Overall Rating: 6.5
I fear for our heroes...they're starting to crumble under the pressure.
The full details of this rather convoluted plot can be found at the all-knowing Wikipedia.
I feel like we're getting a bit bogged down here and losing the bigger stakes of the first season in exchange for what amounts to petty bickering and silliness in the face of a world-ending zombie apocalypse. Don't get me wrong...the personal details and histories of the people in our survivor's band are important, and I don't mind spending some time on each of them, but at this point, we have greatly shrunk our effective world if we're spending all our time focusing on whether it's a good idea for Glen to be cavorting with the farmer's daughter or wondering what Lori will do about her oncoming pregnancy (with no apparent decision on the horizon since she's making Glen keep it a secret).
The leading plot element - Daryl's struggle to survive after falling on his own arrow while being flung from a startled horse - was solid enough and gives us a great deal of insight into his character flaws and strengths. The person he goes to when fighting for life is his brother Merle - who, as we can see from their interaction, is horribly abusive and cruel, as well as being a bigoted moron - and that's a fascinating bit of information to get. All this time, I've credited Daryl with remarkable survival instinct, people skills and character, and given the show's writers credit for penning a true blue redneck with complicated layers and a real sense of humanity about him. That impression only grows here. He nearly dies to bring back evidence that Sophia was hiding in the river channel (her doll)...then he gets shot in the head (this after his imagined brother spends a whole day berating him for trusting his cohorts, which tells you that he might be thinking along those lines as well) and he still manages to appear at least somewhat forgiving - especially after Carol thanks him for doing more in one day than her dead-beat husband ever did in his whole life for Sophia.
But the rest of the clutter in this episode - with the exception of the last-second discovery than Hershel is keeping a bunch of walkers in his barn (OMGWTFBBQ??) - is filler...and not particularly well-executed filler. This episode was building toward something, I know not what. But I can't give it a ton of credit just because something good may come from it later. When they put the finishing touches on this farm-bound story, I'll have more to say.
Good content for Daryl and mental-Merle...the rest needed a bit more action and a bit less moping.
Strong performances from Michael Rooker (Merle) and Noram Reedus (Daryl) are the only truly noteworthy showing this week...the rest is just there.
It's hard to comment on the message or direction of this show when it currently seems a bit disorganized. We'll see what happens with Daryl, Lori, Glen et al and then we'll hand out credit or blame on the message front.