11 Feb 2014

Review - The Walking Dead 4.09 "After"

A Brave Return and a Brave Journey

With the prison overrun, Rick and Carl find themselves on the road looking for shelter. Meanwhile, Michonne is haunted by memories from the past.

The return of The Walking Dead proved to be a strong one, both for me and for audiences (as it happened to top The Olympics in the ratings, oh burn). After the end of American Horror Story which I wasn't so sad to see end, I just feel as if I needed something else back in my life, a void that both Archer and Face Off simply could not fill, and that was my craving for The Walking Dead.
We were left with a massive bomb drop with the murder of Hershel and the death of The Governor, so to return to an almost silent episode was something that came to no surprise, but it worked in the best way possible. 'After' follows Carl, Rick and Michonne after the events of the gun fight that destroyed the prison, and it's from there (and after a brief recap) we follow these characters on their new yet unfortunate journey for survival. An injured and broken Rick, and a hardened and grieving Carl make their way to the nearest home for safety in an attempt to mend what was severely broken, whilst Michonne wonders with walkers hand-in-hand as she attempts to search for those she has lost.

This episode focused deeply into the characters of Rick and Carl, but more so into the strangely mysterious Michonne, who really comes into her own as we finally get an incite into the life she used to live. The gritty flashback that shows her husband and friend, who prove to be the original two walkers she was seen with at the beginning of Season 3, and her baby provide us a better look into the fancy life she used to live (judging by the city scape view from her apartment window), proving that there is more to the katana-wielding killer than meets the eye. The flashback/dream sequence was both startlingly fierce and touching, partly due to the fact that after all this time we have finally got to see who Michonne really is which has been a large question mark that has remained for quite a wile now. Danai Gurira is fantastic in her role here as she manages to present a whole new emotional depth to the character that wasn't quite visible before. Also, to see her crack a smile is an image I don't think I will get sick of looking at.

Although Michonne is one of three characters in view in this episode, the biggest attraction is Carl, and his relationship with his father that plays out fantastically. Yes, Andrew Lincoln does a fair job at presenting a fragile and broken father, but the real attraction here is Chandler Riggs who presents a larger range to his talent and his character. Although Carl is frequently annoying in this episode, managing to get himself into every dangerous walker predicament, you can't help but appreciate what he is doing and how it benefits his character. I mean let's be honest, if we had a gun at his age we would be doing the exact same as him, and using it just as terribly. Sure, Carl's journey did drag a little, but watching his victorious reaction when he stuffs his face with pudding to him screaming uncontrollably to his unconscious father is what makes his character so interesting at this time, and the lack of function between him and his father even enhances the effect of the character as well as the episode.

Although Rick faced a lot of damage in this episode (both physically and verbally) I couldn't help but almost relate to Carl, finding myself rooting for his independence. But once the moment strikes when he is clearly incapable of surviving himself, there is this great moment of reconciliation between Rick and Carl, and an even greater one as Michonne finds the pair, which is ended by the glorious smile of relief of Michonne as she has finally found someone. In saying this, I did think at the end Carl would accidentally shoot her, or even worse, that Rick was actually a zombie when he made his way towards Carl groaning and moaning as Carl cried and pleaded. I can honestly say that both moment had my heart dropping out of my ass. Touching stuff.

VERDICT: The return of The Walking Dead proved strong, and with the fantastic character development and intense scenes that saw characters fighting with both walkers and their sanity. 'After' sets this final half up for something that is going to be really, really good.

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