Overall Rating: 7.8
Ironically, as the message gets better, the storytelling gets somewhat less compelling - but this is just a transitional episode, so not to worry...the suspense and horror will be back with a vengeance in the next installment.
A good recap can be found at the all-knowing Wikipedia - honor and praise be the Wiki!
Things I liked:
Ed Peltier - In a sufficiently large enough group of people, you are bound to welcome at least one violent idiot. Ed is the misogynistic wife-beating type - which is not guaranteed, but still believable. Yep...Ed keeps things nice and tense despite the lack of walkers in this episode (other than those milling around Atlanta that don't really get in our way yet).
Merle and the Hacksaw - can there be anything more impressive than the ability, resourcefulness and courage of a red neck trying to stay alive? Merle isn't a great human...but as we'll see later...it does help to have a red neck around to do the really awful things that need doing when you are in this dire a world.
Shane Getting Hosed - I think it's believable that after all they've been through, Shane would honestly care about Carl...and I think it's equally believable that, feeling intensely guilty for cheating on her husband thinking he was dead, Lori might lash out at her co-conspirator unfairly. Of course, their affair never struck me as a particularly wise or healthy thing even before I realized that she was Rick's wife...but survival by the razor's margin will do funny things to a mind.
If I had one gripe about this one, though, it would be that it was a bit on the tame side...we got to relax a little too much for my liking, given the circumstances. :) They can't all be heart-pounding action, I suppose.
The dialogue and the action was a tad flat (and I think they overdid it a bit with Ed's lines...but that's just me).
Adam Minarovich (Ed) was a bit over the top...really the only two that stood out this week were Michael Rooker (Merle) and Norman Reesud (Darryl). The rest were merely playing their roles with ordinary competence.
No matter what you think of a man, his life is not an island...and flippantly casting it aside will have consequences. Rick realizes this (as does T-Dog, which is impressive given Merle's attitude about African Americans). I think that's worth a few plaudits here.