After the shock of Sunday’s “The Walking Dead” episode’s final moments kicks in for the characters, a big question is sure to emerge front-and-center: what exactly did Hershel and his family know about Sophia, who ended up being revealed as one of the “walkers” in “Zombie Barn?”
Insofar as his family was responsible for collecting and transporting the zombies to the barn, it seems logically impossible that they would not have made the connection: a young zombie girl emerges right around the same time a group of survivors is searching for a missing young girl.
So the question, it would seem, then becomes: why didn’t they reveal what they knew about Sophia to the survivors, knowing they were going out daily to look for her, and especially insofar as Hershel seemed deadset on motivating Rick’s group to exit his premises? Removing the “search for Sophia” factor would remove an element of glue that kept the survivors linked to the area.
Some, shortly following the otherwise-well-received mid-season finale, used this as a point of criticism for the episode. It, these critics argue, was an utterly illogical way to end the fall season with a bang.
Others, however, are asserting that the knowledge of Sophia’s fate finally puts some of Hershel’s behavior into context. It adds an element of motivation to Hershel’s insistence that the group leave his farm and, while there, stay away from the barn (both of which would have avoided the heartbreak of that closing reveal). It also adds some weight to his edict that for as long as the survivors lived on his farm, they would respect his rule that walkers are to be treated like human beings (which, in the event that they did stumble upon Sophia, would soften the reality of the situation).
Rest assured, this issue is not going anywhere–it will remain a topic on fan message boards in the short-term, and it will come into play when the show returns this spring.
Speaking to EW, “Walking Dead” executive producer Robert Kirkman confirmed that the issue will matter when the show returns. Interestingly, he is not quite ready to jump to the “he knew, so why didn’t he tell them debate.”
He notes that while one can certainly “assume” Hershel knew about Sophia, “If I were to put on my detective hat I would say that, if Hershel did know that Sophia was in the barn, he might have just said, ‘Oh yeah, that girl’s sick, we’re keeping her in the barn.’ So it’s entirely possible that he didn’t know. We’ll find out very early on in the return episode coming up this February.”
What is your take? Did Hershel know? If not, how could he not know? If so, why didn’t he tell the survivors? What do you think will happen when the show returns?