The Walking Dead S4 E9, “After” by Dusty

What I’m drinking: Blue Stallion’s Smoked Lager.  This is a local brewery.  Every Sunday, they have Walking Dead viewing parties, so I decided to head over there with my sister and check it out.  We had a blast.
This is my favorite beer of theirs.  As the name suggests, it has a really nice smoky flavor.  It tastes like camp fires and freedom and John Wayne and America.  As far as smoked beers go, you can’t do much better than this.  I’m hoping to make a habit out of watching The Walking Dead at Blue Stallion, so brace yourselves for a lot of their beers showing up in this spot.  And, if you’re ever in Lexington, make sure you swing over and check them out.  The beer is great, and the taproom is beautiful.  You can check out their website here.

To the episode

Nine things that annoyed me:

1.  Carl.  I could probably just write his name in all-caps a hundred times and this article would be finished.  Carl is the worst.  “I’m so sad because the sister I never really spent any time with might be dead, even though it looked like the car seat appeared to have been unbuckled and zombies don’t have the motor skills to do that.  I’d better take it out on my dad, because he seems like he made it out of the prison completely unscathed.”
I haven’t had a huge problem with him recently, either.  After starting off as a pretty obnoxious kid, he turned into a useful member of the group.  However, he took a massive step backwards in this episode.  It all stemmed from his belief that the actions of Rick caused the deaths of everyone at the prison (and was possibly responsible for the death of every person who ever died in the history of the world).  He also hated farming.  Oh, how he hated farming.  “How dare you teach me a useful skill in the middle of an apocalypse!  I hate you, dad!”
He’s out there dropping bombs like, “Shane taught me.  Remember him?” and “I’d be fine if you died.”  And he’s saying those lines with a self-righteous sneer.  After throwing the Shane line out there, he was looking around for a mic to drop.

2.  The pace.  Very little happened in this episode.  I understand needing to catch us up with where the characters went after the prison was blown to bits, but it could have unfolded a little quicker than this.  I’m pretty sure the alternate title for this episode was “Stumbling and Wheezing and Grunting.”
Judging by the “next week on The Walking Dead” spot, it looks like we should get caught up with the rest of the gang.  I was happy to see that.  About halfway through this episode, I was convinced it was going to take the full 8 episodes to get the band back together, and I started banging my head against the table.

3.  Carl acting like a big man and proclaiming to his possibly-dead father that he killed 3 zombies.  “I don’t need you anymore.”  What he neglected to mention was the fact that he was taken down by one zombie and killed all three while on his back, chomping teeth mere inches from his face.  Although I guess it doesn’t carry the same weight if you tell your father, “I almost died because I wasn’t aware of my surroundings, but was able kill three zombies as they piled on top of me.  Lack of awareness and dumb luck, really.”  But go ahead and brag to your father about almost dying.  Looks like you’re ready to make it on your own.

4.  Carl almost getting killed by a walker while scavenging for food.  Not only was he taken by surprise (again), but he fired his gun straight up in the air twice.  Stop shooting zombies if you don’t have to.  Your dad just reminded you about this.  On top of needing to conserve bullets, you also don’t want to draw other zombies to your location.  This zombie apocalypse has been going for a while now, and some people still haven’t learned their lesson.  This is Zombie Killing 101: only use a gun as a means of last resort.  I wish Carl had decided to go off by himself at the end.  He would be dead within a few days.
After eluding the zombie by locking him in an upstairs bedroom – losing his shoe in the process – he wrote, “Walker inside got my shoe.  Didn’t get me.”  Who exactly was he gloating to?  What’s the point of writing that last part?  Congrats kid.  You had a gun with 4 bullets left in it, and you couldn’t kill one zombie.  Go ahead and taunt people with a message on a door.  You’ve earned it.
He then proceeded to eat 112 ounces of pudding on the roof.  Honestly, I wanted to see him kill a walker with that pudding.  Just bring down the thunder of 7 pounds of pudding on top of a walker’s head and watch the fireworks.  I would probably throw a “Hell’s coming with me!” in there for good measure, but that’s just me.  (Well, me and Wyatt Earp.)

5.  Carl deciding to sit a couple feet away from his (possibly) soon-to-be-zombified father.  Sit across the room or something (we call this the Dawn of the Dead rule.  “Sorry you’re sick, Roger.  Lay over there in the corner and shut up.”).  In case he turns into a zombie, put yourself in a position to react before he takes you down with him.  But asking for any kind of awareness or preparation by Carl is a fool’s errand.

Dawn of the Dead - Roger Zombie

6.  We got a small glimpse into Michonne’s backstory, which was fine.  This show focuses on a small group of survivors.  The more interesting those survivors are, the more likely we are to connect with them.  If they were just faceless drones with no backstory, there’s not much separating them from the zombies.  As I’ve pointed out many times, these writers are incredibly lazy, so we normally don’t get much in the way of character development.  Their idea of character development is, “Bob likes to drink.”  So it’s nice to see them make an attempt to flesh out one of the most popular characters.
However, we already knew most (if not all) of the information presented here, and I don’t feel like this new information added to my understanding of her.  They had revealed these parts of her backstory in little clues along the way.  I’m completely fine with them wanting to develop her character a bit, but I wish they had focused on a part of her life we didn’t already know.
Basically, it was a slow-developing plot thread that didn’t add to the show or her character.

7.  Michonne creating some new walker buddies by chopping off arms and jaws.  Here’s what I don’t understand about that: having those zombies with her seems to mask her scent to other zombies, so she can move freely without having to worry about being attacked.  But she was standing 5 feet behind her zombie escort, while other zombies were walking less than 3 feet from her.  I refuse to believe the presence of zombies 5 feet away from her renders her invisible to all other zombies.

8.  Michonne knocking on the door at the end and not saying who she was.  In a zombie apocalypse, that’s a good way to get yourself shot.

9.  Carl snarling “I win,” left and right.  You aren’t Walter White, fella.  You nabbed more food than your borderline immobile father (who is only in that state because he decided he wanted to get in a fistfight with a psychopath).  You want a medal?

Five things I liked:

1.  They got the “Is The Governor dead or not?” question answered in a hurry.  As I have mentioned numerous times, The X-Files taught me that unless you actually see a person dead, they’re not actually dead.  I had a fear that The Governor would pop back up at some point and wreak more havoc on the survivors.  I’m glad that will not be the case.  I was done with that storyline.

2. Even Zombie Hershel can’t catch a break, man.  Rolling around on the ground, snapping at passer-bys like the head of a hungry Santa Claus.  Sweet ponytail, though.

3.  The house that Rick and Carl holed themselves in had a similar look to the farmhouse in Night of the Living Dead.  I half expected a corpse to be waiting for them at the top of the stairs.

4.  As Carl sat on the floor crying that he couldn’t kill his father, I began taunting him.  “Cry for me baby!  Cry!”  I was Scut Farkus, and Carl was Ralphie Parker.  Except I was a grown man in a bar, and he was a teenager on TV who didn’t feel like shooting his father in the face.  Sometimes I question decisions I’ve made in my life.

5.  Michonne’s zombie-killing spree.  With the vast majority of the episode focusing on just how many things weren’t happening, it was nice to get 30 seconds of head-slicing.

Final thoughts:

Hated this episode.  Coming back from the break, I was hoping for something fairly big.  Instead, we were treated to Carl complaining loudly and actively trying to get himself killed, while Rick stumbled around and tried to mumble a bit of wisdom to his angsty son.  We were also treated to Michonne traveling in a zombie-pack and having dreams about her past life.  I thoroughly enjoyed Michonne’s zombie extermination and Carl’s pudding decimation, but that was about it.  That comes out to about 1 minute of this episode that I actually enjoyed.
I hope the season picks up next week, because this was a truly awful episode.
However, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t run by the grocery store on the way home and grab some pudding.  Thanks for that, Carl.

What I listened to while writing this:

Marissa Nadler – July.  It was snowing when I drove back home, so I threw this on.  Her music always lends itself to winter listening, and this album is no different.  Stark and ghostly songs build to a beautiful finish, while her voice just seems to float over it all.  In a career full of great albums, this may be her best.