Monday, February 10, 2014

Good and Bad: 'The Walking Dead' (2/9/14)

A locked door. Carl's greatest nemesis.

Season 4, Episode 9: “After”

Warning here be spoilers:

Plot: Following their unceremonious eviction from their prison fortress and the breakup of their group, Rick and Carl set up camp in a seemingly abandoned suburban neighborhood. Rick’s in terrible shape after his fight with the Governor and soon slips into unconsciousness after helping Carl secure a house for them to stay in. Carl wanders the neighborhood, works out some daddy issues, loses a shoe, gains a giant can of pudding and eventually Rick wakes up. Meanwhile, Michonne makes herself a couple of new arm-less, jaw-less zombie pets so she can walk around un-harassed by the un-dead. We get a little backstory from her and even some emotion. As the episode ends, she stumbles upon the house where Rick and Carl are staying, reuniting with her friends.

Good: No more Gov. It’s risky to say that anyone’s ever really gone on a show whose basic premise is about people coming back from the dead. But for all intents and purposes, the Governor seems to be no more. For now. Seeing him lying there all dead and such at the beginning of this episode was sorta sad because it meant no more David Morrissey, who was a delight and who made the best out of a wildly uneven character. It seemed like the show never really knew what to do with him. Instead of giving the Gov – who comic book readers swear by – a bad ass run on the show, they hemmed and hawed through one up and down season and then tacked another half season to boot. And then the show used that bonus time to make him just go and re-do everything he did during the previous season. Fare thee well, Gov. Please don’t come back.

Bad: Seeing Herschel’s zombified head. Sure it was sad and he was a beloved character and all that. But worst of all, it reminded me of how little sense it made for the Governor to kill Herschel at the end of last season. Michonne was his super, mega arch-nemesis since day one. Herschel was just a nice old guy with one leg and a pony tail.   Was the goal to break Rick’s spirit? That happened already. For most of season three. And that’s not even mentioning the Gov’s tank. I guess we can just chalk this up to one last chance for the show to mishandle the Gov before having three separate people kill him.

Good: The group’s in pieces. One of the best parts of the opening of season three was cutting back and forth between the goings on at Woodbury and the prison.  The fact that we could spend an entire episode away from main characters like Rick and Carl was fun and it added depth to the show. I’m a little troubled by how quickly the show put Michonne back with Rick and Carl. Having the characters off and having their own adventures independent of each other has a lot of potential to liven things up. Or at least allow some new character pairings to develop.  Let’s not ruin it by getting the whole band back together too soon.

Good: Back on the road. After a year and a half in the prison, and before that a solid year in Herschel’s farmhouse, the characters need to get out and stretch their legs a little and so does the story. We’ve seen what all of these people do when they’re bunked up. Now let’s see how they react to the hardships of drifting from place to place for a bit.

Good: Michonne does more than scowl! After hinting at some character development for Michonne earlier this season with that whole baby thing, we dare I say almost got a complete sentence or two about her past in this episode. It was in the form of a niftily cut dream sequence involving two men who would become her zombie pets and a baby whose fate we don’t know, but can guess isn’t good. Sure that nifty editing kind of undermined the scene, but effort was made and calories were burned to actually make Michonne a fully functional character. And those tears she quickly hid when she stumbles upon Rick and Carl after her journey through the woods solo? That’s the type of stuff people do.

Bad: Rick’s a zombie! No he’s not. For a second there, I honestly thought this show was going to kill off Rick. He was all banged up and wheezy and limpy after his showdown with the Gov. Hell even Carl was starting to look at him as dead weight. If the human speed bump that is Carl starts questioning your purpose, well then I’d welcome you to rock bottom. But no, Rick spends 2/3 of the episode asleep on a couch, wakes up wheezes at Carl in the dark, only to eventually speak up and confirm his continued existence a mere second before the kid went for the parental clean sweep. I like Rick, but man, killing him off would have been gutsy. And remember all that talk about changing things up on this show? A bullet to the head of the main character by his own kid would pretty much accomplish that in the grandest fashion possible. But no.

Good: The Carl stuff. Carl’s been a giant useless pain in the ass for three and a half seasons now and last night was the first time that I actually thought maybe he has a purpose on this show other than to hold the plot back. His dealing with his daddy issues all by himself was actually pretty well done. I liked him gradually realizing that life in the zombie world was a lot harder than it looked and that his dad’s job is pretty frigging hard.

Good: Carl missing a headshot. A lot of them. It’s refreshing. Headshots are given out like candy canes at Christmas on this show. It’s nice to see a character have to work for one every once in a while. You know, because shooting something that’s trying to kill you right in the head shouldn’t be the easiest thing in the world.

Good: Carl trying  - and failing - to break down the door. Seeing Carl bounce off of that thing and land on his ass almost, almost made up for the first half of season two. Almost.

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