I return this week with another early review from The Walking Dead Season 2. Episode 10 is titled 18 Miles Out and strikes a great balance between horror and drama. Rick, Shane, Lori, Maggie, and Andrea are the main focus of this episode. In fact, you won’t even see most of the other characters make an appearance. This episode is strong enough, however, that you won’t feel like anything is missing.

Like last week, I’ll touch upon the main themes and elements of the episode, but have specifically omitted some names and plot items to avoid spoilers. With that being said, if you haven’t seen the last few episodes, you’ll want to avoid this review.

18 Miles Out starts with Rick and Shane taking their recently rescued guest away from the farm. It’s been decided that it’s not safe to keep him or even let him know where the farm is located, so they plan to drop him off far away and give him a fighting chance on his own. Let’s just say that things don’t go as smoothly as they planned.

Last week I talked about how the build-up over the last 9 episodes was going to lead to a fight between Rick and Shane. In this episode, Rick confronts Shane regarding a number of issues, including Shane's relationship with Lori, killing Otis, and handling decisions on the farm. You’ll have to watch the episode for yourself to find out how it all goes down.

The story also shifts to Lori, Maggie, and Andrea who have to deal with an issue back on the farm. Similar to what’s going on with Rick and Shane, Lori and Andrea hit a boiling point and have it out over a number of topics. I mentioned that Andrea hasn’t been given much time in previous episodes, but it feels like we’re finally getting a better look at the new Andrea.

It can’t be easy to come up with new make-up, kills and ways to defend from zombie attacks each episode, and I feel like the effects and writing team don’t always get as much credit as they deserve. There is no shortage of walkers in this episode, which continues to show us creative kills and make sure that the walkers still appear threatening. The make-up effects are once again fantastic and the dialogue and pacing feels sharper than the first half of the season.

I’ve been looking for the game changer episode late in this season that forces the group to break or leave the farm. This episode may not be a huge advancement in the bigger story, but you’ll be hard pressed to find anything wrong with this episode. Not only does it show main characters addressing issues they’ve had since season 1, but we also get a better sense that it’s not just right and wrong or good and bad with these characters.

While I’ve enjoyed many of the episodes in the second season of The Walking Dead, I feel that 18 Miles Out shows where this series is headed. Some TV series start out strong and fade over time. Other shows need some time to refine and really hit their stride. This episode has a perfect balance of zombie action, character development, and plot movement that will please any fan of the show. I think The Walking Dead continues to improve episode to episode, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how they wrap up the season.

Episode Score: 4.5/5

*Scoring Note: In terms of scoring, I’m not rating The Walking Dead against other TV shows. The score is based on how I rate this episode against other episodes in this season.

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