The Walking Dead - S04-E09 - "After"

The Walking Dead
Season Four, Episode Nine.

"Avon calling"



Welcome back everyone!!

Before Blair kicks off our review I'll premise this by saying that I had to go back and watch the last 10 minutes of the last episode to remind myself as to how the group was scattered. So to recap; Obviously Rick and Carl left together, slunking off to the woods after finding a bloody Judith car seat. Michonne disappeared after taking out the Govenor and saving a pummeled Rick. A still recovering Glenn is on the bus with the rest of the Woodbury refugees. Maggie, Sasha and a shot Bob, watched the bus leave and left in the direction it went. Tyresse was rescued by the two younger girls. I'm still sticking with my assumption from our last review that they also have the two boys and Judith. Leaving tank-buster Daryl and Beth fending for themselves.

When the copyright expires on Jack Kerouac’s On the Road (the internet tells me 2053) and it becomes public domain, someone should do what they did with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters and mash it up with some zombies (Zombies On the Road?). Maybe a zombie apocalypse would teach those irresponsible beatniks douchebags a lesson. The characters on The Walking Dead have already been taught countless lessons (“Save the last bullet”, “Never trust a guy with an eyepatch”, etc.) so they don’t need that but I do feel like the back half of this season is going to have a bit of an On the Road vibe to it. Maybe not exactly the same, as it won’t have that frantic restlessness (the opposite, probably) but it will have the search to connect with people and find meaning in life. I could be a bit off here as I was so annoyed while reading On the Road, I’ve forgotten a lot of it.

Remember how it became a running joke in season two that Carl kept disappearing? Now, he’s still wandering off by himself but proves to be a lot more capable (although not quite as capable as he imagines himself to be judging by a couple close calls). This episode put Carl front and center and I’ll be damned if it worked. Chandler Riggs has grown as an actor and the writers have given Carl a little more depth so following the moody young teen around isn’t as annoying as you would imagine. Rick sits most of this one out, looking pretty pulverized (“Cut me, Mick!”) and catatonic on the couch. We do, however, get the best glimpse yet into Michonne’s backstory. As you probably know, I was pumped. Her dream that slowly devolved into a nightmare was well executed and it told us that she had a lover and a child in her past life. We also later learn, in her soliloquy at Joe Jr’s BBQ Shack, that it was her lover that made a poor decision (maybe he killed himself and the baby?) that still haunts her. I hope we learn more about her life before the fall.

I think one of the main reasons this episode works so well is the lack of dialogue. I think I’ve said this before: when it comes to dialogue on this show, less is more. I would actually be pretty excited if The Walking Dead tried to do a completely silent episode. In a show like this where motivations and actions can be fairly ambiguous, let the audience do a little brainwork to try and figure out what the characters might be thinking, rather than spell it out for us. We get quite a while to try to figure out what exactly is up Carl’s butt before he not so subtly shouts it at his unresponsive father. While that falls into breaking the “Show, Don’t Tell” rule, it doesn’t exactly ring false as that would probably be the most likely time Carl would choose to yell at Rick, knowing he wasn’t going to get any rebuttal. I’m optimistic that by splitting everyone into small groups, we’ll get some interesting, more focused character studies.

Finally, how great was the final scene with Michonne finding Rick and Carl? For a second I was worried she was going to choose to be alone and walk off. So I was extra happy when she knocked on the door. Rick’s laughter and his “It’s for you” line was a moment of warmth that we don’t often get on this show. It was very welcome amidst all the bleakness.

Knock, knock, Steve.

Watching Michonne wander around in the after math made me a bit uneasy. I thought she was going to collapse and give up and that would be the end of it. However she remains a fighter and carries on through the mess. Stopping to adopt some new pets and to give Herschel a hero's death. I was afraid that she was going to continue on solo when she first passes the footprints and decides not to track them. I figured she thought she was just as safe on her own with her new pets and didn't need anyone. After her flashback, which I was mighty impressed with, I had the feeling she needed to be with not just people she knew, but people in general.

Back to the flashback. The progresion it took was fantastic. You find out about her family, child included (called it last year, that was the reason she broke down when she held Judith) and a glimpse into her life, she clearly had a good life, a penthouse suite with that kind of view doesn't come cheap. The progression of time, not just through the decay of her "lover" and best friend but also the view outside their window was great. It showed how the world around her crumbled into nothing but she was left in tact. We find out later that she isn't holding up as well as she thought.

I hated Carl at the start of this episode. He was being moody and rude and not waiting for or helping his dad. Now I am a firm believer in the whole "You fall behind, you get left behind" zombie rule, but there was no reason not to help Rick here, there was no present danger, no need to rush, no reason not to. My feelings turned, just as Carl's feeling changed as the episode progressed. The scenes with Carl in the bedroom were a good reminder of how much he has actually grown up, he would have had a room pretty similar to that one. Great juxtaposing with a grown, filthy Carl, sitting in a bright, fun kids room eating corn flakes. I did however get especially pissed when he mentioned learning the knot from Shane, I'm surprised Rick didn't blow his head clean off at that comment. I'm glad they have worked out their problems (read as Carl came back with tail between legs)

I have a list of things Carl will need to learn before I think he'll be able to survive with out Rick.
        - Ammo control/discipline; obviously he relies more on a gun than a grown adult as he doesn't have the reach but he was firing off his gun willy nilly. It's debateable if Rick would have been able to handle Joe, so I'll give him that one. After he missed the 3 shots on the walker in the house I started counting, 1 round for Joe, 4(?) rounds for the three on the street...Carl, you're running out of ammo! Sure enough..."Always Save the last Bullet"
        - Spacial awareness; That third walker on the street should never have caught him off guard. If you walk around a corner you check all directions, everytime, twice. If a door is closed tight, knock first. Every closed door they have ever opened has had a walker locked inside. Make a noise, wait for a response, then act.
        - This one has nothing to do with zombies; Don't eat 120 oz of chocolate pudding in one sitting. Ever. That's really just a good life lesson.
        - Don't sleep next to a potentially dying/dead person who could turn at any moment; just don't.

- Rickonne Watch: After the subtle hints early in the season, I still think Rick and Michonne are going to develop a relationship. ROMANCE, BABY!
- It looks like each episode will focus on a few of the characters at a time, rather than jumping around to every single person. They should change the opening credits to Game of Thrones style, highlighting the locations featured that episode.
- Great moment with Carl getting excited about the big TV and video games before snapping out of it and grabbing the cord to use as rope. Heartbreaking.
- Still waiting to see if Judith survived and if I have to stop watching this show or not.
- I think the Rickonne might happen, she will nurse Rick back to health, they'll get close, Carl will wonder off, they'll have alone time. It's inevitable.
- I'm curious about the kids and if I'm right about Ty having all 5 of them.
- Daryl & Beth will be an interesting dynamic

Blair’s Episode MVP: Carl
Blair’s Episode Grade: A-
Blair’s Deadpool Pick: Beth
Steve’s Episode MVP: Carl
Steve’s Episode Grade: 87
Steve’s Deadpool Pick: Glenn