Monday, February 10, 2014

The Walking Dead, Season Four, Episode Nine: After

The prison is crawling with zombies.  Michonne stands and watches from a distance in shock as the building goes up in flames.  Michonne walks through a field cutting off heads as she goes and hops over a barricade. Michonne then makes herself new walker escorts and on her way out, she finds Hershel, who is nothing but a head turned into a zombie  Michonne takes pity on Hershel and puts her katana through his brain before leaving the area.

Carl is walking in front of a very wounded Rick.  Rick has to call out for Carl to stop and he reminds him that they have to stay together to find food and supplies.  Rick starts to reassure Carl but when Carl gives him a look, he simply stops talking.  Carl continues to race ahead of his father. They come across a restaurant and Rick orders Carl to wait outside but Carl points out that he can hardly stand.  Begrudgingly, Rick agrees to check it out with Carl. Carl finds a note which says please do what I couldn't do and Rick draws the zombie out.  Rick's axe gets stuck and Carl shoots the zombie in the head.  Rick is not impressed and points out that they need to save bullets.  They head into the kitchen and find food and water.

Michonne is on the move with her zombie escorts and she pauses when she sees footprints on the ground. Instead of following the footprints, Michonne heads in another direction.

 Carl and Rick are still moving and Carl refuses to slow down.  They find a house and Rick decides that they should check it out.  Carl and Rick make their way through the house and Rick tells Carl to stop in frustration.  Carl starts to call out for zombies yelling, "hey asshole, hey shitface," and Rick yells for him to watch his mouth.  Carl makes his way upstairs, as Rick looks through the kitchen.  Later, Carl and Rick bicker about whether or not the door is secure. Rick tries to get Carl to eat but Carl says that he doesn't want any.  Finally, Rick demands that Carl eat.  Rick checks out his bruises in the mirror and he is rasping when he breathes, making me wonder if one of his lungs is collapsed.

Michonne is in the kitchen, while she is talking with her lover Mike and a friend.  Michonne cleans her katana and a little boy comes running for a hug.  Mike says that he is not taking his son out there.  Mike wonders where the happy ending is here and says that this isn't life  Michonne continues to hold her son.  When Michonne looks up, the men are sitting there without arms and she starts screaming.  It turns out that this was a dream and Michonne finds herself in an abandoned car.

Carl wakes in the morning and when he looks over, Rick is still asleep.  Carl grabs some food and heads into the other room.  Carl pours two bowls of cereal at the table.  After eating, Carl reads a book upstairs, then heads down to check on his father.  Carl shakes Rick screaming wake up but Rick does not stir.  The sound of his yelling draws the attention of the walkers and so Carl heads outside.  Carl leads them down the road away from the house.  What he does not realise is that a zombie is approaching behind him. The zombies grab Carl and he trips and falls on the ground.  Carl shoots each one in the head and they fall on top of him.  Carl struggles to get from under the mound of zombie bodies, stands and says, "I win".  Carl makes his way back to the road, finds it deserted and moves on.

Michonne walks through the woods with her zombie escorts.  Michonne is actually in a pack of zombies - a human member of the walking dead.

Carl is back in the house and he tells an unconscious Rick that he killed three walkers.  Carl asserts that he saved Rick and adds that he didn't forget what to do while his father had them playing farmer.  Carl finishes by telling his father that he doesn't need him anymore and that Rick couldn't protect Hershel, Glenn, Maggie, Judith, or his mother.  Carl starts yelling about how Rick just wanted to hide and that everyone is gone now because of him.  Carl sits down and says Rick is nothing now and starts to cry.  When he gets up, he tells his unconscious father that he would be fine if Rick died.

Carl is back outside on the road.  He walks up to a house and tries to use his shoulder to push down the door and promptly falls on his behind.  Carl next wedges the door open with a solar light from the garden.  Carl heads inside and starts gathering canned goods.  He heads upstairs and closes the bedroom doors after making sure the rooms are empty. When he tries to open the third  door a zombie rushing out.  He shoots until he empties his gun but does not manage to kill the zombie.  Carl struggles with the zombie and finally manages to lock it in another bedroom. Carl leaves a note on the door saying that a walker is inside and that it didn't get him.  Carl then sits on the roof eating a huge can of chocolate pudding while the walker sticks his hand out the window trying to reach him.

Michonne continues to walk with the zombie horde.  A Black female zombie with dreadlocks approaches and Michonne cuts off her head.  The zombies realise that there is a human in their midst and they start to move towards Michonne, who takes her katana and kills off the entire horde.  Michonne looks up at the sky and starts to cry.

Michonne walks back to the set of footprints she found on the road and starts to follow them.

That night, Carl wakes from sleep and sees his fathers hand twitch and hears Rick's rasping breath.  A frightened Carl grabs his gun and points it at Rick who stretches out his hand.  Carl starts to cry and lowers the gun saying that he can't.  Rick tells Carl to go outside and stay safe, before collapsing again.  Carl finally admits to being scared and cries over an unconscious Rick. 

Michonne finds the body of the zombie that Rick and Carl killed in the restaurant.  Michonne cries and says that she misses Mike and that she missed him even when she was with him.  Michonne says that Mike was wrong because she is still here.  Michonne heads outside and decapitates yet another zombie.

Rick is now sitting up and he tells Carl that he shouldn't have risked going out there like that.  Carl says that he found more food but he ate it.  Carl admits to gorging himself on the chocolate pudding.  Rick admits that things will never be the way things used to be and that he only clung to that for the sake of Carl and Judith.  Rick tells Carl that he is a man and that he is sorry.  Carl tells Rick that he doesn't need to be.

Michonne continues walking and she finds the empty pudding can. Michonne grabs her katana and when she peers through the window she sees Rick and Carl.  Michonne starts to cry and struggles to compose herself before knocking on the door.  Rick heads to the door as Carl picks up his gun.  When Rick sees who is outside, he simply tells Carl, "it's for you."

 This was an episode basically focused on Michonne and Carl and how one navigates facing loss, after already having lost so much.  Michonne essentially had to choice to make about whether to go back to the way she lived before the prison or try for a life.  When she killed the zombie who looked like her, it was like metaphorically slaying her fear, regret and rage.

I really liked that we got to some of Michonne's backstory as The Walking Dead has not heavily invested in making Michonne more than a weapon at Rick's beck and call.  Now we finally know why Michonne cried earlier in the season when she held Judith; it reminded her of her dead son.  Michonne is a survivor, though she has lost so very much.

This episode was a big change were Carl was concerned.  We have seen him be brave, strong and stoic but never before have we ever really seen him deal with the emotions that living in a dystopian world must have caused him.  He is angry and he lashes out at the only available target his father. I very much like that he acknowledged Rick's farmer stage for exactly what it was.This is why he thinks he can do it all by himself and why he thinks he can do better than Rick.  At the end of the day, he realises that if he were to lose his father he would be alone.