Season 2, Episode 01
What Lies Ahead
- As the group migrates out of Atlanta, they encounter a threat larger than any before.
Rick is on top of a building trying to reach Morgan one last time with the walkie-talkie. He speaks about his group's experiences over the last couple days, as well as most of what Jenner told him at the CDC before it was destroyed. He concludes by warning Morgan that Atlanta isn't safe, and walks off.
The group pool together their remaining supplies and gas, and set off in a smaller convoy of vehicles towards Fort Benning. As they drive, Andrea is still despondent and rails at Dale for guilt-tripping her into leaving the CDC.
The convoy continues down the highway until they get to a pile-up of abandoned vehicles. As they attempt to drive through, the radiator hose on Dale's RV blows and the group is forced to stop and scavenge for supplies. Rick and the others walk through the cars and find various corpses, T-Dog finds the bloody remnants of a baby carriage, and Carl takes a set of knives from a vehicle.
As the group continues searching, Dale sees a lone walker in the distance and alerts Rick. The latter takes aim, only to discover that a large herd is right behind the walker. Rick runs to the rest of the group and tells them to hide. Everyone gets under the abandoned vehicles, while Dale lays down on the roof of the RV.
The herd begins to pass through, and Andrea freaks out in the RV and tries to hide. A lone walker enters through the RV door and tries to attack her as she hides in the washroom. Dale sees what's happening and passes down a screwdriver through a vent, which she uses to stab the walker in the eye. Elsewhere, T-Dog is not under a vehicle and tries to run, but slips and cuts his arm open on one of the vehicles. When it looks like he'll be eaten by the walkers, Daryl appears and dispatches two of them, then covers T-Dog's body and his own with the corpses as the herd passes.
After the herd goes through, the group moves to leave. Suddenly, a stray walker startles Sophia and causes her to run into the forest in terror. Rick chases after her while Carol is held back by Lori. He finds Sophia and tells her to head back as soon as he draws the walkers off. Soon after, he lures the two walkers away and brutally dispatches them.
When Rick arrives back at the convoy, he discovers that Sophia hasn't returned. The group decides to go searching for her and leave the injured T-Dog and Dale behind while they search the local area. Shane indicates to Lori that he wants to abandon the group, and Daryl and Rick find a lone walker and dissect it to ensure it hasn't eaten Sophia.
The group hear bells in the distance and investigate, only to discover a church. Inside, they dispatch several walkers and rest for a couple hours while they draw up a search plan. Carol prays for forgiveness for wishing death on Ed and for Sophia to return safely. Outside, Andrea overhears Lori and Shane arguing and discovers the truth about their affair.
Lori goes back inside, and Andrea asks to leave with Shane if he breaks off from the group. He rebuffs her and says she would be a liability. Inside the church, Rick asks God for a sign that he's doing the right thing in leading the group.
Soon after, Daryl, Lori, Andrea and Carol head back to the highway. Rick, Shane and Carl head deeper into the woods, where they find a lone deer. As Carl happily tries to pet it, a bullet is fired through the deer and passes through him. Rick freaks out and cries over his son while Shane looks on in horror...
- Audience Sucker Punch: Carl getting shot.
- Big Damn Heroes: Daryl saves T-Dog from a walker at the last second, then conceals him to help keep him from any further danger.
- Black Comedy: Rick and Daryl gutting the walker in the forest, mostly due to the contrast between Daryl's totally blase attitude about it and Rick's squicked-out reactions.
- Black Dude Dies First: Subverted. It looks like this might be T-Dog's fate when he slices his arm open and the resulting bleeding begins to attract walkers, but he ultimately survives after being saved by Daryl.
- Call-Back: The closing scene, with Carl sprawled on the ground after being shot, mirrors the scene in the opening episode where Rick is shot during a police shoot-out.
- Chekhov's Gun: Dale asked both Rick and T-Dog in previous episodes to find a radiator hose for his RV, as it was in danger of overheating. He's proven right when the hose blows out at the worst possible time, forcing the group to scavenge for supplies and leaving them open to the herd that passes through.
- Christianity Is Catholic: Zig-zagged; the sign outside the church clearly labels it as Baptist, but the crucifix inside is something that would be a lot more at home in a Catholic church.
- Confessional: While in the church, Carol confesses to the statue of Jesus that she would often pray for Ed to die as a result of his abuse.
- Deadpan Snarker: Daryl, as usual.Daryl: (upon entering the church) Yo, J.C., you taking any requests?
- Death Seeker: Dale believes Andrea to be one due to her attempted suicide at the end of the previous season, and keeps her gun from her for this reason. To say that Andrea is not impressed would be an understatement.
- Downer Ending: Sophia is still missing, and Carl's fate is uncertain after getting shot in the gut.
- Early-Bird Cameo: When Rick attempts to call Morgan in the opening scene, Grady Memorial Hospital can be seen as one of the buildings in the background.
- Eye Scream: Andrea kills a walker by stabbing it in the eye with a screwdriver.
- Failed a Spot Check: Nobody notices the oncoming herd of walkers until it's practically on top of them, despite the fact that Dale is supposedly keeping watch from the top of the RV.
- Free-Range Children: Carl wanders off on his own while the group is scavenging supplies from the wreckage of the cars and casually liberates a set of knives from one of the corpses he comes across.
- Give Me a Sign: Rick asks for one inside the church, when the new tensions within the group have him questioning whether he is making the right decisions as their leader. Given that in the very next scene Carl gets shot, it's possible this didn't work out so well...
- Guilt Complex: Rick seems to hold himself at least somewhat responsible for Sophia's second disappearance after he leaves her at the river bank.
- Gutted Like a Fish: Rick and Daryl cut open a walker and examine its stomach contents in order to obtain concrete proof that it hasn't eaten Sophia.
- Hope Spot:
- When the group hears church bells ringing in the distance they take it as a sign that there are other survivors nearby, but it turns out that the church is deserted and the bells are an automated recording.
- In a deleted scene, Glenn expresses happiness that the group will be going to visit the Vatos, and Rick says he's confident that they parted on good terms. When they arrive, however, they discover that the home has been looted, all of its residents (including Guillermo) have been killed and the place is filled with walkers, forcing them to barricade themselves in for the night.
- Hollywood Darkness: Not the first time it shows up, but it's particularly egregious. A dim, orange filter is applied to noon to try and make it "so close to dark that they have to stop tracking Sophia" with middling success.
- Hypocrite: Lori is angry at Shane for ignoring Carl when she already told him to stay away from him. When Shane tells her this much, Lori brings up his drunken attempted rape of her at the CDC... Which is apparently, in Lori's mind, somehow a sign that means that Shane should be getting closer to her and Carl. Shane clearly is still guilty about it, but Lori's just giving him hell in this episode and flipping back and forth.
- Killed Offscreen: Because Otis is the one who put Sophia in the barn prior to his death, and he never leaves the group's sight after shooting Carl at the end of the episode, that means Sophia was bitten by a walker and died offscreen during the events of this episode.
- The Klutz: Played for drama with this trait causing T-Dog to accidentally injure himself and put his life in danger.
- Missing Trailer Scene: The scenes of Shane attempting to outrun a horde, and Rick and the survivors firing on a group of walkers outside the Vatos retirement home, are not present in the episode itself. This is due to 2/3rds of the episode being removed during the editing process.
- Mood Whiplash: The rapid transition from the peaceful, hopeful tone while Rick and Shane are watching Carl with the deer, to that gunshot coming out of nowhere and Carl being grievously injured.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Rick's plan to draw the walkers away from Sophia results in her disappearing for second time. Granted, he didn't really have a lot of options, and it's likely that attempting to shoot at the walkers would have had even worse consequences.
- Pervert Dad: Carol claims that Ed "looked at Sophia in ways no man should ever look at his daughter."
- Plot Hole: A common criticism of the episode is that Rick tells Sophia to stay put and run back to the group for no reason, instead of staying with her while he dispatches the walkers chasing her. This would have been addressed by a deleted scene from the original season premiere, where Shane tells Rick that the walkers never get tired. This would have influenced his later choice to keep Sophia out of harm's way while he dealt with the walkers in the forest.
- It's actually addressed in the episode as Rick tells Sophia "I get winded. They don't."
- Promoted to Opening Titles: This is the first episode in which Norman Reedus (Daryl) is listed in the show's opening sequence as part of the main cast.
- Scarily Competent Tracker: The primary reason that Rick takes Daryl, and not Shane, to help him try and locate Sophia in the forest.
- Squick: In-universe, Rick's reaction to Daryl calmly gutting a walker and going through the contents of its stomach.
- Tempting Fate: Rick questions whether their upcoming journey can be anymore difficult than what they've already faced. The list of things they'll face in the future includes herds of walkers, hostile empires of survivors, rapists, cannibals...
- What the Hell, Hero?: Andrea calls Dale out on his use of emotional manipulation to get her to leave the CDC, pointing out that she saved his life, not the other way around, and accusing him of taking away her choice to end her life on her own terms.
- Why Don't Ya Just Shoot Him?: When Rick catches up to Sophia, the first thing she does is grab for his gun. He explains that that would just draw in more walkers. He tells her to hide while he draws them off and kills them silently.