Maya Zach ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
The Walking Dead might be trying a little too hard with the fourth midseason premiere. The hour-long episode, “After,” stars only three living characters (excluding those only present in nightmares) and keeps the dialogue to a minimum. Though The Walking Dead has had success with a minimal cast in the past, the show falls short this time. In “Clear”—one of the most powerful episodes of the series—the episode revolves solely around four survivors. The intensity, heartache, and intimacy that were felt in “Clear” were lacking in this week’s episode.
“After” is drawn directly from the comic books (issues 49-50), which is a huge shift from the almost entirely original first half of the season. Not only is the plot nearly identical, but many of the lines are taken directly from the comics. This is not just lazy storytelling, but it also creates a poorly constructed episode. Television is such a different medium than comic books, and for the past three and a half seasons, the writers have created new plots and found different ways to tell the existing stories. However, with “After,” they tell the story almost verbatim from the comics and it falls flat. The emotion that was riddled in the comics comes off as a joke in the show.
Carl seems to be reverting back to the bratty, angsty teenager that he was in the third season. When Rick is still conscious, Carl refuses to help him, constantly talks back, and throws Shane in his face. Once Rick is in his near-coma state, Carl can’t help but continue to tell his father off. Not only does he blame Rick for everything that went wrong at the prison, but he tells him that he doesn’t care whether he lives or dies. Though he yells it in the heat of the moment and takes it back later, it shows Carl’s immaturity. It seemed as though he grew into a respectable young man in the past half season, but it turns out he was only capable of maturity when he was safe and surrounded by friends and family. It’s hard to blame him for hurting, but it’s hard not to blame him for nearly getting himself killed. Again.
Though Carl might be reaching the point of giving up on life, Michonne refuses to quit. Michonne moves numbly among a pack of twenty walkers and seems to be one of them. But when she sees the undead version of herself, she panics and realizes that she is not ready to die just yet. She unleashes her fury and kills each and every one of the walkers in a flurry of swords.
Michonne is faced with her past in a nightmare, in which she is living happily in the pre-apocalyptic world, which slowly deteriorates to the present terrors. The audience finally gets some backstory on Michonne; she is seen at home with her son and her future pets: her “lover” Mike and his friend Terry. By the end, Mike seemed to have given up hope, asking her “why?” Michonne, in a fit of tears later, tells herself (or Mike) that she knows why she has to keep fighting and why life is worth living. And her hope is answered when she finds Rick and Carl.
Here’s hoping that the show returns to the level of depth that it contained in the previous seasons and stops relying on the comics so heavily. If not, this is going to be one long, drawn out season.