Carl is growing up, while Michonne goes shopping for new pets.
***WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS***
If you haven’t seen After yet, I suggest you scroll down to the end of this post first and watch the entire episode before reading the rest of the text.
“After” all the killing and devastation from the previous episode, and of course after Rick’s whole crew was split in smaller groups of maximum three people, it was more than expected that the mid-season premiere of The Walking Dead yesterday was going to show us what happened to some or all of our beloved characters. Well, the first ones selected were our sheriff Rick, his son/savior Carl, and the badass Michonne, each one going through a complete different journey even being almost in the same place.
Although Rick was almost killed by the Governor and lost Judith to the walkers (or maybe someone else?), I believe Michonne’s path was the most arduous one here. First, our katana girl goes back to the prison in search for either a zombie Governor, a zombie Hershel, or any other zombies or survivors that might still be there after the war. The Governor was dead for good, and any glimpse of hope we might have had to see him as a walker was gone thanks to Lilly shooting him in the head (unfortunately , she didn’t miss the shot). However, Hershel’s head was still there, moving, trying to bite some fresh meat from a living person: a superb job done by Greg Nicotero’s team I should say, but another extremely sorrowful moment in the show. I don’t know which moment was more melancholic: if Michonne having to kill Hershel’s zombie head, or Daryl having to kill his zombie brother in the last season. Anyway, in the middle of all that suffering and destruction, Michonne chose to get back to her basics, which was symbolized by her two new “pets” and by her walking among the living dead as if they meant no danger at all.
That was the original Michonne we all got to know during the show, but then we were able to see a side of her character that everyone has been eager to know since day one: how she became Michonne. Not that she wasn’t Michonne before, but through her nightmare (which was a lot stronger than any flashback) we could see somehow what happened to her, how her life was before the zombie apocalypse, her child, her lover becoming a zombie, her katana mixed with regular kitchen knives, everything showing us how human she used to be. After that nightmare, she was about to go crazy, just wandering around like any walker, but fortunately the vision of a “zombie Michonne” (a zombie walking beside her that kind of resembled her) made her get back to reality, slay a whole herd of walkers, cry a lot, and choose to get back to her previous path with Rick and the others. It was amazing to see her “road to recovery”, and kudos to the awesome Danai Gurira for an outstanding performance.
And then, we have Rick and Carl. Or should I say an almost dead man walking and his angry son? Rick was horribly wounded and beaten, but even so he was worried about Carl and wanted to protect him. The problem is Carl didn’t see that: for him, his dad was pretty much dead, and every atrocity that happened to them and all the others was Rick’s fault. It was sad to see Carl blaming Rick for everything, while the guy was trying to stay alive with all his injuries, but that’s how a relationship between father and son has always been, right?
Anyway, Carl is growing up and becoming a man, facing zombies by himself and fighting as an adult even being just a kid. When he said “I win” to that pile of zombies he killed I’m pretty sure he was saying that to himself and to life in general, trying to prove to the whole world a new man was born. Of course there was that incident with that zombie that got his shoe, and that huge can of chocolate pudding, but we cannot blame him for acting like a teenager sometimes, even if it’s in the middle of a zombie outbreak.
And last but not least, that final scene with Rick moaning and crawling as a walker after being asleep for hours and hours, and Carl crying for not being able to shoot him, was really touching. Of course Rick was not dead and was not a zombie, we all knew that, but the mere thought of having to kill his own father was too much for a kid trying to be a man. Well, some people might ask why he was able to shoot his dead mother in the head, but not Rick, which is a damn good question. In my opinion, Carl couldn’t do it for a very simple reason: Rick is not only his father, but his hero, his protector, and his reason to live. Without Rick there’s no Carl, and vice-versa, and it will be really exciting to see how their relationship will grow in terms of loyalty, respect and love. And that, my friends, is how a boy becomes a real man.