The Walking Dead: Highway to Hell.

Man, it’s been a long time since we’ve seen any brain munchin’ round these parts. Last season’s six episodes of The Walking Dead went by way too fast, while the time between then and now went way too slow. Fortunately, this season is 13 episodes long. Unfortunately, the season is divided in two, with the second half starting sometime in February, which is right in the middle of the new season of Mad Men, and I think it’s against the rules for this site to actually recap two shows at the same time, let alone having one recapper try it.

Okay, one major bit of news: As you probably know, show runner and executive producer Frank Darabont is no longer with the show. Exactly what happened remains a mystery, but I’m betting it had something to do with AMC finding out he directed The Majestic.

Also, I actually read some of the graphic novels over the summer. I’m up through Volume 8 right now, and Volumes 9-14 are on the way. One thing I’ve noticed, though, is that the zombies aren’t called walkers in the books. Is that something special for the TV show, or does that name show up later?

Enough with the pleasantries. Let’s eat!


The episode opens with Rick atop a building in Atlanta, talking to Morgan via walkie-talkie. Or at least trying to talk to Morgan. Who knows if he’s even still alive? If he is, I hope he’s finally grown the stones to kill his wife. That bitch never would turn the light off. “The CDC was a dead end,” Rick says. “Atlanta’s done. BAM!”

The survivors, led by badass Daryl on his badass motorcycle, leave Atlanta and start making their badass way toward Fort Benning.

How badass is Daryl? He stole this wallet from Jules Winnfield.

In Rick’s car, Lori is reminiscing about a trip they once took to the Grand Canyon. Well, technically they were supposed to go to the Grand Canyon. But stupid butthead Carl got sick and they had to turn around. Rick still thinks it was a good trip, though, which might give us a little insight as to why Lori was doing the nasty with Shane. Well, plus Shane told Lori Rick was dead, of course.

Meanwhile, in Dales RV, Shane is teaching Andrea how to clean his gun. He also shows her how to clean a pistol. He says the trick is getting all the pieces to fit back together the same way. If only it were that easy to repair his broken heart. Sigh.

The highway out of Atlanta is hotter and messier than Christian Siriano’s spanx, and the caravan is forced to stop time after time to clear a way for the RV. Suddenly, Dale’s radiator hose breaks, and they’re forced to stop. Glenn and Shane head off to look for replacement parts, while everyone else heads off to scavenge for supplies. Well, everyone except for Rick and Dale, who stay behind to keep watch, and Andrea, who stays behind to wallow in her own filth. (And by filth, I mean self-pity. Although she’s probably pretty filthy, too.)

From his perch atop the RV, Dale sees a single walker making its way through the cars, and motions to Rick to take her out. Just as Rick is lining up his shot, he sees another walker come around the car. Then another, and another, until the camera pulls back and we see a whole herd of them making their way down the highway. Yikes!

What happens next is one of the most intense, nail-biting pieces of film you’ll ever see on basic cable. Everyone crawls underneath a car trying to hide, except for Andrea, who’s still sitting in the RV, and T-Dog, who cuts his arm while trying to run away.

(Side note: Why didn’t the walkers smell the group? That’s why Rick and Glenn had to cover themselves in guts in episode two last season. Do the survivors really smell so bad now that a walker can’t distinguish them from another walker?)

One walker stumbles into the RV, where Andrea is hiding in the bathroom, trying to put Shane’s gun back together. Just as it seems the walker is going to give up and leave, she drops a piece and the zombie comes back and starts banging on the door. Dale, who’s up on the roof, drops a screwdriver through the ceiling vent, and Andrea stabs the walker in the eye. It was a pretty righteous kill, especially for someone who just tried to kill herself a little while back. Guess someone’s not so eager to shuffle off this mortal coil after all.

T-Dog, meanwhile, is losing a lot of blood. Just as it looks like he’s given up, Daryl sneaks up behind a walker and jabs an icepick through his head. Next, he throws a dead body on T-Dog, and then pulls one on himself as more walkers appear at the end of their car.

Just when it seems all the walkers have finally left, one makes a grab at Sophia, who’s been hiding under a car next to the guardrail. She screams and takes off running into the woods. Unfortunately, her screams attract another walker, so now she has two of them on her mouthy little tail.

Rick follows and tells Sophia to hide under a tree in the creek until he comes back. Well, he sort of tells her that. Because he also says if he doesn’t come back, to keep the sun on her left shoulder and head back to the highway. He just doesn’t tell her how long to wait for him to return. For a guy who likes to give orders so much, sometimes Rick’s orders aren’t very clear. I bet he probably ordered Shane to never sleep with Lori unless Rick was in a coma, but not to if he didn’t wake up, which is why Shane slept with her the second he thought Rick was dead. Or maybe Shane’s just a dick.

“What? Oops.”

Anyway, Rick lures the two walkers away from Sophia’s hiding place, then bashes in their heads with a rock. When he gets back to the creek, though, Sophia is gone. Dumbass.

“Say hello to my leetle friend.”

Now Rick has to go back to the highway and tell everyone that he can’t find Sophia. Can’t they just issue an Amber Alert? Evidently not, because now Daryl, Shane and Glenn all have to go out looking for her. When Daryl loses her trail, they send Shane and Glenn back to the highway to keep everyone calm and busy while Rick and Daryl keep looking. Because if there’s one thing Shane’s good at, it’s keeping people calm. Just ask Ed. And Lori. And Carl.

Up on the highway, Shane and Andrea are clearing more cars out of the way, while Carol sits around complaining that more people aren’t out looking for her stupid daughter. Lori tries to reassure Carol that nobody is going to leave Sophia, but Carol isn’t buying it. Other things Carol isn’t buying: a birthday gift for Sophia. Because she’s dead. (Fingers crossed! I hate kids.)

Meanwhile, Carl finds a set of really cool knives and hatchets in some rednecks’ truck. One problem: they’re stuck in the redneck’s pants. After a little tugging, Carl claims his prize, and then runs back to show Rick his booty. Unfortunately, Rick is only interested in his mother’s booty, so he yells at Carl and makes him leave. It’s almost as sad as George Lucas’ compulsive need to continually screw his fans.

Lori yells at Shane for blowing off Carl. Then she brings up his drunken attack on her back in the CDC. Shane admits to having a few mistakes under his belt, and one big one in Lori’s pants. He tells her not to worry about it, though, because his old man is a TV repairman and has this ultimate set of tools, so he should be able to fix the van and leave the group toot-sweet.

Back in the woods, Daryl and Rick run across a stray walker. They need to make sure it hasn’t eaten Sophia, so they cut open its stomach. It’s a lot like that scene in Jaws where they cut open the shark to see if it had eaten anyone. But instead of finding a license plate, they find the remains of a woodchuck.

What the chuck?

(Side note: Why is Daryl the only one with a crossbow? If they’re so worried about guns attracting walkers, then shouldn’t everyone should have a crossbow. Or slingshots? Or at the very least a box of hammers?)

While Daryl and Rick are elbow-deep in zombie guts, Andrea and Dale are arguing about whether or not she should get her gun back. “I’m not comfortable with it,” Dale says. Other things he’s not comfortable with: his prostate. Shane agrees with Dale, however. He doesn’t want anyone to have a gun until they’ve been properly trained.

It’s getting dark, so Rick and Daryl decide to head back to the group on the highway. When they get back, Rick promises Carol they’ll Rick promises they’ll start looking for Sophia again in the morning, but says it’s too dangerous to be out in the woods at night. Carol is upset that they’re leaving a 12-year-old girl in the woods by herself. Uhm, last time I checked, Carol, you were the one who left a 12-year-old girl under her own car. But she blames Rick for everything anyway. Typical woman.

The next morning, Rick gives everyone one of the sharp things that Carl found yesterday. Andrea doesn’t want a stupid hatchet, though, because she is not down with the clown. She wants her gun. Too bad Shane won’t let her have it. Not content with being shut down by Shane, Andrea demands that Dale give her the gun back. Dale tells her no. Again. He can’t believe she’s still upset that he saved her life. He didn’t expect her to make the sexy time, but he’s stunned she won’t even show even a little gratitude. (And by gratitude, he means side boob.)

Later, in the woods, the group (minus Dale and T-Dog, who stayed behind at the RV), come across a tent. Daryl goes inside and finds a dead guy, holding a revolver, which he had used to shoot himself in the face. No sign of Sophia, though.

“Sweet button, dude.”

Suddenly, the group hears church bells off in the distance. Everyone takes off running, until they finally reach a church in a clearing. Shane insists it can’t be the right church, because there’s no steeple, and if there’s no steeple, there can’t be no people, and if there’s no people, then who’s ringing the damn bells? Stupid Shane logic.

Back at the RV, Dale admits to T-Dog that he fixed the RV the day before, but he’s just giving Rick time to find Sophia. He’s afraid that if everyone knew the RV was ready, they’d want to take off and leave the girl behind.

(Side note: Why don’t they get a better RV? They’re in the south, for Pete’s sake. Everyone knows if there’s one thing Southerners like more than barbeque and incest, it’s a bigass RV.)

Rick opens the church door, and there are three walkers sitting inside, waiting for services to begin. But since Rick and company aren’t the right kind of Lutheran, they’ll be separated in heaven by barbed wire and barking dogs. Rick, Daryl and Shane are just pissed that there’s no hot dish, so they hack the walkers to second-death with machetes.

The bells start ringing again, and Glenn finds a loudspeaker outside set up on a timer. While everyone else dejectedly wanders off, Andrea slumps down against the wall. Around the corner, Lori and Shane are talking about Shane’s decision to leave. “Just trying to be the good guy here,” he says. Lori agrees and says he should leave, and then walks off to find her family. Andrea comes out from around the corner and tells Shane she wants to go with him. “We’re the odd men out,” she argues. “Between the two of us, we make a great third wheel.” Clearly, math is not Andrea’s strong suit.

Back in the church, Carol is feeling a tad guilty. Not about blaming Rick for her own shortcomings as a parent, but for her true feelings toward Ed. “Praying for Ed’s death was a sin,” she admits, worried that losing her daughter is her punishment. Actually, I’d say being stuck in a zombie apocalypse with this group of losers would be punishment enough, but that’s why I’m not a real god.

Shane tells Rick they need to get back to the highway, but Rick doesn’t want to leave yet. What if Sophia heard the bells? Someone has to stay behind in case she shows up. Shane agrees, and tells everyone else to head back to the RV; he and Rick are going to keep looking. Carl says he wants to stay, too, since Sophia was his friend and he’s just not comfortable playing doctor with Dale.

Rick tries to give Lori his gun, but she refuses to take it and leave him unarmed. Daryl offers her the one he took off the dead guy in the tent, which pisses Andrea off. Big surprise there.

“So you know I’m totally banging your mom, right?”

After everyone leaves, Rick goes back into church and asks God for a sign that he’s doing the right thing. Uhm, you woke up from a 30-day coma in a zombie-infested hospital, unharmed, then managed to find your family in the middle of nowhere, and you still need a sign you’re doing the right thing? And I thought I had trouble with faith.

In the forest, Andrea is still kvetching about not having a gun, until finally Lori has had enough and gives her hers. Then she tells Carol to man up and stop blaming Rick for losing Sophia. Yeah, Carol, you’re the one who prayed for your husband to die, so this has to be your fault. She yells at the rest of the group for looking to Rick to lead them, and then blaming him whenever he makes a mistake. Wait a minute, Lori, this is America. That’s what we do. Just ask that Kenyan sitting in the White House. Bent, but not broken, Andrea gives the gun back to Lori.

Meanwhile, Rick, Shane and Carl run across a deer in the woods. Carl starts to walk toward the deer, which is a really stupid idea, because the deer has horns and sharp pointy teeth. But he keeps walking toward it, like an idiot. Suddenly, a shot rings out. Both the deer and Carl fall to the ground. Someone, somewhere, shot the deer and the bullet went through and got Carl in the chest.

And… scene!


So, what did you think? Was it worth the wait? Personally, I loved it. Although the last 30 minutes or so seemed to drag a bit. But really, there’s no way the producers could keep up the tension from the first act for the whole 90 minutes.

Finally, here’s a bit of character news:
People we will see this season: Herschel and Maggie.
People we might see this season: Michonne and Tyreese.
People we won’t see: Morgan and The Governor. (Dammit!)

copygodd | 10.19.11 | Filed in The Walking Dead

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