Oh apocalyptic zombie infested America, how I missed you. Busy with life, I feel like Sophia’s death is still fresh in my mind, ready to jump back into “The Walking Dead” for six more episodes, only to be tormented again by a hiatus until next October. But hell, things were just getting good mid-way through season 2, so bring on the dark second half where the farm no longer becomes safe (which we can assume is the next logical step after the entire barn has been cleaned out of walkers, too perfect, eh?). Let’s get back to it then…
Fresh off the zombie barn slaughter, tensions are at an all time high. Hershel immediately wants Rick’ gang out, especially Shane who went ballistic and broke the barn open, and turns to the alcohol he swore of years ago. Rattled by the realization his beliefs of a cure were wrong, he vanishes to the town bar for some alone time.
Back on the farm, Rick’s gang is at odds as well. Shane’s outburst only heightens Dale’s suspicions and concerns, making the two more prone to confrontation. Rick also shows animosity towards Shane and his brash actions, but also shows signs of doubt in himself and his decision-making skills. A few times other people have to make quick judgement calls while a mute Rick just blankly zones off, sickened by the work all put in to search for a girl who had been dead the whole time. But he snaps back into action when Maggie’s sister Beth goes into an unprovoked catatonic state. Rick grabs Glenn and the two make a B line for the bar and Hershel.
Sophia’s death weighs heavily not only on her mother, but the rest as well. Daryl, who risked his life numerous times hunting for the girl, no longer feels responsible for the group and declines putting his neck on the line yet again. Others share the same sentiment, adopting a more survivalist mentality. With that in mind, the group buries Sophia along with Hershel’s loved ones, and burns the rest of the corpses. A dirty job, but necessary.
At the bar, Rick and Glenn find Hershel all out of hope and ready to give up. He expresses his new lack of faith, and his failure at being a leader as he refused to grasp what Rick warned him of the whole time. Wanting to sulk, Rick has to talk Hershel back for the good of his daughter and his own future baby. Just then, two unknown survivors walk in and make themselves comfortable. Unaccustomed to new faces, Rick cautiously converses with the travelers from Pennsylvania. He learns the two are scouts for a larger group, and tries to end the conversation before talk of the farm arises. Inevitably it does though, and the strangers beg for some southern hospitality, leaning towards an apparent stand off. Instead they both get a bullet to the head delivered by Rick, and we see just how powerful Sophia’s death was.
Well, I think it’s safe to say there’s a new sheriff in town. The old Rick was all about peace and harmony, not violent resolutions. While talking to the two strangers, shades of Rick were coming out in their rational, being the leaders who just want to see their friends to safety. Sounds like an awful close situation to what Rick and Hershel went through. But this time, instead of extending hospitality and contemplating accepting more bodies into the mix, you could tell Rick’s singular focus was on his own people, showing Shane’s influence peeking through. No one was putting Carl and Lori at risk, and these poor survivors paid the price. No more Mr. Nice Rick. In a pivotal moment for “The Walking Dead,” Rick heartlessly shoots both in cold blood, not even hesitating to debate the moral dilemma. The significance? Shane doesn’t seem like such a cruel bastard now that Rick is essentially in the same boat. Rick is accepting more now the world isn’t all full of sunshine, and the survivalist instincts are becoming more apparent. Shane even jabbed at Rick earlier, summarizing a line saying Rick isn’t suited for this kill or be killed new world. So much for that logic, because we’ve now seen a new kick-ass side of Rick ready for action. You have to love the inner quarrels that are bound to take place though, as Rick is still the more controlled and logical leader at heart.
But for the future, now we know other survivors are close, and without information. In Rick’s group, when someone goes missing, a search party is sent out. Think these other survivors won’t do the same? And while snooping around the city, you think they won’t stumble upon a zombie free farm? I’m on pins and needles just thinking it, but could we finally meet a character named, I don’t know, Tyreese?! Rumors have been swirling Keith Allen Hayes (of random uncredited and small roles) has joined the cast and looks astonishingly like the ex-football star, so could this possibly be his unveiling? I’m giddy with excitement just waiting to find out. But don’t hold your breath for dual favorite Michonne just yet, as that rumor has been squashed by big wigs saying season 2 will not show her character…but no one ever said the execs have to be telling the truth.
Mind the pun, but season 2 is back with a bang. A very loud, resonating bang ready to change the bland tone of the first 7 episodes. Should we start making bets on who doesn’t make it through this season? That’s the feeling I already get from the drastic notions suggested in “Nebraska,” hinting a major player or two will meet an untimely death and subsequently become zombie chow. What really gave me chills and kicked my emotions into top gear was hearing Clutch’s “Regulator” fade in after Rick wastes both punks, vibing the dark southern rock song literally about being a hard-skinned son of a bitch. The kills, the attitude, the song…all a perfect culmination. To date, no episode has ended in better fashion than “Nebraska,” a trend I can only hope “The Walking Dead” continues.