It’s fascinating how much of a pop culture phenomenon The Walking Dead has become. The apocalyptic tale might not get the critical and awards acclaim that its fellow cable shows receive (Breaking Bad and Mad Men spring to mind), but its ratings undoubtedly make it the number one drama on television. And well into its fourth season, the numbers just keep on surging to monumental degrees. What is it about this show that makes it so mesmerizing? For me, the answer is simple: The Walking Dead is one of the only shows that manages to completely transport me to into a whole other world.
After the epic masterpiece that was the show’s midseason finale, After was a low-key and subdued entry in the show’s fourth season. In fact, parts of lagged at a dreadfully slow place, and yet, it also proved to be strangely compelling hour for a number of reasons.
First off, Carl really stepped into his own this week. I’m not usually a fan of child actors, but Chandler Riggs was very effective with his various monologues and outbursts. The boy’s had to do a lot of growing up over the last few years, and his journey has often been an unpredictable one. In addition, I actually found myself fearing for his life several times throughout the hour, and a genuine sense of urgency is not always easy to find on television. And yet, The Walking Dead manages to accomplish this on a weekly basis with flying colors.
After was also an insightful exploration into the psyche of the ever-enigmatic Michonne, and Danai Gurira did a superb job with the material. I was particularly taken aback by the bizarre flashback/dream with her baby and the two mysterious men (one of whom was probably her lover). Here’s hoping we learn more about our favorite warrior in the weeks to come, as she’s due for a whole lot of backstory.
Unfortunately, Andrew Lincoln didn’t get much to do this week besides lay down on a couch. He did however get an admittedly awesome fakeout where the writers almost managed to convince me that he had been zombified. I’m eager to see his relationship with Carl evolve, as well as the aftermath of this episode’s reunion in the final moments.
– Michonne casually stabbing Hershel’s decapitated head was just horrifying (and hauntingly believable).
– Heartbreaking sight: seeing the prison overrun by so many walkers. Still, I think we needed the change in setting.
– Loved Michonne making her makeshift shield with the two walkers on a leash. Great bit of continuity there.
– Poignant moment with Carl stumbling upon the videogames and feeling like a kid for a brief second, only to shove them aside and grab the cable.
– My favorite moment of the hour: Michonne walking through the herd of Walkers, only to slice them all to pieces after spotting one who looks eerily similar to herself.
– One of the show’s best visuals ever: Carl sitting on the roof eating his chocolate pudding in a deserted neighborhood as a helpless Walker tries to reach for him.
While it wasn’t a mindblowing hour by any means, The Walking’s Dead midseason return was a solid and effective hour.