Triggerfinger is one of those episodes that we all can’t wait to talk about. Episode 9 of The Walking Dead‘s second season is showing us that things are really going to start picking up, and promising us exciting things to come. While Triggerfinger isn’t perfect, it’s by far the best episode we’ve seen this season, balancing a healthy dose of zombie-action, tense scenes, interesting dialog, and character development.
The episode opens where Nebraska left off. Lori is unconscious in her wrecked car with walkers surrounding her, and Rick and the boys have just killed two dangerous strangers in the bar. Turns out the strangers weren’t alone, and Rick, Glenn, and Hershel find themselves in an intense shoot out. This scene was craftily shot, using obstructed camera angles and a lack of musical score to really set the mood. I was literally on the edge of my seat, unable to peel my eyes off my screen. We are immediately brought back to Lori’s situation, not giving us a chance to catch our breath. I love that AMC is not afraid to show some gore. It just makes everything seem so much more real and gripping. Watching the skin peel back from a zombie’s face as it tries to shove through a windshield head-first has both a sickening and satisfying appeal to it.
Back at the bar, Hershel shoots one of the Strangers during their firefight, and we get to see which parts a zombie likes to eat first on its living victim. Besides the gore and gun action, we get to see just how different our characters are from the Strangers. Even though Rick had to shoot and kill those fellas last week, the Strangers are far less concerned with their group survival, and more worried about their selves. They are willing to leave their wounded behind without so much as an attempt to save them from the growing horde of zombies. We’ve seen Rick refuse to leave anyone behind since the first episode, and he follows suit here by insisting that Glenn and Hershel help him save a young wounded Stranger. This guy decided to jump off a roof and wound up with an iron fence post through his leg. Hershel is deciding how best to remove the guy’s leg while Glenn and Rick are fighting off a growing mass of zombies, drawn by the guy’s screams of agony and terror. The best part is that at the last desperate moment, Rick decides to speed up the process of saving the guy’s life by ripping the leg up off the arrow-shaped post spike. Now that is how you write and deliver a scene.
Another fantastic bit of writing and acting comes from the scene between Daryl and Carol. Daryl is starting to go off the deep end, and is secluding himself from the group. Whether it’s out of appreciation for his diligent searching for Sophia or a romantic interest, Carol has begun keeping tabs on him. He obviously isn’t keen on that idea, and in an effort to drive her away, he says some pretty horrible things to her. Norman Reedus is brilliant, showing anger, fear, hostility, and sadness within just a few short lines. Carol has always been a fairly reactive character, so I wonder what the writers will do with her now that she has no husband or child — which was her only identity at the beginning of last season.
Lori is apparently the luckiest zombocalypse survivor, as she manages to total her car, take out a couple zombies, start walking down the road, get picked up by Shane, and walk away with only some bumps and scrapes. This girl gets away with making terrible decisions every other episode without much backlash, including having long hair during a zombie apocalypse. Her hair being snatched by rotting fingers was enough to put “shave my head” at the top of my list of things to do when the zombie outbreak happens. I keep wondering when The Walking Dead is going to start getting some savvy and tough female characters, or start shaping up the ones we’ve been introduced to. I thought Maggie was going to be our lone champion for the female audience, but even she’s been thinking with her heart more than her head lately.
Speaking of champions, it looks like Andrea will be one hell of a fighter in Shane’s corner as things heat up between him and the rest of the survivors. She’s blinded by what I think is a combination of puppy-love and believing she’s different from the rest of the group. I wonder if she will realize how crazy he is before the stuff hits the fan, or if she will forever begrudge the other survivors if things don’t end favorably for Shane. Only time will tell…
Performances were yet again superb across the board, but especially from Jon Bernthal (Shane), Andrew Lincoln (Rick), and Steven Yeun (Glenn). Bernthal has done a fantastic job making me believe that Shane’s character can change so much, due to the circumstances he’s been subjected to. Each episode, both the writers and Bernthal crank up the crazy-factor, making him scarier than any zombie or Stranger the group has encountered so far. Lincoln has a way of showing Rick’s stress through a heavy veil of police training and a calm, cool head. You could see the sweat dripping off his brow as he tries to talk the Strangers down before the firefight, all the while calculating his moves. Yeun did an amazing job of being conflicted and terrified, and even managed to take a poorly written scene between he and Maggie and make it fairly believable.
Triggerfinger had many high points, but did have a speed bump or two along the way. Beth (one of Hershel’s daughters) is still in a comatose state. Even the most gullible of audiences will have a hard time believing her “shock” diagnosis. When the boys return from their barroom brawl with the broken-legged hostage in tow, Maggie runs straight for Glenn and not her dad. This was a little unnerving, considering she was very vocal about finding her father. I suppose their reasons for doing that is to show that she’s angry with her father for leaving them alone to go drink, but it just didn’t quite mesh. Also, Glenn blames his cowardice during the bar fight on Maggie. He claims that he was afraid of being killed and putting her heart through the agony of losing him. Um…what? I’m not sure I understand where the writers are going with this. He’s damning her for loving him and affecting his ability to throw caution to the wind by fighting selflessly. I know we’ll see that the real reason is that he loves her too, and that he’ll learn how to manage these new feelings like Rick, Shane, and Hershel, as well as balance his fighting style between gutsy and defensive.
In the end, Triggerfinger brought us exactly what we hope for when 8 pm rolls around on Sunday nights. While there were those mentioned downsides, they’re so minute that they are fairly easy to overlook. You would think that with so much action happening in this episode, that the pace of the show was kicked into warp speed. Thankfully, it was the exact opposite. Who says that a show full of action and anxiety has to be fast paced? The Walking Dead set a standard tonight that it can hopefully continue to live up to. Don’t forget to see the sneak peek for next week’s episode, 18 Miles Out, below the rating.
I give Triggerfinger 4 “Zombocalypse Approved Haircuts” out of 5.
by Rachael Edwards-Hite