Everything you need to know before watching Walking Dead's return

New episodes of The Walking Dead's second season will finally begin to shamble back onto our TV screens this Sunday. We were positively rotting away during the three-month wait, so we revisited the season's first seven episodes and put together this compendium of everything you need to know before you watch all the zombie goodness headed our way.

[WARNING: If you're not up to speed on everything that's happened in season two thus far, there are MAJOR SPOILERS ahead. Proceed with caution.]


Who's Who in The Walking Dead


Rick Grimes

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After leading the group away from an exploding CDC at the end of season one, Rick finds himself with a band of homeless survivors once again. He plans to take the group to Fort Benning in Alabama Georgia, but when one of the group's two children—Sophia Peletier—is driven off by a herd of walkers while the group is caught on the interstate, Rick begins to question his own leadership. Things only get worse when Rick's son Carl is accidentally shot by a hunter and Rick begins a series of moral clashes with Hershel Greene, the man who saved Carl's life. Rick is at a difficult crossroads in the midst of season two, and it all gets more complicated when he learns that his wife is pregnant.


Hershel Greene

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Though he lost his wife to the zombie epidemic, Hershel has managed to largely insulate his family from the effects of the zombie epidemic by keeping everyone at his isolated farm. His protectionist lifestyle is threatened by the arrival of Rick at his doorstep with his critically injured son, Carl. Hershel agrees to help Rick and performs surgery to save Carl's life, but by doing so he draws Rick's entire band of survivors to his farm. As his daughter, Maggie, grows closer to Rick's group, Hershel begins to worry that the continued presence of outsiders will threaten his family's safety. Hershel also believes that zombies are not dead, but merely sick, and that one day a cure will emerge. Things get more complicated when it's revealed that because of this belief, he's been keeping walkers locked in his barn in the hope that he can someday save them. This, along with his insistence that Rick's group leave when Carl is fully recovered, causes several clashes with Rick.


Shane Walsh

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Still struggling with the loss of his close relationship to Lori and Carl Grimes after Rick's return, Shane becomes more of an outsider among the group as a whole. He still harbors the secret of his affair with Lori, but adds another secret as he makes a run for medical supplies to help save Carl with Otis, a member of Hershel's group. When an injured leg slows him down with a horde of walkers in pursuit, Shane shoots and cripples Otis, distracting the walkers long enough for him to leave. The only person he really seems to grow closer to is Andrea, which draws suspicion from Dale Horvath. When Shane learns of the walkers Hershel is keeping in the barn, he insists they be destroyed or the group will have to leave the farm. In a rage, he breaks the lock on the barn, opens the door, and leads the group in a massacre of the walkers while Hershel looks on in shock. The fallout from this event will likely be addressed as the season resumes.


Lori Grimes

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Lori is devastated by Carl's near-death in a hunting accident, and her life is further complicated by a pregnancy, which she at first tries to keep secret from the entire group. She attempts to abort the pregnancy by taking an overdose of morning-after pills, then vomits them back up and decides to keep the child. When Shane finds out about the pregnancy, he tells Lori that he believes it's his baby. Lori responds by telling Shane that even if that's true, he will never be the child's father, driving Shane further from the rest of the group. Lori also confesses her affair with Shane to Rick, who admits that he already knew. As the season wears on, Lori grows every more protective of her family, particularly Carl as he recovers from his injury.


Daryl Dixon

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After being standoffish with the group for much of the first season, Daryl grows closer to the other survivors, particularly Carol Peletier, in the wake of Sophia Peletier's disappearance. He becomes the most tenacious searcher for the girl, and he nearly dies when he falls alone in the forest and is impaled by one of his own arrows. He fights his way back and refuses to give up searching for Sophia until her fate is revealed.


Andrea

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After her near-suicide at the end of season one, Dale Horvath confiscates Andrea's handgun as part of their continuing father/daughter-type relationship. Andrea continues to search for a new purpose in her life, and she begins to find it when she develops a skill with firearms under Shane's tutelage. This leads to the beginning of a relationship with Shane, which Dale quickly tries to halt. Though she no longer seems to be considering suicide, Andrea continues to be reckless, most notably when she nearly kills Daryl after mistaking him for a walker.


Dale Horvath

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Dale continues to try to be the most level-headed of the group, even as tempers flare around him. Though he does not often take an active role in the decisions made during season two (so far), he does learn many things simply through observing. He is among the first to learn about Hershel's walkers in the barn, and even grows to suspect that Shane caused Otis' death on purpose. He also confronts Shane about his relationship with Andrea, leading Shane to threaten him if he speaks openly about any of his suspicions.


Glenn

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Glenn finds himself caught between two groups throughout the first half of the season. He develops a crush on Hershel's daughter Maggie, which quickly turns into a sexual relationship. Meanwhile, he is called upon by Rick's group for the dangerous task of extracting a walker from a well, and he's also asked by Lori to keep her pregnancy quiet even as he retrieves pregnancy tests and morning-after pills for her. After accidentally finding the walkers in Hershel's barn, Glenn finds himself the keeper of two major secrets, both of which he confesses to Dale.


Maggie Greene

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Hershel's daughter Maggie is perhaps the most receptive to Rick's group of survivors, though she stands by her father's belief that the walkers can still be cured. Her relationship with Glenn brings her closer to Rick and his family, though she tells Glenn she believes they are simply using him as "walker bait."


The Story So Far...

While on their way to Fort Benning, Alabama to search for other survivors, Rick and his group are stopped by a jam of cars on the interstate. A large herd of walkers moving up the road causes chaos, and sends young Sophia Peletier running into the woods. Rick distracts the walkers that were chasing her and drives them away, but when he returns to find Sophia she's gone. The group organizes a search for the girl, but while they're out Rick's son Carl is critically wounded by a hunter's bullet.

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The hunter, Otis, directs Rick to Hershel Green's farm for help. Hershel begins caring for the boy, and eventually Rick's entire group finds their way to the farm. Shane and Otis venture out for medical supplies, and Shane sacrifices Otis to the walkers to save himself, and later tells the group that Otis gave himself up so that Carl would have the care he needed.

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Rick and Lori are devastated by Carl's injury, to the point that Lori debates putting the boy out of his misery. Hershel saves him with emergency surgery, and Carl begins to recover. Daryl continues to search for Sophia and encourages her mother Carol to keep hope alive. As Glenn and Maggie leave the farm for supplies, Lori discreetly asks Glenn to pick up a product for her at the pharmacy, which is later revealed to be a pregnancy test. While at the pharmacy Maggie and Glenn begin a sexual relationship. Back at the farm, Hershel tells Rick that he expects the group to leave when Carl is fully recovered, and Rick pleads for terms that will allow them to stay.

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Days go by and Sophia is still missing. Shane believes the group should simply move on without her, especially in light of Hershel's continued displeasure with their presence, but Daryl refuses to give up the search. He goes out alone again to look for the girl, and is critically injured when he suffers a fall and is stabbed by one of his own arrows. He narrowly escapes a walker attack and manages to make it back to the farm, where he is nearly shot by Andrea after she mistakes him for a walker while scoping out the landscape with a rifle. Maggie invites Glenn to another sexual encounter, but a misunderstanding leads Glenn to think he is meeting her at the barn. It is then that he discovers that the barn is full of walkers.

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Maggie begs Glenn to keep the walkers in the barn a secret, while Lori also begs him to keep her pregnancy secret. He confesses both secrets to Dale, who confronts Hershel about the walkers. Hershel expresses his belief that the walkers can someday be cured, while Dale argues that they're too dangerous to be kept alive. Shane and Andrea grow closer, which leads Dale to threaten Shane with his suspicions about what really happened to Otis. Shane makes his own threats back. Lori attempts to abort her pregnancy, then throws up the morning after pills she took. She then confesses her previous affair with Shane and her pregnancy to Rick, who admits that he knew.

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Glenn finally tells the entire group that the barn is full of walkers. This infuriates Shane, who demands they either clear out the barn or leave. Daryl and Rick both argue that the group cannot leave without the still-missing Sophia, but Shane believes she's already gone. Even Carol begins to believe that the group will never find her daughter, but Daryl works to restore her faith. Rick confronts Hershel about the barn, prompting Hershel to demand that Rick's group leave. Rick pleads with Hershel, telling him that the group will die if they're forced to move again. Hershel tells Rick that if his group his stay, they have to learn to abide by Hershel's rules and treat the walkers like people. Dale, increasingly suspicious of Shane's behavior and worried about possible violence, steals the group's weapons and tries to hide them in the swamp. Shane stops him and brings the weapons back to the barn.

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As Shane is returning with the weapons he took from Dale, he sees Rick and Hershel returning with two walkers captured on poles. This sends Shane into a rage, and he breaks open the barn and forces the group to begin killing every walker that comes out. Rick and Hershel both look on in shock as the walkers are gunned down, and the entire group freezes when the final walker leaving the barn is revealed to be Sophia. As Carol begins to weep uncontrollably and Daryl holds her back, Rick steps forward with his pistol and shoots the girl in the head.

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Wanna know what happens next? Be sure to catch the next episode of The Walking Dead, "Nebraska," Sunday night on AMC.

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