"Bloodletting" is the second episode of the second season of AMC's The Walking Dead. It is the eighth episode of the series overall. It premiered on October 23, 2011. It was written by Glen Mazzara and directed by Ernest Dickerson.
In a flashback to the day her husband is shot, Lori Grimes and her friend Paula are having a conversation outside their children's school. They are discussing the same fight that Rick and Shane discussed before the shootout in the series premiere episode "Days Gone Bye". She admits she sometimes wonders if she even loves her husband anymore.
Shane Walsh pulls up in his cruiser, driving recklessly. Lori frowns and excuses herself from the conversation, as if this is nothing new from her husband's lifelong best friend.
Shane gets out of his cruiser with Lam Kendal and Leon Basset trailing behind him, and the look on his face tells Lori something is seriously wrong. "Is he alive?" she asks. Shane, who blames himself for what had happened, explains that Rick is in surgery, and promises to help her tell Carl his father's been shot. When the boy emerges from his school with his backpack around his shoulders, Lori kneels down to tell him.
Shane watches, brokenhearted, as she tells him what happened, and Carl bursts into tears, hugging his mother.
In the present, Rick is running relentlessly through a field, Carl unresponsive in his arms. Shane follows behind with an overweight hunter, who's struggling to keep up. The man shot Carl, and Shane is abusing him for it.
"How far?" Rick yells, turning back around for only a second, and the hunter breathlessly sends him ahead. "Ask for Hershel. Tell him Otis sent you."
Rick crosses a tree line and a farmhouse is visible; he quickens his desperate pace. A young woman with a brunette bob sees him running across the field through a pair of binoculars. "DAD!" she shouts from the front porch.
Rick stops when he reaches the front steps of the farmhouse, staring up at an old man surrounded by his family and begging, "Are you Hershel?"
Otis and Shane finally arrive at the farmhouse, and Otis is beside himself with guilt while Shane rushes to comfort his stunned best friend, soaked in Carl's blood.
Back inside the house, Hershel Greene demands to know what happened. "I was trackin' a buck," Otis sputters, seeking comfort in Patricia. "I didn't see him until he was on the ground."
Hershel asks Carl's blood type and Rick says, "A-positive. Same as mine." But Hershel looks no less relieved when he replies, "That's fortunate. Don't wander far. I'm gonna need you."
Hershel determines that the bullet broke in to pieces in his abdomen and he would likely need to operate to get all of the pieces out. The dire reality of the situation causes Rick to come out of his trance and remember his wife, and he sobs into Shane's shoulder because she doesn't even know that her son's been shot.
Meanwhile, as they trudge back to the highway, the others have heard the gunshot in the woods, and no one's more concerned than Lori. "Why was it just one gunshot?" she asks, knowing Rick and Shane wouldn't waste a bullet to take down a single walker. Carol Peletier agrees that Rick and Shane should have caught up to the group by now, but Daryl Dixon, brandishing his crossbow, calms them down. Andrea offers support to Carol over her daughter Sophia's disappearance, and Carol admits she just keep thinking she doesn't want her daughter to end up like Amy. "It's the not knowin' that's killin' me," she sobs.
She immediately backpedals, apologizing to Andrea about mentioning Amy, but Andrea's already lost, missing her sister all over again. She smiles through it - if she's not strong, she knows she'll never get her gun back, and Daryl steps in. "It's a waste of time, all this hopin' and prayin'." he states. "We're gonna find that little girl; she's gonna be just fine." They continue to walk back towards the highway.
Back at the traffic snarl on the highway, Dale and T-Dog are trying to salvage what they can to survive when Dale asks T-Dog how he's feeling with the cut on his arm, now covered with a gauze bandage and some gaffer tape. T-Dog dodges the question, and Dale presses him. Lifting T-Dog's makeshift bandage, Dale notices that he's developing a blood infection. Lightheaded, T-Dog laughs off the old man. "Wouldn't that be the way. World's gone to hell. Dead people risen up to eat the living, and ole Theodore Douglas gets done in by a cut on his arm?"
Dale insists that they need to start looking for antibiotics, stunned they've yet to find any with all the cars they have looked through.
Tired, T-Dog grudgingly joins in, finding a pack of cigarettes in the glove compartment of a minivan. His eye catches something in the backseat - a blood-covered, empty baby's car seat. Unnerved and with a cigarette dangling from his mouth, he backs away from the vehicle.
At the farm, Rick blames himself for what happened to his son as Hershel works to save the boy's life. "I should have sent him with Lori. Little girl goes missing - you look for her," Rick says, clearly understanding that it was the search for Sophia and saying he could join him and Shane that led to his son being shot. But Shane stands behind him, telling him not to blame himself for everything that happened with Sophia and Carl, telling him, "You'll never get that monkey off your back."
He assures Rick that Carl will survive getting shot, just like he did.
Maggie calls Rick in, and tells him that Carl needs blood. Patricia, who acts as Hershel's nurse, sticks a needle in Rick's arm. Hershel goes in to Carl's stomach and Carl screams in agony. "STOP!!! You're killing him!" Rick screams, as Shane holds down Carl and Hershel pulls a bullet fragment out from his wound, before Carl passes out from the pain.
Hershel states that he has removed one of the fragments, but there are still five more that are buried too deep for him to get out without putting Carl under. "If Carl moved and screamed like he did the first time when he went deeper, he'd sever an artery," Hershel explains. Rick insists that Lori has to know, but Shane stops him from leaving his son's side to search for her on his own because Carl need's more of Rick's blood. Shane tells him to have the strength of his wife, who kept a bedside vigil for Rick after he was shot months earlier. "I'll take care of the rest," Shane promises.
Hershel tells Rick that Carl will need major surgery to remove the last fragments, but that there was internal bleeding, and that they are unequipped at the farm for such a process. He claims that they need a respirator and more equipment to undergo this operation without losing Carl. Hershel explains that these materials are all from the FEMA command post that's set up at the local high school five miles from the farm.
"The place was overrun last time I saw it," says Otis, but he adds hopefully, "Maybe it's better now."
Shane's prepared to go on his own, and Rick is guilt-ridden for it, but Otis volunteers to go along to right his mistake. Patricia, his wife, tries to object, but he won't hear it. Maggie, Hershel's eldest daughter, offers to find Lori and the rest of the survivors to tell them what happened.
Rick gives Otis his colt as a secondary weapon before he leaves with Shane for the high school, thanking the man for risking his life to help save his son. Otis's only other gun is the rifle he shot Carl with, and he packs it in to the truck sheepishly as he and Shane pile into his pick-up truck. "Man, this turned in to one strange day," Shane muses.
Back at the RV, T-Dog, now delirious, tries to convince Dale that the two of them should take the RV and run, believing that the group will be quick to kill them as he sees them as the two weak links. Dale blows him off, but he realizes that T-Dog's infection is getting worse due to an intense fever and continues looking for antibiotics after making T-Dog take some ibuprofen he found to "knock the fever down".
About 100 yards from the highway on their way back from searching for Sophia, Andrea is attacked by a walker. The group rushes back to help her, but the walker has her pinned to the ground. She's terrified, and she wonders if this is it. A horse gallops out of the bush and Maggie, baseball bat in hand, knocks the walker off Andrea before any damage is done.
Maggie tells Lori that Carl was shot and tells her to get on the horse, giving the rest of the group directions to Greene Farm. Glenn looks on dumbfounded. Daryl tries to object to her leaving with a stranger, but Lori, stunned by the news, doesn't question it. She jumps on the back of the horse and heads towards the farmhouse with Maggie, after which the walker sits up and Daryl, before shooting says 'shut up'.
Rick admires Hershel's picturesque farm, which Hershel says has been in his family for 160 years. Hershel tries to reassure Rick that the virus is a temporary thing and that a cure will be found, but Rick tries to tell him it's a lot worse than he thinks. Maggie and Lori are seen galloping on the horse towards the house. Lori arrives at the house, and breaks down when she sees Carl lying passed out in bed with gauze to cover his wound.
After Rick gives his second blood transfusion, Hershel hands him a glass of orange juice, and assures him and Lori that he'll have a far better chance of saving Carl if Shane and Otis get back from the high school with the proper equipment. He tells them that he's done the surgery before, but he informs them he's a veterinarian, not a doctor. Lori struggles to accept that this is the best care available for her son, but Rick reminds her that shopping around is not an option.
Back at the highway, Andrea won't speak to Dale, who heard her screams in the forest. He's stunned to find out Carl's been shot, but he tells Glenn to take T-Dog to Hershel's farm for medical treatment on his arm while the others stay behind to wait for Sophia. They decide to rig a sign for Sophia in the morning before they all move to the farm. Daryl, hearing how badly in need of antibiotics T-dog is, gives him a selection of antibiotics from his brother Merle's stash of drugs, which he left behind at the campsite after cutting off his own hand in Atlanta and fleeing. "Why'd you wait 'til now to say anything?" Daryl asks, tossing him a bottle of doxycycline.
Shane and Otis arrive at the high school at dusk. They discover that it is still overrun by walkers. They formulate a plan to cross the parking lot and get to the now abandoned FEMA trailer. Shane pops the trunk of an abandoned police cruiser and finds a set of flares. He sets them off, distracting the walkers and enabling them to reach the trailer unharmed.
Hershel warns Rick and Lori that Carl's blood pressure keeps dropping, and soon they'll have to decide whether or not to do the surgery without the anesthetic, which has a higher chance of killing him, but he also says that he will die without the surgery. Rick wants to go after Shane and Otis, but Lori commands him to stay for her and Carl's sake.
After successfully collecting the necessary equipment from the trailer, Shane and Otis are quickly overrun. They lock themselves inside the school by placing a cotter pin in a sliding gate, which is being shaken loose by an overbearing herd trying to make its way inside.
- Jane McNeill as Patricia
- Kelley Davis as Paula
- James Allen McCune as Jimmy
- Deja Dee as Mom 1
- Amy Cain as Mom 2
- First appearance of the Greene Family Farm.
- First appearance of Otis.
- First appearance of Maggie Greene.
- First appearance of Hershel Greene.
- First appearance of Beth Greene.
- First appearance of Patricia.
- First appearance of Jimmy.
- First appearance of Nelly.
- First appearance of Callaway. (Zombified)
- First appearance of Josephine Greene. (Photograph)
- First (and last) appearance of Paula. (Flashback)
- Last appearance of Lambert Kendal. (Flashback)
- Last appearance of Leon Basset. (Flashback)
- The title of the episode, "Bloodletting", refers to Carl losing blood at a rapid rate and the future of the group hingering on whether or not he survives.
- Rick and Carl share the same blood type (A Positive), which is a very common type, found in about one person in every three. The circumstances strongly imply that Shane's blood type is something else, and likely not O Positive either, since the possibility of having Shane as a secondary donor is not even raised. It is reasonable to assume that Shane and Rick are well aware of each other's blood type, since they worked together in police duty often before the undead apocalypse. The fact that no one else at the farmhouse is used to donate blood to Carl suggests that they are also incompatible.
- The crystal meth found in Merle's stash of drugs is the same color as the meth produced by Walter White in the AMC TV Series, Breaking Bad, which has spurred a few fan theories that the Breaking Bad and Walking Dead universe is the same, and that Jesse Pinkman was Merle's dealer.
- A support to this is that in Season 4, Daryl mentions that a "scrawny white guy who said 'i'm gonna kill you bitch'" was giving the meth to Merle.
- T-Dog's real name is revealed to be "Theodore Douglas".
- This episode features one of the few instances where the world before the apocalypse is shown, with the others being "Days Gone Bye", "After" and "Wrath".
- Rick arriving at Hershel's farm carrying an injured Carl is adapted from Issue 10.
- Hershel helping the injured Carl is adapted from Issue 10.
- Maggie informing Lori of Carl's accident is adapted from a similar scene in Issue 10, where Tyreese informs her instead.
- Andrea being attacked by a walker in the woods is adapted from a similar scene in Issue 8, where Dale is scared by a frozen walker instead.
- Lori arriving at the farm and hugging Rick is adapted from Issue 10.
- When Glenn, Dale, Andrea, Daryl and Carol are back together discussing the situation, the plot suggests the time of day is nearing dusk, about 7:00 or 7:30 pm, but Daryl's shadow is short, suggesting the sun is still high, enough for the time to be around 3:00 pm.
- Kevin Fitzpatrick, The Walking Dead 2.01 "Bloodletting" Comic-to-TV Comparison, (October 23, 2011)