"Walking Dead" returned this Sunday (February 12) with a hellish trip to "Nebraska." In the wake of "Barnageddon," our survivors find themselves hitting all-new lows. Rick is haunted not just by the act of killing a zombie child, but his fear that Hershel's patience with his group has finally reached its boiling point. Shane, meanwhile, remains fully convinced of his own actions, even if the rest of his travelers aren't as on board. Sophia's death rocks Carol and Daryl in unexpected ways. Glenn continues wrestling with matters of the heart. Lori is stunned to see how this cold and ruthless world has changed young Carl's outlook on life.
Throughout all of this, drinking problems emerge, and we're talking about more than just the booze, thanks to a traveler formerly from Bon Temps, Louisiana. Rick takes matters into his own hands when things look bleak, taking his cues from AMC neighbor Walter White.
Keep reading for all things good, bad and ugly from last night's "Walking Dead."
- Michael Raymond James, late of "True Blood" and the criminally underviewed "Terriers," made his grand (albeit brief) debut on "Walking Dead" this week. Though he's only around for five or so minutes of his screen time, his appearance was an instantly memorable one, ranking right up there as one of the best guest stars this show's ever seen. It's a shame he bought the farm so early — MRJ would be a great Governor! More on that in a few…
- When Rick took matters into his own hands by shooting the two travelers at the bar, it seemed quite clear to me that we're moving towards the Rick Grimes of comic book lore: a man who will do anything and everything to protect his family. To date, that's been Shane's line of thinking. I don't know that we'll see Rick take such a harsh line as his former police officer pal, but killing two mortal men in the middle of a dive is a lot different from braining walkers. Like Walter White of "Breaking Bad" fame, Rick is starting to realize that he'll do whatever it takes to keep himself and his loved ones moving.
- Any scene featuring disgruntled Shane and deathly nervous Dale is always a great scene. Jon Bernthal and Jeffrey DeMunn are very likely the finest actors on "The Walking Dead," and their increasingly tense interactions have been a highlight in recent episodes. "Nebraska" was no exception, with Shane giving Dale an earful about "Barnageddon" and why he did what he had to do. No zombies required to make a hotheaded killer grilling a tired old man look compelling on camera.
- They're still on Hershel's farm. They're still on Hershel's farm. How long were they on the farm in the comics — three issues, four max? Rick and the team have outstayed their welcome not just in Hershel's eyes, but certainly in mine as well. I suspect many of you agree. It's time to pack up the RV and do what "Walking Dead" does best: get back on the road, struggle to survive for a while, then find some new form of too-good-to-be-true paradise and start all over again. Preferably a prison this time, folks.
- I like the fallout from Sophia's death, I like the drama of how it happened, and I like how it continues the show's streak of shaking up expectations for the people who've read the comics. That all said, the timeline behind Sophia's death still makes no sense to me. Rick leaves her in the woods, she goes and gets bitten and zombified, then caught by Otis and taken back to the barn, right? But didn't Otis shoot Carl in the stomach and trigger his road to certain doom just a few short hours after Rick left Sophia in the first place? How did the out-of-shape Otis have time to find Sophia, bring her back to the barn, go back out again and shoot Carl in the stomach? Sophia would have had to turn into a walker within an hour of going missing, at best. Maybe I'm missing something or overthinking it, but that kind of logic gap is going to stick with me for a little while.
- Okay, back to Michael Raymond James' character, may he rest in pieces. Where did these two travelers come from? Do they really have pals nearby as they've suggested? And if so, could this be the start of Woodbury? I'm predicting now that MRJ and his companion came from The Governor's camp, and we'll start seeing more of the infamous "Walking Dead" villain's minions as the season rolls along. I don't think we're likely to see The Governor himself this year, no, but I do think we're officially on the road towards Woodbury with the arrival of these new foes.
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