The Walking Dead stormed back with an emotionally-charged episode full of tension and emotion. They’re still dealing with the aftermath of the barn massacre and last night proved that bad things happened to those who left the farm. Carol (Melissa McBride) dealt with Sophia’s death in her own way. Scott Wilson had his finest turn as Hershel trying to efface himself with alcohol and Andrew Lincoln was superb as Rick asserted himself as someone not to be messed with. The most surprising moment of “Nebraska” was that we were introduced to new survivors and just as we thought we’d be adding more people at the farm, Rick blasted them away.
After seeing the zombie that used to be his wife shot, then getting a scythe to the skull, Hershel turned to the top shelf liquor in town, something he hasn’t done since Maggie (Lauren Cohan) was born. Could anyone really blame him? He realized he was a fool to think that walkers could have been cured. In leaving, he had forgotten than he still had to be there, be strong for his daughters so when they fall, he can be there to catch them. Now Beth (Emily Kinney) may need medical attention, or be given her last rites. In finding the bottom of the bottle, Hershel’s hope had run empty as well.
Hershel: When that girl came out of the barn… I knew you knew it too. There is no hope for any of us. (Beth) should have mourned her mother… I robbed them of that… I was a fool, Rick, and your people saw it. My daughters deserve better than that.
To be fair, he didn’t give himself the chance to see how bad the world had fallen outside the farm. That kind of ignorance in this world truly is bliss. But he was foolish for thinking that no one could find his home and his family. Whether it was Rick’s group or Dave (Michael Raymond James) and Scrawny Tony’s (Aaron Munoz). The farm was going to be found and believe it or not, bad vibes and all, Rick’s group was fairly friendly.
Hershel was right in calling Rick and his camp the plague, but Dave and Tony did not have good intentions in crashing the party. They were equally desperate, in need of help but they may have lost even more humanity than Rick’s group. They may not have started out as bad people, but when faced with what people are faced in an apocalypse, as we’ve seen with Rick’s group, hard choices have to be made. People lie to get what they want. If a safe haven were available, then they would have done anything. Rules that were considered universal are broken without a moment of consideration. That’s what this second season has illustrated better than anything else. It’s about survival; Rick shooting Dave and Scrawny Tony dead was a show of self-preservation. That sobered Hershel up real fast.
Just because they were in survival mode, that doesn’t mean that what they said was false. If Fort Benning is overrun with walkers, then where do they go from here if they decide to leave the farm? Washington D.C. was a failed refugee camp and a rail yard in America’s heartland. Nebraska? That’s a long way from Georgia. But if you caught The Talking Dead last night too, then you know that Dave and Scrawny Tony weren’t alone.
“Nebraska” kicked off the season’s final run by picking up the minute after Rick put a bullet in what used to be Sophia. That sparked off a chain of events:
Beth went to the corpse that was her mother and Hershel’s wife to grieve and then T-Dog (Irone Singleton) stomped on its head when it reached for Beth. Andrea (Laurie Holden) finally put an end to it by skewering it dead. Shane (Jon Bernthal) accused Hershel for knowing about Sophia (Madison Lintz). Maggie slaps Shane. Old man Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn) gave Shane dirty stink-face looks as he sat in Otis’ old truck. Shane gets in old man Dale’s face and tells him he’s doing a fine job of babysitting his gun.
Shane: Next time I need a radiator hose, I’ll give you a call.
Everyone pitched in and buried Hershel’s wife, his son-in-law and Sophia. A silent funeral was given and everyone went his or her separate way. But there was one person missing from the funeral, and that was Carol. Understandably distraught over finally discovering all this time Sophia had not been wandering by herself but was scrapping for live chickens made her hysterical.
Carol: That’s not my little girl, that’s some… thing… Sophia died a long time ago
When she turned her head away from Daryl (Norman Reedus), he responds with a tremendous stare; if he had heat vision I think her head would have ignited like a lit matchstick because you could feel all of the hours he selflessly spent looking for her, giving Carol hope, and even came up with a feel good story about the Cherokee Rose, in that stare. I do think this was an important scene considering the bridge that was formed between these two characters over the second season. That bridge was burned.
Yes, Sophia may have been bitten long ago, especially if it was Otis’ job to wrangle them. That would place Sophia’s bite in the first 24 hours she disappeared. I still feel as viewers, it’s wrong to judge Carol for her refusal to bury Sophia. Why? I must remind some viewers that it’s never our place to judge the actions of fictional characters. Because as audience members, we’re seeing characters play their stories out, not what we as viewers would like to think we would do in that position. I’d rather see what the writers are saying that she didn’t bury her daughter.
We may disagree with her choice but I believe there is a bigger reason for her refusing to leave the camper. Carol saw her husband attacked and turned into a zombie, to which she later pick-axed his head to a pulp. Her daughter was bitten, turned, and shot dead again. She took the abuse from her husband–perhaps to protect Sophia–she refused to take the lead in the search for her daughter when others didn’t give up. She blamed Rick when Sophia chose to run out from under the car and into the woods all by herself. The fact that she didn’t see her daughter go into the ground was not that surprising. Her character has gotten to this point because she refused to take action.
But is Sophia’s demise going to have some impact on her? If not, she may be the most worthless character on television, which I don’t believe, so she has to change from here. She has to toughen up or else she’ll end up dead too. So while most people may be overlooking Carol, or wishing her away, I’m hoping we see a transformation in her character as a result of this loss. And if she develops into a much more assertive person then this will all be a wonderful arc for that character and a prime example of how this world changes people and reaches in and yanks out sides of them they didn’t know existed. We see that with Andrea, Carol may be next.
Now, whether Daryl responds to it is good question. He had put all of his hopes in finding Sophia alive to the bitter end but Carol was the only one to believe in him as a leader. Sophia gave him a purpose, so her loss could have a much more negative effect on Daryl. That’s why I believe that it would have meant more to Daryl had Carol come out to put her daughter to rest than it would have for Carol. I know Daryl has his supporters but he is not in a good place mentally and Carol’s reaction to Sophia’s death will make him worse.
Daryl to Lori asking him to help find Hershel: Listen to me, Olive Oyl. You want him? Fetch him yourself. I’m done looking for people.
As for characters who haven’t changed. Jon Bernthal again was again exceptional as Shane, the loose screw. He has Andrea and T-Dog at his side even though he’s still out for self-preservation. Look at the scene when he washing Carol’s hands. It looks like a tender moment but he looks Carol up and down to see if she had been bit or scratched. He managed to make a moment to grieve with Carol and make it about him.
Shane: I’m sorry for your girl… I was just trying to keep everybody safe.
More Rotten Thoughts
• Poor Michael Raymond James. His last show, Terriers was undeservingly cancelled. His character in True Blood had an unfortunate ending. For a moment there, you felt like he would land in a stable place. Not if Rick Grimes had anything to say about it.
• As Andrea loaded up the back of Otis’ truck with the corpses, and the arm falls off, did anyone else think that something bad was going to happen to her? Thankfully, nothing did.
• Talk about your Shakespearean villains, Dale is working to get people on his side, to conspire against Shane. Regardless if he’s successful or not, he knows he’ll never pull the trigger on a gun, even though he does a good job of babysitting them as Shane says. You either stick to your guns (for the lack of a better word) or change to adapt in this world. Dale is resisting change, but either he’s watched too much Survivor or he believes he can fight bullets with words.
• T-Dog has once again been limited to doing the dirty work on the farm. When are the writers going to give Irone Singleton a signature episode?
• Will The Walking Dead really string us out with another story of false hope with Beth either in a cationic shock or was she scratched/bitten by her momma-zombie? She’s burning up and her heart rate is racing. We’re certainly led to believe she may be on her way to zombie-ville. If that’s true then we’ll see if the massacre has any real lasting effect on Maggie or Hershel.
• Did anyone else notice the extra shots Rick gave Scrawny Tony? I believe one was for pissing on the bar. The other was for his comment about whether or not there were any women to have sex with back at the farm.
• Glenn’s never known love, but he’s finding it with Maggie, which leads me to believe she’s joining the group or he’s going to stay behind when it’s all said and done. Beth’s fate could play a big role in what happens.
• Don’t think I’ve forgotten about Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies), who’s now stuck upside down, due to her bad driving. She chose to travel alone, so she seems to reap all the trouble she brings on herself. The writers certainly didn’t do women drivers any favors in the zombie apocalypse. Many may have cheered that she flipped the car and I can understand that, but she’s not going to be a character that dies. My first thought after the wreck was, ‘is the baby still alive’?
The next episode of The Walking Dead, “Triggerfinger” airs this Sunday at 9pm ET/PT on AMC and the Talking Dead at midnight.