Spoilers alert!

We’ve all had a few weeks to recover from the shocking mid-season finale, but tonight’s episode picks up just seconds after Rick has shot zombie Sophia coming out of the infamous barn on Hershel’s farm.

Everyone is stunned.  Carol runs away, but Beth runs towards one of the zombies, her mother.  She begins to cradle her head, but suddenly the zombie comes back to life, spurring everyone into action.  Andrea drives a pickaxe into the zombie’s brain.  Shane is loudly furious that they wasted so much time looking for Sophia when she was in the barn the whole time.  Hershel is distraught and wants them off his land.  He claims not to have known that Sophia was there because Otis was the barn zombie herder.  Shane accuses Rick of being just as delusional as Hershel for playing along with his plan.

Glenn tells Maggie that it’s almost a relief that Sophia is dead, because now at least they can move on, which Maggie doesn’t like much.  Her question is what will happen next, but Glenn doesn’t have an answer – no one does.

Carl tells Lori that he had thought he would be the one to find Sophia, but also that Rick did the right thing shooting her.  He’s not upset, but in fact strangely calm.  Rick tells Lori that Hershel wants them out.  Shane’s words have had an effect on Rick- he’s upset that he’s let everyone down.

Feeling judged by Dale, Shane explodes in an angry diatribe.  He feels the need to defend the way he acted at the barn.  Graves are dug for the three zombies they knew, but Carol doesn’t want to go because, in her opinion, Sophia died a long time ago.  Back in the farmhouse, Hershel packs up his dead wife’s things and dresses in his finest.  They have a service, but we don’t hear any of it.

Andrea and T-Dog fill a truck with barn zombies to burn.  There’s an odd scene where a detached arm falls out and Andrea stops to pick it up.  I’m not sure if it was supposed to funny or horrific to see her throwing the severed arm back into the truck, but it turned out to be a bit of both.  I can tell you I would not be riding in the truckbed with those bodies, though.  Andrea is far more gutsy than I am.  Ha ha, gutsy.  I made a zombie joke!

Maggie asks Glenn if he would stay behind if the group left, but their chat is interrupted by Beth collapsing from shock.  Hershel has gone missing and Rick wants to head into town to find him, but Lori and Shane both think it’s a bad idea.  Lori is worried that Carl is becoming cold and indifferent, but Rick is thinking ahead.  He wants to be able to stay on the farm for the sake of the baby.

Carol comes out of the woods in a daze and Shane cleans her up, checking her over.  He tells her he’s sorry about Sophia, that he was just trying to keep everyone safe and repeats that he had no idea she was in the barn.  He’s very gentle with Carol, gentler than we’ve seen him be with anyone else.  As a contrast, Dale tells Lori that he thinks Shane killed Otis and “Sooner or later, he’s gonna kill somebody else.”

Glenn confides in Rick that Maggie said she loves him, but he didn’t say it back.  He worries that they’re little more than strangers.  He also tells Rick that he knows about Lori’s pregnancy.  Lori asks Daryl to go into town to fetch Rick and Hershel, but he’s through looking for people.  He tells her to go herself if she feels like it’s so important.

Glenn and Rick find Hershel in the bar.  Rick tells him that Beth needs him, but Hershel brushes him off.  Hershel started to believe in miracles when he was able to save Carl, but now he thinks he was being a fool.  Back at the farm, Lori drives off with a gun to find Rick and Hershel, but loses control of the car and flips it when she hits a walker in the road.

Hershel is drunk and bitter, telling Rick they both know there’s no hope now for any of them.  Rick retorts with, “Death has always been there.  You didn’t think it was hopeless before, did you?”  It’s not about what they believe in anymore, it’s about the people who are counting on them.  As Rick and Hershel start to leave, two strangers walk in, barring the door.

They’re Dave and Tony, who claim to have met on their way from Philadelphia.  Rick is concerned that Dave carries a gun.  From the moment they walk in, there’s something not quite right about the pair.  Even as they talk, they are continually trying to get information from the other three.  Dave does most of the talking about the people they’ve run into.  There are lots of theories about where survivors should go, including Nebraska.  Rick mentions that they intend to go to Ft. Benning, but Dave says it’s already overrun.

Dave asks if they have a place they’re living, but Rick and Hershel both deny having the farm.  The mood in the room gets very chilly, not helped when Tony urinates on the bar room floor.  Rick and Hershel both say they can’t take in any more people.  Dave and Tony continue to push to go back with Hershel, Rick and Glenn to their base.  They mention that they have friends too who would also need somewhere to stay.  Ratcheting up the tension, Dave goes behind the bar to get more liquor.  It’s clear that Dave and Tony are after the farm and become more and more aggressive.  Dave makes a sudden move and Rick shoots and kills both Dave and Tony.

Back at the farm, Shane and T-Dog set their zombie bonfire ablaze, wondering aloud how many more they’ll have to burn.

The Walking Dead resumed its second season with quite a dramatic episode.  Hershel says he lost all hope when he watched Shane shooting the zombie on his leash in the heart and lungs.  He quite literally packed away his hope for the future when he boxed up his wife’s things – he had been saving them for when she returned and “recovered” from the zombie sickness.  He’s had a rude awakening, but there’s not a whole lot of time to mourn in this new society.  Hershel needs to snap out of this depression, because there are living family members who still need him.

Granted, Lori has never been a favorite character of mine, but I cannot fathom why she left the farm on her own to get Hershel when Rick and Glenn had already left to find him.  If she’s so concerned about Carl, why is she leaving him behind?  I don’t know what she’s thinking here, but overall I’m just pleased that the show is back and off to a thrilling start.

If you missed the previous episodes be sure to read our ‘The Walking Dead: Mid-Season Review’ to catch up.