'The Walking Dead': 4.5 out of 5 stars

After a 2 1/2-month hiatus, “The Walking Dead” returns to AMC.

The first half of the second season begins with the search for Sophia, Carol Peletier's (Melissa McBride) child, and the group’s temporary residence at the farm of Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson). After discovering Hershel’s big secret, which is a barn full of walkers including some of Hershel’s loved ones, a power struggle begins between the group’s current leader Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Shane Walsh (Jon Bernthal).

The premiere this past Sunday picks up right where things left off. Rick and Shane are still at odds with each other as the group begins the cleanup and burial of the dead walkers from the barn. The relationship between the two men has never been more fragile, and I would not be surprised if the group has to choose sides. However, events near the end of the episode might suggest otherwise.

While the burials of loved ones and burnings of the other walkers take place, Hershel and his family seem to take a turn for the worse. He goes back to drinking in the town bar, which causes Rick and Glenn (Steven Yeun) to find him and bring him back to the farm. Meanwhile, his daughter is suffering from an unknown illness and Lori Grimes (Sarah Wayne Callies) drives off on her own to find Hershel. On the way, she runs over a walker and totals her car, leaving her in the middle of the road with no help in sight. Besides the ending, this was the most interesting part of the episode, but all it shows is the accident. Maybe the reason for that was to keep viewers hooked, but it would have been nice to see a little more about the situation to keep us in suspense for next week.

Coming off the short hiatus, “The Walking Dead” doesn't seem to have skipped a beat. The premiere is comparable to the calm before the storm. With the way that it ended, the rest of the season could be an intense ride. “The Walking Dead” is back and it continues to get better and better.

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