It's been two months since we've been able to spend our Sunday nights watching men and women in tattered clothing brutally slaughtering rotting men and women in even more tattered clothing/skin, unless you happened to catch that one really weird episode of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" on the Memorable Entertainment network.
Sunday night's return — titled "After" — was a very strong showing, in this humble blogger's opinion.
If you didn't start getting a little choked up during the scene where little Carl almost has to squeeze the trigger to put down his father, Rick, you might want to be tested to see if you're a serial killer. I'll admit I got a little emotional, but I didn't cry, because me-me, I'm a sports man. I drink beer and like jeans that are tough. No, I didn't cry, I just had a little something in my eyes, you know it happens every time. I only wish my words could convince myself that it just wasn't real, but that's not the way it feels.
For a premiere (a midseason premiere, granted) this episode followed a pretty tight thread, tracking the path of Rick and Carl Grimes, and of Michonne, after the fall of the prison. Many viewers were probably all "What of Daryl Dixon? What of Tyreese? What of Glenn and Maggie?" Well settle down you guys, we'll get back to all them next week. For now, it was time to listen to a heart rending tale of a father and son's bond being tested as the world around them collapsed.
Carl is having himself a time, really going through an angsty period. He's all lanky and gangly and greasy, yet he still insists on wearing that stupid cowboy hat. Rick is still a little punch drunk from his scrap with the Governor (who is now confirmed to be dead, by the way, so I was wrong), and Carl is at that age where he's like "Parents...who needs 'em?"
Carl is being a sassy young punk, and I'm not a proponent of corporal punishment, but since this is just a fictional television program, some character needs to slap the taste out of that whipper snapper's mouth. It should have been Hershel, but his head was lying in the mud trying to taste the air and licking its zombie lips before Michonne took care of that noise.
I miss you Hershel!
Maybe some new character in overalls named Toby Holycross could be introduced to the program, and his sole purpose would be slap, slap, slapping sassy adolescents.
Moving on...I LOVE it when they go to some bar in this show. Because I always think to myself, if I was in that bar, what would I like to do? Order a $2 tall draft, check. Eat some pork rinds, check. Play "Will You Still Love Me?" by Chicago on the jukebox, check. Do a shot or three of their finest bourbon because the world has ended and there is no bartender or police and the jukebox wouldn't work because there's no power so I would need to sing the songs I like, check.
The bar was called Joe & Joe Jr's BBQ Shack. This is just an aside, and I know this is just a fictional program, but don't call your restaurant a shack. You're just inviting people to spit all over the place and throw their napkins on the floor. If you were the proprietor, or restaurateur, you'd be like "HEY! Cut it out spitting all over the place and throwing your soiled napkins on the floor!!" And they'd be like "sorry, maybe you shouldn't have called it a shack..." There is already a sign on the front door that says "Smoking IS allowed." Toby Holycross would definitely spit on their floor. They should have called it BBQ Palace, or BBQ Fine Establishment.
Anyway, Joe Zb. is still in there, and apparently Joe Jr. couldn't do the dirty work. Joe Zb. looked like zombie Kris Kristofferson, and Rick wants to kill him with a hatchet. Carl is like "this isn't caveman times, old man, step aside while I use this technology gun to dispatch that ghoul."
Rick looked like he had gone 12 rounds with Lennox Lewis, and was in no shape to hit zombies in the head with an axe, so Carl wasted the zombie with a bullet. Carl is getting a little big for his britches, and everything was turning into a competition. Like Carl insisted that his pork rinds trumped Rick's bottles of water. Duh.
Later, Carl tries to bring Rick breakfast in bed of sugar flakes with no milk (uhh, you couldn't even douse them in some water or soda? thanks...) but Rick is like "I so tired..." So Carl just goes off on his own to explore. Carl runs into a few tough spots, like when he tries to shoulder charge the door down but is denied, or when a pile of walkers fall on top of him and one of them has maggots coming out of its head, but he gets through it and thinks he's all tough. He threw up after fighting the zombies, which was probably good because it gave him room for 112 ounces of chocolate pudding. I bet he farted a lot after that.
Did you notice the foreshadowing? Joe Jr. couldn't kill Joe Sr., just like Carl later couldn't kill Rick. See, sometimes I actually pay attention and don't just try to be ridiculous.
The climax of the episode came when Rick roused himself from his coma, forcing Carl to make a decision.
As it turns out, Carl could not pull the trigger. There is still a little boy who needs his daddy under that cowboy hat, and that's probably a good sign that pre-apocalypse Carl is still alive and well.
Elsewhere in rural Georgia, Michonne is having a little trouble coping with the fall of the prison and the dispersal of the survivors herself. She make two new pets ("Pets" by Porno For Pyros) and just kind of goes wandering. The "Talking Dead" after show confirmed that these pets were two of the Governor's men. Was one of them that jerk army tank man?
At one point Michonne ends up in a small herd of walkers and then she sees her doppelganger (maybe it's her stuntwoman in real life), and that snaps her out of it. She's like "I'm no sucker!" and chops them all down like ghastly trees.
Michonne uses her tracking skills to eventually find the house that Rick and Carl are staying in. Rick answers the door, turns to Carl and says "It's for you."