Episode Title: Nebraska
Original Airdate: 2-12-2012
In the aftermath of the Walker massacre, everyone scatters. Carol wants to be left alone after she finds out about Sophia, even refusing to be present when the others bury her; T-Dog, Shane and Andrea bury and or burn the bodies; Daryl goes off into the woods angry at Sophia’s death; Beth goes into severe shock, needing her father’s medical attention; Hershel disappears to the town bar, with Rick and Glenn chasing after him; Lori chases after them with no real intent except to be obnoxious and cause more drama; Dale putts around like an annoying old man. Bad people turn up.
The main focus of the episode is Hershel’s coming to terms with the Walkers not being “sick” like he assumed all this time, but actually dead. He was a heavy drinker many years prior and this new revelation has driven him back to his old habits. He now knows he will never be with his wife again and he cannot handle it. His trip into town wouldn’t be an issue if it weren’t for Beth’s going into shock at the sight of her mother and brother officially dying. So Rick and Glenn volunteer to go after him, which causes problems with their respective ladies. After a lot of talking at the bar, Hershel is about to leave with Rick and Glenn when strangers, Dave and Tony, show up. After some pseudo-friendly, tense chatting, the new guys ask if their group can join the survivors at the farm, to which Rick replies “No.” Things get ugly when one of the guys is about to pull his gun, and Rick shoots them both down without blinking.
I really love what goes on in the bar. Dave and Tony are the first negative representations of survivors. There was the brief struggle with the guys who took their guns in Season 1’s “Vatos,” but those guys were really just protecting a bunch of elderly folks. These two have an unsettling manner about them and one would not be surprised if they had survived to this point with all sorts of deplorable acts because there were no rules anymore. They are not the kind of people you invite to share your limited resources with, and Rick knows this immediately. It is also the first time Rick kills another living person since the end of civilization, but the fact that he did so without hesitation says a lot. So with Hershel accepting reality, two bad guys showing up and Ricking taking down the living, there are a lot of firsts in a short span of time. I honestly wish the bar could have taken up more of the episode, so I wouldn’t have to deal with all the boring parts.
I wonder if the writers decided to make Dale insanely annoying at this point since actor Jeffrey DeMunn had decided to leave the show after creator Frank Darabont bowed out. He turned into one of the most irritating characters practically between episodes, and I can’t help but think that the writers did it because a.) they were pissed at DeMunn for leaving out of the blue or b.) to numb the viewers to Dale’s eventual death (three episodes from now) by making him nearly unwatchable. The thing is he is absolutely right about Shane being unstable and sacrificing Otis; however he shouldn’t be. He never met Otis and wouldn’t know if the man could handle himself against a group of Walkers or not. But he hits the nail on the head in a way the character shouldn’t be able to, like he watched the show himself. It’s really just bad writing and I feel bad that DeMunn had to go out that way. Dale is perfectly free to suspect and guess, but that’s not what’s going on here and it gets worse with each episode that he encounters Shane.
And then there is Lori, who was fine for three episodes in a row, but is now back to her old nagging habits. She doesn’t want Rick going into town and gets even angrier when he won’t even discuss it with her. So she hunts down an angry and distraught Daryl to go into town after her husband, expecting him to do her bidding and completely ignoring his feelings. When he tells her off (good for him), she sneaks off without telling anyone, steals a car and gets in an accident trying to avoid a Walker in the road because she’s too busy looking at a map to pay attention. It’s like two-steps-forward-and-three-steps-back with her character. There was no reason to add this (melo)drama to the plot, except as filler. But more on that next week when someone has to go rescue her (*cough*SHANE*cough*).
So this was a mostly decent return to the middle of the season. The actual character building was wonderful, but then they had to throw in stupid decisions by characters already hanging in the balance. At least Andrea managed to be tolerable for once.