“The Walking Dead” Season 4 Episode 9 Review: “After”
Warning: Major spoilers ahead!
After a few months of waiting, “The Walking Dead” is back! My name is Laurie and I am your new reviewer for this exciting and often thought-provoking show. I’m looking forward to discussing “The Walking Dead” with you for the next eight weeks. This show often causes me anxiety and grief as I ponder the decisions the characters make in this post-apocalyptic world, and I am looking forward to sharing these thoughts and hearing your opinions as the weeks progress. The sign of a good show is one that makes you think for weeks and draws out your emotions, and that is what “The Walking Dead” does nearly every week. And with that, let’s quickly review the episode!
Before “The Walking Dead” took a mid-season break, we saw the prison overrun with zombies after the Governor and his crew successfully tore down the prison defenses that our core group of characters tried to build up over the past few months. After an epic beat down between Rick and the Governor that left both men severely bruised and bloodied up, Michonne came to Rick’s rescue and stabbed the Governor right before he killed Rick. Unfortunately, while this was occurring, the prison group scrambled to escape and broke off into several groups while running away. Rick and Carl found Judith’s car seat empty and covered in blood; her fate is still unknown to us. The mid-season finale finished with Rick and Carl running for their lives away from the prison.
We begin this week’s episode with Michonne watching the prison from a distance as it is being swarmed by zombies. She traps two zombies, cuts off their arms and lower jaws, chains them up, and pulls them around with her. This mimics is how we initially met Michonne at the end of season two. She uses these zombies to cover her scent when she is around other zombies. As Michonne surveys the land around the prison with her new zombie pets, she finds Hershel’s severed zombified head on the group. She stabs the head and gives Hershel his much deserved peace.
Meanwhile, Carl is walking down a dirt road with Rick trying to keep up behind him. Rick asks Carl to slow down and points out they need to find food and supplies. They find an empty bar and they work together to ensure there are not any zombies inside. A zombie enters the kitchen and Rick tries to put an axe through the head of a zombie, but he is too weak and the axe does nothing. Carl shoots the zombie much to Rick’s dismay as they need to save their bullets.
Once they find some food in the bar, they leave and stumble upon a neighborhood. They enter a house and begin searching for zombies. Again, Rick is not pleased with Carl’s initiative and assertiveness as he searches the house. Carl pounds on the door and begins cursing to show his dad that if any zombies are in the house they would come out to the noise. Annoyed with his dad, Carl goes upstairs and finds a young boy’s room full of video games and books. Carl smiles as he looks around the room, only to realize he cannot play with the games. As night approaches, they board up the doors. Rick is clearly injured and wheezes as he goes to the bathroom and prepares to go to bed. When he takes off his shirt, it looks as though he may have some broken ribs due to his fight with the Governor.
While Rick and Carl are settling into the house, Michonne wonders around the woods with her zombie pets. She finds footprints on the dirt road, but does not follow them.
In the next scene, we find Michonne in a kitchen cooking and talking to two men who are sitting at the dining room table. As Michonne converses with the men, she starts cutting food with her katana. Then a child comes into the scene and Michonne picks up the child and starts talking to the men about what is best for the four of them. Michonne appears clueless as the men’s conversation becomes dire and the next thing she knows the two men have their arms cut off and the child is missing. Michonne screams and suddenly wakes up in the front seat of a car.
Back at the house, Carl wakes up and pours himself and his dad some cereal. Rick continues to sleep as zombies attempt to open the front door. Carl goes outside to draw the zombies away, and ends up getting caught amongst the zombies and nearly gets killed as he falls on the ground and the zombies come after him. He shoots them in the head one by one as they fall on top of them, and Carl gets up and goes back to the house.
When he gets back, he starts yelling at this unconscious father. He tells Rick he just saved them and that he does not need his dad anymore. He goes on to name all of the people they lost and blames Rick for not protecting them. He tells his father he would be fine if Rick died.
After he is done yelling at his father, he leaves the house again and goes wandering into another empty house. This house has more food in it, and Carl smiles as he finds a large can of chocolate pudding. Carl continues to explore the house and, while opening a bedroom door, he finds a zombie. As he scrambles to get away, he shoots at the zombie but misses and runs out of bullets. He finds a lamp and tries to bludgeon the zombie with it, to no avail. The zombie nearly bites Carl’s foot, but Carl slips his shoe off and runs out of the room, trapping the zombie inside. To celebrate his victory, he opens the can of chocolate pudding and eats it on the roof.
Somewhere in the woods, Michonne is walking with a herd of zombies that do not sense her because of her pet zombies. She sees a zombie that resembles her and it troubles her. As she continues to walk she sees this zombie again and loses it; she cuts off the zombie’s head and begins beheading all of the zombies around her, even her new pets. She walks back to the road where she found the footprints and decides to follow them.
At the house, Carl is asleep next to his dad when Rick wakes up and starts crawling toward Carl. Carl gets away from his dad who looks and sounds like a zombie. Carl points his gun at his dad and cries. He puts the gun down and says he cannot kill his dad. Rick whispers Carl’s name and Carl realizes his dad is not dead. Rick tells Carl to be safe and to not go outside, then he passes out again. Carl continues to cry and tells Rick he is scared.
The next morning, Rick wakes up and has a talk with Carl. Rick explains that he realizes Carl is now a man and that he is sorry for not realizing that. He tells Carl it is good that he found more food at the other house.
The same morning, Michonne finds the bar Rick and Carl visited earlier. She cries saying she misses Mike, who presumably was her lover. She then pulls it together and leaves the bar. When she enters a neighborhood, she peeks into a house and sees Rick and Carl inside. She cries as she sees them with a look of content and peace on her face.
Inside the house, Rick and Carl hear someone knock on the door. Understandably worried, Rick rushes to the door and they both pull out their guns. Rick smiles as he looks though the peephole and tells Carl someone is there for him.
While this was quite a slow-paced episode, it is clear the point of the episode was to focus on two characters who are going through major emotional breakdowns. Carl is upset with his father for treating him like a child and ruining their home at the prison. Michonne realizes her time with the prison group has changed her; she enjoys being part of a group rather than on her own amongst the zombies. By the end of the episode, it was refreshing to see Rick admit Carl is no longer a boy and at the same time see Carl admit he cannot survive in this world without his father. Rick needs to let his son have some independence and Carl needs to respect his father and realize his father has years of knowledge and experience they need to rely on.
We saw a side of Michonne that we have never seen before. We learn her two original zombie pets were two men close to her, and we learn she likely had a child. It seems her time with the prison gang brought back some feelings about having a family and she realized she is not ready to give up those feelings again. From episodes past, we know Michonne and Carl have a close relationship and it was so nice to see the relief on Michonne’s face when she found two members of her new family.
Now that we know what happened to Rick, Carl, and Michonne, hopefully next week we will learn what happened to the rest of the prison group. I hope that the entire group will be united sooner rather than later, but this being “The Walking Dead,” I doubt that will happen.
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