As The Walking Dead returns, there is a lot of regrouping to be done. Where are the survivors? How are they coping in the post-prison world they are now forced to endure? Questions start to be answered as this episode tracks the progress of Michonne, Rick, and Carl as they must once again get used to surviving in a world without the prison to protect them. For Michonne, survival and adaptation are no problem as she instantly reverts to lone samurai mode, finds two new zombie slaves to rope up, and begins to wander once again.
The episode begins with a superbly shot opening, as Michonne wanders the grounds of the prison taking account of the destruction caused by the Governor’s final attack. It’s almost tranquil until the gut punch that is the sight of Hershel’s zombie head. Seriously, it’s like watching your own grandpa’s fish mouthed skull snapping at empty air. Thanks for that image now tattooed on my brain. For those wondering if the Governor is really dead, if he will miraculously return to take his revenge, the shot of the Governor’s corpse, complete with a bullet hole in his cranium the size of Copenhagen, Denmark should answer that question. With the Governor storyline resolved, it’s time to move onto the healing process and surviving.
Michonne’s past is covered in a vivid and fascinating fashion as viewers are privy to a dream sequence that reveals the identity of her original two chained up pets. Turns out, the two armless, jawless zombies were her husband and brother. Remember when Michonne coldly decapitated her two pets a season ago? Yeah, gives a whole new meaning to that moment doesn’t it? This is the most insight fans have gotten into Michonne’s character, and it is an effective piece of character writing. To see Michonne in her past, so soft, so feminine, as a homemaker, art lover, mother, sister, and wife, creates a startling contrast to the sword wielding killing machine fans have grown to love. As Michonne wanders the forest, protected by her two new pets, she confronts a dreadlocked zombie that reminds Michonne of herself. The sight truly affects Michonne and she goes on a Beatrix Kiddo killing spree on the herd of zombies she walked with. This origin tale shows that Michonne could have been anyone. She was a painfully normal woman before the end, and now she is the human bludgeon, the ice cold efficient killer forged from the soft clay of normalcy.
As for Carl and Rick, there were two different emotions running concurrently with Carl’s journey, severe annoyance with sullen teenage angst Carl and admiration for mature survivor Carl. Sadly, fans had to sit through the first to get to the second. As Carl screamed at the maybe dead form of his father, many fans will want to get all CPS case file on Carl’s lanky haired ass, but when one takes a moment, it is a bit understandable considering he just lost his home, his family, and saw the bloody bassinette that once contained his baby sister. But kid, can you wait ’til after your fathers severe internal bleeding heals before you go all pouty faced and squeaky voiced? Carl wanders a suburban neighborhood looking for trouble, and finds a moment’s joy in a giant can of pudding. Fueled by the Cosby flavored goodness, Carl heads back to tell dad he loves him, well, after almost shooting his wheezy pop because he thinks Rick has become a zombie.
Whining aside, Carl’s journey is an effective one as he discovers on his own, without the protective blanket of Rick, that he could not only survive, but he can find joy in survival. Carl and Rick are rewarded for their perseverance by a knock on the door, as Michonne, a lost member of their family has returned. For Michonne, she now can fill her heart with love for her new family to replace the husband and brother fans now know about.
The Walking Dead “After” was a little bit quieter than fans might have been expecting, with excellent character work in lieu of the chaos that fueled the last few Governor driven episodes before the hiatus. There are many questions to be answered about the rest of the survivors, but fans can find peace in the fact that three of the survivors have reformed the family the Governor tried so hard to destroy.
Let’s just hope that’s the end of whiny Carl and wheezy Rick.
Kill of the week: Michonne’s Decapitation Dance