The Walking Dead season 2 episode 9 review: Triggerfinger

The Walking Dead delivers its second excellent episode in a row, with Triggerfinger. Here's Ron's review...

This review contains spoilers.

2.9 Triggerfinger

Hershel, Glenn, and Rick walk into a bar. Rick kills two people who are part of a larger group. Unsurprisingly, this isn’t the set-up for a joke, but a set-up for the very strong opening of this week’s episode of The Walking Dead.

Unknown assailants are outside, while our gang of friendly folks are inside, with a pair of human corpses with unzombielike bullet wounds to the face and general torso. Meanwhile, on the road to town, Lori wakes up to find herself in the wreckage of a car after having a run-in with a walker while trying to read a map and drive at the same time; that’s the zombie outbreak version of driving while texting, I guess.

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The first half of the second season had absolutely no action, while the second half of the second season has been a totally different story. While this week wasn’t quite as tense and action-oriented as last week, there was still a lot of action to be had. There was also some stellar zombie makeup on Lori’s new friend window zombie, but the danger again this week wasn’t the rotting ones, but the living. This new direction has made the show much more interesting, and much more lively (pardon the pun).

Like a lot of Walking Dead episodes, this particular one benefited from the split cast. There’s strength in numbers, but strength doesn’t look like good television most of the time. You want them split up, in danger, and possibly wandering off to die. One person versus a group of zombies, or three people against an unknown amount of antagonists, makes a story infinitely more interesting, if only because we want to see how they get out of this situation.

That’s one of the things that worked for me regarding Lori’s episode-opening car wreck and her subsequent fight to escape the walkers. There were stakes, and while I figured she’d get away, I was never quite sure that she actually could, and seeing how she did it was more interesting than any conversation they’ve had on the farm in the series.

The show has done some wonderful things with its cameras since returning, and Lori’s opening zombie attack scene, which was basically all at dutch angles, was one of the most thrilling spam in a can scenes since the gang were trapped under cars as the walker herd shuffled past them. Ditto the shoot-out at the bar, which had a kind of brilliant claustrophobia to it which made me think of Assault On Precinct 13, except replace the masses of gangsters with unseen shooters and possibly zombies. Glen Mazzara has really gotten the technical crew to step their game up, and director/former cameraman Bill Gierhart put that knowledge of camera work to full use this week.

The conversations this week (of which there are many snippets being bandied back and forth), isn’t quite up to par when compared to last week’s episode, but there’s not a strong guest star this time around, either. One really stand-out moment aside, David Leslie Johnson’s script is solid, but not great. There are still some things that are clunky (for example, Daryl needs to talk less), but one really good verbal scene per episode is something I can be happy with, plus T-Dog yelled “Who the hell is that?” and amused me greatly. The conversations were also staggered across the episode, rather than spending a long time on one particular face-off or another, which helps keep things moving. Pacing was very good this week, even for the uninteresting parts.

The episode’s final conversation between a hobbling Rick and Lori in the tent is a very good one, and it’s the kind of chat we need more of between those two, as it made it fairly clear to me that Lori wants Rick to be aware of what a problem Shane is going to be and to prepare Rick for what’s probably going to have to go down between the two of them.

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Is it manipulative? Yes: Lori is apparently channeling Lady Macbeth this week. It’s also necessary, at least as far as Lori, Rick, and Shane are concerned. Lori might be a bit prone to overreacting and making stupid decisions, but as far as the love triangle goes, Lori knows which side she wants to be on and (seems) to be getting in Rick’s ear to make that happen by any means necessary.

Here’s my wild theory of the week: Lori and Shane’s love affair started way before the zombie outbreak. While Rick was laid up in the hospital, eating through tubes, Lori was having fun with Deputy Studly. Now, she wants Shane gone before Shane actually tells Rick all about what happened between the two of them. That’s just a hunch on my part, but given Lori’s sudden heel turn on Shane, it seems logical. (And with the new show runner, logic seems to be the new direction.)

Read our review of the last episode here.

US Correspondent Ron Hogan thinks there haven’t been two really good episodes of The Walking Dead in a row since the first season. Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi. Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.

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