Tonight saw the 90-minute Season Two premiere of AMC's amazing zombie apocalypse series "The Walking Dead" and I just couldn't wait until Monday to post my recap and comments. As always Here There Be Spoilers. Do not read ahead if you haven't seen tonight's episode.
At the end of Season One, Rick; Lori; Carl; Shane; T-Dog; Darrell; Dale; Andrea; Carol and Sophia were prepared to leave the about-to-explode CDC, just as Andrea and Dale emerged. In 'What Lies Ahead,' not everyone is happy to have been rescued, though the group is now heading for Fort Benning in the hope finding a living military presence there. As they pick their way through the stalled, wrecked and otherwise incapacitated traffic, the radiator hose on Dale's RV breaks and the group is forced to stop for repairs.
As the group sets out to scavenge parts and supplies from the vehicles surrounding them, they are set upon by a 'herd' of walkers. Rick orders them to hide under the cars and for the most part, the ruse works. Of course, the mounting tension as the seemingly endless herd shuffled by was almost unbearable. Am I the only one who found himself holding his breath during this scene? T-Dog suffers a major wound to his arm and Darrell saves the both of them by hiding beneath the corpses of two actually dead people. Andrea, trying to rebuild her pistol after Shane cleaned it, is trapped in the RV's bathroom by a walker. Dale slips a screwdriver to her through the skylight, which she plunges into the zombie's eye. Just when it seemed all was clear, poor Sophia is discovered by a walker and she takes off down an embankment, pursued by two walkers. Rick immediately takes chase, hiding Sophia in the roots of a tree by a creek, while drawing the walkers away from her.
Meanwhile, tension is mounting between Shane and Lori and Carl has begun to notice. When Carl retrieves a cache of bladed weapons from a corpse in a car, he proudly displays his find to Shane who blatantly dismisses him in front of Lori. Confused, Carl takes the weapons to Dale as Lori admonishes Shane for being cruel to her son, which leads to a discussion about Shane's attempted rape of Lori at the CDC.
Having dispatched the walkers who chased Sophia into the woods, Rick returns to the root cave only to find her missing. He enlists Darrell to help him search for the girl, but the trail goes cold as dark starts to descend. They return to the group with the intention of resuming their search in the morning. carol blames Rick for losing her daughter and fears Sophia won't survive a night alone in the woods. The next morning, as they prepare to continue the search, Dale refuses to give Andrea her gun and she admonishes him for forcing her to not commit suicide at the CDC along with Jennings and Jacqui. She joins the search party, resenting the fact that she still doesn't have a gun.
The party comes upon a tent in which they hope Sophia is hiding, only to find the body of a camper who "opted out." Darrell takes the man's gun and the continue on, led by the sound of a church bell. Inside the small church, they find three walkers seated in the pews but no Sophia. I immediately associated this scene with the zombies in Romero's "Dawn of the Dead," who gather at the mall because it's a place they used to go. Of course, no Baptist church would have a full crucifix behind the altar, as this one did. While there, Shane revealed to Lori that he was planning on leaving the group, which was overhead by Andrea, who asked to go with him. Carol prayed for forgiveness and the safe return of Sophia, while Rick prayed for yet another miracle to keep the survivors going.
With no sign of Sophia, most of the group heads back to the highway and Lori admonishes all of the blame for looking to Rick for leadership and then blaming him for things beyond his control. Rick, Shane and Carl remain behind to continue the search. When they come upon a deer in the woods, Sane is tempted to shoot it, but Rick stops him as Carl approaches the deer, a symbol of hope for all of them. The deer is wary of the boy's approach, but doesn't flee as Carl gets closer. Suddenly, a shot rings out and both the deer and Carl are felled.
Whew! A thrilling, compelling and exciting premiere which sets up the season almost as well as the pilot did. Will Shane and Andrea leave? Where is Sophia? Will Carl survive? Will T-Dog's wound lead to infection, death and zombification? And where is Darrell's brother Merle, who cut off his own hand to escape the walkers on the department store roof? Thankfully, we only have a week to wait for some of the answers, unlike the year we waited for Season Two.