The Walking Dead “After” RecapFebruary 10, 2014
After a wait that felt entirely too long, The Walking Dead finally hit our television screens again last night, leaving us with three stunning performances from Chandler Riggs (Carl), Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes) and Danai Gurira (Michonne) as we get a deeper look into their characters. (Spoilers for season 4 episode 9: “After”)
With the Governor dead and the prison melee attracting walkers for miles around, the one-safe haven for our survivors has been ripped from them, the fight splitting the faction and leaving Rick to face his toughest challenge yet–surviving his injuries.
The only survivors we see in this episode are Rick, Carl and Michonne. The katana-wielding heroine has gathered up two more walkers, removing their arms and jaws and taking them as pets in order to get through walker hordes unharmed. She also puts a heartbreaking end to Hershel’s suffering once and for all, as his severed head has reanimated.
The episode finally delves into Michonne’s past via a nightmare where she watches her family degrade in front of her and she relives the horrible loss of her child in a scene that’s practically straight out of the comics. For those who haven’t read the comics, the connection now to her crying over taking care of Judith in an episode in the last season finally makes sense. She lived a very different life before the apocalypse hit, and now we can begin to understand a little better why she appears so cold and disconnected at times.
After what seems like a day or two of her wandering aimlessly with a walker horde, the appearance of what looks like “what could have happened” to Michonne shows up in the horde and she kills it–and about twenty other walkers in the group, including her pets. She then returns to a muddy path just outside of the prison where she first saw footsteps and proceeds to follow them, hoping that she will be reunited with members of the group she has come to care for and trust.
This is a pivotal episode not only for Chandler Riggs as Carl, but as a young actor. With Rick horribly injured in the fight with the Governor, suffering broken ribs and a wounded leg, Carl must take over the lion’s share of responsibilities while Rick falls in and out of consciousness as his battered body attempts to heal itself.
At one point, when Rick doesn’t wake up, Carl begins to shout at him, attracting walkers. In another scene right out of the comics, Carl goes outside with the intention of luring the walkers away from the place they have made their temporary home. After a tense couple of minutes where three walkers corner him, Carl is able to dispatch all of them, though promptly vomits; a likely reaction not only to the maggots pouring out of a corpses skull, but the adrenaline and possibly the idea that he could have died.
When he gets back to the home and Rick still isn’t alive, Carl shows another side to himself, and this is where his growth as a character, a boy growing into a young man in an apocalyptic world come into play. He’s angry at Rick that he couldn’t protect the ones they cared about most, including members of the group and especially Judith and his own mother. “I would be fine if you died.” He mutters, but we soon see that’s not the case.
Rick regains consciousness through the night but has all the signs of having reanimated with the slow, sluggish movements and the shallow gasps for breath. When Carl is faced with the ultimate decision to shoot his own father, he begins to sob and decides he doesn’t want to live anymore. That he can’t make it alone without his father. That’s when Rick whispers Carl’s name and collapses again. Carl cradles Rick’s head and tells him how scared he is while he cries.
The next day though, things get a little brighter as Michonne finds the home Rick and Carl are staying at. Trying not to cry as she knocks on the door, Rick peers out of the peephole and begins grinning from ear to ear.
“It’s for you.” He tells Carl.
This was an incredible episode to begin the back eight of the fourth season, with raw emotion and scenes that tug a little at your heartstrings, or make your heart race with worry that maybe, just maybe, Carl won’t get away this time. With Michonne, Rick and Carl reunited, next week it looks like the show will delve into other characters and I’m sure all fans are asking “Where’s Daryl?” How far did everyone stray from the prison and have we lost anyone on the way? The Walking Dead returns next Sunday, February 16th where we will see the introduction of three new characters.