A number of plot points will inevitably be revealed in the course of these writings. My intent is to review this program from the perspective of the Doomer / Prepper / Survivalist community, but, to do that effectively, some things have to be explained in greater detail than I might normally prefer in a review. As a result, spoilers will follow. You have been warned.
Episode 7 served as the mid-season finale for season 2, airing in late November 2011 before a break until the final six episodes of the season aired beginning in mid-February 2012. It begins with everyone enjoying a low-key campfire breakfast before Glenn unceremoniously spills his secret about the barn full of Walkers to the whole group. Shane argues that there are only two choices: either kill them or leave for Fort Benning right now, Sophia or no Sophia. The whole group, essentially, has it out right there in front of the barn doors with Rick taking the position that it isn't their land and so he needs to convince Hershel to go along with it before they "clear the barn."
Maggie is upset with Glenn for telling them, but she eventually relents when he explains his reasoning: whether the Walkers are still people or not, they're dangerous; and he would rather her be safe and hate him than to like him and be in danger. Carl tells his Mom Lori (as she's homeschooling him) that he doesn't want to leave and won't leave until they've found Sophia. Shane institutes a watch over the barn, until a final decision can be made.
Rick and Andrea are to go out to look for Sophia, but first he confronts Hershel about the barn. He wants to discuss the obvious security risks, but that it's Hershel's land and his rule. Hershel tells him their group has to be gone by the end of the week. Rick argues that putting them out would be akin to killing them outright. He tells Hershel that he and his people have been sheltered there on the farm, but the world outside changes you, either into a Walker or into something that no longer resembles the person you were before. If he lets them stay, he argues, they can help him run the farm and secure the place and that they can all survive together. Seeing that he isn't having any success in changing his mind, he tells him about Lori's pregnancy, saying that it's either a blessing there on the farm or a possible death sentence out in the world.
Rick then argues with Shane that they can't act until he has Hershel's blessing, but that they can't just leave either, also informing him about the baby in the process. Shane plays it off and congratulates him, but it is easy to see the wheels start turning in his head. He later confronts Lori, arguing that he's better for her than Rick because Rick's choices have put them in danger over and over, whereas he has protected them. He makes it clear that he believes the baby is his to which she responds that it isn't, but even if it was it wouldn't be, making it clear that she isn't leaving Rick for him. He storms off and we can now see the true beginning of a devolution of Shane's character.
Maggie (who overheard the argument between Hershel and Rick) talks to her father, using biblical teachings about taking care of each other to argue that he should let them stay. She tells him about Glenn saving her life in the pharmacy and tries to reason with him about Walkers being dangerous. Just then, Jimmy (Hershel's son-in-law) reports a problem and we see Hershel ask for Rick's help with something. It turns out that two Walkers have become trapped in the silt at the bottom of the river/swamp bed, and Hershel tells Rick that, if they're going to stay, they have to learn to stop killing. Basically, he and the son-in-law show Rick how they wrangle them and get them into the barn (like wild animals -- with the collar on the end of a long stick).
Meanwhile, Shane is fed up and ready to act. He ransacks the RV, looking for the group's gun stash, but Dale has taken them to hide in the the nearby swamps. Shane tracks and confronts him there and they have a stand-off, wherein Shane tells Dale he'll have to kill him, but Dale can't do it. He tells Shane that this world is where a man like him belongs.
Shane takes the bag full of guns and arms everyone to clear the barn, permission or no permission. Just then, everyone witnesses Rick, Hershel, and Jimmy wrangling the Walkers, and Shane goes a bit berserk. He tries to show Hershel that they're not just sick people by shooting the one he's leading several times, including in the heart, and yet it barely slows her down. He finally kills it and opens the barn (thereby ending all debate and forcing a confrontation), despite Rick pleading with him not to do so.
As Walkers pour out of the barn doors, the group form a firing line (some reluctantly) and kill them one-by-one. Then, in a heart-wrenching turn of events, out of the barn stumbles poor little lost Sophia. She is now a Walker and has been right there in the barn for an indeterminate amount of time, even as they have been out searching the countryside in an effort to get her back safely. Everyone is shocked silent, and it is Rick -- the one who initially tried to save her on the highway, leading the Walkers away so she could double-back to safety, and who has yet to fire his weapon -- who ultimately steps forward and shoots her in the head as the others look on.
Again with this episode, the important lessons for our community are more philosophical than practical. Shane is a very intriguing character for me, because, as I said in a previous post, he is not really a villain. The fact is that he sometimes goes further than he should in order to get things done and his growing obsession with his best-friend's wife is a recipe for disaster. But, most of the time, it's pretty hard to argue with his logic. Rick is, without a doubt, a better man, but his decisions have put the group that includes his wife and son in danger numerous times, despite Shane almost universally arguing for the course of action that would keep them safer. Even the act that is, without a doubt, the most evil and hardhearted thing he has done thus far was in an effort to get the surgical supplies needed to save Rick's son Carl, and, even then, it was only carried-out when he believed there was no other way. It's a very interesting dynamic and, in my opinion, one of the reasons that the show has been such a big success.