The music world celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the Beatles’ appearance on Ed Sullivan while, back in the former U.S.S.R., the controversy-ridden Winter Olympics continued. However, one thing could usurp these as must-watch television1: The Walking Dead returns.

Michonne gets new pets, and Carl finds (and nearly loses) his guts.

Title: “After”

Cast and Crew

Directed by Greg Nickotero
Written by Robert Kirkman

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes
Danai Gurira as Michonne
Chandler Riggs as Carl Grimes
Scott Wilson as Herschel Greene

Additional cast and crew information may be found here.

 

Premise

After the Battle of the Prison, Carl explores the world with his broken father, while Michonne slices her way across the land and tries to maintain her humanity.

High Point

We learn more about Michonne than we have since she first appeared, both in her flashback-turned nightmare and her near-breakdown. We’re seeing beneath the surface, the emotions play plausibly, and Danai Gurira has the talent to make the part work.

Low Point

Zombie behavior remains problematic; if Michonne’s new pets keep the Walkers at bay, why do they keep attacking Carl after a couple of their kind have piled atop him? Zombie inertia?

The Scores

Originality: 4/6

Effects: 6/6

Story: 6/6 The show’s quieter episodes are often its best, and they certainly don’t lack for suspense.

Acting: 6/6 The show gave three of its performers the chance to shine. We knew Lincoln and Gurira could manage, but the real winner here may be Chandler Riggs, who has grown as an actor. Carl has considerably more reason than most to be an angsty teen, and they’re letting him grow us a character. He blames his father, but he knows he cannot go it alone. He plays the world like a grim game, and it’s entirely possible he will lose.

Emotional Response: 5/6

Production: 5/6

Overall: 6/6 This episode seems strangely reminiscent of the apocalyptic early days, and not just because the Mowers2 have been at work. The neighbourhood the Grimes Family find seems strangely pristine and unmolested, despite the amount of traffic the area has seen. However, such anomalies would exist in this world and can be overlooked. “After” gives the show a promising new direction.

In total, “After” receives 38/42

Notes

1. Especially as the “Beatles” parts of the tribute, featuring Sir Paul and Ringo performing, were broadcast after the episode aired. You didn’t even need PVR.

2. Some of you may recall my pet theory: that, along with Walkers and Sleepers, some of the dead become Mowers, thus explaining all the fine-trimmed lawns which I cannot unsee.