After the perilous siege that lay waste to the travellers in Chicago, Rick Grimes and his posse, headed to Fort Benning, only for highway I-85 to change their paths and worries thanks to a herd of walkers passing through. Season 1 proved quite a hit, and despite the deviations, it proved a stellar adaptation for TV. With a solid cast, unique writing and boss direction, the finale last season set up nicely as the crew headed off to Fort Benning with hope lost in narrow paths.
In ducking a crew of walkers, they lose young Sophia, and the first half of this season, counting 7 episodes, hinges on the search for her. Rick and Shane are at the forefront again, as Rick's family have to endure physical and emotional trauma, stemming from a disastrous accident involving Rick's son, Carl, as well as the hiding of some life-changing secrets by his wife, Lori. Some of these would be unraveled in due course, leading to much more drama and building the tensions up more than initially fathomed. Rick is the usual leader wearing the heavy crown, but Shane's role this season comes to a head, as his rage, frustration and unrequited love seep in to a fit of catharsis that boulders headfirst with a whopping mid-season finale.
The search for Sophia is plowed upon by Carl's accident, which fate twists into a meeting with Hershel and his farm. Comic lovers would see many changes made but the dynamic with Rick and Hershel, and also the survivors and Hershel's family, make for great TV. Hershel's family come across as endearing and rightfully so, with Rick's camp also gaining more sympathy by the episode as the search for Sophia bears little fruition. It seems the more time they spend recuperating and searching, the more tragedy strikes at their hearts to tear them apart.
Glenn also grows more into his role as he's placed in a lot of precarious situations, secret-wise, protector-wise...and also, love-wise. His role blossoms this season but besides Shane, it's Daryl who breaks out of his anti-hero shell to gleam as the one who truly searches for the girl, and not out of remorse or guilt, but due to an uncharacteristic sense of hope. He reverts to his meandering ways in the gripping finale, but overall, he's been intriguing as the season progressed. The other cast members also deliver in their screen time making it an all round effort.
With the camp vying to stay at the farm, Hershel and Rick butt heads over the lodgings, while Dale and Andrea iron out issues and threads from the past...which all tie back to the gruesome and sometimes, tyrannical Shane. The thing that makes Shane remarkable is that he's doing almost everything human, and what we'd all most likely do if placed in this setting of apocalypse. He's as sadistic yet relatable as you get...and very practical. You love to hate him but he's truly outstanding as he understands the world for what it is. He isn't cynical...he's just torn between survival and his heart...and on the way, he makes a lot of bloodthirsty decisions, as his sense of right from wrong gets jaded. But this show offers that such choices aren't in clear cut ponds but they're in shades of grey and that all lines/boundaries of right and wrong are obscure...because when the world ends, all bets are off. The secrets and duplicity make this season shine, and sometimes the search for Sophia takes a backseat to the sparkling cast, the diverse and diligent writers and production unit, the magnificent yet simple effects, and overall...a story whose changes from the comics, are all for the good and better for the wear. All plot threads and seeds this season make for lovely storytelling. Having them wander off and butt heads with Hershel over the fates of the both parties are well drawn out as panic and mistrust set in with almost all parties involved. Hershel's sense of perception of the walkers also add fire to the flames, and a little extra fuel is added in by the misguided yet 'as-real-as-you-get' Shane. This fuel comes to a head with a nice twist in the finale...and it's gory yet emotionally taxing when it hits the tele.
Overall, whatever changes were made...fans of the book should note, Kirkman wouldn't let them butcher his book...and they haven't done that yet by my standards. It's slow paced as usual, but it adds to the drama. There's little flair, but an intricate style building to the foundation of the substance of this series. It gets better by the episode...and episode 8 is one that will be highly anticipated as the battle seems to have taken a severe toll on this crew.