The Walking Dead is back and thank the lord, we are free at last. Yes, free from the drought of not having The Walking Dead on every Sunday, but also free of the wretched prison location of the show. It was fine, but being there for almost a full season and a half was exhausting, and I think we’re all glad to move on. Spoilers ahead.
After the Governor’s assault on the prison which left both he and Herschel dead, the group is shattered into so many splinter teams now, I can’t even begin to keep track of them. I think that even though we’re likely only going to see a few cast members a week now for the next little while here, this is what the show needed to mix things up after having everyone planted in a big group in the prison for 16+ episodes.
Last night we focused on Michonne’s group, which is naturally, only her, and Rick and Carl, our two most leadingest leading men.
I quite like Michonne’s story, which I thought was artfully set up as she struggled with whether or not she should revert to her old, feral, lone wolf ways. She avoided the human tracks on the road, and refashioned her two leashed zombie pets to make her blend in with the herd. Can they really not smell her? Is all you need to do to hang out with zombies for a while and they accept you as one of their own like a high school clique?
She was bothered by the fact that she kept seeing a zombie that looked kind of like her, and by the end of the evening, she butchered her newfound undead posse and went back to the road to look for human contact. I think it was a pretty cool demonstration of how she’s changed since we met her, and how she’s finding her way back to her humanity. She’s always been a badass, but it’s nice to see there’s more to her than that.
Carl’s realization journey was a little less subtle, as he distances himself from an injured Rick and gets himself in and out of trouble which proves to him that he’s his own man and doesn’t need his father’s protection any more. In fact, the old man is just slowing him down. “I am COCKY. I am going to do COCKY THINGS which will surely not backfire on me!”
But the fact remains that Carl is just a scrawny teenage kid, and he can’t do things like break down doors or kill full-grown hefty zombies. I thought the most telling part of the night was when Carl stumbles into what appears to be a teenage boy’s room, and is reminded of things like popular music and video games from the life he lost.
The rest of the night was about his journey to prove he’s a man and as good a survivor as any. In the end, after a series of near-death experiences, he comes back around to realizing he needs Rick, as you might expect given the man is a tough, seasoned survivor who used to be a cop. Not exactly someone you wouldn’t want on your side.
While I like how Chandler Riggs has transformed Carl from annoying kid to wannabe (and sometimes actual) badass, I’m just not sure he’s quite there, acting wise. His yelled speech at unconscious Rick could have been one of the most powerful moments for his character yet, but it didn’t make much of an impact for me. Also, what the hell happened to Rick for like, 24 hours there? I know he was injured, but what, did he like, fall into a coma or something? Take a bunch of sleeping pills offscreen? That was odd.
In the end, Michonne and the boys are about to be reunited in what was a rather touching finish to a pretty emotional episode. Perhaps not emotional as it could have been, but good by Walking Dead standards at least.
We have a ton of other people to track down now, from Daryl to Beth to Maggie to Glenn to Tyreese to Sasha to the totally-not-dead Judith. And without a doubt, someone’s going to be meeting up with Carol.
I expect a few more weeks of these kind of personal splinter group stories, and I have no complaints about that.