Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Walking Dead Season 4, Episode 9: After

The Walking Dead's back, after a two month (or more) absence. I know I've said it before, but I hate these mid season breaks that have now become the norm on TV. They're disruptive and throw a monkey wrench into any momentum the storyline may have had. 


• This week we get a character building episode as we focus on Carl, and a bit on Michonne. What's that you say? Another slow-burning character building episode? Don't worry, this one is way better than those two from last year that focused solely on the Governor.

Many fans are saying they thought this episode was boring. They must have been watching a different show, because I thought it was anything but. Yes, it had a slower pace than the previous episode, but that's a good thing in my book. For Pete's sake, every episode can't be an epic season-ending cliffhanger.

• I was glad to see Michonne put Hershel to rest. Back in December I thought about his poor old decapitated head just lying there on the ground, so kudos to the writers for remembering and dealing with it. Even if it was heart-wrenching.

• We get to see Michonne make herself a new set of "pets" to serve as zombie repellant. 

One thing I don't get about her various pet walkers: why are they always so docile? These two were very aggressively pursuing her until she immobilized them and cut off their arms and jaws. After that they were both as gentle and passive as lambs. They didn't even move until she tugged at their leashes.

So why did they instantly become domesticated? Is there a tiny part of their walker brains that realizes they've been "neutered" so to speak, and they give up trying to eat her?

• This week's episode (like the one before it) stuck very close to the comic book, especially the Rick and Carl storyline. Parts of it were almost frame by frame recreations. That's both good and bad. Good in that it's cool to see the comic book come to life, but bad in that I like not knowing what's going to happen.

• So what happened to Rick? He was in pretty bad shape in this episode, as he was limping, holding his side and barely able to breathe. I don't remember him being that bad off in the previous episode. Is my memory just faulty (a very real possibility!) or did something awful happen to him off screen?

• When Carl curses, Rick tells him to watch his mouth (much to Carl's astonishment). It was a nice little moment, and spoke volumes about this world. Rick still remembers when there was such a thing as society and civilization, and is doing his best to preserve that. Carl's spent the majority of his life in this hellish new world, and has no use for such artificial constructs such as manners.

• Rick and Carl sure found food awfully easy in those abandoned houses. In past episodes whenever they've gone on supply runs things have been pretty much picked clean. Lucky for them no one's ever been through this neighborhood before.

They even found cereal that apparently wasn't stale. And after sitting in a house for at least three years, yet. Yay, preservatives!

• This week we finally get a bit of Michonne's back story, as she has a bizarre dream about her young son, her boyfriend Mike and his friend Terry. The dream sequence was very well done, as Mike and Terry seemingly deteriorated before her very eyes.

From this dream and other clues throughout the episode, I'm assuming Mike didn't want to raise a son in a world like this, so he killed him and then killed himself (with Terry following suit). This explains why Michonne broke down when holding baby Judith earlier in the season.

It also explains why the remnants of Mike and Terry were her original "pets," and why she told Andrea that "they got what they deserved."

• Carl's actions in this episode were reckless, but very true to life. C'mon, he's a teenager after all! Teens are supposed to think they know everything and are indestructible.

His petulant teen attitude and rant to his dad seemed pretty on the money as well.

Being in the prison for so long gave Carl a false sense of his own badassness (is that a word?). It was relatively safe to dispatch zombies when they were on the other side of the prison fence. Now he's out in the open with them, and realizes (nearly too late) that it ain't so easy now. Hopefully after losing his shoe he learned his lesson.

Speaking of losing his shoe-- I really didn't think they'd kill off Carl in this episode, but Holy Christ! I was sitting on the edge of my chair during his wrestling match with that walker. Well done, Walking Dead.

• I confess that at first I didn't understand Michonne's little zombie massacre in the woods. I finally figured it out though. She saw the walker that looked just like her (hey, that's racist!) and realized she was in danger of becoming dead inside again.

• Say, Rick, I know you were delirious and all, but next time you're injured, you might not want to crawl slowly across the floor while moaning and clutching at your son's foot. Especially when he's holding a gun.

By the way, wasn't Carl's gun empty at that point? Even if he believed his dad had turned, he couldn't have shot him. Or was he using Rick's gun?

And say, Carl, next time your dad passes out on the couch for two days straight, maybe you might want to try and find some medicine for him. Just sayin.'

• I'm glad Michonne found Rick and Carl, and even gladder that she had the presence of mind to knock on the door, lest our favorite trigger-happy teen blow her head off.

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