Welcome back The Walking Dead, you have been sorely missed.
The zompocalypse drama returned on Sunday night with the long-awaited mid-season premiere, 'After.' Picking up immediately after the Governor's catastrophic attack on the prison, the episode focused on just three characters, Rick, Carl and Michonne, and the fallout from the group being separated and scattered into the wind.
'After' was a slow-burner, but it did offer a fascinating flashback at Michonne's life before the turn, some nice character development between Rick and Carl, and chocolate pudding. Lots and lots of chocolate pudding.
Here are three things you might have missed from 'After.'
Like Father, Like Son
Carl was front and center for much of this episode, driven by anger and frustration towards his ailing father, and perhaps a sense that he would be better off on his own.
He blames Rick for letting the Governor take the prison while they "played farmer," and unleashed a volley of pent-up rage towards Rick when he's unconscious on the couch. Carl has often been a divisive figure among Walking Dead fans, and I've often found his brand of faux machismo annoying in the extreme. Not this time though. 'After' was Carl's finest moment, and Chandler Riggs probably gave his best performance so far. He raged at his dying father for not protecting the group, especially Judith and Lori, screaming at him, "You were their leader, but now you’re nothing. I’d be fine if you died."
It was powerful stuff and further proof that Carl is becoming a man; something Rick later admitted himself.
The kid's growing up fast but is still needs some work on his walker execution skills.
Despite the measured pace of 'After' it was a great episode for delving into a little of Michonne's back story. The flashback scene of her preparing food for her 'lover' Mike and his friend Terry was both tragic and terrifying as the dreamworld crumbled around them.
We've never learned much of Michonne's past and for someone that is normally so stoic and reserved it was jarring to see her smiling and happy with her child. I don't think this is the last we'll see of her backstory either. Later on she cried out, "Mike, I missed you. I missed you even when I was with you. Back at the camp, it wasn't you who did it. You were wrong, because I’m still here, and you could be, too. And he could be … I know the answer. I know why." What happened to Mike and the kid? We're finally beginning to scratch below the surface of her robust character and the show is better for it.
From Page to Screen
'After' was the closest adaption of the comic book we've had and many scenes were lifted directly from the page.
The episode opened with Michonne dispatching Hershel's reanimated head, and although it was a different character in the comics, the scene was remarkably similar:
Rick's trouble dispatching a walker in the store is also a direct translation from the source material:
As is Rick's 'Man in the Mirror' scene:
Carl's tangle with the walkers outside the front door, which led to him nearly becoming undead breakfast, is another iconic scene taken from the comic, as is his declaration that he no longer needs his father to survive:
Finally, my favorite scene from 'After' was 'zombie Rick' reaching out for his son, which was again taken from the page:
Points for further discussion
I know Michonne is bona fide badass, but tracking down Rick and Carl to a house in the middle of Georgia was a bit of a stretch. Also, wouldn't the group have chosen a rendezvous point in case the prison was compromised? Seems like bad forward thinking on their part.
Chocolate pudding is the greatest thing anybody could wish to find in a zombie apocalypse. Fact.
Carl getting all excited about the video games and DVDs before realizing he'll never be able to watch them was a nice touch and timely reminder that life really does suck sometimes.
How long until Hershel's severed animatronic head is for sale on eBay? Would make a delightful feature on somebody's mantel piece.
What did you think about 'After'? Hit me up in the comments below or over on Twitter.