The Walking Dead; 4.09 "After" (open spoilers)

I thought it was great episode. It has good atmosphere- I felt like I got a sense of what it was like out there, not for the folks in artificial communities run by sociopaths or living locked up in a jail. I thought Carl was really believable as the kid who had to grow up too fast and saw horrors that were hard to process or comprehend. He’s lost everything, over and over again. Michonne’s story was heartbreaking and the ending was wonderful.

I did wish he’d have raided the boys room for clean clothes…

Well, it kind of did explore a new aspect of their angst: Carl admitted that he isn’t an invincible badass killing machine and needs help from other people (you know how those teens are with their delusions of grandeur), and Rick finally admitted that Carl isn’t a helpless little kid anymore (a conclusion he’s been moving towards for a while now). Did these admissions and revelations require all that screen time? Not really, but it wasn’t all just rehash of previous drama.

Killing the walkers right there by the door would’ve been a dead giveaway that someone’s in the house. Considering that they just got their home and family ripped apart by the Governor’s second group of bandits, keeping low in case of more of those kinds of people show up isn’t the worst idea.

The episode had important character growth moments for both Carl and Michonne. If character development is “going nowhere”, then we should probably abolish all fiction. If you want to argue that they didn’t need 45 minutes for what they did then that’s fine, but they did go somewhere with it.

Carl: I can survive just fine on my own!
<runs shoulder first into a locked door and collapses>

So Rick was what, in an eight hour coma?

The pet thing never made sense to me. They should be trying to nom on her, even without jaws. The other zombies should smell her. I know they did the smell thing back in s1, but that involved actually covering your body in guts. I don’t see how the pet thing is different than just running into a crowd of walkers and hoping none of them notice.

What would happen if you actually used a katana like that? Would it get dull after a couple slices and then start getting stuck, or would it just snap in half as soon as you tried to cut through a skull?

I thought it was OK. I didn’t mind the Carl-angst stuff so much-- he’s a teenager, afterall and that’s what teens do. I did mind the stupid, which was getting caught, once again, by Walkers sneaking up behind you. Hey, here’s an idea: Don’t walk backwards during the Zombie Apocalypse!

The atmosphere of the Norman Rockwell suburb, deserted but for zombies was nicely done. And the writers did have me thinking that maybe, just maybe, Rick really was dead. But only for a second!!

Oh please. Character development is outstanding when you have writers who can actually write. This show is infamous for having shitty writers who constantly go for the thing that would look cool versus the thing that makes any sense or shows any coherence with the “character development” they’ve already attempted.

I agree that the Michonne elements of this episode were novel and valuable. It was really great to hear this character speak, let alone show some emotions. Having her perspective on the “to be or not to be” question, and in particular, having her suggest some alternative limbo between living in the form of seeking community and social connections versus killing yourself was really interesting. Having her initially revert to using her impotent zombies for cover and literally walking around like the zombies, versus her tears of joy upon meeting up with people she has formed a relationship with was a nice touch.

However, the Carl stuff was all stuff we’ve seen ad nauseam before. Carl as an impetuous kid getting into scrapes because he wanders off on his own? Seen that a whole bunch before – remember the farm? Carl as the alpha dog to Rick’s impotence? Seen that a whole bunch before – remember the prison? Carl as a kid who didn’t get to be a kid boo hoo? That’s well-trod ground. Carl as finally now a man? How many times can we make the same declaration of this purportedly singular transition point?

That shit’s all tired, and from a character development standpoint for Rick and Carl, we are right back to where we left off before. They may as well have equally had them shucking pea pods together at the end, shooting M4s together at the end, or lying on the couch together at the end. Find some other characters to develop, because we’re stuck in an infinite development regression loop with these two bags of bones.

I bet the dads with teenage sons in the audience loved it, since the teen was an ungrateful, rude little shit who thought he was ready to be the big man around the house, only to get slapped down by reality and forced to come crawling back to Dad and admit that he was wrong, and weak, and that Dad knew best.

I figured he wasn’t leading them to any particular place, just far enough away that when he shot them, it wouldn’t lead any more to the house they were in. Maybe a couple hundred yards or so.

Really no reason to walk backward, though: just jog at a good speed, you don’t need to stay within five feet of them for them to follow you, they’d continue following even if Carl disappeared around a corner or got a large lead. We’ve only ever seen the zombies relentless pursue the last moving or noisy thing they saw.

Agreed, the daily grind of survival is much more interesting than the more cartoony elements like Woodbury.

True enough, but I for one will be shocked if they don’t hash out these exact same issues again this season. This show loves reset buttons.

Plus, noise. Carl’s clearly not very good at killing zombies with anything but a firearm, and he knows it. Shooting the zombies with his Beretta could bring more zombies.

It doesn’t make sense, and it’s a profoundly bad idea to give the characters invincibility cloaks. There’s no reason - beyond it making conflict harder to generate - that every character who’s aware of Michonne’s tactic wouldn’t be leading around a couple armless, jawless zombies of their own. They had Michonne kill hers in a senseless fit of pique, so now every time she’s in danger from zombies after that goes in the “These Characters Are Morons” file.

It’s not any different; the entire concept is stupid to the core. The only reason it’s in the story at all is because the comic book writers wanted to make Michonne look badass in the comic books. It’s positively dripping with “bad comic book writer” syndrome, and every time it infects the tv show is an embarrassment.

The original pets made some semblance of sense insofar that they were Michonne’s husband (lover?) and his friend, and we’ve been shown repeatedly that the undead retain some faint memories from their former lives, hence them being docile in Michonne’s company when de-jawed and disarmed.

But just random zombies? Yeah, that’s a bit daft, but whatever.

The smell thing hasn’t been brought up since that one episode, so it’s safe to assume that aspect of their zombie fiction has been abandoned (until they need it again for a scene or two).

Re: Michonne’s dream: I assumed the apartment and people in it were from her life “before”. That was where she lived and that was her Husband and a close friend and child. The conversation, however was something that happened after the Zombies came but before we first met her.

I liked this episode. What her dream has showed me is I kind of wish this show had ripped off Lost’s flashback approach. I would have liked to see more about how these people lived before civilization ended.

I do the same thing with people who are working. I stand there pretending to study a clipboard and try to blend in.

I enjoyed it. You can’t analyze this thing too deep. I spend a lot of time musing over the remains of civilization. I think I’d love to be a set decorator on this series.

Oh and Michonne with the katana in the memory sequence … I think that popped in as her memories merged with her current life. She put the katana back into the knife holder, if you noticed, and one of them says, “You’ve gotten good with your sword,” a skill I doubt she had back then. By the end of her dream, the two men were missing their arms, yet sitting at the table still.

There were also corresponding changes in the world outside, although the dilapidation of nearby high rises looked more like centuries had passed rather than months or years. OTOH it was just a dream.

Yeah, but that would make sense–it would mean we were watching a thoughtful examination of what might really happen in an zombie apocalypse. This, on the other hand, is a comic book: the characters have costumes. They can’t change them.

I liked it. Carl isn’t annoying anymore. He’s growing up, realizing his dad is only human, yet still needs him anyway. What’s not to like?

Michonne’s story was okay. Clearly she was grappling with whether to revert to her old ways and cut herself off from humanity, or rejoin it. I thought in a previous episode she revealed that her original mules were guys she knew who got what they deserved. I didn’t get that the two guys in her flashbacks were bad people.

In case you didn’t catch it, her husband murder-suicided himself and their son, probably the friend too, and probably tried to take Michonne with them.

Fuck I missed it!

Forgot it, probably. When was that, roughly? It still doesn’t really explain why they deserved to be turned into zombie mules. I figured they must have done something rapey to get the fate worse than death treatment.

Just the usual assload of commercials.

Stream it and save yourself the misery of sitting through an assload of commercials.

AMC’s The Walking Dead, now with 50% more commercials!!!

Yeah it’s horrifying, but it’s also impossible to actually show without looking comically ridiculous.

I dunno, did you laugh at that scene in Trainspotting?

Yeah, me too.