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  “After” the return of The Walking Dead

  !!! Warning Spoilers Contained Within !!!

Well after a long and angst ridden wait, Walking Dead was back and was not a disappointment. In the first 10mins, they pretty much summed up a good bit of the outstanding items we were left with from “Too Far Gone”.

Essentially they validated that the Governor was dead, making sure to show a prominent bullet hole in his forehead. Hershel got a final “headshot” as Michonne did the honors of sending him off, while brief, it was emotional for her. And the prison was looking more like a Walmart with all the walkers flooding in from the noise and commotion of the battle.

If you read our article “What Should We Expect”, this episode started to follow the format that was expressed. This was a Carl and Michonne focused episode, with a sprinkling of Rick thrown in there only as a catalyst for Carl. Carl’s angst, anger, and irritation with Rick are pretty heavy in the majority of the episode.

Carl and the Angry Angst

Starting off with his distancing himself from Rick to start with, and their first encounter with Jon and Jon Jr’s bar and grill (It’s interesting that the name of the place is a father and son as well), Carl was visibly trying to get Rick to see that he needed to change his view of their relationship. Over the last 2 seasons Carl has gone from “not in the house” to taking being an active member of the group in actions, but Rick has never really acknowledged that growth except in a few situations where the odds were overwhelming and it was all hands on deck. This episode tided up some of those loose ends.

Once Rick and Carl established a safe place to put for the night, Rick finally succumbs to his wounds and beatings and is out cold for what seems to be over 24hrs. During that time Carl goes about doing what he believes is needed to survive. In several of those cases he gets a taste of what he is asking for and learns it’s not all black and white. Luring away a few walkers from the house turns into a near fatal mistake as he is overwhelmed and almost bitten. The puking afterwards can almost be seen as a metaphor for acknowledging the nature of the dangers as being inhuman, but getting it out of ones system to continue to survive.

Later on Carl brings back a haul of supplies and dumps them by the still unconscious Rick. It’s hard to tell if he understands if Rick is just sleeping or if he is dying, but Carl is ignited and goes through a soliloquy that covers the last 3 years of their lives from Shane to Lori, to all whose lives were jeopardized because he didn’t see his duty through and finish off the Governor when he had a chance and other such issues and possibilities. Carl’s outpouring is pretty much complete, even adding in “I don’t care if you die or not” as he leaves the room for another foray outside.

Beginning of a Personal Journey

Meanwhile, Michonne starts off by picking up 2 of the walkers in the prison yard and making them into walker pets to ward off the attention of other walkers. She and her pets set off away from the prison untouched. This is a journey that comes in 3 parts. First her encounter with Hershel’s zombified head. She takes the time to put him out of his misery, and does so with tenderness.

As she and the pets continue on, she comes across a set of tracks in the muddy road. She looks them over, appraising them. But then decides to move on and not follow them. The first crossroad.

Later on we get view of Michonne’s past. She is making dinner for herself, her boyfriend, and a friend. It starts off with light talk, but as she is preparing what appears to be sushi or vegetables, suddenly the knife in her hand turns into the katana. In wonders her 2year old son as well. As she stands there talking with the two men holding her son, they slowly but surely start to change and degrade, the mood of the conversation gets darker and contested, until finally the two men become the original walker pets seen at her introduction in “Beside the Dying Fire”. Her son disappears as well, and she begins to scream uncontrollably waking herself up in an abandoned car.

Her next crossroad comes when a large group of walkers collect around her as she and the pets continue on. One of them is a black woman, also with braids and about the same age as her. The braided walker wavers back and forth in the group coming and going past Michonne. Michonne finally seems to have something click, and goes on a rampage slaying all the walkers, including her pets. After this she appears to complete her breakdown and then takes off determined that she will not become a walker and she has a reason to live. Back tracking her steps she returns to the road with the tracks, and takes off following them.

She soon comes across Rick and Carl’s aftermath at Jon and Jon Jr’s bar and grill, she notices the note on the table asking that someone do for the walker what they could not do. She breaks down again and gives a bit of a monolog about the camp and the incidents there. From there she continues on looking for Rick and Carl.

Angers Last Embers

Meanwhile Carl continues to rummage through houses looking for supplies. He has a close call with a walker that is locked up in one and runs out of ammunition and is nearly bitten, losing his shoe in the process. Funny, but earlier in the episode, when Carl shoots the walker in the bar and grill, Rick admonishes him to save his bullets as he may need that one shot sometime later. Carl’s biggest score is a big can of chocolate pudding. He sits on the house roof and eats the whole thing while the walker can be seen locked up in the room behind him.

After finishing the treasured pudding, he goes back to the house and Rick, and beds down for the night. In the middle of the night Rick appears to be coming out of it as a walker or possibly waking up. Carl is not sure what is going on, but pulls his gun out and is ready to defend himself. However, he breaks down and confesses that he can’t do it, he can’t kill his father, and he begs for whatever is to come to just let it happen. In this moment he also admits that he is scared and weak.

Rick calls Carl by name and then passes out again. In the morning, the two are talking as Carl fills in Rick on his activities while he was asleep. It is at this moment that Rick tells Carl that he was wrong, and that he does realize that Carl has become a man. At this point Michonne finds the house the two are in and sees them through a window, she knocks on the door as she is crying tears of joy. The episode ends with Rick looking through the peephole and telling Carl it’s for him with a big smile.

Overall I found this to be an awesome episode. It was well written, acted and filmed. I can’t really pick apart anything as being wrong or badly done. I was most happy to see that maybe, just maybe we can get past Carl’s anger and let the character develop from all that he has been through over the last 3 years. As for Rick, I think it was monumental that maybe he too is past the various hurdles placed in front of him, and develop anew. Of it all Michonne and the revelations concerning a child and her friends, was like knowing what the present was that was wrapped in front of you all along. I think that this was great and allows her to share more and develop more with Rick, Carl, and the audience overall.

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