After such an explosive season 4A finale, the season 4B opener of the The Walking Dead was a little lackluster. It may be because the producers need to save money and not pay actors, but having an opener being Carl-centric was a bit disappointing. Let’s face it, most people were concerned with Glenn and Maggie reuniting and Daryl saving the day. But that is probably why we didn’t get to see any of that at all. Instead, we got to yell at the idiocy of angsty pre-teen Carl Grimes. The redeeming part of “After” was Michonne having emotions.
We enter the episode with Michonne returning to the prison after everyone has scattered. But she is going back for only one reason: to finish Hershel off. Along the way is one of the big plusses of the episode, the recreation of Michonne’s Walker Pets. Then we get a good ole’ “way too soon” shot of Hershel’s little walker head and Michonne stabbing it. All the feels.
Enter Rick and Carl walking alone down the open road. Carl walks ahead because he has tricked himself into thinking he is a badass. It becomes clear that Carl doesn’t have respect for Rick anymore, but it is unclear why. Is it because he realizes his dad isn’t invincible? Is it because he thinks his dad let all their friends die? Or is it simply that Carl is just a little shit? It really could be all of the above. They enter an abandoned restaurant and encounter Big Joe, the guy with the thickest skull this side of Wolverine. Is it likely that Rick’s axe wouldn’t have killed Joe? Probably not, but then we wouldn’t have gotten this piece of advice, “Every bullet counts.” Rick says this to Carl after Carl shoots Joe. Again Carl tries to show his upper hand by not doing what his father says. They find a home and argue some more. Then like a jealous woman, Carl brings up Shane. Going for the jugular. It was the moment for me that I realized that I don’t really like Carl, again. He had half a season of being a tiny little Rambo, but now he just looks and acts like his stunt double, a 30 something woman. It’s pretty terrible.
Michonne had a bad dream. It seemed though that all of it really happened, just not in the same sequence as it happened in the dream. We got a taste of her dressed up and talking like a normal human being. She had a pretty nice apartment, too. She has a “lover” and a child. She also put her Katana in her knife block. I am really hoping that a knife block featuring a Katana goes on sale at Target tomorrow. Anyway, her dream got creepy and her boyfriend and his friend got their arms cut off before they were walkers. But then she woke up! But I guess waking up from a bad dream in the zombie apocalypse isn’t really waking up from a bad dream.
Back at the home Rick and Carl found, Carl sits in what was once a young man’s room. A room with many of the same things Carl may have had if the zombies had never happened. It was a simple little touch to what was an attempt at a coming of age story. Unfortunately, this was the only good touch. Rick is passed out on the couch and all Carl does to try to wake him up is scream at him. He doesn’t even check his pulse! It’s pretty ridiculous in a show about survival. Anyway, of course his screaming attracted walkers. And then Carl didn’t stay in the house. Yeah, and I wasn’t the only one thinking that either. I found this gem on Tumblr everywhere after typing in “The Walking Dead.”
And he decides to mess with the walkers. Remember last time he did that? Well Dale died. This time, no one died, but Carl should have. He leads them away from the house, more than likely because he knows he shouldn’t be out in the first place. Then he encounters a third walker and barely is able to shoot all three. They do die on top of him and he has to wriggle his way out. Then he throws up, wasting the milkless Wheaties he and Rick had argued over the night before. Instead of being scared though, like a little punk he says, “I win.” This kids needs an ass whoopin’. He goes back to the house and yells at an unconscious Rick some more, this time about being such a badass blah, blah, blah and then says he doesn’t need Rick anymore. Mmm, mmm, mmm, what a little asshole (credit to the secretary in Ferris Bueller). And moreover, it seemed like not so great acting. I was not moved. It may have been the content, but isn’t every 14 year old kid too big for their britches? Is it that hard to act it well?
Carl decides to go explore some more and finds a lot of pudding in the kitchen of a nearby home. But then he also finds a walker, wastes lots of bullets and when that one bullet he needed was gone, he tries to scoot away. Didn’t he think of pistol whipping him? Well, obviously not. In a big show of cat and mouse, Carl ends up getting away, although I’m not entirely sure how because there were plenty of chances for his leg to be bit. But his shoe did get taken away by the walker. And that was the whoopin’ he got. And it probably will be the only time that he gets beaten up and his shoe stolen from a bully. Then he went and ate that puddin’ on top of a roof. It was a little sweet, a boy and his puddin’. But then I remembered that Carl is a total A-Hole and it wasn’t that sweet anymore.
Michonne ended up in the woods with her new pets in the midst of a herd. When she sees a walker who looks eerily like herself she starts to freak out. Then she copes. She copes big time. She literally killed an entire herd by herself. Well, and her Katana. And that is how Michonne got her groove back. A big thanks to my friend Robert for saying that (and the shoe thing earlier) while we watched tonight’s ep. Michonne then follows the tracks in the mud back to people. She is ready to be with the living again.
Back at the house, Carl sits with Rick in the dark. Rick wakes up, and seems like an un-dead man. But then it turns out he is just continuing his dead-like breathing with his broken ribs and didn’t want to say anything to build suspense. Then he says “Carl” in his very strange way and passes out. Carl finally admits he’s scared and then he cries like a little whimp.
Michonne finds clues as to where they are and reunites with Rick and Carl. Maybe Michonne will be the saving grace Rick needs, because Carl certainly didn’t go out looking for medicine. It was all about chocolate pudding.
Hush Comics gives tonight’s episode of The Walking Dead a C. The only redeeming factor was more background on Michonne, her awesome zombie genocide and more emotional depth as to why she is the way she is. Carl was the center of the episode and if I wasn’t invested in the rest of the group, it would have been a deal breaker. Carl nor the actor who portrays him are ready for such a tall order of carrying an episode. It actually mirrors the comic book content pretty well, but the delivery by Chandler Riggs comes off much more like a pubescent tantrum than a boy becoming a man. This is made compounding disappointing by the fact that it was written by the man, Robert Kirkman, himself. Robert Kirkman may have been going for a coming of age tale, but all it did was make me dislike Carl more than I already did. He may be Southern, but he is no Huck Finn.
All photos belong to AMC Television.
written by Adrian Puryear