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With only one episode left until The Walking Dead goes on hiatus, one would expect this latest installment to be kicking things into high gear. That wasn't quite the case however, as while the tension did rise a few notches, not much was happening plot-wise. “Secrets” turned out to be a character focused episode, and as the name implied, the only story developments came from some truths coming to light.
With so much time spent on the characters this season – this episode included – it doesn't even seem possible that we would still know so little about them. That's where we are though, and in a scene like Glen and Maggie discussing the morality of killing Walkers, what ends up standing out is Maggie shakily recanting all the people she has lost when we still don't know anything about Glen. The little guy is one of the series' more likable characters, but he would be more endearing as the team's gopher if instead of only developing in the present, we also got to know something about his past; and it's no different for most of his companions. Glen at least gave us a good distraction with one of the more intense zombie kills of the series. A painfully predictable buildup didn't take too much away from Maggie realizing full well how wrong her family has been when it comes to the undead. A quick tip though, Glen: if you have a big cane knife, just use it, and leave the shelf for another day.
With the show's resident badass on bed rest, it was going to take more than just Glen beheading a zombie with a shelving unit to make up for the lack of machismo. As it turns out the episode would still come through without Darryl, but it was from an unlikely source. Apparently it takes shooting a guy in the head to pick Andrea up out of the dumps, as this was the first time she's been in a good mood since well back in the first season. Even while trying to make amends with her gunshot grazed victim she seemed more overcome with glee than with guilt. Maybe Laurie Holden just likes shooting guns and couldn't hide her joy at getting to spend most of the episode doing just that. Though her becoming a “shootist” in one afternoon seems a bit of a stretch, it was nice seeing the TV character sync up with her comic book persona. In fact, the entire scene at Rick and Shane's impromptu shooting range seemed like a nod to fans of Kirkman's source material; as was perhaps her and Shane's interrupted search of the subdivision that turned out to be a zombie mecca. So even if Andrea did go from missing a log to headshotting anything that moves in only a matter of hours, with another soldier in their midst it will at least be more believable that the group is able to survive at all. Unless, of course, Shane kills her in some kind of sex rage, which might not be far off.
The man responsible for pushing Shane to the edge, Dale, was also responsible for the episode's best scenes; especially the confrontation between he and his unhinged adversary. Just as with the lack of back-story for the characters, it's also not easy to accept that with such dialogue-heavy episodes this season that so much of the interactions would still come off as forced. DeMunn, however, has never run into this problem himself while playing the lovable old guy. Even if he isn't quoting Faulkner, he consistently provides the best lines – or at least the most well delivered ones. He proved as much during his scenes seeking the truth from Hershel and Lori. Obviously though, his most memorable moment was trying to stare down Shane and convince him to leave the group. Since beyond Hershel evicting their crew(rightfully so, considering its pretty much been a constant stream of chaos since they showed up) there has been almost no plot advancement, a rise in the suspense is all but necessary to keep things lively. Shane's progression into a man with a serial killer's sense of morality seems to be coming to a head, and having one of the show's best characters directly involved in it is definitely not a bad thing.
The biggest moment of “Secrets” was meant to be Rick finding out about Lori's pregnancy and relationship with Shane, but the moment suffered severely from something as trivial as an accent. Andrew Lincoln had done a pretty good job so far of masking his own English inflection, but as his character lost his cool, he lost all control of his tongue. He never actually sounded like he was from across the pond, but his voice was jumping around so much it was difficult not to be distracted by it. Callies thankfully abandoned any effort to maintain her horrible take on something remotely southern for Lori, but considering her acting leaves something to be desired no matter what voice she uses, it didn't make up for much. So in the end, it was hard to feel the emotional weight of the scene with one actor crying unconvincingly and the other giving it his all while realizing that yelling in a voice not your own can be tricky.
There is still a barn full of flesh eating monsters, still a little girl missing, and still a crazy guy walking around ready to snap. Needless to say, there is plenty to occupy The Walking Dead's mid-season finale. “Secrets” could have been a better lead-in to what should be a fairly intense episode, but it was at least a success in creating an air of suspense before this year's final installment.