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*Warning: Review Contains Spoilers – Read At Will*
Tonight saw the mid-season premiere of The Walking Dead with Season 4, Episode 9, titled “After”. This episode focused on the stories of Rick, Carl, and Michonne after the cast of main characters got separated following the climax of the mid-season finale.
The series left off in early December with a lot of broken pieces to be picked up. After the riot at the prison that Rick and crew spent a season and a half making their home, all characters were scattered during the fight, and left to survive either on their own or with very few others.
The episode opens with a stunned Michonne walking through the field outside the prison, which is now in ruins, broken down and zombie-occupied. We see shots of the Governor laying dead with a bullet wound in his forehead, as well as Hershel’s decapitated head, which is infected and squirming around on the ground. Both were pretty intense shots, and I wasn’t really expecting them to show Hershel, while I figured they’d let the character rest peacefully (but in a show like this, why would they?). She then traps two zombies and turns them into her own armless, jawless puppets like she previously led in Season 3.
After the title sequence we find Carl and Rick walking aimlessly in search of a resting place. They find a vacant house and decide to settle there, tying up the door and finding scraps of food. Him and Carl begin to bicker at each other, in the midst of losing everything they worked for, including baby Judith (remember we still don’t know if the baby is dead or had been saved and taken by one of the other characters).
While Rick falls into a deep sleep after suffering from his vicious fight with the Governor in the previous episode, it gives us a chance to follow Carl up-close. He decides to wander outside, where he encounters a few Walkers that he seems to have trouble taking care of. But he does, and it shows that he can protect himself when he needs to. At one point he finds another vacant house down the road from theirs, and is attacked by a walker, causing him to lose his shoe. Carl writes in white on the door that he locked the zombie inside, that he lost his shoe but survived. It would be kind of pointless to show that and to not have it mean anything further down the line.
Meanwhile, we get this really weird but symbolic dream/flashback sequence from Michonne, involving the small group of survivors she had been apart of earlier on when the virus was starting out. We get the sense that she realizes she is inevitably a part of the whole zombie epidemic The dream sequence shows her using a cutting knife in the kitchen, and when she puts it in the knife rack, it morphs into her katana. It’s a really twisted and weird scene, but it reveals the emotional stress that Michonne is going through, and has been for a while now.
When Rick wakes up, he and Carl start to briefly bond again in the house that they found. When someone knocks at the door (not a zombie, but an actual human knock), Rick looks through the peephole, laughs, and tells Carl “It’s for you”. Who could be at the door? Is it Michonne with Carl’s shoe? Could it be any other characters who found Carl’s shoe? I guess we’ll have to wait until next week.
Overall, I thought this was a good comeback from the mid-season break. I recently heard an opinion that Dennis Tzeng from ThinkHero had, where he said that he felt the whole first half of this season could have been trimmed down and condensed into the end of Season 3. And I have to agree, I think that with the episodes mainly involving the flu, and the brief 2 or 3-episode story arc involving the Governor’s side story, that it could have happened earlier, with the prison riot ending Season 3. And after seeing tonight’s episode, I feel like this could have been a good Season 4 opener, but I’ll save my complaints for something worth complaining about.
The preview for next week showcases Daryl, Beth, Maggie and Glen, who will likely get the spotlight throughout the episode, titled “Inmates”, which will premiere next Sunday, February 16th at 9:00/10c.
What were your thoughts on the new Walking Dead episode “After”? Leave a comment or contact me with any opinions, questions or comments.
Thanks for reading guys and girls!
Written by Josh Sazin on 2/10/14