After the shocking, action-packed Season 4 mid-season finale of “The Walking Dead" last night’s new episode (airing February 9, 2014) was a welcome calm after the storm. That is not to say that the episode was without tension, action, and a few good scares.
After The Governor’s (David Morrissey) assault left Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and his group scattered and running for their lives, we spend this first hour of the second half of the season catching up with Carl (Chandler Riggs), Rick, and Michonne (Danai Gurira).
Things pick up right as the battle at the prison ends with Michonne making her way back to the now zombie infested prison when she happens across Herschel’s (Scott Wilson) still alive severed head. She stabs it through the brain then proceeds to chop her way through the zombies as she makes her way inside. At one point she finds a suitable pair of zombies and removes their jaws and arms to make another set of pet walkers just like she had when we first met her.
During a flashback we find out how Michonne got her first set of pet walkers. In her dream she goes back to a time when she, her boyfriend, and another friend are in a very nice apartment, dressed well, and talking about an art exhibit they had just seen. Michonne’s toddler age son makes an appearance. At first the two men are almost unrecognizable as Michonne’s zombie pets, but as the dream goes on they deteriorate and we come to realize that they became walkers and her using them as camouflage from the other zombies was her way of keeping them around.
After noticing some footprints on a dirt road Michonne, with her new pair of walkers attached to some rope leashes, chooses leave the road and wanders into the forest surrounded by a group of walkers.
Meanwhile, a badly injured Rick and angry Carl are on the move. The two are at odds in everything they do. While Rick fights a zombie they find in a diner Carl steps in a shoots it even though Rick told him to conserve bullets. Later, when they find a house to stay in Carl insists on helping Rick clear the house and even makes noises to draw out the walkers. Rick is so beaten and battered by his final encounter with The Governor that he isn’t much help, but he clearly still feels like he needs to protect Carl while Carl feels like he can take care of himself.
The twosome finds some food and bunker up in a house. When Carl wakes and finds Rick passed out from his wounds, he takes it upon himself to do what he feels is right. During Rick’s time being unconscious, Carl ends up leading two walkers away from the house and getting surprised by a third. After a hair-raising fight he kills them all, but not before nearly being killed.
He also takes some time to scream at sleeping Rick and tell him why he is angry with him. He blames Rick for not killing The Governor and then not moving them from the prison when they knew The Governor was still out there. He blames Rick his mom’s, Judith's, and Herschel’s deaths among others. He screams his frustration and tells him that he would be better off if Rick just died.
As Carl explores the neighborhood they are in he finds another house and nearly gets killed by another zombie. It is clear that Carl isn’t as badass as he might like to believe he is. After escaping the zombie, Carl claims his prize: more food and a 112 ounce can of chocolate pudding which he opens up, sits on the roof of the house, and eats in its entirety.
Michonne, in a zombielike state herself, stumbles through the forest surrounded by walkers. Suddenly she snaps out of her haze, draws her sword and like a blender she dispatches of nearly 20 zombies. She then heads back to the road, locates the footprints she had seen before, and begins to follow them.
Back at the house, Carl is watching over Rick. When Rick wakes he rolls off the couch he is sleeping on and moans while reaching for Carl. Carl thinks he has died and turned into a walker. He is about to shoot Rick, but then breaks down crying and says he can’t. He puts the gun down to accept his fate then realizes that Rick is actually alive. Not only is he alive, the deep sleep has helped Rick and he is now feeling much better.
In a heartfelt moment Rick apologizes to Carl and tells him that he knows they will never get things back to how they once were. He tells him that he clung to the hope that the prison offered for he and Judith, but now she is gone and it is gone. He then tells Carl that he is a man now and that he is sorry for how things turned out. Carl looks him in the eye and tells Rick that he doesn't need to be sorry.
Michonne makes her way to the neighborhood Rick and Carl are in, sees the giant, empty pudding can in the road in front of a house and approaches the house with sword drawn. She looks in the window and sees Rick and Carl sitting next to each other on the floor talking. In a rare moment of emotion, Michonne breaks down and cries, but immediately fights to regain control of her emotions. It is heartbreaking as she fights back her sobs then with a quivering lip knocks on the door.
Inside the knock startles the guys. They grab their guns and Rick looks through the peephole. When he sees who it is he starts laughing, plops down on the couch and says to Carl, “It’s for you.”
This mid-season premiere of “The Walking Dead” was packed with emotion, a few good jumps as zombies attacked Carl, and it filled us in on some good back story. “The Walking Dead” is back and proved once again why it is one of the best shows on TV.