The Walking Dead: After

Rick: “It’s for you.”

The mid-season premiere is a slow, deep exploration of some of the main characters of our little group. It looks like it will take the whole second half of the season to find out what happened to everyone and bring people back together, if they even manage to do that. But I’m happy with that if we get this kind of personal exploration of characters. And this week it was the Carl and Michonne show. I’m hoping we also get the Maggie, Glenn, Beth, Daryl and Carol shows eventually.

Rick is badly injured and he and Carl are trying to find supplies and somewhere safe to hide for now. The juxtaposition of then and now is evident throughout the episode. Carl is behaving like a typical adolescent - sullen, angry, not listening to his father. This is interesting considering what he has just been through. The bravado he shows while his father lies in a coma also reminded me of many adolescent males I’ve known. Underneath is fear and a need to prove yourself to authority figures you no longer trust to protect you. Of course for Carl, this is magnified a million times but Carl is still a product of the pre-walker world. I wonder what adolescence will look like for post-walker kids? I didn’t think Carl’s rant was very well done, although it must be hard being an actor who has to portray a character who is himself acting or otherwise being inauthentic. I thought Chandler Riggs did a much better job of portraying the boy Carl who was so sad to lose his father that he was ready to become a walker himself. Carl had proven to himself that he could survive without his father, he just didn’t want to.

My favourite part of the episode was Michonne’s back story. It is obvious that she is starting to feel and remember again. She had a good life with a lover and a son and it sounds like Mike kept them from leaving their camp and it is what got him, her son and their friend killed. And she is still angry at him for that and I don't blame her. The scenes where Michonne was walking with the zombies were so disheartening. She was literally one of the walking dead. But she rejected this, killing her horde and going back to follow the living. The message is clear in this episode. You can’t go back to what was before and you can’t hide from the world as it is now. You have to go out and face it. You have to continue to live, to love and be loved. The reunion of Michonne with Rick and Carl at the end of the episode was a lovely expression of this.

I know that there are going to be lots of people who wanted more action, more walkers, more gore but I’m not one of those and so I really enjoyed this episode.

Bits and Pieces

The scene with Michonne and Hershel’s head was so poignant. Well done Danai Gurira.

Speaking of disheartening, the vision of the zombies moving into the prison was awful.

The look Carl gives his dad when he tries to say that they are going to be okay was priceless.

I also enjoyed Carl finding the decked out kid’s room. That teen had everything from instruments to the huge TV but the only thing that was useful in the room was the cable that Carl used to tie the front door shut. You watched Carl assess the room first from a pre-walker perspective and then snap back to reality.

The poster for Dead Ripe refers to an actual band.

Okay I can suspend disbelief with the best of them but two things - wouldn’t those houses have already been raided if they were that close to the prison - and - Michonne really wouldn’t have been detected as alive by those walkers until she started chopping off their heads?

Also Carl ate 112 ounces of pudding. Wouldn’t that make any kid throw up, not to mention one that hasn’t eaten much lately? Still I enjoyed the picture of him on the roof polishing it off.

Quotes

Carl: “I win.” (what exactly do you win Carl?)

Rick: “Watch your mouth.”
Carl: “Are you kidding me?”

Mike: “Where’s the happy ending here? This isn’t life.”

Carl: “I didn’t forget while you had us playing farmer. I still know how to survive. Lucky for us.”

Carl: “I’d be fine if you died.” (Kids often say awful things to their parents, especially as teenagers).

Written on the door - “Walker inside. Got my shoe, didn’t get me.”

Rick: “I only clung to that for you. For Judith.” (I'm not sure I believe that, Rick.)

Michonne: “I know the answer. I know why.”

5 comments:

Jess Lynde said...

Agreed, Doc. I really liked the overall arc of the hour, with the parallel journeys of Carl and Michonne realizing they still needed people, even if some of the bits didn't work as well as they could have. Like you, I didn't think Chandler Riggs effectively sold the big speech to unconscious Rick, or even his "I can't do it" moment when he thought Rick had turned and was about to kill him. But I thought he was very effective in the earlier rebellion scenes --- particularly with the "Are you kidding me?!" --- and I found his quiet "I'm scared" while cradling Rick's head quite moving.

And Michonne's stuff was very strong. I got particularly choked up by her taking care of Herschel's head, telling Mike she missed him, and her brief emotional release when she saw Rick and Carl through the window. The way she looked up with this mixture of joy and acceptance (like she had gotten some acknowledgment from beyond that it was okay to move on --- reminding me of a recent HIMYM) was so well done. Kudos, Danai.

Re: your question about the nearby houses, I had the same issue. There's no way the prison crew wouldn't have picked over all the houses within injured walking distance during that 6 months they were establishing their little community. The "shouldn't this have happened already?" stuff gets me all the time on this show. I mostly just roll with it --- nitpicking is part of the fun! --- but I think the fact that we have only seen roughly 50 days out of the roughly 520 that have passed since the global outbreak frequently hinders the narrative logic of the story. It's like the writers forget that 7 months passed between the farm and the prison, and then another 6 months passed once the Woodbury survivors joined the prison.

Billie Doux said...

I saw a bunch of comments complaining about the pace of this episode, but I loved it. It was pretty much the perfect exploration of two characters. I thought Chandler Riggs did a good job with a difficult part, but of course, Michonne's backstory was my favorite. I loved how she finally took out that Michonne-like walker doppelganger in the herd. It was a clever way to show that she wasn't ready to go back to the stand-apart, emotionless way she used to be. It was like she was immediately rewarded for her decision by finding Rick and Carl.

I actually did think for a moment that Rick had died and turned. I probably wouldn't have if they didn't kill off characters all the time.

Terrific review, Doc.

topher darling said...

I loved this episode. After living in a prison for the last year (?), it was nice to see Carl in more of a kid-friendly atmosphere. I haven't cared for Carl much lately but seeing him get to be a kid was great. First, the look on his face when he walked into the stocked kid's room betrayed this macho posture that he quickly resumed when he simply grabbed the cord. Then, his survival instincts took back seat when he discovered the pudding and needed to stand on the counter to get the pudding. And Carl eating the pudding right out of the can while sitting on the roof, missing one shoe, over looking quiet suburbia while a walker reaches for him through the window was a great scene. As much as I love the exciting action, it's simple moments like this that pack a punch.

I know he's had to "grow up fast" but it's been a hard sell for me so I was glad they let him break down and just be a kid. And now that he has Michonne to help watch over him, he can let even more of his guard down and relax a little.

Ben P. Duck said...

Yeah, I join you regarding the pace of the episode. I think these character driven episodes about people living at the end of the world are what makes this series great.

The episodes with the big fights, like the mid-season finale, can be found in any of a number of series and movies and are often cartoonish (Darryl lobbing grenades down a tank's barrel, really?). They are only worth watching because they include very well-drawn characters.

An episode where the most important thing that happens is Michonne walking slowly next to a walker that looks like her is one which elevates this show from horror genre to great drama. Her sidelong looks at her doppelganger are also just great acting, something that's hard to accomplish with guns blazing and heads exploding.

Lamounier said...

Great episode! I loved the deep exploration of the characters.

Carl has annoyed me for most of this series, but this episode was very good character development for him. What I liked the most were his acknowledgement that he still needs his father, and his scene eating pudding.

And then there’s Michonne. The dream sequence, progressively merging her previous life with more recent events, was very well done and a clever way to disclosure some of her backstory to the audience. This woman has my heart. She has been through hell over and over and she’s still standing strong. I loved when she killed the horde of zombies she was walking with and decided that, somehow, it’s still worth living. I also loved when she found Carl and Rick (for a moment, I thought she would first find Carl’s shoe and take it to him), her reaction got to me.

When the Governor killed Hershel by cutting his head off, I thought “well, now there’s going to be a Zombie Head of Hershel out there”. I’m glad they addressed this right away, on a scene that turned out to be very powerful. Another terrific moment for Michonne. Rest in peace, Hershel.

How many episodes until we see Carol again?