On March 11, 2012, AMC premiered The Walking Dead episode “Better Angels.” This was the twelfth episode of season 2 and featured a significant milestone for the series. Rick (Andrew Lincoln) killed Shane (Jon Bernthal), and he reanimated without being bit. This would prove to Rick that what Dr. Jenner (Noah Emmerich) told him in season 1 was true, “Everyone is infected.”
“Better Angels” was written by Even Reilly and Glen Mazzara and directed by Guy Ferland. This episode follows the horrific death of Dale Vorath (Jeffrey DeMunn), whose words that the group is broken haunt Rick.
The current issue among the group is the prisoner Randall (Michael Zegen), a topic that has kept Rick and Shane at odds. Dale’s death has allowed Rick to reflect and decides to release Randall, something Shane disagrees with. Carl confesses to his father his role in Dale’s death, and Rick tries to console the child. This is the episode that Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) expresses her feelings to Shane. Which only added fuel to his obsession with possessing her.
The Walking Dead – Carl grows up much too soon
In the previous episode, “Judge, Jury and Executioner,” Carl believes he is old enough to handle himself in this new world. He takes a gun from Daryl’s (Norman Reedus) camp and wanders off alone. He finds a walker stuck in the mud and is fascinated by the creature. He begins to throw rocks at it. Eventually, he aims the gun at the walker, who then partially frees itself from the mud and lunges at Carl, grabbing his leg. In the process, he drops the weapon and freaks out but is able to free himself. He doesn’t tell anyone about this as he is embarrassed and afraid to get in trouble for going off on his own and stealing the gun. This will turn out to be the walker to attack and kills Dale.
In “Better Angels,” Carl comes upon his dad in the field just after Shane has been killed. He aims his gun at what everyone assumes to be Rick. But he is aiming at Shane’s reanimated body and shoots him, saving his father. Dale’s death greatly impacted Carl, allowing him the maturity and mental capacity to handle this situation and use his weapon correctly. It is always the joke that Carl never listens to his elders or do what he is told, but in this case, he finally did the responsible thing.
Comic creator Robert Kirkman described Carl’s growth in this way “That scene right there, Carl would never have had the strength to pull the trigger and save his father from Shane zombie if he hadn’t had that ordeal with Dale and felt responsible for killing Dale because he wasn’t able to shoot that zombie”. (umm, he used the word zombie two times!)
Carl’s gunshot would alert the massive horde descending on Hershel’s (Scott Wilson) farm in the next episode, “Beside the Dying Fire,” which will close out the second season of The Walking Dead.