Man, these past two months have been excruciating, haven't they? Well, we can now thank our lucky stars, because The Walking Dead has finally returned after a brief mid-season hiatus.
Since this show has deviated so heavily from its comic book source material, it's in our best interest to not harp too much on what the show does differently from the comics, for better or worse. Instead, we're going to break down some of the most poignant moments in this week's episode and discuss why they're important (or could be important later down the road).
Lastly, if there's something I don't cover in this write-up that you feel is an oversight, share it in the comments below. Let's turn these weekly roundups into a little constructive community back and forth. Sound good? Okay, let's dive right in…
Oh, and this should be obvious… spoilers, ahoy!
Staring down the barrel of remorse
The midseason premiere picks up right where episode 7 left off, with Rick staring down the barrel of the revolver he used to put a bullet in zombie Sophia's head. Much of the first half of this episode plays up the extreme tension on the farm between the main group of survivors and Hershel's family. What's maybe most important is the scene between Rick and Shane where the two once again share words, furthering establishing the dividing line between team "Optimism," led by Rick, and team "Lost Hope," led by Shane.
This was an interesting scene because it works on multiple levels. For starters, the mystery of Sophia's fate has been solved, for better or worse, and now it's time for the characters to move on. Likewise, viewers who have been complaining that The Walking Dead has been moving about as fast as a zombie should find comfort in the fact that the show is essentially breaking the fourth wall to tell them that they are moving on to bigger and (hopefully) better things.
Funeral for friends
Andrea shows a little bit of a cold heart for the members of Hershel's family who've been turned into zombies. She mentions to Shane and T-Dog that they should only break a sweat to bury the ones they love, meanwhile burning the rest. Man, that's cold as ice.
Meanwhile, Rick talks to his wife Lori to acknowledge that no matter what they do to make things right, stuff continue to get worse, whether it's Carl getting shot or Sophia getting turned into a zombie. Is Rick's sense of optimism fading?
Shane and Dale, BFFs
It's an understatement at this point to say Shane and Dale don't care much for each other. Shane calls out Dale for being pretty much useless as of late (he's not wrong, honestly), while Dale continues to point the finger at Shane for being pretty much a bad influence on everyone (he's not wrong either).
Carol accepts Sophia's death
This is a beat we've seen before in The Walking Dead, but it doesn't make this particular scene any less poignant. Carol has accepted her daughter Sofia's death, claiming she died a long time ago, far before she became a monster.
Hershel is a sharp-dressed man for funerals
Here's a quick note: why is Hershel the only one dressing in a suit for the dead's funeral? Yes, most of the camp doesn't have a spare pair of underwear, let alone a dress suit, but still… Hershel can't lend out a suit or two to pay proper respects? What a one-upper!
Andrea and T-Dog take out the (dead) trash
Andrea and T-Dog show off their skills as zombie trash collectors, drawing attention to how desensitized our group has become. They now have no problem hauling off corpses and carrying around severed limbs without gloves or protection. Gross.
Carl turning stone cold killer?
Lori confronts Rick about Hershel running off to his favorite watering hole, mentioning that Carl said he would have shot Sophia himself if it came down to it. We might finally be seeing the first traces of Carl's story in The Walking Dead television series mirroring his path in the comics. That's very exciting news.
Dale plays the blame game
In a conversation with Lori, Dale lays it all out on the table and outs Shane as the one who killed Otis to save himself last season. He admits he doesn't have the proof, but he justifies his claim by stating that he's known men him Shane before, and "sooner than later he's going to kill someone else,"
First rule about gun use...
… don't point the barrel at your own face, Glenn. Come on!
Daryl continues to reject his posse
Lori tries to convince Daryl to head into town to pick up Rick and Hershel. However, Daryl continues to slip mentally, feeling out of place amongst this group of survivors, turning down Lori and giving her an ear full in the process.
Plus, he's got a sweet-ass stick to sharpen. So, honestly, his priorities are in line.
Hershel tosses back the sauce
Hershel has finally accepted his ignorance towards storing the zombies in his barn. It's a mistake that has led him back to grandpa's old cough medicine. Hershel has also officially joined team "Lost Hope," explaining to Rick that "there is no hope for any of us."
But Rick is quick to make a solid counter-argument, further showcasing his drive to stay optimistic. As Rick explains it, death has always been around. Whether it's cancer, heart attack or a walker, death has always been a threat. The zombie apocalypse is no different than it was before, it's just a new challenge that they have to overcome together.
The road - 1, women drivers - 0
That's a joke, of course. I'm not that insensitive. But in all seriousness, Lori's impatience once again gets her in trouble here. Never the one to stand idly by, Lori decides to drive into town to find Rick, but before she gets there she's makes the bonehead decision to not keep her eyes on the road -- instead choosing to look down a map -- leading her to hit a roaming walker and then fly off the road, flipping her car in the process.
Philly natives, Dave and Tony, walk into the bar…
At the end of this week's episode we meet two new characters, Dave and Tony, both Philadelphia natives (clearly Tony has eaten his fair share of cheesesteaks) that have been making their way across the country to find a safe place to live. They run into Rick, Glenn and Hershel at the bar, leading to a tension-filled conversation about the duo coming to the farm to stay. Dave and Tony also confirm that Fort Benning -- where Rick and his group were originally headed before arriving at Hershel's farm -- is overrun with the dead, effectively killing that pipe dream of a military-protected safe haven.
What's also interesting about this scene is that it's a role reversal. Dave makes the same case for himself and Tony that Rick originally did with Hershel, only now Rick's on the other side of the coin, telling Dave and Tony they can't come to the farm because they don't know them.
Then Rick goes all old west on Dave and Tony, killing them both in cold blood to protect the farm. Where's that sense of righteousness you've been parading around, Rick? Well, it's lying dead on the floor in a pool of blood, it seems. Things should be interesting from this point on, no?
And that wraps up this week's episode. Outside Lori doing her best Dukes of Hazzard impression and Rick playing executioner, "Nebraska" was a relatively slow midseason premiere. It didn't feel much like a fresh start, but instead the aftermath to plot developments from three months ago. However, the show still continues to build up its characters (introducing a few new ones in the process as well), which is better than nothing. Hopefully more action is right around the corner in the coming weeks.
See you guys next week!