Remember when life was simple? When zombies weren’t roaming the world in search of brains and your only issue was your husband was too good to you?
Yeah, those were the days.
“Bloodletting,” the second episode of “The Walking Dead” Season 2, was a study in relationships, and how the zombie apocalypse has changed how our main characters view themselves and each other. Reminding us that this series is at its core not a monster-fueled horror show but a survival drama, we don’t even get to see a mind muncher until 25 minutes into the episode.
Instead, Episode 2 opens with a pre-zombie flashback, when Lori is actually complaining that hubby Rick is too reasonable when they argue. “I sometimes wish he’d tell me I’m being a bitch,” she moans to a fellow mom as they wait in the school parking lot to pick up their kids. Then Shane shows up, driving a little too fast in his cop car, and Lori realizes something is wrong. Shane informs Lori that Rick’s been shot and might die. Oops. Hey, Lori — you’re being a bitch.
Flash-forward to a very much alive Rick, who is running through a field holding his son Carl, who was shot in the season premiere after having a very “Bambi” moment with a buck. The guy who shot Carl — technically he shot the buck, but six pieces of the bullet then went flying into the little boy — is struggling to keep up with Rick and Shane. He tells Rick there’s a farmhouse not a half-mile away; run there and ask for Hershel.
Good thing Hershel’s a doctor! His whole family is prepared to try to save Carl, but first, they need to make sure he’s not a lil’ zombie. “Was he fed?” Hershel asks warily. “Shot!” Rick yells. “By your man!” With that cleared up, Team Hershel gets to work, discovering all those nasty bits of bullet inside Carl’s chest. They’re able to stabilize him — two blood transfusions via Rick help — but Hershel is going to have to perform surgery. And to perform surgery, he’s going to need supplies from the FEMA shelter set up at a nearby high school — which, of course, has been overrun by zombies.
All of this information allows Rick — good, solid Rick — to have breakdown. He becomes overwhelmed with guilt for allowing his son to tag along with him and Shane while searching for Sophia, and of course he blames himself for losing Sophia when he tried to save her from two walkers in the first place. With wild eyes he keeps mumbling that Lori needs to be there, which is awkward, because Shane — the third point on that love triangle — is trying to comfort his friend. Plenty of nods are made to the time Rick was the one who was shot and fighting for his life, and how strong his family was then. Bottom line: The world needs the old Rick back.
Speaking of Sophia: Daryl is still in the woods leading Carol, Lori, Andrea and Glenn on a search for the missing girl. They hear the gunshot that took down Carl — a single gunshot, which they think is odd — but press on. Andrea being Andrea, hanging apart from the group, gets attacked by a walker, but a woman who Glenn later refers to as “the chick who rode out of nowhere like Zorro on a horse” whacks the zombie across the head and saves her. Zorro, who is actually Hershel’s daughter, insists Lori come with her, that Carl’s been shot and Rick needs her. They ride off into the sunset. Well, into the sunset and back to the Hershel’s farmhouse.
With darkness falling, the others quit their search for Sophia and head back to the road, where Dale and an injured T-Dog have been scavenging for supplies — T-Dog’s cut has worsened, and if he doesn’t find antibiotics, he’ll die. Daryl to the rescue with the comic relief of the night — he breaks out his brother stash of “crystal, X, some kickass painkillers — not generic stuff, neither.” They plan to leave a message and supplies for Sophia in case she finds her way back to the road and will head to the farmhouse the next day.
Back at the farmhouse, Shane and Otis — aka “the idiot who shot our son,” as Lori calls him — have headed to the high school for those life-saving medical supplies. Lori, naturally, breaks down when she arrives and sees her son near death, which leads to her leaning on Rick for support. He too, needs her support — literally — after that second blood transfusion. Oh, and when they find out Hershel is a vet. Not a combat doctor, as Lori thinks. A veterinarian. “You’re completely in over your head, aren’t you?” Lori scolds. Hershel replies, “Ma’am aren’t we all?”
Which brings us to the high school. And the zombies. Lots of them. A herd, a swarm, an army, whatever you want to call it, the two against A LOT odds that Shane and Otis are facing to get those supplies are daunting. They’re able to fake out the walkers by throwing road flares found in a police car and get into the medical trailer, but getting out? Not so easy. Remember, Otis has a hard time running — and that was when zombies weren’t chasing him. We leave the pair at the high school, barricaded behind a gate with a lock that looks way weaker than the dozens of zombie arms and teeth gnashing at them.