Episode Title: "Secrets"
Writer: Angela Kang
Director: David Boyd
Previously on "The Walking Dead":
Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson) made it clear to former Sheriff, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) that he and his fellow survivors could only stay at the farm through the recovery of his son, Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) and the discovery of the missing Sophia (Madison Lintz). Rick attempted to change Hershel's mind by agreeing to follow his rules. Unfortunately for Rick, Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) "borrowed" one of Hershel's horses to search for Sophia. The nervous horse threw Daryl, seriously injuring him with his own arrow. But in his feverish haze, Daryl managed to return to Hershel's farm with proof that Sophia was alive… moments before Andrea (Laurie Holden) shot him in the head.
However, the bullet only grazed Daryl and he survived. Concurrently, Glenn (Steven Yeun) made a romantic connection with Hershel's oldest daughter, Maggie Greene (Lauren Cohan) while on a run to get Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) a pregnancy test — which came back positive. During a particularly tense dinner between Hershel's family and the survivors, Maggie wrote a note for Glenn to meet her later for a hookup. When Glenn wrote down the barn as their rendezvous point, Maggie was too late to keep him from discovering that the barn contained several zombies who were secretly locked inside.
The survivors are helping out with chores around Hershel's farm, as even Carl feeds the chickens with his mother. At the same time, Patricia (Jane McNeill) carries a chicken off and she breaks its foot before taking a bag of crippled chickens to the zombies locked in the barn. For his part, Glenn keeps a close eye on the barn and he practically jumps when Maggie arrives with a bribe of fruit and jerky to keep quiet. Elsewhere, Andrea apologizes to Daryl for shooting him and he accepts it without even propositioning her. As for Glenn, he badgers Lori about her pregnancy and her unwillingness to tell Rick. If nothing else, Glenn asks her to let him take care of her.
Shane Walsh (Jon Bernthal) notices that Carl is carrying a handgun and he rats him out to his parents. Of course, Lori freaks out that Carl stole the gun from Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn) in the RV and lied about it. But Rick and Shane think it makes good sense to teach Carl how to fire a weapon for his own protection. As the group leaves for target practice, a nervous Glenn stays with Dale and blurts out both secrets that he's been carrying around. More alarmed about the zombies in the barn, Dale approaches Hershel while he tends to the horse that returned (after throwing Daryl in the previous episode).
Dale phrases his discovery of the zombies in a way that doesn't implicate Glenn. However, Hershel is convinced that the zombies in the barn can still be saved, especially his wife and stepson. He asks Dale to keep the secret from the rest of the group. At target practice, Andrea proves to be a quick study. When the group gets back, Lori approaches Hershel and thanks him for his hospitality. But Lori is stunned when Hershel tells her that he expects the group to leave once Carl recovers or Sophia is found. Lori flips out on Rick for not sharing Hershel's intentions with her and he tells her to give Hershel some space.
Elsewhere, Shane privately tutors Andrea in her marksmanship of a moving target. However, Shane offends Andrea when he tells her to picture the zombie who killed her sister. Disgusted, she walks off. Shane drives after her and offers her a ride back to the farm. When that won't work, he suggests that she act as his backup to run down a lead on Sophia. They come to a deserted row of houses and search the first one they find. A horde of zombies come upon them and Shane lets Andrea mow down several of them herself as she dispatches them with headshots.
Meanwhile, Glenn and Maggie go on a medicine run for Lori. However, Maggie is still pissed at Glenn for spilling about the barn. She's also disgusted once she sees what's on Glenn's list. But inside the pharmacy, a zombie grabs Maggie and Glenn is forced to viciously put it down. After comforting each other, Maggie and Glenn return to the farm and Maggie angrily throws down the "abortion pills" at Lori's feet. In private, Maggie kisses Glenn and tells him that he is being used as zombie bait by his friends when he could be a leader. On the road, Andrea comes on to Shane and they pull over for a sexual encounter.
Later, Glenn apologizes to Lori for not keeping her secret and he gives her a bottle of prenatal vitamins as well. Glenn doesn't try to tell Lori whether she should keep the baby, but he does suggest that she doesn't have to make the call alone. When Shane and Andrea arrive back at the farm, Dale seems to sense what happened between them and he suggests to Shane that now would be a good time to leave the group. Dale also reminds Shane that he saw him aiming a weapon at Rick and that he doubts his story about Otis. Shane blows off his accusations and essentially threatens Dale… who is quickly taken aback as Shane smiles and walks away.
In her tent, Lori holds the morning after pills in her hand and takes several of them. Then she runs from the tent and forces herself to vomit them up. Rick returns to the tent and finds the empty pill containers. Finally confronting his wife about her pregnancy, Lori says that she coughed up the pills but she's scared about bringing a baby into this horrific world. The Grimes attempt to work out their issues with each other, but Rick says that there should be no more lies or secrets. So, Lori tells Rick that she and Shane had an affair while they thought he was dead. Rick is somewhat surprised, but he admits that he more or less knew already. Then they stand together while contemplating their uncertain future.
I think that I've figured out the biggest problem with "The Walking Dead" this season. What we're getting is basically three episodes worth of story strung out across six to seven episodes. Most of the content is fine, but the maddeningly slow pace has to be testing even the most patient viewers at this point.
Take the disappearance of Sophia, for example. It's something that was never in the source material and it's now dragged on through the first half of the second season. Keep in mind, this is only the twelfth episode of the entire series; meaning that Sophia has now been missing for almost half of the show's entire existence. I have to admit that it would be kind of hilarious if the show recast Madison Lintz and brought in an older actress to play Sophia going forward. But really, how much longer can the writers string this plot along without any kind of resolution?
It's unfortunate that some viewers may have checked out by now, because some of the character interactions have become intriguing in the last two episodes. Shane and Andrea have some promise together, even though Shane clearly set up that situation as a way to give Andrea some experience handling zombies in tense conditions. Their sudden attraction freaks Dale out for two reasons: his stated opinion of Shane's moral character and because Dale feels possessive towards Andrea. Dale's told Andrea that he's not her father or her lover, but his feelings for her tend to be in the grey area of both categories.
As for Shane, Dale should take that warning very seriously. It's very clear that Shane wouldn't hesitate to kill anyone who threatened his standing within the group, even his "best friend" Rick. Dale's mistake is that he tried to handle Shane directly. Dale may have noted that Glenn doesn't have any guile, but we'll soon learn if Dale has enough guile of his own to realize that he needs to clue Rick in on the situation without letting Shane realize what he's done. Otherwise Otis may not be Shane's only victim this season.
There's also an interesting dynamic between Dale and Hershel that almost approaches mutual respect. Hershel doesn't seem to care very much about Rick's group, with only Dale and Rick seeming worthy of Hershel's regard; at least in his eyes. Hershel's perspective towards the zombies is somewhat understandable, given that they're his family. But seriously, can Hershel really not tell that they're dead?!
One of the best moments this week came when Maggie told Lori off for making Glenn her errand boy and nearly getting them both killed. It also seemed like Maggie was really offended by the "abortion pills." Maggie also had some choice words for Glenn when she essentially told him that the survivors are holding him down. Glenn is brave? Sure. Glenn is smart? Okay… Glenn is a leader? I don't know about that one… But two out of three isn't bad.
However, the crux of the show is still between Rick and Lori and the climax of the episode delivered their most powerful scenes together this season. It was impressive that the writer didn't pull back and Lori really did come clean with Rick about the affair… and Rick didn't fly off the handle once he knew about it. The question now is will Rick realize that Lori's baby is probably not his? And will this revelation finally kick the second season into gear?
The upcoming midseason finale has to deliver a lot to make sure that the first half of the season wasn't a colossal waste of time. I still have faith in "The Walking Dead," but it's starting to wane…
Crave Online Rating 7.5 out of 10.