The mid-season finale of “The Walking Dead” season two is all about the buildup to the showdown between the Atlanta survivors — aka Rick’s People — and the farm folk — otherwise known as Hershel’s People.
The events of Episode 7, “Pretty Much Dead Already,” are kick-started by Glenn’s revelation to Rick’s People that Hershel’s People are keeping walkers in the barn. Since they are Hershel’s undead friends and family he hopes to one day “cure,” let’s call them Hershel’s Walkers.
Shane — who has had his humanity stripped down to cold survivalist ever since he sacrificed Otis, one of Hershel’s People, for his own safety — proves to be the instigator throughout this hour. He wants to leave — “but Sofia is still out there!” say Rick’s People. He wants to kill the barn walkers — “but Hershel thinks they’re just sick and we’re on Hershel’s land so we can’t!” say Rick’s People. Shane insists on keeping constant watch on the barn, and Rick’s People seem OK with that.
They’re not OK with the idea that Hershel wants them to leave the farm. Rick tries to talk some sense into Hershel, telling him just how bad the whole zombie scene outside of his bucolic little homestead is, but Hershel insists they’ve got to leave. Out of desperation Rick lets it slip that Lori is pregnant. “That’s either a gift here or a death sentence out there,” Rick says. Hershel doesn’t seem moved.
Shane is, however, when Rick tells him that Lori is pregnant. (Shane totally thinks it’s his kid.) The revelation is bellowed during yet another confrontation between the two, when they’re once again having that “should we stay or should we go before Sofia’s found” argument.
Back in the house, Hershel and Maggie are having their own argument. Maggie, who was attacked by a walker last episode, seems to be coming around on the idea that the infected aren’t just suffering from some awful illness, but are dangerous monsters. Hershel still seems unconvinced. And then that teenager who’s under his care bursts in: “It happened again,” he says.
Hershel asks for Rick’s help. They walk down to the river with snare poles — because they’re going to round up some walkers. Turns out a pair of zombies are stuck in the silt. Hershel, who recognizes the woman, insists Rick treat them humanely if Rick’s People want to remain on the farm. Rick, seeing a compromise, agrees to wrangle up some undead.
But while Hershel and Rick are showing walkers a little kindness, there’s unrest back at the farm. While everyone’s gathering around to go on a search for Sofia, Dale and Shane get into a fight over Rick’s People’s stash of guns. Dale, fearing Shane has lost a good portion of his sanity, tries to hide the weapons in the swamp; Shane tracks him down. When Shane arrives back on the farm with the bag full of firearms, he launches into a rallying cry. “It’s time to grow up!” he yells. (What leadership!) He’s so prepared to take out the barn full of walkers, he even hands little Carl a handgun to protect his mom.
And then they spot Rick herding a walker toward them.
Shane goes berserk. He starts shooting the woman walker like he’s at target practice, insisting that if she really were still alive, those bullets through her belly and lungs and heart would have killed her. Rick pleads with him to stop and talk things through. But Shane is done talking things through.
“Enough risking our lives for a little girl who’s gone!” he yells. “Enough living next to a barn full of things trying to kill us! Enough! Rick, it ain’t what it was like before. Now if you all wanna live, you all wanna survive, you gotta fight for it.”
Shane shoots the woman walker dead. Hershel falls to his knees as Shane breaks open the barn doors and Rick’s People — Shane, Andrea, Daryl, T-Dog, even Glenn — take out zombie heads like a game of “Duck Hunt.” All is quiet, the yard littered with bodies. And then the moaning starts again.
A skinny little leg juts out of the barn door, then a tiny little body. And then zombie Sofia steps into full view. Not even Shane can hide the horror on his face as she stumbles her way over the dead bodies of Hershel’s Walkers in an attempt to feast on the brains of Rick’s People.
And then Rick, who just watched Rick’s People blow out the brains of Hershel’s Walkers, does the only thing fair, just, conscientious Rick can do — he pulls out his pistol and shoots zombie Sofia in the head.