This week's episode of AMC's The Walking Dead has come and gone and, with a slight delay this week, ComicBook.com is back with an episode recap for "Chupacabra," the fifth episode of the show's second season.
The episode revolves mostly around Daryl Dixon, a character who doesn't even exist in the source material but has quickly become a fan favorite this season, stepping out of the terrifying shadow of his brother Merle. Meanwhile, fans of the comics can be heartened by the news that Robert Kirkman is orchestrating the show's midseason finale, which will air in two weeks. As for the episode itself? Well... As always, remember that these recaps are intended for viewers who have already seen the episode, or for whom spoilers are a non-issue. SPOILERS ON, and there's at least one really big one this week. We begin with a flashback--in the early days of the zombie apocalypse, we see our survivors on the road, stuck in a traffic jam and stranded with Carol's jerk husband and no Rick. Carl's not in bed and Sophia's at their side, so you pretty much know right at the outset that it's not happening anytime recently. The huddled masses are just beginning to appreciate the scope of their problem, with emergency services no longer responding, a fleet of ominous helicopters overhead and Lori crumpling into Shane's arms at the sight of military choppers dropping napalm on a nearby city. Cut to the present day and Lori wakes late at the campsite near the Greene farm. Lori and Carol talk laundry and the men (plus Andrea, and Beth's boyfriend Jimmy) talk about returning to the search for Sophia. They won't give the untrained Jimmy a firearm, so he follows Andrea and Shane. On the porch, Maggie and Glenn have a brief "state of the union"-type conversation that mostly revolves around the latter wanting a relationship and the former stomping off after conceding that she might be interested. In the woods, Shane and Rick discuss their high school conquests (mostly Shane's) and then deteriorating quickly into lamenting the loss of all the people they remember from those days. That transforms into a conversation about whether they should be looking for Sophia; Shane thinks that doing so is just dragging down the rest of the survivors, as much as accusing Rick of creating the setting for Carl's shooting and Otis's death before his anger flames out and the pair move on. As they do, though, the camera focuses in on a blue rag posted to a tree, which Rick tells the camera means that they've moved into T-Dog's search territory. Daryl, scouring the woods on horseback and stopping to crossbow small game as he does so, stumbles upon a river bank where he sees a doll. Dismounting and stepping down into the water to retrieve it, he shouts for Sophia; with no results, he gets back on the horse, only to wander into an area where both it, and all of the birds, are spooked. A snake quickly explains the horse's terror, but it's no aid to Daryl, who is thrown from his mount and skewered by one of his own arrows in the ensuing fall down a cliff side and into the water. He manages to pull himself from the river, only to collapse on the beach and find himself stranded, injured and without his crossbow, at the foot of the cliff. After some poking around, he manages to reacquire his weapon but the only arrow he's got is still stuck through his side as he makes his way up the cliff and through the woods. At the campsite, Glenn confronts Lori with the knowledge that she's pregnant, and she swears him to secrecy. He's shocked that she hasn't told Rick or Shane yet, but remains silent about it when the pair appear. Rick tells Lori that Shane wants to call off the search but that he's unwilling, but asks Lori to help him see whether he's really being soft and irrational. Instead, she provides him with a brief cheering section before he's called away by Beth to confer with Herschel. His message is simple: Jimmy shouldn't be out with them, and didn't have his consent to be. The horse Daryl took was also without his knowledge. "I'll control my people; you control yours," he tells Rick.
Nearing the top of the cliff, Daryl Dixon is finding it increasingly harder to get a stable foothold and collapses back toward the bottom. At the river bank, he regains consciousness and is greeted by his brother Merle, trash-talking him and accusing him of not making enough effort to find him. Merle tells his brother that he's worthless to the rest of the survivors, that they hate him and that they aren't his family--but then he kicks him a few times to wake him up, rocking Daryl as he drifts in and out of consciousness. It's only for an instant, though, while Daryl focuses on his brothers two intact hands and then realizes that he's in the throes of a fever dream with a zombie gnawing at his work boots. In spite of his injuries, he manages to take out that zombie with only a knife and a large stick, but the noise attracts a second; Daryl takes that one out by hastily removing the arrow from his own side and loading it into the crossbow before collapsing back to the ground. Muttering, "The son of a bitch was right," Daryl has a lunch of the squirrel he killed before fashioning himself a necklace from the ears of the walkers he killed and making his way back up the cliff side, the specter of Merle haunting him all the way up. The conversation includes a callback to an earlier line that indicated Daryl believes himself to have seen a chupacabra while tripping on mushrooms in the years before the zombie apocalypse. It concludes with Merle holding out his hand to his brother, telling him to "grab his friend Rick's hand," possibly an allusion to the fact that in the comics, Rick suffered the same fate (give or take a surgical procedure) as Merle. In the farmhouse, Herschel approaches Maggie about the fact that he disapproves not only of her relationship with Glenn but of the fact that Rick's camp is, in general, getting a little too comfortable around his home, as evidenced by Lori and Carol coming indoors to prepare them dinner without his consent first.
Back at the RV, we get our first glimpse of what comics readers are pretty used to by now: the visual of Andrea with a rifle. She declares that she's done washing clothes and wants to help protect the camp. Inside, Dale and Glenn have a heart-to-heart about what Glenn says is the craziness of the women around him. He cites as examples Lori's moodiness (though he stops short of spilling her secret), Andrea's bad temper and the roller-coaster relationship he has with Maggie. Dale is mortified to learn that Glenn and Maggie slept together, which drives Glenn right out of the RV. On the roof, Andrea calls that she's spotted a walker; she wants to shoot it, but the men don't want to rouse others with the gunshot. They take off after it with handheld weapons despite Rick telling them that Herschel wants to be the one to deal with walkers. As the group approaches the lone figure, though, they realize that it's a decidedly-alive Daryl; they spare him only to have him shot in the head a moment later by Andrea. Luckily for all involved it's just a flesh wound, but given the extent of his previous injuries they still have to carry him inside. During the trip, Rick takes the ear-necklace to hide it from Herschel and T-Dog discovers that Daryl is carrying Sophia's doll. In the farmhouse, Daryl points Rick and Shane toward the spot on the map where Sophia's doll was while Herschel alternately patches him up and chastises him for taking the horse without permission. In the hallway outside, Rick and Shane disagree on whether to call off the hunt for Sophia; after Rick walks away from the conversation, it continues with Lori. Shane tells her that he believes Rick is putting his family at risk for Sophia's benefit, and that he will do anything to keep Lori and Carl safe. She stalks off, frustrated by the whole thing. On the porch, Dale tells Andrea not to feel bad about shooting Daryl; after all, he jokes, they've all wanted to. Back indoors, Lori is crying frantically at Carl's bedside when Carol approaches her to come to dinner. Herschel sits at the head of the table, and clearly about half of the members of the group are uncomfortable with everyone eating together, not least of all Herschel. Glenn tries to make small talk centering around the guitar, but it falls flat when the only person they can identify who knows the guitar is gone. Maggie passes Glenn a note to arrange a tryst, but when he writes down a location and passes it back, it's spotted by Dale and Herschel.
Carol brings Daryl dinner and a kiss on the forehead, telling him that he did more for her little girl that day than Sophia's father did in his entire life. She leaves him in bed with that bit of encouragement. When Maggie finally breaks from the rest of the group to read Glenn's note, it asks her to meet him in the barn's hay loft, and all the "I'm going to have sex" cheer disappear out of her face; moments later we see Glenn scaling his way into the barn while Maggie runs from the house. Inside the barn, Glenn finds himself looking down from the hayloft into a building full of frenzied walkers; when reaches his exit, Maggie simply tells him that he wasn't supposed to see it.