The Walking Dead Season 4 Episode 9 “After” Review

the walking dead season 4 episode 9 review

The Walking Dead Season 4 part two returns with an episode focussed on Carl and Michonne after the events of the prison showdown. If you missed it, you can stream the full episode at AMC.com

Continue reading for a spoiler filled recap and reaction to The Walking Dead Season 4 Episode 9 entitled “After”.

Life After The Prison

While it’ll likely be a gradual build up before the second half of the season hopefully reaches the level of epicness that matches The Governor’s all out assault, the first post-prison episode is a good sign of things to come. After a season and a half at the prison, having the survivors scattered and isolated is a solid set up for more personal, character-centric stories in a post apocalyptic world.

Without the safety of the prison, the survivors are at their most vulnerable which a return to what I originally envisioned the show to be about. Danger is lurking around every corner and anything can possibly happen at any given moment.

Between the incredibly realistic jaw-snapping, severed head of Hershel to the furious zombie massacre, this episode answered why I’ve been anticipating the return of The Walking Dead. Although the mid-season premiere is a relatively slower paced episode, it’s not uneventful. In terms of story progression, it can be summed up as Michonne reunites with Rick & Carl but’s it’s really how the characters have come to terms with their trauma which defines this episode.

the walking dead season 4 episode 9 Chandler Riggs jpg

Cuts Like A Katana

There have been major clues as to Michonne’s back story from her teary-eyed meltdown while holding baby Judith to her connection with her original zombie pets. But Michonne’s nightmare gives the deepest insight as to who she was before the apocalypse and how the loss of her child & lover turned her into an emotionally hardened, grief-stricken woman.

After leaving the prison, both Michonne and Carl have reverted to their former way of existence. Carl and Rick are rummaging abandoned homes for supplies while Michonne makes herself two brand new pets. Literally and metaphorically, Michonne is at the crossroads when she sees muddy foot prints that can lead to other human survivors but she ignores it at first, choosing to become once again the lone wolf.

Michonne didn’t have much dialogue however the powerful imagery spoke volumes. The mini-horde of zombies gathering around Michonne is essentially a slow death march. There’s a point where the pet zombies are leading her by the leash rather than the other way around. The eerily similar-looking walker with dreadlocks strikes a nerve with Michonne and in a moment of revelation, she makes a decision to do away with death and choose life instead. What’s great about the massacre is that while its gory and exhilarating, it also expresses a character defining moment.

I’d Be Fine If You Died

Carl’s disrespectful behaviour was starting to get annoying until his heartfelt speech explained his resentment towards his father. Character centric episodes like this one are effective because we’ve gained a better understanding of Carl’s point of view. I can see why he’s angry over the loss of his sister, mother & friends and maybe he’s right to blame Rick for not being the leader they needed him to be. Many of the other survivors and most likely Judith are still alive but Carl doesn’t know that.

Like a lot of adolescents who go through a phase of thinking they no longer need their parents, Carl believes he’s more than capable of taking care of himself. Writer Robert Kirkman does a good job of giving Carl scenarios to prove his independence by luring away the walkers from the front door and later scavenging for food all by himself. Carl’s narrow escape from the zombies that fell on top of him as well as the walker that had a hold of his boot are great, suspenseful scenes. Through these series of events Carl comes to terms that he does need other people in his life.

Chandler Riggs’s performance is fairly good especially when he thinks Rick turned into a walker. On one hand, Carl can’t bring himself to shoot his father but I also believe he wouldn’t want to live without him either. In a way, by choosing death he’s in essence choosing life by admitting he was wrong about not needing his father. I also like the nice touch where Rick acknowledges that his son has matured into a young man and when Carl shows his renewed respect for his dad.

walking-dead-season-4-pics-after-5

Knock, Knock, Who’s There?

Michonne’s dream brings to mind that she can’t go back to the way things were before. Neither can Carl when he looks at a stack of DVDs and realizes he can’t watch them on the big screen TV. But when Michonne knocks, it’s like a little slice of normalcy to be able to open the front door to an old friend. Maybe he would have saved some of that chocolate pudding if he knew he’d be having a guest over. ;)

The second half of Season 4 is off to a good start. Under the current show-runner Scott Gimple, there’s a lot of attention to developing characters in a meaningful manner. Threads from earlier in the season are picked up on, in particular some answers to Michonne’s past are brought to light. The father and son dynamic is strongly written too, although for fans who don’t like Carl this could be a tough episode to watch.

Did you enjoy this episode? What do you think of Carl and Michonne?

More Posts You Might Like:

The Walking Dead Season 4 Episode 8 “Too Far Gone” Review

The Walking Dead Season 4 Episode 7 “Dead Weight” Recap

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Posted on February 10, 2014, in Television, The Walking Dead and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 41 Comments.

  1. I don’t like Carl too much as a character, but I still loved this episode. I am glad that the writers understood that he is one of the weaker characters, so gave him this episode to help him win us over.

    Another great thing about this week is that I honestly believed that they were willing to kill off both Rick and Carl, which made this episode so tense. Great TV.

    • I liked a lot of things in this episode. I guess it really depends on how much of Carl’s antics a viewer can take before it’s too much.

      Before I watched the episode, someone teased that Carl died. I was pretty sure it was a joke but it had me guessing especially as the walker was about to bite down on his leg.

  2. Nice review. It was alright. Carl’s too annoying for me to handle right now. Besides, didn’t we already get the whole, “Carl becoming his own man”-angle when Lori died or something?

  3. Carl was a bit much for me this week. I get what they were going for and I know he’s a teenager, but it didn’t quite work as well for me as it was intended. I didn’t really love the way Rick was acting before he passed out either. I’m glad this little spat between them was taken care of in this episode though and we can move forward.

    I did rather enjoy the Micchone portion of the episode though and am happy she found Rick and Carl at the end. Rick’s reaction to her being at the door was pretty fun too. Good review.

    • There was an earlier episode this season where Rick gives a gun to Carl and they mow down a bunch of walkers. With that in mind, he’s overly protective of Carl here but maybe he’s still reeling from loosing the baby.

      The trio of Michonne, Carl and Rick is a good mix, I’m also glad they found each other. I also liked Rick’s reaction at the door, especially after a heavy episode.

  4. Chandler Riggs stole the show. Thank God he delivered.
    Michonne was beyond cool as always.

  5. I do like your review, but I really didn’t like this episode. I was quite disappointed with this return. I was okay with Michonne’s scenes and you broke those down real well, but Carl… CARL!!! You could make a drinking game out of how many times he falls backwards being attacked by a walker. I know we’re supposed to appreciate the transition he’s going through as a teenager in this zombie world and all that, but man he is annoying! I’m with Dan’s comment above, how many times is Carl going to enter manhood?!? Lol

    I was really hoping for a semi-fast paced glance at each group as they were separated from the prison. Doesn’t look like I’ll get my wish. I’m not entirely down on the character-centric episodes. I really liked the 2-3 episodes last half that focused entirely on the governor. Maybe I’ll like something like that with Tyrese and Sasha.

    • I figured Carl would drive some viewers crazy this episode haha. Maybe I’m a little too sympathetic to what he’s gone though as I can only imagine loosing everyone he’s every known except his dad who he blames it all on. He’s had to grown up fast but I like that little acknowledgement at the end where he kind of admits he’s not quite there yet.

      Early on when I realized it was going to be an all Michonne/Carl/Rick episode I actually got a little excited haha perhaps because I remembered last season’s Clear as well as the Governor eps were well done. Both Tyreese and Sasha could use some more time in the spotlight, I’d like a character centric episode for the both of them too. Thanks so much for checking out the review and discussing the show!

  6. excellent re-cap of the episode.

    I’ve never liked Carl so much, but I liked how this ep helped define his character. He started off very pompous about being a know it all (like many kids are) and he eventually learnt how important it was for him to need his father and others.

    One of the things I love about this show is that EVERYONE is expendable. I was sure either Carl or Rick would not survive until the end. I believe that Judith is still alive and it will be a heartfelt reunion once they find out who saved her.

    I liked how they showed who Michonne was before everything and that she also went thru some terrible losses which help define her character much better.

    I hope the next few weeks will be similar to this one in helping to define all of the characters better before they are all reunited.

    • Hey Rob, thanks for the kind words!

      In order to show Carl’s arc, I guess they made him more angry and hard-headed to start out the episode. It’s understandable though considering Hershel’s head got chopped off, they can’t find Judith anywhere and now he’s homeless. I agree he’s like many kids. Even walking ahead of Rick, not wanting to be seen with his parent is classic teenager behaviour haha. I also like how he realizes how much he needs his Dad at the end, maybe some fans don’t like how it was done.

      Yeah, I’ve heard that a major character that’s still alive in the comics was killed off on the show already – anything can happen. It’ll be an incredible reunion when they find Judith. I’m looking forward to find out what happened to her.

      Michonne’s character is defined much better here, we understand why she’s so tough and silent. She wasn’t that way in the flashback/dream.

      A good thing about the characters being separated is that each of them can step into the spotlight and get into the action. Like Beth basically spent the first part of the season in the same cell block.

      Great to have a new Walking Dead buddy to discuss the show with. :)

  7. Really good episode. I know a lot of people are down on Carl but, come on! He’s a teenager living in the zombie apocalypse. Most teenagers are annoying and do all they can to test their parents. Carl’s got it twice as bad since his testing means he could die much more easily than a teenager living in a normal world, plus he had to kill his mom and really didn’t get to deal with that since his dad went a bit crazy. Yes he was harsh but that happens with kids at that age sometimes. With that said, hopefully we won’t see much more of him acting that way.
    Was very happy that they didn’t drag out Michonne finding Rick and Carl. She was so close and it would have been sad if she didn’t find them as fast as she did. Looking forward to seeing what these three will do together.
    Hope the remaining episodes are as good and as exciting as the cast has been saying they are.

    • It’s a really good episode for me too. Rebellious, doesn’t do what he’s told, testing his parent, wanting to be independent … sounds like a typical teenager to me haha. Yeah, Carl can get under the nerves but like you said he’s been through a lot and it’s not realistic to “get over” shooting his Mom just because it happened last season. Loosing his sister, friends and home probably opened up all those old wounds on top of the fresh ones. By the end of the episode, I think he’s in a better state of mind.

      I totally agree Michonne had to reunite with Rick and Carl. It’s Writing 101 to have the two story lines interconnect at the end and to complete Michonne’s arc this episode she needed to connect with someone alive / her friends. Judging by the previews, I don’t think these three will be featured in the next episode so it’s good to end on that note.

      I’ve heard there’s going to be some crazy stuff coming. Bring it on!

  8. I don’t know why people hated this episode. It had some action. It had some character drama. It had an undead head. What’s not to like?

    • Glad to hear we’re on the same page, I liked a lot about this episode. Like you said it had a good mix of action and character drama. Maybe some people wanted to start off the mid-season with a big bang or catch up with all the survivors, not just three of them? For those that don’t like Carl or how’s he’s portrayed I guess that could be a problem too.

  9. I felt it was a little dull for a season return episode but I think they’ll go bigger next time :D

  10. Honestly, I would be smiling if Carl met his demise. The kid is a little prick at times, to the point of being hard to like. His speech, while heartfelt, was full of false accusations. Kind of missing out on glimpses of other characters, but the development was good. I guess since it was based the most on one of the characters that I dislike, and the only highlight for me was Michonne, the episode kind of fell flat in my books.

    • I guess a good thing is that with only 7 episodes to go in the season, there won’t be another Carl centric episode as there are too many other characters to service and story lines to set up. A solid Michonne episode, they’re handling her character so much better than in season 3.

  11. At first Carl annoyed me, especially in Season 2. Slowly he began to win me over in Season 3 and Season 4 but this last episode made me find him annoying again. It was great to finally see a tidbit of Michonne’s backstory though and next week should be awesome as we check in on everyone else. Great review as well! :)

    • Yeah, it’s a bit of up and down ride with Carl isn’t? In Season 2 he never stayed in the house like he was told and ended up getting poor Dale killed. I like the tidbits of Michonne’s back story too, there’s enough info to piece together a plausible theory on what happened to her baby and lover. It’s going to be great to catch up with the other survivors next episode. :)

  12. This episode ruled. Good recap / review. One of the few eps that I actually watched twice. I was reminded many times of the comic’s story-line that took place right after they escaped the prison. Nice job!

    • Hi Victor, good to hear you liked this episode, it’s received some mixed reaction judging by some of the comments. It’s worth watching twice for me too. So far in the comics I’m up to the part where the Governor is on the tank and says “Kill them all”! Classic moment. I’ll probably continue reading after Season 4 and see how the comic compares with the show.

  13. I really struggle with Carl. The way he shouted at Rick I was hoping Rick would get up and give him what for! A tell ya if I ever spoke to my dad like that there would be murder. It was full of false accusations and to be honest next time he says I can look after myself a hope Rick tells him to go get on with it. See how long he lasts. I honestly would smile and look forward to future episodes a lot more knowing Carl had me this demise! Urgg awful horrible character, ruins it for me!

    • Oh man, Carl is a polarizing character. I think many fans of the show go back and forth between liking him a bit more and then getting annoyed again. Haha, yeah I can see Rick’s memorable Season 2 finale speech working on his teenage son. I hope Carl learns his lessons this episode. Welcome to the blog, it’s always nice to hear what other Walking Dead fans are thinking.

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