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Posted at 12:48 AM ET, 02/13/2012

‘Walking Dead’: The series returns and reminds us that hope does not spring eternal

A weekly recap of (almost) every gory detail in this week’s episode of “Walking Dead.”


Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Hershel (Scott Wilson) agreeing to abandon faith but fake it for the sake of the greater good. (Gene Page/AMC)

After a two-month-plus hiatus, “Walking Dead” returned Sunday night with a new episode titled “Nebraska.” And while it seemed that maybe the series had hit its bleakness limit back in November, when Shane let all those zombie-loved-ones out of Hershel’s barn and, with Rick’s help, blasted them in a barrage of gunfire, it appears that things are even more depressing than ever in walker-riddled Georgia.

The apparent lack of hope for our zombie-pocalypse survivors, not to mention the current, relatively slow narrative momentum on “Walking Dead,” may be prompting some fans to wonder how much more of this they can take.

Indeed, it appears that the AMC series has reached a crucial juncture that I’ll refer to as its “Lost Season Three Moment.”

Discuss this week’s episode with Jen Chaney and Liz Kelly (together again!), Monday at 1 p.m. ET

As “Lost” obsessives will no doubt recall, the drama’s third season — much like “Walking Dead’s” second — was split into two parts. The half-and-half approach came at a time when many viewers thought “Lost” was treading water plot-wise by introducing new, less-than-compelling characters and continuing to send the Oceanic crew back-and-forth — from beach to jungle to Dharma station — on a repetitive loop.

That’s how it feels right now on “Walking Dead.” After waiting since November to pick up the action, tonight’s episode felt like a rehash of what we’ve seen during this season’s previous six episodes. Shane and Dale are still at each other’s throats. (“Sooner or later, he’s going to kill somebody else,” Dale promised, leading us to believe that’s basically a guarantee.)

Various individuals, including Rick and Lori, are still arguing about who should go into town. (I know, Mr. and Mrs. Grimes, why don’t you both go? That way one of you can hit a zombie with your car and — fingers crossed this isn’t the case — possibly miscarry your unborn child.)

And, increasingly, it appears that the notion of looking on the bright side of life is even more foolish than it sounded during that song in “Monty Python’s Life of Brian.”

But here’s the good news, “Walking Dead” watchers: Those who remained faithful to “Lost” found that the last half of season three not only turned around but delivered some of the best episodes in the show’s entire run. I still have faith that Rick, Hershel and Co. may take us in that direction, as well.

That faith sprang from the meatiest and most meaningful scene in the episode, the lengthy exchange between Hershel, Rick and Glenn — who managed to find the only pub in the much-discussed “town” — about how to handle things going forward. Hershel, aware that his belief that the zombie plague might be cured is officially a pipe dream, briefly started drinking again. “There is no hope for any of us,” he declared, and Rick didn’t exactly jump in to tell him he was wrong.

But Lt. Grimes did say that even if he and Hershel lack faith, they owe it to their families and fellow farm dwellers to stay strong so they can believe there’s an actual point to remaining alive.

In the middle of this conversation, two total donkeys walked into the bar. Their names were Dave and Tommy, a couple of seemingly nice fellows from Philly who dropped the bombshell that Fort Benning has been destroyed — so now there is no hope, and no destination toward which they can head? Super! Then they knocked back some shots.

Soon, Dave and Tommy started hinting that they’d really like to be able to join the whole summer camp situation going on at Hershel’s farm. Hershel’s polite no didn’t satisfy them, tensions rose and, of course, Rick did what is becoming a habit: shot them both in cold blood.

The implication: No act — not even murder of non-zombies — is off the table if it means protecting the group. (To be fair, Tommy and Dave seemed like possible Philadelphia Eagles fans, a fact that Rick totally could use as a defense in a court of law.)

That implication certainly raises the stakes for what may lie ahead.

Was that raising of stakes enough for you, or are you getting frustrated with “The Walking Dead”? Post a comment to share your take on this episode, and don’t forget to join Liz Kelly and I at 1 p.m. ET to discuss the latest “Dead” developments..

By  |  12:48 AM ET, 02/13/2012

Tags:  Walking Dead

 
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