Spoilers ahead, everyone. You have been duly warned.
"Better Angels" signals the point at which The Walking Dead has found its bearings as a series. We'll get to the details of this week's episode in a bit, but some more general remarks at first.
First off, TWD one again makes the case that the writers are perhaps a little smarter than we give them credit for, as might be signaled in the irony of the title of this episode versus the revelations about the inner workings of the RV Gang. Life in the World of Walkers has its own rules, and much of the soap-opera business of the first half of the season seems better understood as a sort of parody of life in the old world, articulated by good old Dale (now dead), Hershel (now deferential to Rick), and Lori (who continues to "play house," as pointed out by Andrea). Rick'a advice to Carl last week, "Don't talk -- think!" is a useful bit of advice for watching the show. Pay little attention to the words coming out of people's faces; all that talk doesn't mean jack when the zombies start heading your way.
Secondly, although Shane's death might on initial consideration seem to be the big development of the week, there's a larger change to the rules of TWD universe: the newly dead, those not necessarily bitten or scratched by walkers, will now become walkers in a matter of minutes once they die. This had been hinted at previously, but Daryl, the current expert on zombies, quickly notes the peculiarities of Russell's appearance as a walker in the woods that night. I had considered the possibility that what Dr. Jenner had whispered to Rick back in Season 1 ("TS-19") might have been about the walker virus mutating. Rick's lingering over Shane's body could have been read as a consequence of that bit of information, but that moment was too full of ambiguity to be understood in just that way. But Shane's popping up just moments after his death unambiguously lets us know that the rules for walkers have changed.
Fighting and keeping quiet -- that's the way Rick takes care of business when it comes time for a final confrontation with Shane. One of the great pleasures of "Better Angels" is watching Jon Bernthal finally lose his shit, to the point where many in the audience must have finally understood that he was truly a danger to the RV Gang, even though his reasons for his endgame are credible. But he broke Russell's neck, then smashed his face into a tree and broke his own nose. That's just crazy. But Lori will do that to a person; she's not exactly helping matters with her ongoing inability to make a decision and stay with it.
The possibilities raised by this episode will likely make for a rousing season finale, and one that shouldn't feel too cheap. The herd of walkers emerging from the woods after the nocturnal gunfire can't be good. The death of Shane and Rick and Carl's part in it will certainly cause a stir among the RV Gang. The mutated zombie virus is disturbing news. And, let's not forget that before Russell had his neck snapped, he told Shane that the camp for his crew of 30 Armed Bad Guys wasn't more than five miles away. As with the best shows that have an ongoing, serial plot, I would expect that much of what was built in Season Two will be burned to the ground to make way for Season Three.
Zombie Kill of the Week: Carl, with a clean head-shot to Zombie Shane
Zombie Quotient - from 1 (none) to 10 (major herd) - 4