‘The Walking Dead’: Down the rabbit hole

The Walking Dead
February 17, 2013

So, Rick. Rick needs a long hot bath, a comb, a change of clothes, a sandwich and about a 18-hour-long lie down. Instead, he goes out on watch duty and through his binoculars, finds himself a Michonne, a handful of walkers and a dead wife haunting her grave. As Michonne watches, Rick goes and chases after his wife, only to have her disappear from the grave site and reappear outside the fence. WELL, SUPER. EVEN WHEN SHE’S DEAD, LORI IS THE WORST. And Rick, who is in no condition to consider what he’s doing, leaves the prison gates and finally catches up to Unfaithful Ghost Wife on a tiny bridge over a ditch, or maybe the world’s worst moat. I don’t know. The point is: Rick be crazy, needs a nap.

Inside the prison, Glenn has decided to fill the power vacuum, and is at first like, LET’S GO KILL THE GOVERNOR, before being like, No, wait, scratch that, I’m going to go figure out how all these walkers are getting into the basement instead. Hershel points out that 1. The Governor is going to come attack them because, uh duh, of course he is and 2. They are living above a basement full of walkers, so maybe 3. It’s time to find a new home. NOPE, says Glenn because he’s the big man in charge now that Rick has gone full Jack Shephard in “White Rabbit” up in here. LOST REFERENCE, FTW!

Glenn’s big plan is to drive around to the other side of the prison¬†with Maggie and locate their walker leak, and Hersh is like, Oh? Have you checked with Maggie? So Glenn sighs heavily, finds Maggie pouting in her cell, and is like, Fine. Let’s talk about your feelings or whatever. Maggie screams at him about her almost-rape at The Governor’s hand, and then yells at him to go away, because SHE CAN NOT DEAL WITH YOU RIGHT NOW, GLENN. Then Maggie’s sister, Sister, brings Maggie the baby to feed to make her feel better or something.

So, Maggieless, Glenn heads to the truck, only to have Hershel goes all Yoda on him: Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering, blah blah blah, dark side, blah. WHATEVER, Glenn sasses before driving off in a snit.

Hershel then notices Rick crazying out on the other side of the fence, and tries to convince him to come back inside and take a nap and brush his hair. NO CAN DO, Rick replies, I’VE GOT A BUSY SCHEDULE OF STUFF. Hershel’s like, You know what, all you jerks are on your own, YODA OUT, and he turns to go back to the prison. Rick then admits to Hershel that he’s been seeing Awful Ghost Wife wandering around, getting phone calls from her and Shane, you know, the usual symptoms of guilt-induced crazypants. Rick knows that Terrible Ghost Wife isn’t actually there, but he is convinced that it means something, that it might not make sense to Hershel, but that Rick can’t come back inside until he gets whatever this message is. (Let me save you some time, Rick: she’s going to lead you to a cave full of china dolls, an empty coffin and some fresh water and you’re going to be all HOORAY! NEW HOME! But then Glenn is going to be like, No thanks, we’ve got a perfectly fine set up over here, and then by the next season the whole conflict will have been completely forgotten, the end.)

Meanwhile, Carol flirts with that one remaining prisoner, Axel, because a girl’s got to move on, you know? Axel reveals that he is actually in prison for robbing a gas station with a toy gun, making him the most adorable criminal ever.

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Over at Woodbury, The Governor pops into Andrea’s room, and promilies that he will not retaliate against her friends at the prison. What would even be the point? I mean other than sweet, sweet revenge? Anyway, could Andrea take over leading everyone? Because The Governor has some enemies to kill stuff to work out. K THANKS.

The Governor then visits with The Professor, and is like, We’re bros, right? And The Professor is like, Totes. And then they punch it in.

Andrea, who still hasn’t entirely grown a clue, realizes that she hasn’t seen The Governor in a while and asks around, only to have everyone be all, “The Governor? Where did he go? HEY LOOK OVER THERE” before running away from her.

Meanwhile, out in the woods, Daryl and Merle bicker. Bicker bicker bicker. Daryl wants to go back to the prison; Merle counters that The Governor is going to kill everyone there, so why bother? Bicker bicker. As they make their way through the woods, they hear what Daryl is pretty sure is a baby crying, and he follows the sound to a bridge where a family is being attacked by walkers. Daryl, because he is Daryl, runs towards the crisis much to Merle’s displeasure, and kills most of the walkers with his arrows and a hatchback.

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Merle reluctantly helps out, and once the day has been saved, begins menacing the family looking for a reward. NOPE, says Daryl, UNCOOL, and he pulls his crossbow on his brother, because he is Daryl.¬†Back in the woods, Merle pouts that Daryl has become a good guy, and then they work out some daddy issues, and finally Daryl decides to go back to the prison, Merle can come with him or not, WHATEVER. HE DOESN’T CARE ANYMORE.

So, back at the prison, Carol is busy flirting with Axel, flirt flirt flirt, when suddenly Axel’s eyeball is shot out of his head by The Governor who apparently has arrived with some of his buddies to shoot up the joint. AIIIEEE!

Shooting shooting shooting, shooting shooting shooting, shooting shooting shooting, shooting shooting shooting, shooting shooting shooting and then OH MY GOD, WHERE DID THAT ICE CREAM TRUCK COME FROM AND WHERE IS IT GOING AND DID IT JUST BUST THROUGH THE GATES OF THE PRISON AND WAIT WHAT IS IT UNLOADING THOSE DON’T LOOK LIKE ICE CREAM SANDWICHES THOSE LOOKS LIKE WALKERS WHAT IS HAPPENING?

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LA BRUJA AND I DO NOT KNOW HOW TO PROCESS THIS. realitytvgifs.tumblr.com

And while the ice cream truck makes its walker delivery (but curiously only within the first level of gates, they didn’t drive all the way through to the interior part where they could do the most damage because plot), The Governor just starts cold shooting his gun in the air, because why not?

Shooting shooting shooting, shooting shooting shooting, shooting shooting shooting, shooting shooting shooting, shooting shooting shooting, shooting shooting shooting and then The Governor is like, “I’m outta here” and leaves just as Glenn returns in the truck. Glenn rescues Michonne and Hershel who were on the walker side of the gates, leaving Rick on the furthest outside gate with his dead wife and a mess of walkers. Oh no, Crazy Rick is going to get crazy eaten by a bunch of walkers because he doesn’t have his “stuff” together, what a pity. But at the last minute, Daryl comes out of nowhere and rescues Rick, because he is Daryl. And then Rick, Daryl and Merle look into the interior prison gate where all the ice cream walkers are stumbling around between them and their friends and are like, “Well, now what?” but I wouldn’t worry about it too much, because previews.

Right, so just after I was all snotty and was like DO NOT EXPECT ME TO TAKE THIS APART FOR YOU PEOPLE LIKE IT WAS LOST BECAUSE IT IS NOT LOST, I’m going to prove myself a liar to point out a couple of things. BUT ONLY A COUPLE.

As noted, the Rick storyline with Ghost Lori is awfully similar to the Lost episode “White Rabbit,” wherein for those of you who either didn’t watch Lost or didn’t memorize the episodes, the Lostaways’ defacto leader, Jack, starts going a little crazy from exhaustion. Jack begins having hallucinations (or are they?) of his dead father, with whom he had a contentious relationship, and whose death Jack blames himself for, just a little. Jack follows his father’s ghost all over the island, and eventually is lead to a cave where he finds his father’s empty coffin, but also fresh water and shelter just when the survivors needed both things the most.

Similarly, Rick is having a crisis of leadership, which of course is the theme of this episode: leading is hard. It’s not all being bossy and taking the credit for everything; sometimes being in charge is stressful. And to relieve that stress, sometimes you have to go wander around the zombie-infested woods looking for your imaginary wife; sometimes you have to go dump an ice cream truck load of zombies into a prison full of children while randomly wasting bullets by shooting your gun into the air. You do what you have to do.

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What I find interesting is the white rabbit imagery that the writers are using with Ghost Lori (and which Lost used with Christian Shephard and his white shoes), the White Rabbit, being the character in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland who leads Alice into a topsy-turvy wonderland. Ghost Lori’s white (wedding?) dress is the signifier that she is Rick’s White Rabbit, that allusive figure that leads us away from our home and into another world that is unfamiliar, possibly dangerous, but might just be enlightening in some fashion.

Additionally, and even more symbolically, Ghost Lori finally allows Rick to approach and contact her while they are standing on a bridge. Bridges symbolize transitions, a critical junction in one’s life, moving from one state of being to another — or even passing from this life into the afterlife. Rick’s journey is still progressing, so I’m not entirely sure what this other state that he is crossing into might be; maybe it will symbolize Rick coming to different understanding in his role as a leader, or maybe it will symbolize Rick moving towards death. Who knows. I do not know.

But interestingly, there is another bridge in this episode, the one on which Daryl rescues the family. Here the bridge symbolizes Daryl’s moving into a realization that his loyalties are not actually divided between his friends at the prison and his brother, Merle. Daryl’s decision to put himself in danger to save this family on the bridge represents his choosing to save his symbolic family at the potential cost of his actual family. Daryl’s blood relatives have done nothing but leave and abuse him, and so he crosses over this symbolic bridge to return to and save his other family, the one that accepts, loves and needs him.

Symbols! Now don’t be expecting me do this every week. (Although chances are I probably will, who am I kidding?)

The Walking Dead airs Sunday nights at 8 p.m. on AMC.

This post originally appeared on the Hearst site Chron.com.

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