Jach Discusses: The Walking Dead 4.09

Posted: February 17, 2014 by Jachelle in General Media, Jach, Recaps, Television, The Walking Dead
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Greetings my precious little dead-heads. Remember all those months ago when I swore that I was going to pick these weekly reviews back up for season 4? Well then I decided that quitting my job, packing up my entire life, and moving to a different state would be an even better idea. It may have put a slight kink in my grand TV-watching plans. Particularly the two months without cable. (Oh the horror.) But now I’m settled in and ready to tackle the back half of the season, so let’s do this! We can try to handle the feels together. Of course, the operative word here being try. We all know that I’m never really prepared for this show. Here’s episode 4.09, “After.”

WalkingDeadPoster-ARTICLEIMAGEPreviously on TWD: The series picked up almost a year after the season 3 finale. Rick had hung up his leader hat and focused on farming and being a better father to his kids. A committee was formed in place of having a single leader. An airborne, superflu-like virus hit the prison hard and killed off nearly half their numbers. In an attempt to keep it from spreading, Carol killed two of the infected and burned their bodies. After discovering what she’d done, Rick kicked her out. No sooner had the group secured some antibiotics and finally seemed to be recovering from the flu, then the Governor made his grand re-entrance. After wandering lost and alone for months, he had created a new family for himself and joined up with a new group of survivors to protect them. But really he just wanted that damn prison. He captured Michonne and Hershel and attempted to use them as leverage to get Rick to hand the prison over to him. When Rick refused, the Governor beheaded Hershel in front of the entire group and an all out war erupted at the prison. The prison was destroyed, the group was scattered, nothing is okay, and everything hurts.

And in the twist I absolutely did not see coming: I don’t hate Carl anymore? What?

We open back at the smoking remains of the prison. Everyone has scattered and the Walkers have taken over again. Michonne appears and surveys everything stoically. She’d begun opening up throughout her time at the prison, but the trauma of what she’s just witnessed has clearly sent her spiraling back into a complete shut down mode. She’s completely exhausted, but still knows what she has to do. She creates two new pets for herself and makes her way over to where Hershel’s re-animated head is lying on the ground. After a moment’s pause, she sends her sword through his temple and I’m already destroyed five minutes in.

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While I attempt to gather the remains of my shattered heart, we pick up with Rick and Carl in the woods. Rick was badly injured in the fight at the prison and can barely walk. A furious Carl is storming ahead of him and refusing to wait for his father to catch up. Rick tries to tell Carl that they’re going to be okay, but can’t even finish his sentence after the withering look he receives. The two head into a run-down BBQ looking for supplies and once again Carl lashes out at his father. That’s pretty much going to be a running theme in this episode. They clear the place and gather what few supplies they can before heading out to look for shelter.

Out in the woods with her pets, Michonne finds Carl and Rick’s tracks leading into town and actively chooses not to follow them. She’s just gone. She says nothing, her expression reflects little, and she’s choosing to be alone in this world, because opening herself and letting others in only results in more pain and heartbreak.

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In contrast to Michonne’s suppressed emotions, Rick and Carl are fighting at every turn. In addition to regular old run of the mill teenage defiance, Carl is so angry at his dad. He blames Rick for not protecting them better, for losing their home, for letting his mom and little sister die. And he isn’t afraid to let Rick know it, either. Despite Rick’s best efforts to maintain any sort of authority, Carl defies him constantly and they fight bitterly every time they speak. Carl even goes so far as to bring up Shane. Ouch. Yet the two of them manage to set up a make-shift camp together in an empty house and settle in for the night.

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And then we get something that I’m not sure we’ve ever experienced with TWD before, a dream sequence. And an incredibly well-done dream sequence, at that. We flashback through a jumble of Michonne’s memories to see her before she became the woman we met in season three. She’s gorgeous and lively, dressed in beautiful clothes and snuggling with her young son while she speaks with her boyfriend, Mike, (ALDIS HODGE, I LOVE YOU.) and his best friend, Terry. The scene changes around her, however. The kitchen knife in her hand becomes her katana, the city outside the window begins to fall apart, and Mike and Terry become drawn and angry as they argue about what they’re going to do. Mike wants to know why and what the answer to all of it is. But he never does get an answer, because we soon see the two men dead and without their arms. They were the two Walkers that Michonne kept with her in her time before Woodbury and the prison.

Back at the house, Carl wakes up and starts his day with Rick still passed out on the couch. But after a time with no response from his dad, Carl attempts to rouse him. Despite shouting and shaking, Rick doesn’t wake. It does, however, attract a couple of Walkers to the front door. Carl makes a decision in that moment. He’s going to handle things himself; he has to. So he heads outside and lures the Walkers away from his sleeping father. The two at the door are joined by another that snuck up behind him, and Carl has a brief moment of panic as he falls and nearly becomes an angst filled treat for the Walkers. He does manage to shoot them, however, and is quite proud of himself. As he walks down the deserted streets, we get the feeling that Carl is the new Sheriff of this little town.  To echo his own words, “Cool.”

Michonne, haunted by the memories of her past and still in emotional lockdown, wanders through the woods in the middle of a huge herd of Walkers. Clearly something is going to need to happen to snap Michonne out of this, otherwise she’s just going to continue going through the motions of life without really being alive. That something, as it turns out, is Zombie!Michonne. She comes across a Walker in the herd who looks remarkably like her, and the vision forces Michonne to choose; does she really want to be dead? Or is she going to keep fighting and staying alive? In the end, thankfully, she chooses life and purges all of her suppressed emotions as she cuts down the entire herd in an incredibly powerful and gut-wrenching scene. I can’t even.

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After returning to the house to find Rick still unmoving on the couch, Carl finally lashes out with something that he’s been holding onto for awhile. He can take care of himself now, and he’d be just fine on his own. He doesn’t need Rick anymore. And I am thanking God that Rick is unconscious during all of this, because I don’t think I could recover from seeing the look on his face if he could actually hear any of this. Particularly Carl’s parting shot of “I’d be fine if you died,” as he storms back out of the house. Ugh, my heart.

Don’t mind me. I’ll just be over here sobbing while Carl continues to go on his Big Adventure. He goes off to gather more supplies, and along the way he eats 112 ounces of chocolate pudding, battles another Walker, and loses his shoe. He returns that evening and is sleeping when Rick begins to moan and shift on the couch. While logically I know there is no way Rick is actually dead, my heart sputters a little as Carl scrambles away from him, believing that he’s become one of the walking dead. And then I’m just done as Carl breaks down crying with the realization that he doesn’t want to be alone. He can’t do it. He can’t shoot his dad, the only person left in his life. He sobs and turns his head to the side to expose his neck and WHAT IS THIS SHOW DOING TO ME. But Rick isn’t dead. He crawls toward his son and tells him to stay safe. Carl cradles Rick’s head in his lap while he finally admits that he’s scared and oh my God.

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The feels train continues as Michonne follows the boys’ trail to the BBQ joint. Alone for the moment, she slumps down and talks to Mike. She tells him how much she misses him and allows herself a moment of wishing that her family could be there with her. But she knows the answer now. She knows why, and that’s enough to keep her going. She continues on her way until she finds the house where Rick and Carl have been staying.  She breaks down with relief at the sight of them and oh hey, I’m crying again too. There’s a lot of that going on. Rick tells Carl that he knows he’s a man now, and there’s a shift in the relationship. And the episode ends with Michonne knocking on the door. Three of my babies are back together at least, but who knows what’s happening with the rest. I’m still not prepared.

Thoughts on Carl: I honestly never thought there would come a day when I would like watching Carl. He drove me absolutely crazy throughout seasons 2 and 3. I would get physically angry when he was around. But throughout the course of the 4th season, things have changed. Carl is still very much a kid in a lot of ways. His arrogance is certainly going to continue to get him in trouble, but I really can see how much he’s grown up since the beginning of the series. He’s very capable and can hold his own in this world.  It breaks my heart that he’s had to grow up like this, but a part of me is incredibly proud of him, and believe you me, I never thought I’d be saying that. He knows he’s tough and wants to protect himself and the people he loves, but he’s still scared of being alone and everything that comes along with that in this world. I can sympathize with that and it breaks my heart for him. Looking back, it’s incredibly fascinating to watch how these children are growing up in the post zombie-apocalypse world. And I have a feeling that the rest of season 4 will continue to highlight those changes. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing more of what happens with Carl, Beth, Lizzie, and Mika. You know, in the way that “looking forward” means that I know I’m probably going to cry a whole lot more.

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