After a dramatic, yet familiar final battle between Rick and The Governor last episode, “The Walking Dead” returns and is ready to move into new territory. Finally the show is finished with The Prison, The Governor, Woodbury, Andrea, the love stories we don’t care about, etc. Now it is all about surviving and trying to hold onto existing relationships that are on their last limbs. “After” was an episode that’s appropriately titled because in a way, it felt a bit like a hangover after everything that has happened so far. It was an episode that didn’t quite progress in terms of the narrative but rather focused on important characters on a psychological viewpoint and how they’ve been able to cope so far.
Arguably, the one scene that stood out the most was Michonne’s dream, which originally appeared to simply be a flashback. We finally got a glimpse at who exactly her pets were when we were first introduced to her character. In her dream, the visuals were absolutely on-point. At first, everything seemed happy and content. Then, it slowly started to turn into an apocalypse. The way she was cooking with her katana blade, the way her son appeared so happy to see her, and how her boyfriend and his friend were slowly becoming armless and jawless was quite eerie. It went from a perfect paradise to a living hell; a hell that she lives with everyday. This was the first time that we got to see some of her repressed memories through dream-form. This is EXACTLY what the show needs more of. We need more flashbacks of a lot of these characters. What happened initially when Rick was in that coma? What were the events leading up to the outbreak? Clearly, Michonne was a completely different person before the world went to hell. I imagine there are more cases similar to her.
The characters’ that stole the show were Rick and Carl. However, this was more of a Carl episode. What’s interesting is that even though everyone in this show lives in a post-apocalyptic world, they all still express the same human emotions as we do in the real world. Some might say that’s poor writing, but no matter the situation, we’re still human. So even though the things that Carl said and did in this episode may come off as a bit annoying, you have to understand that he’s still just a kid. He’s at the point in his life where he needs to remind everyone that he’s not a kid. We all remember those awkward years. It makes sense that he irrationally blames Rick for not creating the perfect haven for everyone and not being an ideal leader. It’s so easy to blame parents for not being perfect.
I did enjoy seeing some tension build up between Rick and Carl when Rick was conscious. When Carl brought up Shane to Rick, that was a major slap in the face. A lot of little things that Carl did were typical teenager antics. The way he talks back to his dad and showing poor judgement only proves that he has a lot to learn. Walking backwards in this show is never a good idea. He proved to himself that he still needs Rick in his life. They need each other, more importantly. Rick has gone through such a horrific nightmare ever since he woke up from that hospital bed. I couldn’t bare to see what he would do if he lost Carl. I wasn’t too fond of the Rick-Zombie fakeout, however. That was probably the weakest moment of the entire episode. It just seemed a bit cheap to fake out the audience when it just turned out to be a misunderstanding. It was pretty anticlimactic, to say the least. It did however prove that Carl needed his father more than ever and couldn’t kill him.
It makes a lot more sense as to why Michonne is angry most of the time. This episode really put that into perspective. I feared for her life when she was surrounded by walkers but she proved again that she could hold her own ground. Once she was able to track down footprints back to Rick and Carl’s new hideout, I couldn’t help but smile along with her once she saw familiar faces. The show is now starting to feel familiar. Maybe not Season 1 status quite yet but it is now becoming a lot easier to care for the characters with each passing episode. Next week’s episode “Inmates” seems to focus on the rest of the group. It’s going to be interesting to see the other characters unsure of everyone else’s status being that everyone has gone their separate ways. Let’s hope baby Judith pulled through, for Rick and Carl’s sake.