1. We don't know yet. It is supposed to be revealed this season.
2. That first scene actually took place after Rick woke up from his coma and he was on the road to Atlanta to look for his family and/or a safe haven.
For me I find I look forward to watching it as much as I did Lost. It is a good show. But you can't really compare it to Lost. This is pretty straight forward I think and not really a series with a mythology. I don't go looking up clues about it like I did with Lost. Was it a Hot Pocket or a Burrito? ;)
However many of the characters could fit Lost-like character shoes. Obvious one being Daryl=Sawyer. Nick names are coming!