[Warning TWD Fans who haven't seen "After": spoilers ahead]
It is that time of the year again: February! Which means The Walking Dead returns after their small hiatus. After waiting 2 months for The Walking Dead to return to AMC, it returned February 9th with the episode “After”. The episode takes place after the attack on the prison by the evil Governor. It begins at the smoldering ruins of the prison with hordes of walkers bearing down on the ruined prison. There is some closure to The Governor’s story line as his body is shown with a bullet hole in the head as opposed to the mid-season finale with his death being inferred, although a zombie Governor would have been an interesting story line. Michonne is seen outside the prison observing the ruins. She lures two walkers to the gate’s spikes and gets two new zombie pets. Using her new walker camouflage, she walks among the hordes of walkers and finds a zombified Hershel’s head and stabs the head with her trusty katana. As if Hershel’s horrible death in the midseason finale episode, “Too Far Gone,” wasn’t sad enough.
The scene shifts to Carl and Rick traveling down a road with Carl walking way ahead and faster than a beaten and battered Rick. Rick tells Carl to slow down, and Carl brushes his dad off and continues walking. They stop at the Joe and Joe Jr’s BBQ Shack to stock up on some supplies only to find a walker trapped by a pile of furniture. Carl shoots the walker despite Rick’s instructions not to. They find some food there and continue on their way. Meanwhile, Michonne and her new pets happened upon the road that Carl and Rick had previously been on. She notices some footprints in the mud. Rather than follow and reunite with her friends, she decides to continue on her own, indicating that she has defaulted to her old ways of being a lone survivor. Carl and Rick happen upon a house and decide that it is as good as any for a place to crash for the night. With Carl taking the lead despite Rick’s concerns he hits the wall of the house and proceeds to use some profane language to lure any walkers out, then goes off on his own to clear the top floor. Rick is very upset at his son’s dissent. Carl finds a TV hooked up to a gaming system and uses the cable to secure the front door. Rick mentions to Carl that they need more than the knot to secure the door while pushing a couch with some difficulty towards the door. Carl snaps back at his dad stating that the knot is a strong knot and that Shane taught him, further smacking his dad in the face.
The episode shifts to a well-dressed Michonne in a nice apartment having a conversation with her lover and friend (that would later become her first pet zombies) while chopping something with a knife. They start off discussing art while the scene changes around them. Michonne’s knife becomes her katana. Her lover and friend lose their arms as depicted when they are her pets. And her son disappears from her arms. The scene is very telling of Michonne’s current state of mind. She wakes up from the dream, emotionally disturbed by it.
The episode shifts back to our favorite father/son duo. Rick is unconscious and in another coma. Carl yells to wake him attracting a few walkers. Rick is unresponsive to the threat so Carl goes outside and uses some profane language at the walkers to lure them away. A third walker that appeared behind surprises him. He barely survives the encounter and manages to kill all three. Carl then returns to the house and angrily yells at his father saying that Rick is responsible for not protecting them (them being the group, prison, Lori, and Judith). And to make the relationship bridge between Rick and Carl worse, Carl tells his father that he doesn’t need him anymore and wouldn’t care if he died, that he can survive on his own.
Dad? I don't need you anymore.
Carl storms off by himself to go on a supply run. He tries to break down a door only for the door to not budge causing him to fall down. Maybe he needs Rick after all since a door just kicked his butt. He manages to get the door open using a garden light. In the kitchen he finds more supplies and a big can of PUDDING (112 oz.). Upstairs, a walker behind a door he opens surprises him. The walker almost makes a meal out of him but instead takes his shoe. He escapes and writes on the door “WALKER INSIDE. GOT MY SHOE. DIDN’T GET ME”. He then goes up on the roof and eats the pudding he found earlier while the walker’s arm in the window is still trying to grab him to no avail. Maybe he just wants the pudding?
Michonne ends up walking in a horde of walkers. She continues walking until she notices one of them looks a lot like her. Realizing that that could be her if she gives up, she immediately kills the doppelganger, her two pets and the entire herd. She goes back to the road where she found the tracks and proceeds to follow them.
Michonne being awesome taking on a herd
Carl returns home to find Rick still unconscious. Rick starts groaning like a walker. Believing Rick has turned, Carl tries to muscle up the courage to kill him but can’t. Deep inside he realizes that he really does need his dad. Rick manages to call out Carl’s name and tell him to not go outside and stay safe. Carl is relieved that he isn’t one of the living dead. Rick passes out again. In the morning, Rick tells Carl that he is glad that he found more food and that he realizes that Carl is a man. Michonne arrives at the house and discovers the can of pudding in the street. Knocks on the door, Rick looks to see who it is and proceeds to laugh upon realizing it is Michonne stating to Carl “It’s for you”.
All and all, this episode was a good story about the aftermath of the prison attack. The lack of Daryl and the other group members was a bit disappointing. But Carl’s coming of age and Michonne going through what appeared to be post-traumatic stress syndrome were good as character arcs. However, at a few points during the show, I really wanted to smack Carl for being so rude to Rick. But the door kicking his butt was justice for me.
4.5 Puddings out of 5