Episode Title: "Chupacabra"
Writer: David Leslie Johnson
Director: Guy Ferland
Previously on "The Walking Dead":
The survivors gathered at Hershel Greene's (Scott Wilson) farm to hold a memorial for Otis (Pruitt Taylor Vince), the man who sacrificed himself so that Shane Walsh (Jon Bernthal) could return with the medical supplies to save Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs). At least that's what Shane told everyone. In reality, Shane shot Otis and left him to die so he could survive. In gratitude, Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) encouraged Shane to stay with the group despite Shane's simmering tension with her husband, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln). Lori also secretly asked Glenn (Steven Yeun) to get something for her on a medicine run with Hershel's daughter, Maggie Greene (Lauren Cohan).
Maggie caught Glenn in a compromising position and she teased him about it before offering to sleep with him. Later, Maggie and Glenn returned to the farm where she told him that their tryst was a one time thing. Meanwhile, Rick begged Hershel to let them stay on the farm even after Carl recovered and Sophia (Madison Lintz) was found. Hershel seemingly agreed to consider it if the survivors followed his rules. Later, Lori snuck out of the main house and used the pregnancy test procured by Glenn to determine that she was pregnant. But whether Rick or Shane fathered the baby remains unknown.
In flashback to a time when Shane had hair and was still sane, Lori and Carl wait with him in a hopelessly gridlocked freeway as they meet Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride) for the first time as well as her daughter, Sophia and Carol's abusive husband, Ed Peletier (Adam Minarovich). Shane and Lori go ahead to check out the deteriorating situation and they witness military helicopters bombing Atlanta in a vain attempt to wipe out the zombies there. Back to the present, Lori wakes up and finds Carol doing laundry to get her mind off her missing daughter. Carol wants them to cook dinner for the Greene family and she asks Lori to pass on the offer.
As Rick assembles the search party for Carol, a young man on the farm named Jimmy (James Allen McCune) volunteers to assist them, saying he has Hershel's blessing. Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) also says that he'll be borrowing a horse to reach his search grid area. Back at the house, Glenn tries to get Maggie on board for another hookup, but she shoots him down and says that she doesn't even know if she likes him. During the search, Rick briefly gets Shane to start talking about his past romantic conquests before both men argue about whether they should call off the search for Sophia. In Shane's view, the group should just move on.
Elsewhere, Daryl rides the horse until he comes across a creek bed. He notices Sophia's doll, but she doesn't answer him when he calls. When Daryl gets back on the horse and moves on, a snake startles the horse and causes it to throw Daryl and run off. Daryl tumbles down a ravine and is impaled with one of his own arrows. In agony, Daryl retrieves his crossbow and binds his wound. But when he begins climbing the ravine, he loses his grip halfway up and violently falls again. Back at the farm, Glenn is stunned to learn that Lori hasn't told Rick about the pregnancy yet and she tells him to keep it quiet.
Shane and Rick return to the farm and Rick relates Shane's thoughts on the situation. Hershel's younger daughter, Beth (Emily Kinney) interrupts and brings Rick to her father, who is pissed that Daryl took a horse without his permission and that Jimmy joined their search. Rick apologizes for the miscommunication and Hershel tells him to keep his people under control. In the forest, a barely conscious Daryl has a hallucination of his missing brother, Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker), who chides Daryl for being Rick's bitch and for spending more time searching for Sophia than for his own kin.
Daryl answers the criticism and awakens enough to realize that a zombie is about to bite him. He struggles with it as another one approaches before bashing in the head of the first zombie and retrieving the arrow from his side to take out the other one. Daryl then begins the arduous climb back to the top when his vision of Meryl returns and taunts him until Daryl finally makes it back up. Back at the farm, Hershel chides Maggie for allowing Carol and Lori to cook for them, since he doesn't want the survivors to stay. Hershel also asks Maggie about her relationship with Glenn and she blows off his question.
Back in the RV, Glenn goes to Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn) for advice about Maggie and inadvertently reveals that he slept with the farmer's daughter; a bad idea under the circumstances. On the roof of the RV, Andrea (Laurie Holden) holds the riffle and she is eager to try her new skills on a zombie. The group sees a zombie approaching the farm and race to confront it, while Andrea wonders if she can hit it from that distance. Upon getting closer, the group sees that it is a seriously injured Daryl, who taunts Rick about shooting him when a bullet slams against his head.
Shane and Rick race Daryl back to Hershel's home, where the head wound is revealed to be a graze. But because he found Sophia's doll, the survivors have a better idea of where to look for her. Later, Carol brings Daryl dinner and profoundly thanks him for doing more for her daughter than her own father ever did. At dinner, things are unbearably quiet and tense, so Glenn tries to start a conversation about playing the guitar they found… until Patricia ( Diane McNeill) notes that her dead boyfriend, Otis played the guitar. Maggie slips Glenn a note a hookup for that night and he writes down a location. But their flirtations don't go unnoticed by Hershel and Dale.
That night, Maggie is horrified to see that Glenn wants to meet her at the barn. She races out of the house to stop him, but it's too late. Glenn has stumbled upon Hershel's secret: the barn is full of zombies that have been corralled. Maggie then catches him the act and tells him that he wasn't supposed to see this.
"Chupacabra" was a good spotlight episode for Norman Reedus' Daryl Dixon, the breakout character on "The Walking Dead." Daryl getting shot in the head by Andrea was one of the best mid-episode cliffhangers the show has ever had. I didn't think the writers would kill off Daryl so soon in the series, but if they had it would have been an unforgettable "holy s***" moment. And it would almost be worth it just for that.
Every episode of the second season has added more humanizing touches to Daryl's character and it's worked really well. If Daryl had become more heroic overnight it wouldn't have been as effective. This episode even dealt with the lingering characterization from last season by having Daryl's missing brother, Merle reappear as a hallucination to complain about Daryl getting soft. This was also the very first time that Merle and Daryl have had any screen time together. But if Michael Rooker is back on the show, then the real Merle can't be far behind.
Daryl does go a little "Heart of Darkness" with the zombie ear necklace, but his scene with Carol is very telling. I don't know that Daryl harbors any romantic feelings towards Carol, but he does seem to really appreciate her thanks even if he doesn't quite know how to reciprocate it. Somehow Daryl has developed feelings for the entire group of survivors, even if he's not particularly fond of Rick or Shane.
As for Hershel, his resentment towards the survivors is getting more understandable. These people who he doesn't really know are making themselves at home on his property, not to mention making moves on his daughter and stealing his horses. I'd be pretty pissed about that too. I think that the dinner scene is just a preview for the tension to come, as Hershel and Patricia are holding Otis' death against the group and there's no way that Hershel didn't notice Maggie and Glenn passing the note to each other. This isn't going to end well.
Having read the original comic, I know why there's a barn full of zombies, but I'm curious if the reasoning behind it will be the same. The pace of this episode was still relatively slow compared to last season, but the discovery of the zombie-filled barn was a major turning point in the original story, so hopefully things will be coming to a head soon.
It's good that Andrea isn't as mopey as she was in the first few episodes of the season, but it would have been amazing if she had actually killed Daryl by accident. On the other hand, she'd probably never touch a gun again after that, so I can see why the writer spared Daryl. The joke about shooting Daryl seemed to warm things up again between Andrea and Dale, although it seemed odd that Dale still seems to consider Daryl as someone they wanted to shoot when he's clearly moved beyond that.
There was also some movement on the Shane and Rick front and it was impressive that a banal conversation about Shane's ex-girlfriends built into something more heated about the future of the survivors. Lori also played her mixed signals game when she told Shane that she and Carl weren't his problem. Shane still obviously wants to get back together with her and he may even be the father of her baby. And since Shane is now a lot more willing to kill anyone in his way, it's just a matter of time before Rick realizes that one of the biggest threats to the group is coming from within.
Overall, this episode felt like a step in the right direction. "The Walking Dead" hasn't quite recaptured the magic of season one just yet, but it appears to be staggering back into contention.
Crave Online Rating: 8.5 out of 10.