

There was a welcome sense of focus to this episode and that’s something the show’s needed since, well, forever, really. Unfortunately, the writers chose to focus on a bunch of characters they’ve already spent way too much time on. We’re really hoping they got it out of their systems, because one more episode of the Rick, Lori, & Shane Show is going to send us running for the remote to change the channel. That’s an honest hope, by the way. Call us naive, but there’s a possibility that this episode served as a way to tame the Shane/Rick/Lori narrative just a little bit; first, by having Rick and Shane just pull their dicks and a ruler out and get it over with, showing them both to be a little stupid in the process; and second, by having another character finally call Lori on her massive pile of bullshit. That it was Andrea, who is both not likeable and possibly a little crazy, who put her in her place only made it all the sweeter.

But let’s face it: the writers are inexplicably in love with these three characters so the likelihood of them not being the center of the story for a good while seems pretty slim. Even the Lost writers knew when to ease off all the Jack/Kate/Sawyer stuff. This pack seems determined to keep giving the audience exactly what the audience has been complaining about the most. We can’t believe, after that awful Sophia storyline, they threw another character-in-crisis storyline at us and once again, it’s a character most of us couldn’t have named or picked out of a lineup before this episode. Has T-Dog spoken at all in the last 3 episodes? Can we give Carole something to do besides being a doormat; Dale something to do besides being a control freak; and Darryl something do besides lash out at people? Do we really need to spend half an episode perched on the edge of some farm girl’s bed, as characters wring their hands over her fate?

And we get it: it’s simply a tool for the characters to have discussions about big questions and to reveal something about themselves. Fine. But the discussion of whether or not to go on in this world is a theme of the show; one that has almost been beaten into the ground at this point. And we already knew that Lori was self-centered and high-strung and that Andrea is dark and maybe just a little bit nuts. The only value to this storyline was that it forced a confrontation between these two women, but that could have been accomplished in dozens of other ways. Sorry to be so callous, but we just don’t give a shit about nameless suicidal farm girls when there are a half-dozen people we’ve been following since episode one who we barely know at all. By all means, throw in new characters to the mix, but we would have been a lot more invested in this story if it was about Carole wanting to kill herself.

What we want is for them to stop asking the question of whether or not to go on, and get on with showing us how these folks are going to go on. Where are they, exactly? What are their goals? Not just immediately, but in the long term? What are they fighting for? “Survival” isn’t enough of an answer to hang an entire television series on. We’re heading into the end of the second season, the show needs a mission statement and some world-building desperately. We’re just optimistic enough to still believe that the following bits will give us more of what we’re looking for: The introduction of Randall, the fact that some time has passed (they’re finally mentioning an upcoming winter), and the short discussion about walkers without bite marks, which Rick seemed awfully keen on NOT having. We need a mythology to this show. This was a fairly decent episode overall, but let’s get this car MOVING, folks.



[Photo Credit: AMC]

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  • I can’t stand the lack of movement or the actual movements they make (if that makes any sense).  The show shouldn’t be logical because if that were the case, Me being a logical person would just stay on the farm ALL THE TIME where its safe. But because it’s a show they must make it entertaining but why constantly have them make the silliest moves that no way entertains the audience?  Why constantly go in to town, or the suburb or the abounded camp or whatever it was?   Lets get some real movement, why can’t they get back on the road or something, meet some new characters, a new plot, new goal?

    • No, the farm is not going to be safe long-term.  And it doesn’t really help you long-term even if it is — there’s no way to build a society on just the farm.  Seriously, people, FIND A BOAT — once you clear an island of zombies, it’s a highly defensible position that also happens to better stocked as a general rule than most towns.  You’re in ATLANTA, on a freaking COAST! 

      • HobbitGirl

        I agree with you on the island part, but Atlanta’s seriously nowhere near the Georgia coast. They’d have to drive six or seven hours with the boat before they could take it to an island.

        • YoungSally

           Maybe they could park in the middle of Lake Lanier.

  • BigShamu

    After watching Frontline’s report on the fukushima daiichi nuclear reactor, I’m thinking with all the nuclear reactors in that region that the happy residents on The Farm won’t live too long anyway.

    Gotta say I’m with Andrea.  Who died and made Lori, Queen of The Stupid, the boss?

    • Technically, 99% of the population died and made her the boss, but I would be fine with Andrea killing her in turn to take the job.

      • BigShamu

        Amen Sister.

    • Well, that would depend heavily on the spread of the zombie infection and the response to it.  Ideally as soon as such a plague began, reactors would be shut down. Of course, unless this is set in some alternate universe which has people who make sense (clearly not one of the rules of their universe) and political leaders who do their jobs correctly (pretty sure there’s no such place, no matter how many there are in the multiverse), that probably wouldn’t happen.

      • BigShamu

        You mean kinda like how the hospital Rick was in shut down?

  • quiltrx

    Speaking of characters no one can name…for three weeks my hubby and I have been wondering where the hell that nameless boy that lives on the farm is.  (We think maybe he’s the boyfriend of suicidal girl, or something???)  Did he just wander off?

    And if they don’t give T-Dog something to do soon, dude should just quit the show.  Who wants to be ‘token black guy’ when you’re a big, muscled, potential badass?

    • BookishBren

      The one who helped Hershel and Rick pull those two zombies out of the pond before all hell broke loose at the barn? I agree….he seems to just pop up every now and then. Seems like he was at the dinner table last week when they realized Lori had wandered off like a fool. He is very much a peripheral character who isn’t used much, like Otis’ wife who just comes in when Hershel needs a nurse assistant. 

  • FashionShowAtLunch

    That whole interchange only served to make me hate both Andrea and Lori more.  Although at least it provided some drama, so that doesn’t bother me so much.  I don’t need to like my characters, I just need them to DO something.

    I don’t get how suddenly Lori has decided to revert to caveman gender roles, but ew.

    • SheWhoMustBeObeyed

       Oh that made me INSANE! “How dare you think you can protect us as well as the men, Andrea! Don’t you know that women are only for cooking and cleaning?” As if somehow gender roles are inborn and of course, Andrea should do the washing, even though that’s not what she wants to do or is good at.Maybe she and Glenn should switch places since Glenn seems to be balking at the more dangerous missions. Why force people to take on roles because of gender? It’s dumb.

    • EditKitten

      It totally made me insane, too, but it also served a purpose — that some people, despite all of this, are stupidly clinging to an old mindset, even when nothing makes sense anymore, ESPECIALLY that sort of insane “Jane clean, Tarzan kill” idiocy. It just served to make Andrea (unfortunately) right and Lori even more ridiculous, but served to show just how backward Lori is … or perhaps remind us that they are, after all, still in the South. I dunno. Drove me batty, yet still seemed to have a place in the narrative. Or am I nuts?

  • BookishBren

    What did everyone make of Shane seeing that solitary zombie twice? The writers seemed to want to tie this into a message about Shane. Maybe his idea that he could go off on his own and this episode demonstrated to him that he does need help? The isolation he feels now that Rick is back and he has been pushed out of Lori’s life? 

    This episode did seem very focused on just a very few characters. I also hope they have gotten it out of their systems. I would love to see some development between Carole and Darryl.

    • BigShamu

      I forgot about that.  Maybe it was a new car ride game – I Spy A Walker…..in a dark suit.

    • pawtley

      My thought was the latter, and since it was possibly/pretty much the same zombie there and back, I think maybe it was meant to show that he felt alienated on the way out, and alienated on the way back, i.e. he won’t be licking alpha dog Rick’s boots anytime soon, nor will they be bros again (unless zombified, like the cop/guard pair they found side-by-side).

  • pawtley

    GREAT call on Carole as a more effective potential suicide–Darryl could’ve played the Maggie/intervention role, maybe showing he does care? I did enjoy this episode over the first half of this season, but where was Carole, Darryl, T-Dog, or Dale? I so agree with the get-over-this-love-triangle sentiment, or at least give some air time to other characters and plots.

  • pawtley

    My thought was the latter, and since it was possibly/pretty much the same zombie there and back, I think maybe it was meant to show that he felt alienated on the way out, and alienated on the way back, i.e. he won’t be licking alpha dog Rick’s boots anytime soon, nor will they be bros again (unless zombified, like the cop/guard pair they found side-by-side).

  • Glen Coleson

    I understand that they wanted a tonal shift, and thats why they went to the farm in the first place, but I think they’ve dwelt on it entirely too long. Its really dragging down the show for me. I really don’t care about Hershel or Maggie, or their nameless family members. I’m glad i read this cause it helped articulate whats been frustrating: the lack of direction.

  • I’m wondering if Otis will turn up as a walker one of these days.  Some of them seem to have faint traces of memory.

    •  Me too because I can’t believe they cast Pruitt Taylor Vince just to kill him off that quickly.

      • I dunno. They cast Michael Raymond James and killed him off even quicker.

        •  They at least explained that.  Robert Kirkman said he cast MRJ because he wanted the audience to assume he’d be a new series regular.  That way we were surprised when he was killed off so quickly.

  • GenXcellent

    Shane is the only character on the show who seems interesting to me at all…and even that is a little forced.  I think I’d rather watch a show about the “evil” pack of guys from Philly that were offed in the bar.  At least they had some zing. The other people, including (and maybe especially?) Rick are so dull.  I just don’t care about them.  It kind of makes me want the zombies to ‘win.’

  • I was so irked that Andrea didn’t call Lori on the group-wide assumption that it’s a woman’s role to do the cooking, laundry, etc.–that was a perfect opportunity for it, what with the working on her suntan crack.  It’s apparently perfectly appropriate for Dale or Glen or any of the men to be lookout for hours on end, but if Andrea does it, she’s shirking her womanly duties, or just playing tomboy.  I sincerely hope the writers are not also just assuming along with Lori and the rest of the group that this is the way things should be.

    • k op

       The writers have assumed this from the beginning, the gender divide, and in that scene seemed to be justifying it to the audience. 

    •  I think it’s easier for Lori and Carole to assume those roles because that’s what they did before the zombies.  Both were stay-at-home moms from what we’ve seen.  But, for Andrea it’s not so easy.  IIRC, she and her sister were on a road trip when all hell broke loose.  They were independent and taking care of themselves without relying on a man.  It has to be immensely frustrating to her that that’s all anyone thinks she’s capable of.  Maybe, eventually, they will run across more women she can relate to.

      • k op

         So these naturally home-bodied moms, what exactly are they doing?  Cleaning a few dishes?  Cooking a chicken?  That doesn’t take 6 women to accomplish and those are the only things WD has shown us so far.

        What about food stores for winter or when the gas finally runs out for all those cars and they can’t run to town on a whim anymore?  Will these natural homebodies get off their duffs soon and go on USEFUL foraging runs to empty the town’s store or the crops off other farms?  Or will they keep sending a man to town twice a day for more E.P.T.s?  How about planting a garden?  Chopping wood?  Tending those horses (which seem to have conveniently disappeared.)

        One more scene of a woman drying a teacup on this show and I’ll scream.  Yeah, Lori, that’s the meaningful work women accomplish while men are doing their man thing.

        If the Walking Dead writers aren’t interested in the female roles, they shouldn’t have them on the show.

        •  I’m not, by any means, saying that they don’t need to learn how to do other stuff.  It’s just that they are all trying to cling onto familiar things in this world.  Doing household work and letting the men do the “hard” stuff is what makes them feel normal.

          Maggie is a perfect example of a balance between Lori and Andrea.  She cooks or cleans when she needs to but when we were introduced to her, she came swooping in on horseback to take out a walker.  She also, apparently, was the person who did the runs into town.  I hate that they’ve taken her away from that a bit.

          • k op

             Sorry about that Goldie.  I wasn’t arguing with you but with the idiotic script writing.

             I suspected the show was headed into the direction of the Great Gender Divide when in Ep 3 (or something early) all women were placed at a river washing clothing while the walkers were attacking left and right. It doesn’t follow with any history I’m aware of that when disaster hits, women fuss over clean tee shirts.

            It does fit a restrictive stereotype, though, silly little women.

            What should concern all these folks more is food and clean water.  So far, they have an abundant supply from some hidden craft services table.  They have to be doing something to purify that ground table well water after the Walker decomposed in it.  No, they rather dry tea cups and sort linens.  Come on!

          •  No, I didn’t think you were arguing with me.  You have very good points.  I just wanted to let you know I don’t disagree with you but I can see both sides (which is a problem I have in life as well, lol).

            You’re right though.  We don’t really see or hear them talking about trying to conserve food and water.  Instead, they’re sitting down to these huge, table overflowing meals.

    • Carey Cauthen

      Exactly. It has been an underlying theme, but having it said aloud that way — and by a woman no less — really infuriated me. I didn’t like Lori anyway; now I want her gone. That is just so gross. I understand why Rick, Shane, and Darryl are automatically on guard duty. They were trained for it. But Glen? Dale? Unless there is a specific task of infiltration for Glen (rare, now that they’ve settled down on the farm) or a broken down car for Dale (even more rare), why shouldn’t they be doing laundry? Cooking? Playing nursemaid? Why should Andrea (who is not exactly my favorite character, but I was cheering for her on Sunday!) who has taken the time to train herself to be a guard and a fighter be expected to do laundry just because of her gender? It’s just disgusting.

    • Jennifer Coleman

      I was happy with Andrea’s ‘Bitch, please’ schooling of Lori on any front, but it is wrong that the TPTB are making Andrea a slightly less nutball female version of Shane; all ready to take everything to the extreme, as she did with encouraging random suicidal sister. I suppose the plan is convince us that extreme behavior is necessary in this world (because Andrea and Shane more often get better survival results) but do we need to be banged on the head with it with 2 characters? So annoying!

      And no T-Dog in the episode is good to me because it means he remains alive for 1 more episode – if there was ever a red-shirt, it’s him – I just know one day we’re going to be treated to a shot of some zombie scooping brains out of his head.

    • tsid2012

      I KNOW!  I listened to that little speech of hers cringing in horror!  Seriously Lori, this isn’t 1892 and you’re not Amish.  Or any other sect that forces women to serve the men.  That part of this show just bugs the shit out of me.  And I’m a man.  I can’t imagine how much it bugs most women.

  • Is anyone watching The Talking Dead?  I’ve caught a couple of episodes (I watched this week because Kevin Smith was on).  They discussed the symbolism of the lone walker in the field and the no bite situation.  They have some pretty interesting stuff on there occasionally.

    • BigShamu

      Did not catch it, what did they say the symbolism of the lone walker was?

      •  Pretty much that it was how Shane was feeling at the moment.  Alone, on the outside and even after Rick saved him, he still felt the same way.

  • Folks: Zombies! knife-to-the-head zombies, zombie pile-up on Rick, zombies in uniform, zombies in the fields. What are these character arcs you speak of?

  • ShivaDiva

    I really hate that they have made Andrea, one of the more interesting characters in the books, so toxic here.  Funny that, while she keeps spouting her “everyone should decide whether to kill themselves on their own” rhetoric to anyone who will listen, she conveniently forgets that, had she been left to her own devices, she would have died in the CDC.  Her argument makes no sense.

    All of the women really smack of “women written by men” syndrome.  Maggie is the only one that still offers a shred of hope for them.  

    Still, there was lots of action and they seem to be moving away from the idea of camping at the farm indefinitely.  As you noted, they need to resolve the Bizarre Love Triangle and get on with the more interesting narrative.

    • cluecat

      My husband and I laugh at all the shows that have either annoying or batshit female characters.  Sure enough, Walking Dead has one lone female writer (according to IMDB).  Rescue Me also has a cast of one dimensional, obnoxious female roles and no female writers.   Mad Men, on the other hand, has about 1/2 female writing staff.  Go figure.


    The no bite marks is interesting…as far as I can figure the zombie disease is spread via bite.  Is it bite only??  Or zombie spit (?) to open wound??  I was wondering as Shane was stabbing zombies in the head with his hands all banged up from his fight with Rick and sliced open to put blood on the bus. My DH is thinking there is something about the empty food cans they showed…possible comtamination?  That could explain why the guards had no bites??  So, my zombie lovin mates…fill me in on what you think about the spread of zombie-itis!

    • ShivaDiva

      …Or it could be a McGuffin, like Episode 2’s “I saw a helicopter!  No you didn’t!” scene, that never comes up again.

    • ShivaDiva

      …Or it could be a McGuffin, like Episode 2’s “I saw a helicopter!  No you didn’t!” scene, that never comes up again.

    •  My thought was that it was the guards who had locked the walkers up in that building.  I think the empty cans may have been what they were living off of but they ran out eventually.  They may have been too scared to venture outside the “safety” of the fenced in yard and then starved to death (or dehydration first is more likely).  I think it’s possible that anyone that dies comes back no matter the initial cause of death.

  • I disagree. Loved this ep. The last two have been great. Stuff is happening at least. 

    • Paigealicious

       But a really, really good show shouldn’t have to be described with a qualifier like “stuff is happening at least.”

  • cornpicker73

    I enjoyed the episode and agree the show is getting better, and at the same time I agree with your critiques. Let’s see more from the others, more ‘what now’, etc. I also really liked the symbolism of the lone walker– whether it was Shane relating to it, or it as a symbol for the whole group (wandering aimlessly and for how long). I wish there was a way to revisit the dad/son who Rick first meets out of the hospital but I imagine that’s worlds away. 

  • ZnSD

    I was more interested in the other group of people who were passing through the town than this buncha dum-dums. I mean, really. And Andrea crazy? Sorry, but every time I try to understand what you guys mean, I just think about how I would probably act, and it would be a LITTLE NUTS. Given that the world in this scenario has basically gone insane, I think Andrea’s one of the only characters who actually is fairly believable. I just wish she would have more moments like she did in this episode where she dispenses some truth. I think she’s pretty evolved compared to the truly STUPID Lori and the growing-more-and-more-villanous Shane. The only other gripe I have is this: it’s the end of the world and there’s not one gay person? Really? It’s bad enough that EVERYONE in the group is white (T-Dog is NOT considered a main character) except for Glenn. No latino people? REALLY? Give me a break. I’m tired of our entertainment portraying the world as 99.9% straight/white when it’s just not the case. It’s offensive.

  • Emily Scott

    I like Andrea. She’s a lot more dynamic than most of the characters on the show. Unlike even the main three characters she’s actually gone through a whole character arc in which she’s changed from when we first met her. More than anything in this episode I was horrified by how Lori said that the cooking and cleaning was the women’s work and that she dared criticize Andrea for not contributing. I loved Andrea all the more for calling Lori on that bullshit. I can see how some find her unlikeable, especially after essentially facilitating a suicide attempt (which did admittedly make me uncomfortable), but the fact that she keeps sticking her neck out and being her own person makes me a fan.

    The fact that Rick and Shane were driving around in a brand new model car gave me a good laugh. I’m glad to see that Hyundai continues to send new cars to its dealerships even after a zombie apocalypse.

    • I think I’m the only person who kinda agrees with Andrea on the whole suicide attempt thing.  I’m sorry, but the world sucks at that point.  And no one’s making new antidepressants — there are plenty of people who rely on medication to get through the day, and to tell them that they have to push through another 40 years of daily pain and suffering… that’s just mean.  Plus, limited resources!  Why consume resources on someone who doesn’t want to be alive?  And isn’t it the better course to kill yourself in a way that you won’t come back as a walker than just give up and not fight for your life, leading to you killing how many others down the line? 

    • While I agree that Andrea has indeed been through a whole arc, so have Rick and Shane, Rick in particular.  And you know, as surprising a thing as it was to hear about ‘women’s work’ if you were doing all the heavy lifting in a post apocalypse while this chick sat on top of a camper, you’d bitch about it, too. 

      That said, I think it makes sense that Andrea has forgotten how an intervention kept her alive.  The real world is absolutely full of exactly this type of cognitive dissonance.

  • I enjoyed this episode a lot, too.  It actually called to mind an old movie, “Heaven Knows, Mr. Alison” in terms of existential angst. I don’t understand why you would complain about the focus being on the three main characters (which is like complaining that the Cartwrights are always the main focus of “Bonanza”)  and then, when new characters are explored, complain about that. Then everyone was bitching about there not being enough action. This episode had a buttload of action, some of it very interesting in terms of what the characters had to stoop to to survive, which underlined their existential angst in the process…not a word about any of that.  No discussion of the new character and what he represents at all?  For example, how does one judge a person’s character in this environment?  Normally, seeing him stab even a zombie repeatedly in the head might send up a red flag.  But maybe, here, that’s a good thing. 

    A certain amount of ambiguity makes for better art. 

  • MilaXX

    I would have liked the Shane/Rick face off more if I thought it actually resolved or changed things between them. I just think next week they will be back to doing the same stupid things. I also agree that I would rather they expound on T-Dog, Carole or Darryl then some other red shirt. If for instance that had been Carole for me it would have had more meaning because we know her backstory of having an abusive husband and recently losing her daughter.

  • Mariah J

    “we would have been a lot more invested in this story if it was about Carole wanting to kill herself.” YES BRILLIANT. I still love the show for the zombie action scenes but if they have to get there through a series of INCREDIBLY stupid decisions and a random girl whining about suicide in the background then I’m going to get tired of it VERY quickly. Having read the comics I know there are plenty of interesting and dangerous situations to get these characters in. The constant philosophy and hand-wringing reeks of outside writers trying to make a point.

  • CatherineRhodes

    When I read your commentary it reinforces the wisdom of giving up the show (as I did last season).

  • jilly_d

    I loved this ep, with the exception of the suicide girl plotline.  Lori sounded damn well reasonable when she asked what Andrea has done.  Sits on ‘watch’ and shoots Daryl in the ear.  I haven’t seen her do anything else.  (Granted, some of the men *cough, Dale, cough* have been useless as well)   And say what you want about the episode as a whole but that last shot with the lone walker in the field was stunning and the image will stay with me for a long time.  Hopefully not while I’m trying to sleep.

  • LadyJane22

    Between Queen Lori trying to get Rick to kill Shane and generally being a whiny, self-important betch, I was THRILLED when Andrea called her out. And can we GET OFF THE FARM?

  • Despite all its flaws, and there are many, I loved this episode. I was shouting out loud when Andrea was telling Lori off. “A husband and a boyfriend.” And Lori just sort of let that slide. She knows she’s in the wrong. And all of her talk about the menfolk and womenfolk had me wishing Andrea would shake her or something.  The shot of Shane seeing his reflection just before the zombies came out was epic. I love Shane. He may be batshit crazy, but in a zombie apocalypse, I want him on my team. 

  • mike__tv

    Don’t you mean Let’s get the Badass family Honda moving!!! 

  • TieDye64

    I’m way behind so I’ll keep this short. Where the hell is T-Dog?