The Walking Dead – After


by Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

Like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead is adapted from previous source material. This review is not meant to compare similarities and differences between the show and comic. It’s meant to be read purely as a take on the episode as it stands.

That being said, SPOILERS AHEAD.

“You’re a man Carl. You’re a man.”

It’s debatable whether or not Rick and his crew actually “won” at the prison shootout. Sure, the Governor was killed, but the survivors were scattered, the prison overrun and Herschel beheaded. And Rick looks the worse for wear. As he and Carl travel the back roads in search of safety, Rick is rapidly learning that Carl is no longer a little boy. Instead, he’s become a young man fighting to escape from his father’s shadow and be his own man. That maturation is something Rick failed to witness as he was running the show for everyone else. Rick’s relationship with Carl comes across as distant, which—again—can probably be attributed to Rick not really being a father when Carl was becoming a man.

Rick and Carl traveling together makes sense, considering their father and son. The thing is, Carl treats Rick like a wounded albatross around his neck, despite their blood ties. Carl is right to resent Rick to an extent because technically he was in charge when the prison was overrun (and killed Shane), but the utter disdain Carl shows towards him is a little exaggerated. It may just be Chandler Riggs’ overacting just a bit, but you’d be hard-pressed to find someone willing to walk so far ahead of an injured companion for instance. Rick is clearly hurting in a bad way, yet Carl seems to pay little attention to that fact. He’s more content to continue trying to prove he can clear a room and doesn’t have to eat just because his dad says so. In fact, Carl seems to be taking an entirely new approach to life where he feels he’s invincible; something that clearly got him in a little over his head during the episode.

Carl’s newfound rebellious streak did serve to illuminate his relationship with Rick in a way less obvious than his yelling tirade. When Carl protected Rick and their house from the walkers (albeit clumsily), he did it while Rick was resting. Carl’s desperation that his father see that he’s capable of protecting himself literally fell on deaf ears, as Rick didn’t know anything about Carl’s actions. Carl has transformed into someone who wants to be his own man and is willing to leave his own father behind to prove it. He even blames Rick for the loss of everyone at the prison, despite that not completely being Rick’s fault.

Michonne is going through her own issues in light of the recent attack on the prison. The flashback to her previous life with the subsequent events overlaid on it was both creepy and enlightening. It offered probably the most in-depth glimpse into Michonne’s past yet, presenting a well-to-do socialite doing very well before the apocalypse. The conversation changed from a museum gallery viewing to leaving a survivor’s camp to zombies without arms. It was a very powerful microcosm of the world’s decline, presenting a situation that was likely replicated in most cases around the world. Michonne’s previous life really shed light onto why Michonne is more soft-spoken than most of the others she encounters.

Michonne’s past is walking with her in a metaphorical way, a harsh reminder of what her life has become. She’s lost people she loved, both before and after the apocalypse hit. She’s one of the strongest characters in the series, so seeing her break down was a little jarring as it reminded viewers that there really is no stability in their world. Michonne has been something of an emotional bedrock for all the characters, relying on her sheer combat ability and generally calm demeanor to get through all that is thrown at her. Others looked to her for stability; so watching her world fall apart like everyone else’s was pretty sobering.

“After” was an appropriately titled episode (aren’t they all?) that looked at what’s going to happen to everyone after the events at the prison. Carl and Rick had a lot of father-son issues to work through, with both Carl recognizing he does need his father in some respects and Rick recognizing that Carl doesn’t need him all the time. Michonne found faith in something she had previously lost when she lost those closest to her. She also threw in a rapidly ascending decapitation count for good measure. It’s pretty clear the remainder of the season will be following the characters and waiting for their paths to cross, much like the ending of this episode. The threat has moved on from the Governor to the general unknown and that vagueness will be equally suspenseful.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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