AMC, 12 February 2012
Following the massacre at the barn, several characters have to deal with their actions (and lack of them)…
A marked improvement over the later episodes (with the exception of the last minute of the mid-season finale in November) of the first half of this second series, The Walking Dead returned with ‘Nebraska’. Dealing with the immediate aftermath of the barn massacre, the first part of the episode is pretty predictable with the various antagonisms (Herschell versus the newcomers, Rick versus Shane, Shane versus Dale… hell, Shane versus everyone and everything!) rolling right on.
The killing of Sophia (after so much searching) and the effect it has on various characters is well handled, just not surprising or revealing in any way, simply confirming what we already knew about most of these characters. At least it seems to go some way to setting Rick back on track as a protagonist rather than the dreadfully reactive character he was becoming.
The best sequence is the extended scenes in the bar, first with Herschell and then the two strangers who show a less-than-savoury interest in the encampment at the farm. I almost expected Herschell to make amends by dealing with them, but it is down to the show’s lead character of Rick to complete his re-awakening by ruthlessly dealing with this new threat. Well-written and well-directed, these scenes show a way this series can deal with impactful drama without a zombie in sight.
Letting the side down was the character arc of Lori. Suddenly deciding (for no readily apparent reason) that she must chase after Rick and Glenn, she sets out only to crash en route. Frankly, I wouldn’t miss her much if she were to never emerge from that car. It’s an example of the kind of careless plotting that shows a weird contempt for the viewer and was in stark contrast to the rest of an otherwise very good episode.
Verdict: Too early to tell if this series is back on track, but ‘Nebraska’ is a vast improvement on the last batch of episodes, 8/10
Brian J. Robb