Spoilers below, obviously. But if you're reading this thread, you should know that this is a spoiler-riffic discussion anyway.
Finally watched the episode last night. We like to DVR commercial-machines like TWD and anything on ABC (4 commercial breaks for a 28 minute show? Come on!).
I don't think I'm as disappointed in the episode as everyone else here seems to be. The road-trip was silly, I agree there, but I at least get the point of what they were trying to accomplish. Ham-fisted, as everything else on TWD is, but not unforgivable.
I think the second death was necessary, but how they handled it was nothing but Hostel-level torture porn. The first beating was what I was expecting; violent but not excessive. The second? That seemed to be a giant "oh, this is our most popular character? Well then we need to make this to most graphic death scene we've ever had on the show" kind of F-U to the audience. Suddenness is its own impact. When the first swing happened, my wife gasped and gave me the "holy shit" look. That's all you needed, Walking Dead producers. Then they dialed it up to 11. Went from impactful to unnecessarily excessive in the span of 15 seconds.
They seem to do that with this show though. Now, based on past seasons, we'll settle down in to the low hum of standard tension and violence, spiked by the mid-season finale being excessive again.