It's felt like forever since The Walking Dead aired its dramatic midseason finale, doesn't it?
There's just something about this particular series that, even with its flaws, remains thrillingly entertaining and something I look forward to every Sunday. In other words: damn, it's nice to have it back.
"Nebraska" took no time picking up exactly where the last episode, dealing mostly with the aftermath of last year's shooting.
Of course, that meant that everyone was distraught... except for Shane, who huffed and puffed his way around the farm trying to justify his actions. There is certainly a directness attached to some of his brash craziness, but whether his decisions were right or wrong, they've made a further case for his alienation from everyone else.
I can only predict bad things for Shane's future, from either mentally jumping in the deep end or becoming an extreme danger that forces someone to put him down. And if people start questioning his story about Otis after Dale throws doubt on to his so-called truth, Shane will have more to deal with than Walkers in the backyard.
Carol and Hershel were most affected by the barn massacre, considering their loved ones came stumbling out. It makes perfect sense to see them distance themselves from the others and take their frustrations out on either the plants or a bottle of alcohol.
Scott Wilson continues to do a marvelous job as Hershel Greene, giving him the perfect combination of anger and calm. His character has never been over-the-top acting wise, even when his thoughts and ideas have been. Yet seeing Hershel in the bar, sulking in his discontent while standing up to Rick about the situation, raised the uneasiness between the two factions. He is a great addition to the series.
But the best moment of the episode was the introduction of two new characters and the reinvigoration of suspense on the show.
With scenes like the awkwardly uncomfortable bar standoff between Rick, Hershel, Glenn and the new strangers, it stands to prove that zombies don't have to be at every turn to cause great drama. I loved the way that the conversation was filled with a tension underneath the playful and friendly discussion. And even though viewers hadn't had any chance to really get to know these new guys, the actors did a great job in providing a dangerous and threatening vibe.
Still, it was truly shocking that Rick just flat out shot them both.
Rick may still be determined to protect and save everyone in his group, but the man has slowly changed. There was a coldness in his eyes when he did the deed and it seems that the more kills he racks up, the more numb he becomes to the action. If anything, it's clear that Rick isn't stuck on just talking things out anymore and is willing to kill regular people to keep everything okay for him and his group. Frankly, I think it surprised even Glenn.
It truly is interesting to see what a person becomes in a world where survival is key.
My one real problem with the episode was Lori deciding to go after Rick. Why would she even need to? Rick is pretty capable of taking care of himself and it seemed unnecessary for her to take a car and go. I'm not surprised she got into an accident because it seems like when characters go off on their own, they find someway to get themselves practically killed. It just seemed like a poor plot device to add unnecessary drama, but I guess we will see where it takes us.
The story hasn't really progressed any further, but there were obvious character developments from the aftermath and no matter what, they needed to be addressed. I'm glad there was no time jump to avoid what happened, but I'm hoping that after learning that Fort Benning has been overrun with zombies, the group decides its next course of action and follows through.
I'm ready to be done with the farm. Let's reinstate the pulse-pounding thrills and tension that surrounded the characters from the beginning. Time to get back on the road and go forward.
Sean McKenna is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.