"Chupacabra" is the fifth episode of the second season of AMC's The Walking Dead. It is the eleventh episode of the series overall. It premiered on November 13, 2011. It was written by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick and directed by Guy Ferland.
Shortly after the outbreak, Shane, Lori, and Carl are stuck in traffic on a highway leading in to Atlanta. While Shane listens for broadcasts on his car radio, Lori and Carl become acquainted with Carol, her daughter Sophia, and her husband Ed. Helicopters loom overhead. When Carl says he's hungry, Carol offers him food from Ed's stash of military-style survival gear. But Ed shuts her down, and won't let her share their supply with strangers.
Lori joins Shane at their car, and he tells her the emergency broadcasts about the refugee center in the city have stopped. They leave Carl with Carol and Sophia as a fight breaks out among a few survivors on the highway, and military gunships zoom overhead. They walk ahead in search of someone who might know what's going on, but they watch from the side of the mountain, as the aircraft deploy napalm charges over skyscrapers in the streets of Atlanta as a part of Operation Cobalt. Terrified, Shane and Lori grab onto one another for comfort.
At the farm, Lori wakes up late inside her tent, instantly feeling guilty about it. Carol has already started the chores and suggests she must have needed the sleep, but Lori says nothing when Carol asks if she's feeling alright.
Carol asks Lori if she'd help her prepare the evening meal for Hershel and his family to thank them for taking in the survivors. It's something else to keep her mind occupied with Sophia still missing, she admits, before asking if Lori could be the one to ask for permission to cook the family dinner. "You're Rick's wife. Sorta makes you our unofficial First Lady," she reasons, and Lori looks back at her, speechless.
Meanwhile, Rick is preparing the search grid with Shane, Daryl Dixon, Andrea, and T-Dog. Teenage Jimmy, the boyfriend of Hershel's youngest daughter Beth, offers to search with them because he says he knows the area well, saying that Hershel said it was okay. But he doesn't have a gun, and Shane says he'll be useless until he joins the group for gun training, so Andrea offers for him to go with her and T-Dog. Daryl plans to set out on horseback alone to look for Sophia, believing he can spot her better from the ridge.
T-Dog jokes that today might be the day that Daryl will see his chupacabra, and while Jimmy chokes down a laugh, Dale fills Rick in on the time Daryl said he saw a chupacabra - one of the first stories about himself that he revealed to the Atlanta survivors. "You believe in a bloodsucking dog?" Rick asks, and Daryl shoots back, "Do you believe in dead people walking around?"
Glenn and Maggie discuss what happened at the pharmacy. Maggie admits that she's not even sure that she likes him, and Glenn says back, as suggestively as he's capable of, "But you're thinking about it? You should." Maggie stifles a laugh and walks off.
While they search the woods for Sophia, Rick and Shane discuss Shane's conquests in high school, joking that Rick lives vicariously through him. But Shane doesn't like talking about the past: "It's like we're old folk," he cracks. "All the people in our stories are all dead."
When Shane adds that nostalgia is dangerous because it keeps people from knowing when to move on, Rick knows him well enough to know that he's talking about the search for Sophia.
Shane challenges Rick about his decisions to always try to help others when they should be focused purely on survival. He reminds Rick that everything they know about missing children from their time on the force has told them that they're looking for a body after 72 hours, and that was before the dead came back to life. "Sophia, alive or dead, only matters to the degree in which she doesn't drag the rest of us down," he says, reminding him that Carl almost died, and Otis did die, as they accidentally wander into Andrea and T-Dog's search grid on their fruitless search.
Daryl is riding one of Hershel's horses through the woods when he spots something by the water. He parks the horse and climbs down, finding Sophia's doll, tattered and wet, against a log. He calls Sophia's name, to no avail.
Taking the doll with him, he gets back on the horse and continues through the woods, but the horse is spooked by a snake in the grass, and throws Daryl before it runs off.
Out of control, he tumbles down the tree-covered ridge, landing hard in the shallow, rocky water, with one of this arrows, which had been slung around his back, pierced through his torso. He rips off his shirtsleeves to keep the arrow in place, before he uses a stick to find his crossbow in the chest-deep murky water. He climbs back up the steep ridge, using the stick and pushing himself up in his weakened state. He tries to will himself up the ridge, but loses his grip and tumbles backwards toward the pond.
At the farm, Glenn corners Lori at the tents and confirms she's pregnant. She begs him not to tell anyone. Glenn is stunned that she hasn't told Rick yet, but he disappears as Rick and Shane return from the woods without Sophia. Taking one look at them, she knows that something's wrong.
Rick tells Lori that Shane wants to call off the search, and that he thinks Rick's good intentions are making the group weaker. But Lori assures him that if it was Carl, she would want to know either way, insisting that there's nothing soft about the choices he has to make in their new world. Beth interrupts them to tell Rick that her father, Hershel, wants to speak with him.
Rick finds Hershel by the generator, and he informs Rick that Daryl took one of his horses, Nervous Nellie, without consent, and Rick informs him that he took Jimmy at his word when he said that Hershel was fine with him going out into the woods that day - but Hershel hadn't consented to that, either. Rick concedes that they need to work on their communication, and Hershel requests he keep it simple: "I'll control my people, you control yours."
Bloody and bruised, Daryl wakes up at the bottom of the ridge, and his brother, Merle Dixon, looms over him, telling him he's wasting his time looking for a little girl, but not looking for his brother. Daryl tells Merle that he and Rick went back to Atlanta for him, but he was gone, and Merle can't believe he's talking about the same Rick who made him cut off his own hand.
In his groggy state, Daryl notices that Merle's right hand, which was last seen inside Glenn's backpack in "Vatos", is firmly attached to Merle's right arm, confirming to Daryl that this is, in fact, a hallucination. Merle assures Daryl that no one in Rick's group will ever care for him like he does; they're not his blood. "You go back there and shoot your pal Rick in the face for me," he tells him, yelling at him to get up and threatening to otherwise kick his teeth in.
But Merle isn't kicking Daryl, and his hallucination melts away to reveal a walker grabbing at his feet, and his head clears just in time to kick the walker off him, finding his stick and bashing the walker over the head. A second walker emerges from the brush, and Daryl manages to remove his one remaining arrow from his wounded torso, and load his crossbow, just before the walker descends on him.
He leaves the ridge agreeing with everything his brother said in his hallucination. He cuts off the ears of the dead walkers and makes them into a necklace before resuming his climb, only to be taunted by Merle again as he closes in on the top of the ridge. The taunts help Daryl to make it to the top, having pushed him forward and fed his anger. When Merle tells him that he was the only one who looked after his "worthless ass", Daryl spits back, "You talk a big game, but you was never there. You ain't here, now; some things never change."
"I'm as real as your chupacabra," Merle charges, challenging him to make it to the top and kick his ass for insulting his belief in what he saw. "Come on, little brother," Merle taunts. "Grab your friend Rick's hand."
It's the last thing he says before Daryl makes it to the top of the ridge, his vision of Merle disappearing. "Yeah, you better run!" Daryl shouts, catching his breath.
Lori, Carol, Beth, and Patricia work to cook dinner in the farmhouse kitchen. Carol says she never thought she'd be so happy to see a potato peeler, while Lori notes she's just thrilled not to be roasting squirrels over a fire again tonight. But their presence in the kitchen irritates Hershel.
He tells Maggie, who's setting the table, that he thinks they need to set clear boundaries with Rick's people, and she says she doesn't understand why it's a problem. "It's just dinner," she shrugs. Disconcerted, he asks about "the Asian boy". She tells him Glenn's a friend, and he asks her not to make him chase her around like he does with Beth and Jimmy. She replies that she's not 16, and he doesn't need to chase her around. He tells her not to get close to him, reminding her that the survivors won't be around forever.
Andrea's taking perch above the RV, brandishing a rifle and watching over the farm. Dale teases her about her "Annie Oakley routine" but she blows him off. "I don't want to wash clothes anymore, Dale. I want to help keep the camp safe. Is that alright with you?"
Disappointed by another misjudged moment with Andrea, Dale heads inside the RV, where he finds Glenn returning one of his books. Glenn asks if Dale thinks Andrea's on her period, as Dale tries to make him keep his voice down. Glenn tells him that all the women are acting weird around camp, and that he read somewhere once that when women spend a lot of time together, their cycles line up. Dale gets him off the subject, forcing him to back up. "Who else is acting weird?" he asks.
"Maggie," Glenn replies, adding, "And I don't even want to know what's going on with Lori."
When Dale asks about Lori, Glenn backtracks, but opens up to Dale that he and Maggie had sex, but now she doesn't even want to talk to him. Dale gives him a hard time for not thinking it through because Maggie's father is their host, but Glenn says he did it because he thought he could be dead tomorrow, and Dale backs off. But a disappointed Glenn leaves the RV, and Andrea spots a lone walker emerging from the woods. She peers through a pair of binoculars, the sun's reflection beaming off the glass, and announces, "I bet I can nail him from here!"
Rick orders her to put the gun down, and Shane tells Andrea, "You best let us handle this." Rick tells the group that Hershel wants to deal with walkers on his land but Shane, T-Dog, and Glenn grab weapons and run towards the woods. Rick follows, brandishing his gun, but when the men come upon the supposed walker, they realize that it's Daryl, covered in dirt and blood. Dale begs Andrea not to shoot, but she tells him tersely to back off.
Staring down the men, Daryl spits at Rick, "That's the third time you pointed that thing at my head. You gonna pull the trigger or what?" Rick lowers his gun but Andrea takes her shot from the top of the RV, hitting Daryl in the head. Rick screams in horror and Andrea's face falls.
Lori, Carol, and Hershel's family run screaming from the farmhouse and the sound of the gunshot, demanding to know what's going on. "I was kidding," Daryl mutters before he passes out after the shot, the bullet having grazed his temple. Dale and Andrea run towards the men in the field, and Andrea's pleading that Daryl's not dead. Rick and Shane carry Daryl back towards the house, and Glenn points out that Daryl's wearing ears. Rick stuffs the necklace in his pocket and tells the group to keep that to themselves.
T-Dog finds Sophia's doll among Daryl's things, and the group looks on. Rick doesn't know for sure if this is a sign of hope or rejection.
Inside the farmhouse, Rick questions Daryl about the doll while Hershel tends to his wounds and comments that he never thought they would go through the antibiotics so quickly. He's still annoyed that Daryl took his horse, which is now missing. "She must have dropped it crossing the creek somewhere," Daryl reasons, cutting their search grid in half and giving Rick hope. Shane, though, thinks that the doll is no sign that Sophia's still alive, but Rick doesn't want to hear it.
Lori hears them, and when Rick walks off, Shane defends himself to her. "I'm not out to be a hard case. Just being realistic. He's gotta start making the tough calls."
Lori says she may not agree with all of Rick's choices, but she respects his choices more than she does either of theirs. Shane says that all he cares about now are her and Carl, so he doesn't care if he's not thinking about the needs of others, even if it means abandoning a lost child. Disgusted, Lori stalks off after telling him, "My son and I are not your problem anymore. Or your excuse."
Andrea's despondent on the front porch steps and Dale comes to sit with her. "Don't be too hard on yourself," he tells her, "We've all wanted to shoot Daryl." She raises a smile at him for the first time close to a week.
That evening as Carl sleeps, recovering from his injuries, Lori sits alone at his bedside, tearfully wondering what she's going to do about her pregnancy. Carol enters the room to tell her dinner's ready, not at all surprised to find her crying in the world they live in. She doesn't pry, and Lori wipes away her tears and heads down for dinner.
The two groups sit down to a silent, awkward dinner, and Glenn tries to cut the tension asking if anyone knows how to play guitar because of the one Dale found at the traffic snarl. "Otis did," Patricia says softly, and the silence drones on.
Glenn is sitting at the "kids'" table with Beth, Jimmy, and Maggie, and Maggie passes him a note under the table. "Tonight where?" it reads, and he looks up, smiling at her. He excitedly scrawls something on the paper, which can be heard throughout the dining room as no one says a word to one another. Hershel and Dale look on disapprovingly.
Carol brings a plate of food up to Daryl, and thanks him for what he did looking for Sophia, kissing his bandaged head. Daryl rebuffs her, telling her to watch out for his stitches and turning to face the window. "You did more for my little girl today than her own daddy ever did for her in his whole life," she says, and he shrugs it off, saying he didn't do anything Rick or Shane wouldn't have done. "I know," Carol says. "You're every bit as good as them."
Beth and Maggie are cleaning dishes after dinner, and Maggie sneaks away to read Glenn's note. "Ever done it in a hayloft?" it says, and Maggie's eyes go wide. Glenn is at the barn with a flashlight and a sleeping bag, finding the barn door chained and padlocked. He walks around the barn and finds a ladder into the hayloft, while Maggie runs desperately towards the barn.
Once inside the barn, Glenn catches a whiff of a rancid smell, and shines his flashlight towards the barn floor when he hears the familiar growls. There are dozens of walkers below, reaching up for him hungrily. He runs fearfully for the door and right into Maggie, who says regretfully, "You weren't supposed to see this."
- Tony Gowell as Arnold Greene
- Blade as Nelly
- Matthew Lyda as Creek Bed Walker
- Chance Bartels as Atlanta Evacuee
- John Ridings as Atlanta Evacuee
- 1 squirrel
- First appearance of Arnold Greene. (Zombified)
- Last appearance of Ed Peletier. (Flashback)
- The title of the episode, "Chupacabra", refers to the fact that on his first night in the camp outside of Atlanta, Daryl claims he once saw a chupacabra while squirrel hunting.
- It also refers to the chupacabra taking the form of his abusive older brother, Merle, as a representation of his inner demons.
- When reaching the farm, Daryl comments that this is the third time Rick has pointed his gun at him. The other two were in "Tell It to the Frogs" and "Wildfire".
- Michael Rooker (Merle Dixon) appears in this episode as a hallucination, after being absent for eight episodes.
- This episode marks the first time that brothers Daryl and Merle have appeared on-screen together in the same episode, despite Merle being only a hallucination.
- Daryl sees the hallucination of Merle with his right hand still intact.
- Laurie Holden received death threats from the fans after Andrea shot Daryl in this episode. In response to this, Reedus took a picture with Holden and posted it on his Instagram, telling the fans that he is okay.
- Although not mentioned by name, this is the first on-screen appearance of Operation Cobalt in canon. It is later explained and given its name on the Fear the Walking Dead episode titled "Cobalt".
- Lori and Shane watching as Atlanta is bombed in a flashback is adapted from a similar scene in Issue 7, where they find it abandoned instead.
- Hershel confronting Maggie about her feelings for Glenn is adapted from a similar scene in Issue 12, where Hershel discovers them in her bedroom instead.
- The whole group enjoying dinner on the Greene house is adapted from Issue 11.
- Glenn discovering the barn full of walkers is adapted from a similar scene in Issue 11, where Hershel confesses it to Rick instead.
- When Daryl dismounts the horse to get the doll, his crossbow is not loaded with a bolt. But when he gets down in the creek, the crossbow is loaded. Then when mounting the horse, the crossbow is no longer loaded again.
- When Daryl is hallucinating about seeing his brother, his face and mouth are clean at first, but then really dirty again, every other time the camera switches back to the close-up of his face.
- The highway and steep hill from which Shane and Lori watch the bombing of Atlanta does not exist in real life.
- Kevin Fitzpatrick, The Walking Dead 2.05 "Chupacabra" Comic-to-TV Comparison, (November, 2011).