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What Lies Ahead” is the second season premiere of the post-apocalyptic horror television series The Walking Dead. It originally aired on AMC in the United States on October 16, 2011. It was written by series developer Frank Darabont (under the pseudonym “Ardeth Bey”) and series creator Robert Kirkman, and directed by Gwyneth Horder-Payton and Ernest Dickerson. In this episode, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) leads his group toward Fort Benning, Georgia, but during an encounter with a herd of zombies, colloquially referred to as “walkers”, Sophia Peletier (Madison Lintz) goes missing, and a search group is formed.
“What Lies Ahead” was the last episode written by Darabont, who had been fired from the show in July 2011. It was first previewed at the San Diego Comic-Con on July 22, 2011. Production commenced in June 2011. Unlike the first season, most of the principal photography for “What Lies Ahead” took place outside the city limits of Atlanta, Georgia; filming took place in Smyrna and Henry County, Georgia. Before its first airing, several segments were announced and broadcast, including a six-part internet series and a live after-show hosted by Chris Hardwick.
“What Lies Ahead” was well received by television critics, who said it made a strong start to the season. Ratings were similarly positive: in the United States, it broke the record for the most-watched drama in the history of basic cable, attaining 7.3 million viewers. Worldwide, it averaged a 2.0 rating in most television markets.