The Walking Dead: 409 “After” Review
Reviewed by Rich Jepson.
Following on from the explosive events of the mid-season finale, The Walking Dead found itself in a free yet fragmented state in the latter half of the series’ fourth outing.
It’s now free in the sense that we no longer expect the group to be confined to the constraints of one set location. Whether it was the camp, the farm (yawwn) or the prison, the show has always had a green zone for its characters to retreat to – until they were all inevitably overrun. What’s great about TWD now is that these boundaries have all gone, not only in the sense of the setting but also in the sense of the group as a whole. The aftermath of the Governor’s attack has scattered the survivors across a wider landscape, which now allows them to make their own fate and encounter any number of situations.
First and foremost, The Walking Dead had to get a handle on a psychological and physically damaged Rick before continuing. “After” played very similar to the comic in this instance as Rick crashed out, giving Carl the chance to face dystopian suburbia on his own. Chandler Riggs has been getting better as he has bigger in Carl’s shoes and cowboy hats off to the casting team for timing his age so well. His monologue to an unconscious Rick wasn’t perfect yet it was convincing enough to draw us in to his frustrated and tormented inner feelings.
One criticism about Rick and Carl’s journey is the fact that they both seem to have forgotten about Judith. When Lori died you still couldn’t get rid of her and instead she began haunting her husband with her presence, believing that his child is most likely a walker’s appetiser, Rick doesn’t seem half as distraught as you’d expect, maybe they are just getting use to this lifestyle but you’d expect a more severe sense of trauma.
If you thought this premiere was slow then you certainly have a point as at times the weighting of some scenes was a little off. However, if you look back over the past couple of years you’ll find that some of the best episodes, outside of the walker/Woodburian filled mid-season and season finales, have been when only a few members of the cast have taken a road-trip. This is usually when we get some deep insight into a character or their past and has contrasted well with more complex episodes featuring the whole group. Take “18 Miles Out” (season 2), “Clear” (season 3) and more recently “Indifference” as examples of how well this can work, this is the type of episode we can probably expect until the group most likely reunites.
The wildcard for this episode was undoubtedly Michonne, a character that has been mismanaged at times since her arrival at the end of season 2. Another one of the iconic and more theatrical personalities from the books, Michonne was always going to be a hard one to get right. At times her silence and moodiness has placed her in the no-man’s of failed character adaptations alongside the likes of Andrea and Halle Berry’s Catwoman. After thankfully brought her back from the brink, particularly with the use of the flashback and hallucinations, we’ve felt more involved with her in that 45-mins than we have the whole series so far.
Much like the walker in the roadside cafe, it’s been a staggering yet strong return for the series that’s given us at least a sense of direction of where we go next.
Scene of the Episode: Cut Back – Seeing a glimpse of Michonne’s past was as surprising as it was revealing. The character has been given a new dimension just by this brief look at her former life.