Season 2, Episode 1
What Lies Ahead
Rick leads the group out of Atlanta. On the highway, they are stopped by a threat unlike anything they have seen before. The group searches for someone who has gone missing.
The Walking Dead is currently not in season.
Rick crouches on an Atlanta rooftop. "The CDC was a dead end," he says to a possibly-within-reach Morgan via walkie-talkie. "Atlanta's done." Then, led by Daryl's motorcycle, the caravan of survivors exits the city.
Dale stops the RV in front of a snarl of abandoned cars. With not enough fuel to double-back, Dale snakes the RV through the vehicles until suddenly, the radiator hose bursts. Glenn and Shane search for a replacement part among the abandoned cars, while the others scavenge for supplies as Rick and Dale keep watch. "This is a graveyard," Lori comments. As the others forage, Andrea practices assembling Shane's gun inside the RV.
From atop the RV, Dale calls Rick's attention to hundreds of walkers approaching down the road. The panicked survivors scramble underneath cars. T-Dog accidentally cuts his arm while hiding from the oncoming walkers.
One stray walker enters the RV. Andrea flees to the bathroom where she tries to assemble Shane's gun only to have a dropped piece alert the walker of her presence, forcing her to stab it through the eye with a screwdriver that Dale has handed her through a ceiling vent.
T-Dog almost faints from blood loss as a walker approaches; Daryl ice-picks the walker then piles dead bodies on them both, effectively hiding themselves from the passing walkers.
A walker grabs at Sophia underneath the car. She runs screaming into the woods, with two walkers in pursuit. Rick follows. Ordering Sophia to stay hidden in a nearby creek, Rick lures the walkers away then bashes their heads with a rock. When he returns to the creek, Sophia's gone.
Tracking Sophia's footprints, Daryl leads a search party through the forest: When her trail veers away, Rick sends Shane and Glenn back to the highway to keep the others calm while Rick and Daryl continue searching. On the highway, Shane and Andrea are clearing a path through the cars while Carol is complaining that everyone should be looking for Sophia. Lori assures Carol they won't leave Sophia behind.
Elsewhere in the car graveyard, Carl wrestles a sleeve of knives and hatchets away from a dead truck driver. Ecstatic by his treasure, he rushes to show Shane who coldly dismisses him, instructing Carl to take the weapons to Dale.
Lori chastises Shane for blowing off Carl. When he ignores her, she brings up his drunken attack on her in the CDC. "I have a few mistakes under my belt," Shane admits, before telling Lori he plans to leave the group.
Back in the forest, Daryl and Rick kill a walker. Wanting to be sure it didn't eat Sophia, Rick checks the walker's mouth for human flesh then he and Daryl gut it to discover a recently eaten woodchuck. "At least we know," Rick says.
As the day wanes, Andrea asks Dale to return her gun. "I'm not comfortable with it," Dale says. Andrea is livid but Shane agrees with Dale: Only properly trained people should have guns.
Daryl and Rick return to the highway and promise to resume the search for Sophia come morning. Carol frets about a 12-year-old alone in the woods at night then blames Rick for abandoning her there.
The next morning, Rick doles out Carl's newfound weapons to the search party. Andrea wants her gun. Shane holds firm. Carl asks to come along. Rick grudgingly allows it.
Andrea again demands her gun back from Dale. "What do you think's gonna happen, I'm gonna stick it in my mouth and pull the trigger?" she asks. Dale is surprised she is so angry with him, having expected gratitude for saving her life. "You took my choice away, Dale," she adds in reference to how Dale coerced her to leave the CDC.
In the forest, the search party chances upon a tent. Inside, Daryl finds a decomposing body holding a revolver, which Daryl pockets, but no sign of Sophia.
Church bells are heard. Rick follows the sound, the rest of the group not far behind.
At the highway, Dale admits to T-Dog that the RV is already repaired but he's pretending otherwise to give Rick time to find Sophia. "If the others know we're mobile," Dale says, "They'll want to mobilize."
Rick and company discover a church in a clearing. Inside, three walkers rise from the pews. Rick, Daryl and Shane hack them down with machetes.
The bells ring again. Glenn finds a battery-operated loudspeaker set on a timer. Andrea slumps against the church, then overhears Shane discuss his impending departure with Lori.
"Just tryin' to be the good guy," Shane says. After Lori leaves, Andrea asks Shane to take her with him. "We're the odd men out," she argues.
Inside the church, Carol prays for Sophia's safety. "Praying for Ed's death was a sin," she admits. "Please don't let this be my punishment."
Shane tells Rick they should return to the highway. Rick wants to stay in case Sophia heard the bells. "We can't give up," Rick says. Shane orders everyone to return; he and Rick will continue searching.
"I wanna stay too," Carl says. Rick consents then hands Lori his gun. When she refuses, Daryl hands her the revolver taken from the tent. Andrea seethes.
Rick re-enters the church to ask God for a sign that he's doing the right thing. "You don't know how hard that is to know," he pleads.
Marching through the forest, Andrea complains about not having a gun until Lori shoves it in her hand. Then Lori turns to Carol and says: "You have got to stop blaming Rick. No one else went after Sophia, and no one could have done it differently." Later she adds, "Y'all look to him, and then you blame him when he's not perfect." Andrea returns the gun to Lori.
Meanwhile, Rick, Shane and Carl come upon a deer in the forest. Rick smiles as Carl approaches it, mesmerized. A shot fires. Both deer and Carl fall to the ground. Screaming, Rick rushes to his son as blood seeps through Carl's shirt.