It's season 3, episode 2, and the survivors have recently come to the prison that will be the iconic home base of this season and the next.
Much of the first two seasons revolved around the love triangle between Lori, Rick, and Shane. If you haven't seen it or read the comics, and you pushed past that spoiler alert anyway, here are the basics:
Rick and Lori are married with a son, Carl. When the apocalypse came, Rick was comatose in the hospital (28 Days Later beat the comic version to this by less than a year).
Shane and Rick were cops, partners, and best friends. Shane convinced Lori that Rick was dead so she'd go with him to one of the survivor camps. They had an affair, Rick woke up and came to join them at the camp, Lori went back to him, kicked Shane out of her life for lying to her, found out she was pregnant, tried to pass the baby off as Rick's at first, but eventually came clean.
So Rick's got Lori, but she's pregnant with what's probably the baby of the former best friend he just had to kill, and Lori's got Rick and comparative safety for her kids, but Rick's too busy angsting about the rest of that scenario to be any good to her.
It's a pyrrhic victory for both of them, and it doesn't look like they're going to pull through it together.
Now, I'm not the biggest fan of Lori. She mostly serves as a triangle point and a paranoid, disapproving parental figure. She’s whatever Rick's storyline needs her to be and no more.
For that matter, I'm not the biggest fan of early seasons Rick, either. He's the square-jawed hero we're supposed to love and follow, but who's wrong and/or unreasonable quite a bit more often than necessary to keep things interesting.
In this episode, they've been following their separate plotlines, hardly having spoken to each other for weeks. Rick's been negotiating with the existing residents of the prison and clearing zombies out of more living space. Being a pregnant mom, Lori's been staying with the kids and the sick and injured, and ended up having to save Herschel with CPR.
Finally, at the end of the episode, Rick and Lori are standing in a chain link enclosed walkway, overlooking the horde of zombies outside the fence, tentatively beginning to tiptoe toward the massive rift between them.
Lori jokes, "What are we going to do, hire lawyers and divide up our assets?"
Rick reaches toward her (with difficulty, they're more than an arm's length apart), and has the opportunity to say that he doesn't wish that were still possible.
We think this might be it, they're finally going to work this out, and then he says the nicest thing he can bring himself to, which is just about the coldest, most distant praise imaginable.
Oh, and the season 3 spoiling part: this is the last time Rick sees Lori alive.
It's in the writing, the acting, and the direction, and it all adds up to a perfect less-is-more gut punch.
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