The Walking Dead: After (4×09)
Synopsis: We pick up right where we left off before the break, at the overrun prison with Michonne, and continue to watch the changing relationship between Rick and Carl and their roles in the apocalypse.
If you don’t care about Michonne, Carl, or Rick, go ahead and close the page right now. As eager as we all are to get back into the world of The Walking Dead, this week’s episode only gives us a few of the answers we were searching for in the long break. We open not too long after the events of the last episode, with only Michonne left standing at the prison. There are reminder shots of Creepy Clara and our dear (dead) old pal, The Governor, before Michonne makes two new pets to help her move through the rest of the walkers.
Side note, why didn’t she ever teach this trick to anyone else? Or why don’t they use it? I also noticed she’s very clean. Can we get some blood splattered on her pants or something? There’s a nice gut punch of walker Hershel’s disembodied head that she has to dispatch of before she takes her leave and the credits roll.
Carl and Rick are the other two prison survivors we learn about tonight, with Carl angrily walking ahead of a limping Rick the entire time. When they get to Joe and Joe Jr.’s restaurant, they argue about the best way to clear the building, ultimately agreeing to do it together. An injured Rick struggles to axe a zombie and then yells at Carl for using a bullet to kill it. Moody teenaged Carl then makes a snide comment about winning the hunt for food. They break into an abandoned house and again argue about how to make sure it’s safe.
Proving he’s all grown up now, Carl starts shouting asshole and shitface to draw the walkers out. There are none and Rick tries in vain to continue being a strict dad and not a cool dad that lets his angsty teen curse. Carl secures the door with a knot that Shane taught him, but Rick insists on moving the couch in front of the door as well. SEE HOW HELPFUL HE WOULD HAVE BEEN? SHANE WOULD HAVE KILLED THE GOVERNOR SOONER, RICK.
Michonne finds Rick and Carl’s tracks and ignores the hell out of them in favor of walking alone in a walker herd. She also has a dream about being back with her lover, played by Aldis Hodge, and his best friend, alternatively known as her first set of pets. It’s also confirmed that she used to have a young child. She only realizes her slightly-off world is imperfect when the kid disappears and both men appear without their arms, as they did when she traveled around with them as walkers. She wakes up from the dream in a car and the real tragedy here is that we won’t get more Aldis Hodge.
In their temporary home, Carl eats his stale cereal and fails to wake Rick. His angry shouting attracts the attention of some walkers at the front door and he decides that he doesn’t need any help in dealing with them. While drawing them off, another one pops up behind him and he’s immediately out of his depth. He wastes more bullets to kill all three and ends up vomiting up his nerves. When he gets home, he tells his comatose dad about his adventure, glossing over the ‘almost killed’ parts. He vents a lot of his pent up frustrations and I really think this sequence did some justice to its comic-counterpart.
He storms back out of the house and fails to break down a door with his body weight – he’s really making use of those curse words this episode. Carl’s also doing awesome at playing walker hide-and-seek as he finds another surprisingly strong zombie in this house. In my opinion, it should have taken a big chunk out of his leg, its mouth was right there! But it only gets his boot, allowing him to leave a smug message on the door about how amazing his zombie skills are this episode. He even ends up sitting on the roof of the same house to eat his GIGANTIC CAN OF PUDDING. Did you know pudding came in bomb-shelter sized cans? I did not, but now I know what I need to add to my apocalypse stash.
Back in her herd of walkers, Michonne spots her walkelganger and gets really unnerved by it. She’s been struggling emotionally the entire episode and it all finally culminates in the killing of her walkelganger and all of its friends, including her new pets.
Rick is breathing heavily from the couch, showing some signs of life – or unlife, unfortunately. Carl has the gun out, pointed at his wheezing father, and begins crying because he’s finally realizing that he can’t do it all himself. Rick deserves a Father of the Year award for traumatizing his child like that and being stupid enough to not speak words for that long. If Carl hadn’t been fighting off the undead all day, I think he would have pulled an Andrea and gleefully shot at his father the way she shot at Daryl all those episodes ago.
When he finally recovers, Rick is showing signs of letting go of his old view of Carl, not the psychopath Carl we’re all watching him grow into. Carl admits that he ate that whole 112 ounce can of pudding and Rick admits that nothing will be the same. Again. Now that everything is gone, he is finally seeing Carl as more of a “man.”
Michonne ends up in the restaurant Carl and Rick were in, following their trail and having a talk with her dead boyfriend about survival. She finds the pudding can and then we cut to a knock on the door where Rick and Carl are staying. Rick gets up to look, laughs, and tells Carl that it’s for him. We’re not shown Michonne, but it’s heavily implied it’s her and Greg Nicotero and Danai Gurira seem to confirm it on The Talking Dead. And that’s it, roll credits.
Next week, we’ll catch up with the rest of the gang. In the previews, there’s no Judith, but does anyone still care? I’m personally hoping they just didn’t have the stomach to show a half-eaten baby. Who are you most excited about seeing? Besides Daryl, of course. Do you want to see The Governor’s girlfriend or her sister? Even more characters are slated to be introduced at some point and we’re getting Game of Thrones-level separation of the characters, so let’s start predicting the black character deaths now.