While mid-season premiere ‘After’ didn’t really offer any surprises, it’s good to have The Walking Dead back, simply because there isn’t anything like it on tv. The episode centered on Michonne, Rick and Carl, who were all trying to find their footing now that their prison home has been destroyed and is infested with walkers. The three characters resorted back to their drifter ways: Michonne got herself some new pets and the Grimes family went house to house looking for food, like you do. It was all very familiar, but since it’s a zombie/post-apocalypse trope it’s hard to find fault with that. It’s probably one of the main reasons you enjoy something like this.
There was one stand-out sequence however: Michonne’s dream. We were finally given some insight into what had transpired in her life before she joined the Grimes gang. It didn’t really offer any new information (most of what was revealed had been strongly hinted at already), but the way it was presented was outstanding: the dream sequence started out like a flashback, with Michonne, her “lover” and a friend (?) having a conversation while she was cutting vegetables in the kitchen. But suddenly her kitchen knife transformed into her signature katana, the clothes of both men changed from clean and casual into worn survivalist clothing and her child was introduced. Several changes later she was left talking to two men without arms, her child lost and her city ruined. It was executed flawlessly and really unlike anything we’ve ever seen on the show. In conclusion: yes, Michonne’s lost her child and the walker pets we first encountered her with were her lover and her friend. Harsh.
The rest was standard fare: Michonne’s anger and desperation were taken out on a group of walkers and Carl and Rick butted heads once again because Carl wants to be an adult so badly and Rick, on the contrary, wants to protect Carl’s childhood any which way he can. Things got a little more interesting when Rick didn’t wake up and Carl went out on his own, role-playing he was a badass and messing up, obviously. It was far from subtle and of course at the end of the episode father and son found a middle ground. Even Michonne showed up for a happy episode ending. She shed a tear when she found her friends, but then composed herself before she knocked on the door, driving home the theme of keeping up appearances and acting stronger than you actually are for your own protection or the protection of the people you hold dear. It all wasn’t very exciting, but it was serviceable, and a step up from the few Governor-centric episodes that preceded the mid-season break. Those, quite frankly, were a mess.
The Walking Dead returned with a solid episode that offered one stand-out moment, but nothing very exciting besides that. ‘After’ wasn’t bad by any means, but it wasn’t great either. 7/10