The Walking Dead mid-season premiere aired last night, and ‘After’ offered fans a chance to see what Rick, Carl, and Michonne have been up to since the explosive events featured in ‘Too Far Gone.’ Rick is damn near a walker himself thanks to the beating he received by the Governor, Carl seems to be going through puberty – violently, and Michonne finally gets back to doing what she does best – slicing and dicing zombie flesh.
(Please note that this post contains SPOILERS)
Rick the Walker and Carl the Alpha Son
After a brief scene starring Michonne (poor Hershel) ‘After’ transitions to Rick and Carl who are now on their own after the battle of the prison camp. Rick is half dead, and looks more like a walker than the former leader of his merry band of zombie apocalypse followers. Carl is pissed as usual at his old man and doesn’t heed his calls to slow his walking pace so Rick’s gimpy ass can keep up. There’s clear tension between these two yet again, namely because Carl feels like his Dad let him and the prison camp down by being a farmer and not a strong leader, as well as blaming him for losing Judith in the skirmish. At this point Rick is in such bad shape that he has no power to spar with his son over the topic of what makes a man a man.
The troubled family makes their way to an abandoned house for food and supplies, and so Rick can try to rest his battered body. Rick tries to clear the house on his own, but is quickly scolded by Carl for not trusting him to be a man and help him clear out any lingering zombies. Carl begins to taunt his Dad by screaming and banging on the walls to draw any walkers their way, and also to prove that his Dad is being too overprotective. The two continue to go back and forth over how to handle the security of their new safe house with Carl bringing up Shane in the process to really dig at his Dad’s heart.
While Rick is passed out Carl goes in search of more food and supplies to prove to himself and his Dad that he’s a badass. He eventually has a run in with a particularly nasty group of walkers that nearly costs him his life, but he escapes with only a lost shoe. When he returns he’s a bit shaken by his close call and continues to watch over his comatose Father. At one point Rick’s moans and actions cause Carl to think he’s dead and reanimating as a walker, so he pulls up his pistol to end him, but breaks down in tears. Rick comes to and the both of them have a tender moment.
Michonne and Her Sword
While Rick and Carl are doing their thing Michonne is left on her own with nothing but her trusty katana. She’s visibly downtrodden and is seemingly ready to return to her nomadic life at the onset of ‘After.’ She even chops up some walkers and puts leashes on them just like she did prior to meeting the prison camp gang in season 3. With her two walkers in tow she begins to wander aimlessly through the area surrounding the prison.
During her travels she has a dream about her life prior to the zombie outbreak, and before you know it she’s dreaming of armless relatives and bloody babies. After the dream she begins to walk with a horde of walkers as if she were already one herself. Upon seeing a walker that reminded her of her past she goes postal and slices the heads off of at least 20 walkers. Michonne is back!
‘After’ is most definitely a more personal episode than ‘Too far Gone.’ Its main focus was on the relationship between Rick and Carl, as well as where Michonne’s head is at after the prison debacle. It’s clear that Rick and his son still have many issues to work out between themselves, especially Carl, who is starting to let his testosterone rule his decision making processes. All humans go through puberty and tend to become a little bitchy, but thanks to the world Carl has lived in his coming out party as a man has been explosive.
Carl wants to blame Rick for all of the world’s problems as most children tend to do when tragedy strikes their family. It was hard to not feel bad for Rick when Carl was screaming at his seemingly dead body about all of his failures in life. Carl thinks that he doesn’t need Rick, so he lets him have it, and to prove it to himself he strikes out on his own. Through a few close calls with walkers Carl begins to realize that he really does need his Dad, but at the same time he also starts to realize that he actually can protect himself with a bunch of luck and a little zombie killing know-how. This revelation will surely have an effect on how Carl behaves for the rest of season 4 and beyond.
The Michonne-centric segments in ‘After’ offered a similar tone to what Rick and Carl were facing, but her ordeal was more focused on the feeling of being alone than being in control. At times it seemed that she was resigned to the fact that she was back to being a sword wielding nomad walking amongst the living dead as if she were a walker herself. Michonne seemed like she was giving up in her own way, because we all know that she would never willingly succumb to becoming walker grub.
After spotting a walker that reminded her of her past something came alive in Michonne. She became the katana wielding badass that long time fans of the comic series wanted her to be. Watching her slice and dice her way through a mass of walkers was both a visual treat, and reaffirmation that Michonne isn’t ready to give up on her new friends quite yet. This sentiment was sealed when she finally met up with Rick and Carl, and the episode ending with Rick letting Carl know that the knock at the door was for him. Carl’s got his badass, dread sporting, walker killing machine back!
Life is good, for now…
[schema type=”review” name=”The Walking Dead ‘After’ | Review Summary” description=”The Awesome: Michonne’s katana, 112oz. of pudding | The Not so Awesome: Carl’s attitude, Rick’s health” rev_name=”The Walking Dead ‘After'” rev_body=”‘After’ picks up where the mid-season finale left off, but it offers a more personal tale than the explosive finale. Rick and Carl deal with some father/son issues, while Michonne figures out a way to reawaken her love of walker killing. It wasn’t the most exciting episode of The Walking Dead, but it still packed plenty of action and at least one big scare to make it a worthy addition to the series.” author=”Matt Heywood” pubdate=”2014-02-10″ user_review=”8″ min_review=”0″ max_review=”10″ ]
Catch a sneak peek at next week’s episode title ‘Inmates’
Go Inside ‘After’ with Two New Behind the Scenes Videos
Photos by Gene Page/AMC