After (The Walking Dead)
|The Walking Dead episode|
|Episode no.||Season 4
|Directed by||Greg Nicotero|
|Written by||Robert Kirkman|
|Original air date||February 9, 2014|
"After" is the ninth episode of the fourth season of the post-apocalyptic horror television series The Walking Dead; it aired on AMC on February 9, 2014. In this episode — written by Robert Kirkman and directed by Greg Nicotero — Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) find themselves on the road following the attack on the prison, while Michonne (Danai Gurira) deals with her past.
The plot for this episode is very similar to Volume #9 Issues #49 and #50 of the comic book series.
The episode was watched by 15.76 million viewers, issuing a significant rise in ratings from the previous episode two months prior; however, commentators had varied reactions to it, with many noting positively the character development but commenting negatively on the episode's pace.
Michonne (Danai Gurira) reconnoiters the damaged prison and uses her katana to kill approaching walkers. She uses two trapped walkers as protection by tying them with ropes and removing their jaws and arms. As she walks, she finds the reanimated head of Hershel (Scott Wilson). She stabs it to end the torments of her old friend and walks away from the prison fence. She then finds footprints on a country road, which lead to the diner where Carl and Rick end up.
Meanwhile, Carl (Chandler Riggs) and Rick (Andrew Lincoln) walk on a country road with Carl walking ahead of Rick, who struggles to keep up due to his injuries from his battle with The Governor (David Morrissey). They stop at a diner for supplies and find a walker barricaded by some pieces of furniture. Rick wants to kill it with his axe, to conserve bullets, but is too weak to make a finishing blow, forcing Carl to shoot it in the head. They continue until they take shelter in an abandoned house.
Michonne and her two pet walkers come to the same road that Carl and Rick had walked previously, and she notices their footprints in the mud.
In the house, Rick falls unconscious due to fatigue and his injuries. Carl tries to awaken him but when Rick doesn't respond, Carl starts yelling, alerting two walkers outside. The walkers begin pounding at the front door, and Carl lures them away from the house planning to kill them some distance away, but he is surprised by a third walker who approaches him from behind. With some difficulty, he manages to kill all three walkers unscathed. When Carl returns to the house, he angrily yells at his comatose father, saying Rick failed to protect the prison group, Lori, and Judith. When Rick, who is still unconscious, does not respond, Carl says he doesn't need him anymore and he would be fine if Rick died.
Michonne, who's fallen asleep in a car, awakens from a dream of her young son, her boyfriend Mike (Aldis Hodge), and his friend Terry (Brandon Fobbs). At the start of the dream, they are having a happy life, but the dream progresses to the beginning of the apocalypse and later depicts both Mike and Terry with their arms cut off. Michonne continues walking with her "pets" and is joined by a herd of walkers, one of whom closely resembles her.
Carl goes on another supply trip in a nearby house. Upstairs, he opens a door with a walker behind it. After a struggle, in which his gunshot misses the walker, Carl is nearly bitten on his leg, but he manages to get loose when the walker pulls one shoe off his foot. Carl shuts the door, locking the walker in the room. Upon returning to their shelter, Carl sees Rick groaning and trying to crawl to him. Fearful Rick has reanimated, Carl draws Rick's revolver but can't bring himself to shoot his own father, and he admits that despite all his prior tough talk, he still feels weak and scared. Carl is relieved when Rick calls out to him, confirming that he is still alive. The next morning, Rick tells Carl that he is glad Carl has scavenged additional supplies, and says that Carl is a man now.
Michonne, still walking along with the herd, comes to a realization and kills the herd along with her pet walkers. She tells Mike, in a monologue, he was wrong and says she's found a reason to live. She returns to the country road and decides to follow Rick and Carl's footprints. Michonne manages to get to the house, and sees Rick and Carl inside together and starts to cry with joy. When she knocks on the door, Rick looks through the peephole and starts to laugh, telling Carl it is for him.
This episode focuses entirely on the characters of Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) and Michonne (Danai Gurira). Scott Wilson (Hershel) and David Morrissey (The Governor) have brief final appearances as corpses. "After" is the final episode to feature Morrissey's name in the opening credits; Wilson's name is featured in "A". Norman Reedus (Daryl), Steven Yeun (Glenn), Lauren Cohan (Maggie) and Melissa McBride (Carol) are all credited but do not appear. Emily Kinney (Beth), Chad L. Coleman (Tyreese), Sonequa Martin-Green (Sasha) and Lawrence Gilliard, Jr. (Bob) are also absent but are credited as "also starring".
The plot for this episode is derived almost entirely from Volume 10, Issue #50 of the comic book series.
Chandler Riggs, who plays Carl, has admitted that "After" is his favorite episode of the show.
The episode received moderate reviews from most critics, with most praising the episode's focus on the secondary characters, but others commenting negatively on the series' shift in environment and the episode's pace. Katla McGlynn of The Huffington Post summarized the episode by saying: "Phew! That was quite an episode. Although we didn't get to see what's happening with the rest of the group, we learned more about Michonne than ever and finally got to see Carl become a man. Instead of a traditional rite of passage like a bar mitzvah or a co-ed birthday party, Carl got to kill zombies and eat copious amounts of pudding! Welcome to adulthood, Carl."
Roth Cornet of IGN gave the episode an 8.5 out of 10, saying: "The Walking Dead opened the second half of Season 4 with a restrained, but effective episode that saw its characters faced with the challenge of accepting, and even embracing, the reality of the lives they're living - even the horror."
Sean Tepper of the Toronto Star gave a moderate review of the episode, starting with a mixed commentary on the show's shift from the previous episode, saying: "Instead of kicking off the second half of Season 4 with a bang, The Walking Dead took a sizeable risk with its mid-season premiere as showrunner Scott Gimple focused more on character development than on the gruesome, over-the-top zombie killing that we’ve come to appreciate in AMC’s hit series." He then commented positively on the episode's beginning scene at the prison, saying: "by kicking off the episode with various shots of the zombie-infested prison, a quick look at the Governor’s body and an emotionally charged scene that saw Michonne drive her katana through Herschel’s severed, zombified head, 'After’s' pre-credit scene served as a satisfying end to the show’s prison saga and gave the episode a tone more akin to a traditional season premiere." He also positively reviewed Carl and Michonne's roles in the episode, saying: "If there’s one thing that The Walking Dead has proved time and time again it’s that superficial supporting roles can be transformed into multifaceted, essential characters and last night’s episode was at its best when it gave Carl the opportunity to escape Rick’s shadow," and "gave us some insight into her [Michonne's] past along with a better understanding of the events that shaped her post-apocalyptic persona."
Not all reviews were positive. Patrick Kevin Day of the Los Angeles Times — though commenting positively on the character development, saying the episode "gets huge mileage out of small character moments and goes a long way to making Carl an interesting character for the first time" — commented negatively on the episode's beginning, saying: "the episode seemed too intent on attempting to jolt viewers by killing off beloved characters, such as the saintly Hershel. Many seemed to love it, but I felt the escalating body count was providing diminishing returns."
Tim Surette of TV.com commented positively on the series' change in environment, saying: "Now The Walking Dead can return to the enjoyable (for us, anyway) world outside those barbed-wire fences, a world where our survivors can't just garden all day and then safely tuck themselves into bed behind six-foot-thick concrete walls. Now they'll have zombies nipping at their heels as they try to make it to another sunrise, hoping they'll live long enough to have one more argument over whether or not Rick is a good leader." However, he commented negatively on the episode's pace, saying: "large stretches of "After" were, indeed, boring. I wanted to like the episode a lot more than I did, because I think it was making an effort to both deliver a message and reintroduce us to the danger of this world by showing us how it can break even the sturdiest survivors. Otherwise, it was just characters walking around and killing zombies. And even that's starting to get old."
Upon its original airing, "After" garnered 15.76 million viewers, 10.9 million of them in the 18–49 demographic, and it was the No. 1 telecast for the night among adults 18–49, beating even the Sochi Winter Olympics. Viewership increased 30% from the previous episode, making "After" the second-highest rated episode of the series after the fourth season premiere, which garnered 16.1 million viewers.
- McGlynn, Katla (February 10, 2014). "'The Walking Dead' Midseason 4 Premiere Recap: Carl Unloads On Rick, Becomes A Man And Eats 112 Ounces Of Pudding". The Huffington Post. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
- Cornet, Roth (February 9, 2014). "The Walking Dead: "After" Review". IGN. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
- Tepper, Sean (February 9, 2014). "The Walking Dead: ‘After’ gives depth to Carl and Michonne". Toronto Star. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
- Day, Patrick Kevin (February 10, 2014). "'The Walking Dead': Back to basics". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
- Surette, Tim (February 9, 2014). "The Walking Dead "After" Review: Not So Tough Now, Eh?". TV.com. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
- Mitovich, Matt Webb (February 10, 2014). "Ratings: Walking Dead Ties Series High, Trumps Olympics; Beatles Salute Draws Good Crowd". TVLine. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
- Kondolojy, Amanda (February 11, 2014). "Sunday Cable Ratings: 'The Walking Dead' Tops Night + 'Real Housewives of Atlanta', 'Keeping Up With the Kardashians' & More". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved February 11, 2014.