The Walking Dead keeps on walking

Midseason premiere gives viewers a change of scenery

By Katie Tracy
Arts and Entertainment Editor

4 out of 5 stars

The mid-Season 4 finale that aired Dec. 1, 2013 left fans of the Walking Dead clamoring for answers.

The callous and enigmatic Governor, forcing the residents of the prison to scatter, had decimated the prison. There was debate about who would make it to the next half of the season; the certainty of several characters’ survival was not clear when the credits rolled at the end of the midseason finale.

“After” opened with a billow of smoke over the prison, zombies encroaching on one of the abandoned tanks left by The Governor’s army. The prison yard-turned-battlefield was a living graveyard; Hershel’s decapitated head still growling. The badass, katana-yielding Michonne was the first of the survivors to be revealed. She surveys the prison yard, walking among the dead, and assembles herself a new pair of walker-buddies.

The opening credits rolled, giving viewers a preview of the expected survivors (based on the actors’ names shown). Although many of the favorites are still given, the episode mainly focuses on Rick, Carl, and Michonne.

Viewers are treated to Michonne’s background story, revealing the identities of her original walker-pets. The flashback also reveals the kind of life she lived before the apocalypse. She appears to have lived a privileged life with her husband, child, and brother.

As she is preparing a vegetable tray for her family with her katana, she goes from content to devastated as her son evaporates from her arms and her husband and brother turn into the monsters that they were destined to become. The flashback ends when Michonne awakes in the shelter of a car during the present apocalypse.

The rest of the midseason premiere is “quiet” compared to the intense and loud midseason finale. Michonne carries on, as she usually does, and tries to track any other survivors.

Rick, who had been shot in his leg and severely beaten during his encounter with The Governor, and his son Carl don’t turn back. The two of them keep walking on a trail away from the prison.

Fans appreciated the show putting the characters back on the road, because it keeps things more interesting compared to the characters getting too comfortable in one place.

Rick and Carl come across a subdivision and start searching for supplies in the houses. Rick goes into a sort of coma and Carl is left to find food for his dad. Carl told his dad (who was unconscious) that he did not need him anymore and he left the house. During Carl’s search, he encounters a house with a giant can of chocolate pudding. Jackpot. He also finds a walker in one of the bedrooms upstairs. His narrow escape leaves him with one less show than he had before, but he has his pudding and that’s all that matters.

There was a sweet, innocent scene of Carl on the roof of the house eating the pudding directly out of the can with a big spoon. Meanwhile the walker that he locked in the bedroom was hanging out the window growling at him. Carl continued to stare out at the neighborhood, thoroughly enjoying his pudding and temporary safety.

Carl returned to the house where he and his dad were taking refuge. To minimize spoilers, Rick ends up telling Carl that he’s a man now and does not have to try to prove himself anymore.  “After” ends with a knock on the door from a fellow survivor.

The most anticipated moment of the season for die-hard fans of the comic book series is the reveal of the misunderstood character, Abraham Ford (played by Michael Cudlitz). The rest of the season will focus on Abraham and his group and the rest of the survivors’ search for sanctuary. Catch new episodes of “The Walking Dead” every Sunday at 9 p.m. on AMC and stay tuned after 10 for “Talking Dead” with Chris Hardwick for a post-show review and previews of next week’s episode.