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."
Wouldn't it be a cute twist if she has his shoe?
DID YOU KNOW?
- This episode was based almost verbatim on issues 49 and 50 of the comic. Some of the scenes are near exact recreations of the book, for example, Carl sitting on the floor holding his knees next to Rick laying unconscious on the couch.
- Michonne's boyfriend Mike is played by 27-year-old Aldis Hodge, who was on a show called "Leverage", and his friend Terry was played by 32-year-old Brandon Fobbs, who played Fruit on "The Wire".
- The dead horse at the beginning of the episode was Michonne's horse Flame, according to Walking Dead Wikia.
- The corpse of Alisha, Tara's girlfriend, was also shown at the beginning of this episode.
There is a fly buzzing around his melon, his eyes are all yellow, his skin looks really unhealthy and his beard is grimy, and if you watch it in reverse, it looks like he is mouthing the words "Rick is a dead man." It also reminded me of this...
MICHONNE'S CRAZY DREAM
Michonne was sleeping in some car when she has this crazy dream/nightmare, explaining some of her back story. A creepy piano plays while she, Mike and Terry banter. A baby she calls peanut runs out and she puts her sword in a knife holder. It is a pretty sweet apartment overlooking Atlanta. Her baby's father, Mike, talks about some dumb play they saw until his clothes change and he starts talking about how they shouldn't leave the camp and how Michonne is so sick with the Shinobi sword. He seems really pessimistic about everything and she tries to liven the mood by having them drink wine and eat hummus, but any chance for good vibes go out the window when Mike and Terry's arms come off and she starts screaming bloody murder and Atlanta crumbles in the background.
CARL'S DREAM BEDROOM
Carl goes into that awesome "Teen Cribs" bedroom and gets this look on his face like when Eddie Murphy saw Heather Graham nude in "Bowfinger". It has a sweet flat screen TV, a bunch of vidya games, and all these posters on the wall that were way too inside and hip for an out of touch poser like me to understand.
There was some kind of eye test chart, an American Museum of Natural History poster, the album cover for Overbite by Atlanta indie band "Dead Ripe", a Works Progress Administration Illinois safety division poster, this fly is as deadly as a bomber poster from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, a Memorial Tattoo poster, a "Let's make New Orleans a Safe Port of Departure" poster, and probably some other stuff that I missed.
The room really needed a race car bed to be complete, but when Carl sees his reflection in the TV he snaps out of it and pulls the plug to use for a Clove Hitch knot.
DID YOU NOTICE?
- There were a lot of sweet vehicles in this episode. All those awesome steel horses outside of the bar, that nice looking Jeep Wrangler. I wonder why Michonne didn't try to start any of them?
- Joe Jr. had his own signature hot sauce on sale for the bargain price of $3.33.
- The swelling on Rick's face seemed to go down really fast between the time he and Carl fled the overrun prison to the time they arrived at the BBQ shack.
- At the beginning of the Michonne herd sequence there is a quick shot of this one zombie that is like REALLY decomposed. I think it was a completely animatronic zombie.
- There is also a pretty intact zombie that looks kind of like Daryl Hannah.
- What was with that dead bird in the house where Carl loses his shoe?
- There was a bottle of Sweet Baby Rays BBQ sauce in the fridge.
- In the pudding house there is a sign on the wall that says Fredag, which is Swedish for Friday.
Rick: "Every bullet counts. We'd a needed that one later."
Rick: "Kitchen wasn't empty after all: my haul. You?" Carl: "I win."
Carl: (censored) "Hey apple head! Hey brownie face! Hey…" Rick: "Watch your mouth!"
Carl: "It's a strong knot, clove hitch. Shane taught me. Remember him?" Rick: "Yeah I remember him, I remember him everyday."
Carl: "I'd be fine if you died...I still know how to survive...and now you're nothing."
Carl: "I can't. I was wrong, just do it."
Rick: "Carl, don't go outside, stay safe." Carl: "I'm scared, I'm scared."
Michonne: "I've never seen a gorilla drive a car before, but if you put it in a museum I'm not gonna call it art."
Michonne: "Mike, I miss you. I missed you even when I was with you, back at the camp. That wasn't you who did it. You were wrong, because I'm still here and you could be too, and he could be here…I know the answer, I know why." (What all is she referring to? Did Mike kill himself and their baby or something?)
Rick: "It's for you."
BEST ZOMBIE KILL
There wasn't really one specifically that stood out, so I'll just say that it was when Michonne flew into a rage and had that 30-hit super combo in the middle of the herd.
At first I was going to say Joe Sr., but then Carl found that strange, strange man in the room with all the books. Was that man Sam? And why was his head so big? Did his head become so large because he had read so many books, or was it just swelling up with some strange zombie puss? That zombie was pretty relentless, and he had unusually expressive eyes. It was like he was some new strain of super intelligent, durable zombie. Gamechanger! It kind of looked like Freddy Krueger. The thin farmer at the front door was also pretty creepy.
Zombies: I counted 28, including Hershel's head, and Michonne had like 25 of them! That's about 228 on the season.
Humans: Well, we can now confirm the Governor, but there weren't any new ones. 35 so far this season.
Where is Judith? Who was on the other end of that radio transmission from earlier in the season? Who was messing around with all of those dead rats? What is Carol up to? How about Morgan? What book was Carl reading in the house?
A look ahead to the next episode, "Inmates"
We catch back up with the rest of the survivors. Daryl Dixon is camping with Beth, who gets annoyed at his listlessness. Do you think they'll kiss? There is also a cool sign that says "Hitchhikers May Be Inmates" o_0