The Love Triangle
The relationships between Shane Walsh (Jon Bernthal, left), Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), and Rick’s wife Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) form the main, non-walker tension in the first two seasons. Believing his best friend and police partner to be dead, Shane takes Lori and son Carl (Chandler Briggs) under his protection. But things between Shane and Lori quickly turn romantic — until Rick unexpectedly reunites with his family. Rick assumes his rightful position as husband and father, ultimately taking control of Shane’s group of survivors — including Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus), Andrea (Laurie Holden), T-Dog (IronE Singleton), Glenn Rhee (Steve Yuen), Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride), and Carol’s daughter Sophia (Madison Lintz).
The First Dixon Brother
Trying to help himself and other survivors escape from an Atlanta department store, Rick handcuffs racist redneck Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker) to the roof after Merle attacks T-Dog and threatens everyone’s safety. When the building is overrun by walkers, the group flees. T-Dog hesitates and turns back to unlock Merle’s handcuffs but drops the keys before he can do so. Rick, Glenn, and T-Dog later return to Atlanta to rescue Merle — but find only his severed hand.
Finding temporary asylum in Atlanta’s CDC building, the survivors meet Dr. Edwin Jenner (Noah Emmerich). Jenner, though, has given up hope and begins the countdown to destroy the entire shelter, thinking death is preferable to life in this world. But before it blows up, the group convinces Jenner to let them go. As they are leaving, the doctor whispers a secret into Rick’s ear.
A Shot Heard 'Round the World
After escaping the CDC, Rick and the others end up on a deserted highway and are soon attacked by walkers. Sophia goes missing when a walker chases her into the woods — leaving the rest of the group to search for the little girl. While Shane, Rick, and Carl are out looking for her, Carl stops to admire a deer and ends up with a bullet in his chest.
Down on the Farm
Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson) is a veterinarian who believes that zombies are just sick people who can be cured. Running a farm with his family, Hershel keeps a tight watch on the locked barn on his property. One of his men, Otis (Pruitt Taylor Vince), fired the shot that unintentionally wounded Carl, so when Rick brings the bleeding boy to his door, he tries to help. But he’s adamant that Rick and the others cannot stay on his property permanently.
Shane is jealous and conflicted by Rick’s return, but his misguided devotion to Lori and Carl is absolute. The boy’s injury only accelerates his descent into madness. Sent with Otis to a zombie-infested school in order to fetch medical equipment, Shane shoots Otis, and leaves him to be eaten alive so he can escape and save Carl.
Even in the grim land of the dead, there needs to be sprinkles of hope and beauty. Glenn is always responsible and obedient, but he can’t help himself when he meets Hershel’s head-strong daughter, Maggie (Lauren Cohan). The farmer’s daughter plays hard to get for a while but ultimately makes a move on Glenn during a rare moment alone. After that, she makes him work even harder. While the show’s other romantic relationships often feel like primal urges or political alliances, Maggie and Glenn retain on old-fashioned innocence.
A Positive Result
To Lori’s horror, a pregnancy test reads positive. Is the child Shane’s or Rick’s? She convinces herself it’s her husband’s, but Shane feels otherwise. She decides to keep the child and reveal her affair to Rick, who says he already knew.
An Unexpected Discovery
Glenn’s hormones won’t quit, and he finally persuades Maggie to join him for a midnight rendezvous. His romantic plan is to meet in the barn’s hayloft, but it’s not Maggie who greets him when he arrives. The barn is crawling with zombies, who are locked in from the outside. ”You weren’t supposed to see this,” whispers a panicked Maggie.
Glenn can’t keep the barn a secret. Shane wants to annihilate the walkers immediately, but Rick, true to form, suggests caution. The group splits into two camps, with Dale doing everything to keep Shane at bay. But when Rick goes out searching for Sophia, Shane leads the group to the barn, unlocks the doors, and opens fire. Everyone but Hershel joins the massacre until only one young walker remains: Sophia. She’d been in the barn the whole time. Rick returns and is dizzy with despair but knows what he has to do — aim his gun and shoot her.
Depending on Daryl
As Shane became more and more suspect, Daryl emerged as Rick’s most reliable lieutenant. Gruff and independent, he proved his courage time and again and endeared himself to the group with his relentless search for poor Sophia. He never gave up, and her horrible fate threatened to send him back into his shell.
After the barn incident, Rick and Shane wage a cold war. When Lori inexplicably blathers to Shane that her baby could be his, it becomes clear that Rick is no longer safe. When the two men pair up to search for Randall, their prisoner who Shane killed — but claimed had escaped — Shane draws his gun. Rick talks his way out of it…and then stabs Shane to death. Rick looks up to find Carl watching. Before he can explain, Carl pulls a gun and shoots…Shane, who’d become reanimated as a walker.
Burning Down the Barn
After a herd of zombies assault the farm, the survivors torch the place and retreat. Andrea has gone missing, but the rest of the group reunites in the woods. Rick tries to inspire them, but when he tells them the secret, that each and every one of them is infected and will become a walker no matter how they die, their solidarity is shaken. But Rick is tired of playing diplomat. He admits he killed Shane and then vows, ”This isn’t a democracy anymore!”
Separated from the group during the zombie assault on the farm, Andrea flees into the forest with walkers in pursuit. She picks them off one by one but more keep coming. When she runs out of ammo, she finally gets mauled. But right before she can be chomped, a sword slices the walker’s head off. Andrea looks up to see a cloaked figure holding two disfigured zombies on a leash.