Forty minutes of talking and mediocre rehashed plot and one pretty great, if somewhat predictable cliffhanger, to tide us over until February.
Glenn tells everyone about the barn o' walkers, because even though they've been there for some undetermined length of time with no issues, he all of a sudden is worried they could be in danger. Shane wants to get the hell out of Dodge (because he may be crazy but he's not stupid), but Daryl and Carol want to stay around for Sophia's sake. Presuming that she's not putting the lotion in the basket somewhere. Of course they have this great debate at the top of their lungs right outside the barn, which makes the walkers more than a little bit agitated. The idiots finally leave the barn vicinity, except for Shane who checks the locks.
Maggie is pissed at Glenn, though if she didn't stomp around and purposefully ignore him, it would be hard to tell as her facial expression is just a stare and a smirk. She went to the Lori school of emoting, where other recent graduates include Andrea and Dale. Carl is making plans for Sophia to return and for them to live happily ever after at Little Farm on the Prairie. Daryl tries to take a horse to go search, but Carol's negative attitude pisses him off. Apparently, finding this kid is his purpose or something, even if he's still largely injured. Dale gets all parental with Andrea about her choice in bed buddy. He really needs to mind his business because if I were Andrea, I'd shoot the old man in the face. Rick tries to talk sense into Hershel about the whole keeping-walkers-alive thing, but he's politely told that they have overstayed their welcome. Rick still thinks there's room to negotiate, so he tells Shane to hold tight on shooting up the barn… for a pregnant Lori's sake.
Maggie and Hershel have a really boring heart-to-heart that is blissfully interrupted by Jimmy saying that "it" happened again. The it in question is a couple of walkers (neighbors of Hershel's) who are stuck in a mud pit, and he wants Rick to help fish them out to prove that he can live on the farm by Hershel's rules. While Rick's hillbilly handfishin', Shane argues with Lori that he's a better protector because he's saved her life a bunch of times. The quibble over the details, but she tells him that it's not his baby, even if it is his baby, so he stomps off. Then he's faced with a self-righteous Carl who insists that they stay and look for Sophia. At which point, Shane is all riled up and ready to shoot something, but he discovers that Dale's decided to hide the guns and ammo in the woods. Daryl and Carol wander a bit, he sweetly apologizes and they see some more of the Cherokee Rose flowers and take that as a promising sign that they will find Sophia.
Glenn chases Maggie down, and finally explains his reasons for being such a jerk and telling everyone about the barn o' walkers. Turns out he's just freaked that something bad will happen to her. It's almost redeemable. Not quite, because he's really been an idiot, but there might be hope for Glenn yet. Shane tracks Dale out into the heretofore little seen swamps (they are getting a lot of action today), but they aren't in the same part of the swamp that Rick's in. Dale threatens to kill Shane for the greater good. Just add this to the list of reasons I hate Dale of late.
But because Shane's awesome and Dale's all bark and no bite, Shane takes off with the guns, returns back to camp and goes buckwild with a very visual demo on why walkers are dangerous (with one of the recently rescued swamp things), and then opens up the barns and makes everyone fight for their lives. Andrea, Daryl and T-Dog have no problem stepping up, and Glenn reluctantly joins in at Maggie's behest. Rick looks pissed and hopeless while Hershel looks like a broken man. But just when they think the barn is clear, out comes one last pint-sized walker… Sophia. Surprise! Or not. I mean, there was no way that kid could have survived out in the woods on her own for more than five minutes. (While watching this, I thought it was a little fucked up that Hershel knew all along that she was a zombie but still let Rick's people put themselves in danger searching for her. But during the Talking Dead after show, series creator Robert Kirkman said something about Otis being responsible for herding walkers into the barn, which was going to be explained in a scene that ended up getting cut. I really really hate it when important information like that is given to us outside the context of the show.)
Anyway, Sophia does the best acting of her life, with her fake contacts and growling and staggering out of the barn. Carol tries to run to her, but Daryl throws himself in her path. Carl is completely wrecked, and no one, not even Shane, wants to kill her, but Rick finally steps up and puts her out of her misery. And then everyone stands shell-shocked as we head into our winter break.
Everyone is sitting around having a breakfast filled with uncomfortable silences. Lori wonders where Rick's mind wandered; Glennn battles the angel and devil on his shoulder, with Maggie shooting him a warning glare and a shake of her head; and Dale is nodding along encouragingly. He finally stands up and drops the bomb that the barn is filled with walkers and we get an extreme close up of Rick's face for our troubles.
So they all wander over. Shane puts his face up close and gets an eyeful of walkers. Shane thinks this is so wrong, but Rick reminds him that this is not their property. Haven't we had this conversation about 800 times by now? Guess that's what happens when you try and draw these stories out for an entire season... things get more than a little repetitive. Shane wants to hightail it out of there, but Carol reminds everyone that Sophia's still missing, even though it seems like they've been there a couple of weeks at this point? The odds of that kid surviving more than 20 minutes on her own were always unlikely. Shane points this out, but maybe not in the nicest way possible. Daryl says that he found a doll a few days ago, but Shane wants to face facts and starts screaming that Daryl's appearance would freak her the hell out. There's a lot more screaming and Rick says he'll talk to Hershel. Dale says he already had tried to talk to the good Doc, who is waiting on a cure for his wife and stepson. Then Shane gets even more irate knowing that Dale put them in danger not telling them immediately. Um, dude, you've been sleeping there for two weeks just fine. No one has had any issue. Chill the hell out. All of this screaming makes the walkers angry, and the barn doors start rattling, and we get a shot of everyone standing there braced for the worst.
Everyone else must have made their way back to camp during the commercial break, but Shane decides to check the locks. When the zombies get feisty, he reaches for a gun that's not there. Glennn tries to talk to Maggie at the chicken coop. She makes him hand over his hat, which she fills with an egg and smashes on his head. See, because she thinks it was rotten. So clever.
Carl's doing what looks like homework, and wonders why Shane thinks Sophia's dead. He takes a stand that he's not leaving without his friend, and when she does come back he wants to stay because she'll like it on the farm and consider it home. If we didn't think she was dead before, that conversation all but confirms it with the insanely heavy foreshadowing.