Written By: John
At some point in all of our lives, we will be faced with the notion of the second chance. Often times the majority of us simply play the game of “what if” and move on. But there are a few in this world who receive the genuine opportunity.
Those are the stories we rarely hear of, and in television land, one that is rarely presented in frank fashion. Last night’s The Walking Dead brought us to the conclusion of one such story, and it is the focus of today’s “Horror Monday”. Be warned my friends, spoilers lie ahead.
Last night’s episode; “Better Angels” presented us with the fallout of last week’s major character departure in Dale. His loss brought lasting impact to the group by alerting them to the growing number of walkers gathering in the countryside and returned the group to their moral center with the decision to release their prisoner Randall.
This episode also featured Carl’s redemption, and even brought about the terrifying fact that anyone who dies in this world will return to life. But all of these plot points were overshadowed by Shane.
After an apology from Lori that reinforced their “love” to be a terrible mistake, and after finding himself no longer trusted by Rick and replaced as his right hand man, Shane finally snapped, taking Randall into the woods to murder him and injure himself before returning to camp to claim that the prisoner got the jump on him, escaped and swiped his gun.
It leads to a frantic search that turns out to be part of a master plan for the broken Shane; to get Rick as far away from the house as possible and murder him, pinning the act on the “escaped” prisoner. It is here that we finally see Shane for who he is, a man consumed by fear.
Long before the dead were returning to life, Shane was a best friend, a surrogate brother and impromptu uncle when it came to the Grimes family. He got by in this life, just like the rest of us do but it is clear now, he wanted something more.
When the end of civilization came, he was thrust into the role of leader, father and lover and relished in it, there was no more living vicariously through Rick and Lori, and he had the good life now. This was not the second chance that he was clearly waiting for, that came when Rick arrived at the camp last season.
It was here that Shane lost sight of his opportunity. No longer was he a second fiddle to Rick; he was treated as an equal. Shane’s opinion was now valued and while overridden at times, he had Rick’s ear.
Yet Shane was never able to see this, instead he saw himself taking the backseat once more, robbed of his value. One must wonder now if all the lectures about making the tough choices in a brave new world were really intended for Rick, or for himself.
Because in the end, Rick is forced to kill Shane, and as a final insult Shane turns into a walker before being gunned down by the boy he saw as a son.
It is perhaps the most heartbreaking death on The Walking Dead to date. While some may view that as blasphemy in the wake of Dale’s death, I stand by it. Dale was an amazing moral center and a good man who sadly was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Shane however squandered away the all-important second chance because he was blinded by his own insecurities and his inability to let go.
Shane now leaves behind a legacy of bloodlust, that will only be overlooked by Rick Grimes, who will forever remember his fallen friend as a simple and good man who merely lost himself in the madness of the end of the world.