Episode Title: What Lies Ahead
Original Airdate: 10-16-11
Time for Season 2: The Farm. After the CDC plan literally blows up in the Group’s face, they decide to head to Fort Benning, which is a daunting 125 miles away, during which they are stopped by a pile-up of hundreds of abandoned cars on the highway and a busted RV hose. While Dale is repairing the RV, a herd of Walkers comes through, forcing the Group to hide under the abandoned cars. Before the coast is clear, 12-year-old Sophia tries to crawl out and is grabbed by a Walker. She manages to escape but runs off into the woods, followed by a couple of the undead. Rick goes to rescue her, but must leave her in the woods alone to draw off the Walkers. When he returns, she is gone.
Daryl, Rick, Shane and Glenn search for her but come up empty handed. The next morning more of the group join the search, including Carl. When they split up, Carl continues on with Rick and Shane. The trio see a buck in the forest, which Carl quietly approaches to observe. Suddenly a gunshot rings out, the buck falls to the ground and so does Carl.
Season 2 opens with a very intriguing episode. The arrival of the herd is intense as everyone is separated and hiding under different cars, able to see their loved ones, but not able to be with them. At first Sophia’s disappearance works very well, because it raises the question of “How long do we search?,” though it will drag out a little too long by the resolution. And ending the episode with Carl being shot was quite shocking, since I hadn’t read the comic yet. I was stunned that in one episode they would lose one kid in a zombie apocalypse and have another get shot. That’s pretty gutsy.
Qualities in certain characters really begin shining through, too. Daryl, who was a hot-head redneck jerk in the first season, gains more layers, as he puts himself at risk to save T-Dog during the herd’s march. He then takes on the task of tracking Sophia with everything he has. He still isn’t a ball of sunshine, but he’s much more tolerable than he was.
On the flip side however are Lori and Andrea. Lori told Shane to stay away from her and her family, more than once I believe, but when he tells her his plans of leaving the Group and tries to put some distance between himself and Carl, she chastises him. Shane is a bad dude, but Lori’s inconsistency with her feelings towards him makes me strongly dislike her. Lori’s only saving grace in the episode is toward the end when she faces Carol and tells her stop blaming Rick for Sophia’s disappearance, though, as a mother I can’t blame Carol’s feelings.
And Andrea is no better, as she acts like a whiny teenager after Dale hides her gun. Of course Dale’s “I know best” attitude is obnoxious, but after Andrea’s attempted suicide at the CDC, Dale’s actions are understandable. Unfortunately, it’s all downhill for Andrea’s characterization from here on.
Carol is really the only likable woman on the show at this point, at least until Maggie shows up. She is strong in her own way after living with Ed’s abuse for so many years, and the terror she feels for her lost child really resonates. She is one character whose growth and change over the seasons is absolutely mesmerizing to behold.
Despite some obnoxious writing for a few of the characters, this was a great start to a new season, that ended on quite the cliffhanger.