Walking Dead shambles back for the rest of its second season. We feel the repercussions from the last episode, meet some disturbing new characters, and once again ponder why the writers have to have someone make a stupid, out-of-character move in order to keep the plot going.

That complaint aside, they’ve given us a worthy successor to the mid-season finale, one of the season’s finiest episodes.

Title: “Nebraska”

Cast and Crew

Directed by Clark Johnson.
Written by Evan T. Reilly, from the graphic series by Robert Kirkman

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes
Sarah Wayne Callies as Lori Grimes
Jon Bernthal as Shane
Scott Wilson as Herschel Greene
Laurie Holden as Andrea
Jeffrey DeMunn as Dale
Steven Yeun as Glenn
Lauren Cohan as Maggie Greene
Norman Reedus as Darryl
IronE Singleton as T-Dog
Melissa Suzanne McBride as Carol Peletier
Emily Kinney as Beth Green
Hane McNeill as Patricia
James Allen McCune as Jimmy
Chandler Riggs as Carl Grimes
Michael Raymond-James as Suspicious Traveller
Aaron Munoz as Tony

Additional cast and crew information may be found here

Premise

The group deals with the consequences of the last episode’s massacre and revelations, with some grieving openly and some retreating emotionally. Shane and Glenn look for Herschel, who returns to alcohol after years of sober reasoning. They find him—and two more survivors who arouse immediate suspicion.

Lori, meanwhile, leaves her son alone and heads to town for no really compelling reason. Naturally, she juggles with a map while driving through zombie territory and crashes her car.

High Point

Most of this episode features plausible (in context) human drama and convincing psychological developments. The Walking Dead works best when it emphasizes the dilemmas of its living characters. The zombies— Walkers? Lame-brains? Why has no one in the world of the show heard of zombies?—appear, of course, but they’re not center stage.

We learn more about the larger world, and the news doesn’t sound promising.

Low Points

The episode features a lot of convincing drama, but Lori’s boneheaded decision—one she’s just warned her husband about—and haphazard handling of her plan seems out of character. Once again, the writers have someone behave stupidly so as to advance the plot.

The Scores:

Originality: 3/6 We’re not seeing anything startling new, but we have wandered from the graphic novel’s plot.

Effects: 6/6

Story: 4/6 We get hints again of the show’s possible direction: humans, under this kind of pressure, can be far more dangerous than zombies. You can predict what zombies are going to do.

Acting: 5/6 Melissa McBride and Scott Wilson have some of their finest moments to date, while Jon Bernthal continues to give us a man who may be beyond recovery. Michael Raymond-James and Aaron Munoz’s brief appearances are memorable and subtly chilling.

Emotional Response: 5/6 The episode handled this very well, save for one significant development. The tension in the bar rivals anything that we’ve experienced with the Walkers themselves.

Production: 5/6

Overall: 5/6 The last two episodes have demonstrated that all is not lost for Season Two.

In total, “Nebraska” receives 33/42