This was not an interesting episode. If After had aired a week after the prison assault, then it might’ve been an acceptable decompression from all the action. But after a mid-season break, what I wanted was some sort of story push. The episode felt like some sort of narrative bottle episode, where all the sets could be used but the story couldn’t go anywhere or use most of the cast. It was as if some junior writer (while wearing his dad’s hat) got to tinker with the show’s universe but wasn’t allowed to touch most of the pieces.
I don’t like Carl; never have, never will. This episode demanded a lot of him. Asking any young actor to carry the weight of an episode is a risky manoeuvre, particularly on a show like Walking Dead where the writing isn’t great.
I’ve been reading about story structure lately and have come to realise how little I understand it. So now I’m trying to pay attention to things like character arcs. When After started and I realised Carl was the star, I thought ‘Let’s see what Carl’s journey is’. He goes from I don’t need your help, Dad, to, I need your help, Dad, his dialogue explaining that in case you missed it. Walking Dead is not a subtle show.
I liked the idea of showing a pre-outbreak Michonne. However, Danai Gurira seemed more comfortable playing the sullen misery-face of present day Michonne than her earlier sassy, happy iteration. Still, the idea was good (and I liked her placing her sword into a knife block). This was also another moment that felt like a scene from Lost.
I know Michonne is the show’s biggest badass, but I dislike how easily she deals with zombies. Making her so powerful requires a bigger foe or plot machinations to put her in peril. Michonne easily decapitated a dozen or more zombies. When will we feel like she’s in trouble with walkers? When a dozen of them becomes two or three dozen? Will she have to fall or get trapped or injured for us to believe she might die? Carl being followed my two shambling zombies was tense because we know he’s not an expert zombie killer, Michonne is the gun at a knife fight.
The prison group are now seasoned survivalists. There must have been a point where they had this conversation: If something happens to this prison and we all have to flee, where should we meet? Maybe Rick, Carl, and Michonne were all heading towards some preordained meeting point, but I never got that impression.
I liked Carl’s message on the bedroom door, something like Zombie in here. Got my shoe, didn’t get me. It’s a hopeful message, and reminds me of the scrawls found across buildings in Left 4 Dead.
Carl sitting out on the roof eating pudding: I would’ve loved if a crowd of zombies quickly formed in the garden below and another broke into the house and he was trapped out there.
I would like family called The Walkers to turn up in this show, and all be bitten and turn with seconds of appearing.