Summary: The group travels the highway but run into a traffic jam and get stuck. They scavenge but suddenly a walker herd attacks. Everyone hides but Sophia is chased into the woods by walkers. Rick saves her but she gets lost in the woods. The group tries to find Sophia in the woods and split off. Rick, Shane and Carl find a deer and Carl looks at it before he gets shot.
The Good: I thought this was a very effective season premiere. A lot of stuff happened and there was a ton to like in all of this.
I like the simple problem of the traffic jam. It was a good way to get the group stopped on the way to Fort Benning to create some tension and new storylines. I enjoyed the car looting scenes since they all made sense to me. After all why wouldn't they get supplies from all the cars available? The walker assault was also fantastic and created a ton of tension early in the episode. We haven't seen so many walkers at the same time with our characters so out in the open since "Guts", so there was a huge sense of danger and I really felt like something was going to go wrong.
Thankfully nobody died (until that ending), but the herd paid off with Sophia going missing. I thought it was an excellent storyline to centre around and it gives the characters a good reason to stay around the highway for the next little bit at least. It also served well to allow our characters to explore different locations, like the church and the tent. The most fascinating thing about this show is the world it's set in, which allows for the show to have so many potential stories of survivors to explore, like the man who killed himself in the tent for this episode. I'm really excited to see more survivors in this world and how the apocalypse affected them. I also really enjoyed the gruesome cutting open of the walker. The show continues to rub in the unpleasantness of the world as our survivors are forced to do some truly gross things.
While the characters are still mostly shallow, I thought there were a ton of great little moments here as characters begin developing storylines and conflicts. I really enjoyed Shane's current storyline as he plans to leave and starts distancing himself from everybody. It was pleasing to watch and created some really nice drama with Lori and Carl. I was pleased that Carl wasn't just clueless and that he realized that Shane has been being a little distant. I also really enjoyed Carol panicking and grieving about Sophia's disappearance. Melissa McBride did a terrific job of making me feel bad for her even though I hardly know who she is. I thought Lori had a nice moment as she stands up for Rick, and I also enjoyed the little moment between T-Dog and Daryl when Daryl saved his life.
The ending shock was fantastic as well. The episode had been going at a slow yet enjoyable pace for the final half hour as the group hunted down Sophia, but suddenly things seem to have cracked into second gear as Carl has now been shot. I was genuinely caught off guard by this and honestly I do think there is a chance that Carl actually dies here. I do think he survives, but I wouldn't be shocked if he dies either. This show has done a great job of establishing that nobody is safe in this world, so that immediately adds tension as soon as Carl is shot since there is a decent chance that he actually dies here.
The Bad: Not much major but I feel like this episode really missed with the little details as I have tons of nitpicks. For one, why is Lori constantly leaving Carl alone? Sophia just got chased into the woods, yet immediately Lori lets Carl go off on his own to check out the cars. Seriously, what parent is so irresponsible? I also didn't like Shane wasting water taking a mini shower. It just seemed like an unnecessary waste which the survivors should not be doing. Andrea screaming in the RV was way too loud so I have a hard time believing that no walkers heard this and entered the RV through the OPEN door. Lori's comment about the place being a graveyard was dumb. What were they supposed to do, go get supplies from the shopping centre?
Also shouldn't Rick be able to run much faster than the walkers with or without Sophia? He had a huge lead on them, so shouldn't he just double back to the highway to get some help? I can hardly buy that he wouldn't be fast enough to outrun the zombies, and that he would rather leave Sophia on her own instead of just directing her back to the highway.
The only major problem I have with this is the guns. Why does everyone care so much about guns? Like seriously, Rick is just walking around the entire time holding a gun, yet it's been established that nobody should be using guns. Why not carry a knife instead? It would have helped him take care of the zombies chasing Sophia as well. It seems so dumb that he would only carry guns and not just give everyone a knife or axe in case they find walkers. I was also disappointed that Carl never made mention that he should keep an axe in case he is attacked by walkers like Sophia. I thought for sure that he should have at least mentioned that to Lori to give her an interesting moral conflict to think about.
Also there was a terrible filter placed to make it seem like evening time. Awful production value and it was incredibly obvious.
The Unknown: Do walkers regularly travel in herds? Is that a sign of intelligence for them? Also where did this herd come from and how did it show up so quickly?
What was that radio signal? A government message? Where is it coming from?
Is T-Dog possibly infected now? He had a walker laying on his open wound, so could the infection have passed into his blood stream through that?
Will Carl survive the shot to his midsection?
Best Moment: While the walker assault and ending were stunningly good, my favourite moment was Andrea letting Dale know why he had no right to take away her choice. It was a great emotional scene and one that had proper resonance since I completely understood both characters' mindsets and why they did what they did. In the end I feel bad for both, which is exactly what the show was going for.
Character of the Episode: Shane.
Conclusion: This was a very good premiere episode. I had tons of nitpicks, but other than that I feel that the episode was extremely enjoyable all the way through. A great way to start season 2.
Just a university student who loves to watch TV. And criticize it like hell.