Review: The Walking Dead - 'After'

By: Heather Seebach

**Warning: The following contains spoilers**

This mid-season premiere focuses on Rick/Carl and Michonne following the events of the prison attack. With a gunshot wound, Rick's health is failing and Carl is left to take care of them. Meanwhile, Michonne follows their tracks and revisits her past along the way. FX legend and executive producer Greg Nicotero directed this episode which is a solid episode despite not being particularly exciting. The writing and actors are spot-on and that's what really matters to me with The Walking Dead. Plus, there were some sweet zombies!

The episode opens with the aftermath of the prison where the walkers have overrun the place, the Governor's body still remains lifeless on the ground, and poor Hershel's head has become zombified (brutal!). For a moment, as the opening shot lingered, I almost thought we had flashed back to the series premiere because of the tank and the dead horse. I can't help but wonder if that parallel was deliberate for some reason.

In this episode, for the first time, we get a real glimpse of Michonne's history. Although it was only a dream sequence, that part told us more about Mike and their son. It's a bizarre scene that blends reality and fantasy but it's done beautifully. I love how the sword fits in just weirdly enough to make you realize this is no flashback, and the subtle transition from a jovial art discussion to post-apocalyptic horror. It was nice to get more backstory on Michonne's original pets, especially since she took some new ones this episode! Those new pets, by the way, were the Governor's men.

While Michonne traces steps in hopes of finding the other survivors, Carl and a wounded Rick (doing his best Daryl impression with the sleeveless look) hole up inside a house. At this point, Carl has lost respect for his father, blaming him for everything - Hershel, Judith, Lori, etc. He obviously would've handled the Governor differently, preferring not to simply "hide" and "play farmer" like Rick. Like a normal teenager, Carl feels he is a real man now and does not need his father anymore, and he's sick of being treated like a child.

Say "We're gonna be okay" one more goddamn time. I double dare ya!
Carl's words are pretty harsh this episode - from the cuss words to "Remember Shane?" (ouch!)  to "I'd be fine if you died" - but ultimately he is unable to kill Rick when he believes him to be undead. If you somehow didn't notice, the father-son theme was heavy this episode. Did you catch the name of the store they first encounter on the road? "Joe and Joe Jr.'s BBQ Shack." And inside was a live zombie and a note that said, "Please do what I couldn't" signed Joe Jr. So what do you know - another son who couldn't kill his zombie dad! 

Chandler Riggs is pretty good this episode. I LOVE the moment when he sees the X-Box set-up and for a moment he looks like a normal boy again. Perhaps it's just seeing him smile for the first time in a while but Riggs seemed to physically channel his younger, carefree self from earlier seasons. Then just like that, he snaps back to reality and uses the cord to secure the door. It's a powerful little scene that says a lot without actually saying anything at all. We also see a little of that in his private moment on the roof with the pudding. He may think he's a man now but he misses being a kid.

112 ounces...worth of pudding. Awww yeah.

This story with Carl protecting a wounded Rick is pulled right from Robert Kirkman's comics, namely issues 49 and 50. It's one of my favorite arcs from the comics so it's no surprise that I enjoyed this episode. Even some of the Michonne stuff is in there, like when she plunges her kitana through an old friend's now-zombified head at the prison (it wasn't Hershel in the books). The scene in the BBQ shack, Carl leading the walkers away from the house (and subsequently killing 3 then vomiting), Carl blaming his dad, and the moment when he thinks Rick has turned are all directly adapted from 49 and 50.

The main thing added was Carl's tearful surrender to what he thought was a zombie Rick. In the books, this is the point where Rick goes cuckoo-for-Lori-puffs with the phone and all, but of course the show did that already, plus Michonne is back with them already, so who knows what is next.

Side note: When Carl was unsuccessfully attempting to wake his father up the first time, I couldn't help but be reminded of The Lion King.

"Wake up, Dad. We gotta go home."
The zombies were well-done this episode, especially that creepy one that stole Carl's shoe. How about that compound arm fracture? Owww. Cool effect. Also, right from the opening scene, I noticed the beheadings looked way better this episode! One of my biggest pet peeves about the show is the hideous CGI gore. When Michonne goes on scalping sprees, it has always looked like ass, but these were noticeably better! Michonne's giant walker massacre in the woods was pretty darn badass. It was the second best thing about that scene. The best (for me) was the AWESOME little horror cameo they slipped in there! Did you catch it? It's dead Jack from An American Werewolf in London! Sweet lil Greg Nicotero-to-Rick Baker tribute!

"I didn't mean to call you a meatloaf, Jack!"
I like this episode because, like many of the show's strongest entries, it focuses on just 2-3 characters. In this case, it's also the show's three best characters (suck it, Daryl!). The Rick/Carl relationship and Michonne's struggle with her own demons are staples of the show but, when done right, still manage to hook me. For this reason, I have zero faith that next week's episode will be any good because it looks to focus entirely on everyone else I don't give two shits about. As always, I shall keep an open mind.

Until then, here as always are some funny Reddit reactions to tonight's episode:

Like the post? Share with your friends!

Also find us here: