After last week’s breathless cliffhanger, ‘The Walking Dead’ continues to push forward at breakneck speed into a new chapter of survival. With the group split up, with Sophia still missing, and now with Carl suffering from a gunshot wound to the chest, we dive back into the story to find out what comes next.

[Be warned, this recap does contain spoilers]

Taking a page from the graphic novels, this episode picks up after a major cliffhanger ending with a flashback to the time before the Walkers appeared. This flashback consists of Lori waiting to pick up Carl after school. She is talking with a friend about how she and Rick just had a big fight and how she wasn’t sure if she still loved him or not. This was the day that Rick got shot, and Shane arrives to tell her the tragic news. He is wracked with guilt, and confesses that he made a bad call which led to Rick’s injury. As he tells her this, Carl comes out of school, and it falls to Lori to tell him.

We then cut to the present, and Rick is running as fast as he can with Carl in his arms. The man who mistakenly shot Carl, Otis, has told Rick and Shane about a farm not too far away. The owner of the farm, Herschel, is a doctor and can help them. Out of breath and out of strength, Rick keeps running as fast as he can. He is spotted by Herschel’s daughter, Maggie. Once they quickly confirm that Carl was shot and not bitten, they rush him into the farmhouse. A little surprisingly, everybody seems to know exactly what to do in this situation. Carl is put on the bed, IV tubes are injected, and Herschel quickly gets to examining him. Otis explains that he shot at a deer, and the bullet passed straight through it and into Carl. Herschel determines that the deer slowed down the bullet enough to give Carl a fighting chance, but it also broke up when passing through the deer, and there are now six separate bullet fragments lodged in his chest.

Carl has internal bleeding and needs a transfusion. Rick is the same blood type, so he immediately begins giving Carl his blood. He is losing control because there is no way for him to get a message to Lori. Shane tells Rick that his only priority right now is keeping Carl alive, and that he will take care of anything else.

Herschel attempts to take out the first bullet fragment. Since this is just a farmhouse with some moderate medical supplies, there is no anesthetic. In a particularly difficult scene to watch, Herschel digs into Carl’s chest to get at the first fragment with Carl screaming and writhing in pain. Shane holds Carl down, and Rick can only watch helplessly until Carl finally passes out from the pain. Herschel confesses that he can’t go after the other five fragments without anesthetic and a respirator. The closest hospital has burned down, but there is a FEMA trailer at the local high school. The catch, however, is that the high school is overrun with Walkers. Shane volunteers to go, and a guilt-stricken Otis offers to go with him. Maggie, at the same time, offers to find Lori and bring her to the farm. Rick wants to be a part of these endeavors, but Herschel is insistent that he stay with Carl in case he needs another transfusion.

Meanwhile, in the woods, Lori is concerned about hearing just one gunshot, but Daryl keeps them on track. Their priority is still to keep looking for Sophia, but Lori can’t shake the notion that the one gunshot means something bad has just happened. As they make their way through the woods, Andrea is attacked by a Walker. Unarmed and unable to defend herself, she might just become its next meal. Suddenly, Maggie shows up on a horse and knocks the Walker out of the way with a baseball bat. She hurriedly tells Lori what has happened. While everybody is suspicious of Maggie, Lori chooses to trust her. She does know who Rick and Carl are after all. She hops on the horse, and Maggie tells the group where the farm is so that they can catch up from the freeway.

Back at the freeway, Dale and T-Dog continue to scavenge the abandoned cars for supplies. T-Dog is getting more and more exhausted, and Dale can see that his cut from earlier has become infected. They shift their search from general supplies to any sort of antibiotics they can find. Without much luck, and finding nothing more powerful than some Ibuprofen, T-Dog tries to talk Dale into leaving the group. His infection is making him delusional, and he believes that the rest of the group sees them as weak and will set them up to be bait. Dale won’t hear any of it.

The group makes it back to the freeway, and the tension is only that much stronger between Andrea and Dale. Having narrowly survived a Walker attack with nothing to use to defend herself other than a screwdriver, she simply stares cold, hard daggers at Dale. As night approaches, the group has to make the hard decision: do they abandon their search to regroup with Rick, Shane and Lori at the farm, or do they stay and continue their search. It really isn’t much of a decision. They almost unanimously agree to stay and keep looking for Sophia. Dale, however, does instruct Glenn to take T-Dog to the farm and hope that they have some antibiotics. He is clearly close to death. Daryl, seeing how badly off T-Dog has become, pulls out his brother’s drug stash. The man has a veritable pharmacy in his backpack. He has some drugs that should help T-Dog. That makes this the third time he has saved his life.

Back at the farm, Lori arrives and is understandably distraught over seeing a bloody and unconscious Carl in the bed. Rick, having gone through two transfusions, is visibly weakened. He is still troubled by his inability to do anything other than stay with Carl, but Lori tells him that this is his only duty right now. Herschel also confesses that, while he has medical knowledge, he is actually only a veterinarian. He seems confident that he can perform the operation if and when Shane and Otis get back with the supplies, but that is still no guarantee that Carl will pull through. Rick is worried because Shane and Otis have been gone too long, but he can’t do anything about it at this point. All he can do is sit and wait.

So what is going on with Shane and Otis, you ask? The two of them get to the high school, foolishly hoping that the herd of Walkers that once was there has moved on. Of course, that’s hoping for too much. The place is still overrun. In a pretty creative tactic, they break into a police car and start distracting the Walkers by lobbing road flares away from the FEMA trailer. The Walkers start to shamble toward the flares, and Shane and Otis quickly sneak into the trailer. They grab what they need, but discover that the Walkers have moved back to their original positions by the time they get out. The Walkers quickly spot them, and the chase is on. Shane and Otis find themselves surrounded as Walkers begin to appear from all angles. Their only recourse is to break into the high school and lock themselves inside. Now they are trapped and have no means of letting everybody at the farm know their situation.

And that brings us to the end of this week’s episode. Yes, it’s another cliffhanger. This one was not as intense as last week’s because you could pretty well see this ending coming. Last week’s cliffhanger really did come literally out of nowhere and was truly shocking in its impact (provided you hadn’t already read the graphic novels).

I know that we are only two episodes into this season, but if it’s able to keep up this pace, we’re in for one roller coaster of a season for sure. In the grand scheme of things, not much has happened, but the characters have become a lot more compelling and individually unique in a very short time. Daryl is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters for his no-nonsense approach to just about everything. My favorite moment in the episode is after Maggie has taken down the Walker in the woods. It gets back up and tries to go after Andrea again, and Daryl simply says “Shut up,” and nonchalantly shoots it in the head with his crossbow. I know that Rick is the one who is supposed to be the “leader” of this group, but seeing him fall apart the way he has this week makes me think that Daryl would be a much stronger leader. His pragmatic approach to the search, to killing Walkers, and even to cooling people’s nerves makes him stand out from the pack. While it’s pretty easy to deduce what will likely be happening next week, I still can’t wait to see it.