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'The Walking Dead' Rick and Carl’s relationship, Michonne’s past revealed

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The highly anticipated midseason premiere of season 4 of “The Walking Dead” finally aired on Sunday and we have the benefit of writer Robert Kirkman, courtesy of Entertainment Weekly on Feb. 9, as well as others to help us break it down.

Rick and Carl

We had heard a great deal about how this would be all about Carl. In the beginning, he is Angry with Rick because he thinks his dad screwed up. He is angsty and cocky, trying to prove he can survive on his own. He does a decent job, until the end, when he crumbles and discovers he needs his dad more than he wanted to admit. Whereas the episode started with them being at their lowest relationship point, it ended with them being reunited and working more cohesively together than ever before. It demonstrated how tough and at the same time, how vulnerable Carl is.

The two are back on the road again and every event seems cause for Carl to act in defiance of Rick. He shouts when he should be quiet, he shoots a walker when he could have killed it more quietly. Things get tenser when they finally take shelter in an abandoned home. When Carl can’t wake Rick and a pair of walkers tries to get in, he lures them away. Unfortunately, he is ambushed by a third and nearly dies. He has to shoot all three, with the corpses falling on top of him.

Back at the house, Rick is still nonresponsive; Carl launches a tirade at him.

"I still know how to survive,” he says. “I don’t need you anymore.”

“You couldn’t protect anyone,” he continues. “You just wanted to plant vegetables. You wanted to hide. You were their leader! But now you’re nothing.”

“I’d be fine if you died,” he says

Carl visits a nearby house and finds a cache of food but nearly gets bitten by another zombie. He indulges in a rooftop pudding-eating binge before returning to his dad who is still not moving. The strange noises Rick makes have Carl thinking dad may have died and turned. Aiming the gun at his father, he begins to cry and realizes just how much he still needs the man. With the gun pointed at his head, Rick wakes up and tells Carl he is now a man.

Michonne

Michonne’s story picks up right outside the prison too. She hacks up a pair of walkers, removing jaws and arms and ties them up. Now she can walk freely with her zombie camouflage. That doesn’t prepare her for the sight of Herschel’s zombified head which she has to stab in order for him to have peace.

In a flashback that seems more like nightmare, a well-dressed Michonne is talking with her lover and his friend about art. She is holding her young son. Gradually the conversation changes to survival, the apartment looks different and their clothes are more tattered. Eventually the nightmare changes and she is leading the two men, now zombies – armless and jawless through a pack of zombies. At the end of the scene, she screams and wakes up inside a car.

Later she passes one who looks a bit like her and she goes nuts, slicing zombies left and right. The body count is near 20. Danai Gurira, who plays Michonne, it was about her realizing that could have been her and it’s not going to be her. She’s a fighter, “fighting for herself, her fighting for her will.”

After the battle, she sees muddy boot prints leading up a road and follows them. She spies Rick and Carl eating in a house & knocks on the door. Rick grins when he peers outside to see who it is.

“It’s for you,” he says to Carl.

Kirkman explained that this scene, without any direct links, clearly explains Michonne’s reaction to holding baby Judith back at the prison. He also indicated there was more to her backstory and it will all come out very soon.

“The Walking Dead” will be back on Sunday, Feb. 16 on AMC.

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