I've been saying since the beginning of the season that I was fine with the arc of the first half of The Walking Dead's season 2 being dedicated to finding Sophia and Carl healing from his gunshot wound. This was not shared by the viewing majority however, and throughout the season I have been asked what I thought of the season usually started like this: "What's going on with The Walking Dead?"
As a fan of the comic, I've never been concerned, as the story was always deceptively quiet before something major and brutal occurred. That said, at the end of the sixth episode, "Secrets", even I was starting to think, "they better wrap up this whole Sophia thing in the next episode." And, finally, they did.
As teased after the last episode, Glenn (Steven Yeun) tells the group about the walkers in the barn, leading to a lot of discussion over what to do. Rick (Andrew Lincoln), saddled with Lori's pregnancy and a need to offer the survivors a safe place, tries to convince Hershel (Scott Wilson) to let them stay. Meanwhile, Shane (Jon Bernthal) loses his mind, Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn) hides guns from him, and Daryl (Norman Reedus) continues to want to find Sophia (Madison Lintz). Dale eventually gives back the guns, Rick tells Hershel about the pregnancy and is forced to bring more zombies back to the barn as a sign that he will follow Hershel's rules if he is allowed to stay. This is where the episode heads to its climatic ending where Shane opens up the barn, kills all zombies and, lo and behold, they find Sophia.
The "Hershel's farm" arc only comprised a few issues and ended in a different way. For those that also follow the comic, we're all basically lost as to what will happen in the upcoming second half of the season. That's another reason why I think the series is doing such a good job. Like the comic, as soon as the audience thinks they have it all figured out, something happens that changes the entire direction. Usually that means someone, or many someones, dies. That sacrificial lamb is Sophia, who survives for much longer in the comic.
So what's next for the group of survivors? It's not looking good. Including Shane further into the series has clearly been a good move for the show, and I'm hoping that Shane is going to continue being a critical part of the show. Like the comic, Rick has to continually justify the leadership role that he has been thrust into, but he's never had to contend with a leader who is his equal within his own group. While their methods are different, there are many who will side with Shane's leadership and not care for Rick's "do the right thing" approach. In a kill or be killed world, how can one survive constantly following the rules? Rick has never had to do what Shane did, killing Otis to save Carl, and while it could be argued that he didn't need to shoot Otis, what can't be argued is that the sacrifice saved Carl's life and, while Shane isn't blabbing about it to anyone, it's clearly eating away at him.
A quick note about Dale. There is a limit to how the "old sage who butts into everyone's business" routine can work, and it would be good to give him something to do other than tell everyone else what they should do. Same goes with T-Dawg (IronE Singleton), who I am afraid is only there to function as zombie fodder in a future episode. If you're going to keep him around, please use him. Like Daryl, T-Dawg is not a comic book character, but that also means that he could be used IN ANY WAY possible. Fans have already fallen in love with Daryl, so let's give T-Dawg something, anything. Otherwise, just get rid of him.
I see the group splintering and seeing Shane, Andrea, and T-Dawg, possibly Daryl, head off in their own direction, while the rest of the group continues on. Just speculation, of course, but it's hard to see how the group stays together after this. That is, of course, the genius of the show.
Check out some videos below, courtesy of AMC, starting with the sneak peek into the 8th episode, "Nebraska", as well as the cast looking ahead at the second half of the season and a behind-the-scenes look at the 7th episode.
See you guys in February! I promise more consistent recaps. Until then...