“The Walking Dead” Review – Season 2 Episode 12 “Better Angels”

Written by Chris Beaulieu March 14, 2012

“Better Angels” was an episode that started out sentimental and sappy only to take a dark and, in some ways unexpected turn. The many recollections of Dale, and Rick and Carl’s heart to heart, coupled with hopeful music gave the sense that The Walking Dead was turning into an ABC sitcom having its “serious” episode. Much attention was given to a character that was only really given lines until just before his death in the series. Evidently, it took Dale’s death for T-Dog to have more lines. Perhaps the trimming down of cast members will allow the writers to flesh out more of the secondary characters.

Of course, the most crucial part of the episode was Shane’s death, and the build-up to it. As the group mourns Dale, Shane’s primary concern is that Dale has become a martyr for his own viewpoints. On a closer examination of the episode, I believe that Shane had a desire for his own destruction, at least on a subconscious level. The clearest signal to this are his own masochistic tendencies; there is a clear smile of Shane’s face after he smashes his head against the tree. Similarly, he needs to slap his face in order to bring himself to confront Randall inside the cabin. Shane first sees Randall blindfolded, and then shuts his own eyes when considering whether or not to kill him on the spot. To let him go would be blinding himself to what he perceives as danger.

Shane’s movement towards destruction is also apparent in the way that he is shot with the camera. With the exception of only a few shots, Shane is shot from the left side throughout the entire episode. Shooting Shane from the left emphasizes the bruises on Shane’s face, the bruises that Rick gave him. This demonstrates that Shane still holds a grudge against Rick for everything that has happened. When Shane smashes his face against the tree, his wounds are focused on the center of his face, so that he always looks forward towards his own self-destruction.

The fact that Carl shot Shane as a walker simply demonstrates that he has put his childhood behind him, as Rick had warned about earlier. Shooting Shane and releasing the walker that killed Dale has made Carl a character of caution, and one that will be less of a burden to the group. As the series goes on, I suspect that there will be a debate over Carl’s place as one of the protectors of the group, and when exactly he is considered one of the men.

Now that Shane is dead, the primary internal conflict within the group has hit and passed its climax. Perhaps Andrea will take the place of Shane as the person to “make the tough calls” as Shane would say. She seems to hold some resentment towards Rick, Lori, and even Hershel’s family and would be a likely candidate for rebellion.

The immediate conflict will of course be the crowd of walkers headed towards Rick and Carl, which should allow the show to display a little more gore than usual, something which The Walking Dead does relatively well. Looking further however, the main plot development seems to be that the dead no longer have to be bit in order to become walkers, and that there is some new, unknown way in which the walker virus spreads. At the very least this means that there will be an increase in the overall number of walkers. In terms of development then, “Better Angles” did a good job of completing one plot thread, while continuing and introducing others to come.

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About Chris Beaulieu

When Chris isn't studying film, reading English literature, fencing, or watching re-runs of Frasier on TV, it's because he's writing awesome reviews for We Eat Films.

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