A slower-pace and a focus on character development are likely to define the next batch of episodes of The Walking Dead. Personally, I think it’s a good thing that our group has fractured and we’re able to embrace a more short story format for the next little bit. Cherry-picking whom to highlight allows us to actually care about the characters (I’m referring to the ones that have been dropped on us in this season who have little to no development during that atrocious ‘viral outbreak’ arc) and will ultimately serve for a much more engaging show going forward.
I’ve said it several times, but all the ‘talking’ that people griped about in S2, I actually enjoyed. I liked participating in the moral dilemmas and really sitting with the characters, so when they did expire, their deaths had a much stronger impact. So while I’m happy we’re returning to ‘more-talk- less-action’ format in focusing on Michonne (Danai Gurira), Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Carl (Chandler Riggs), I’m still not quite ready to put S4 up there with previous seasons.
I think the problem here is Carl/Chandler Riggs. He carries much of this episode and although he hits on the necessary points of development, it’s just tedious to watch. At the end of the day we know what’s going to unfold, and although Riggs is a capable child actor, he doesn’t do anything to deviate from a predictable formula. It’s completely understandable that Carl is manifesting the traits of the impetuous teenager that he is, but it unfolds in a rather pedestrian way. We can forecast that Carl’s going to lash out at his father and eventually succumbing to the vulnerable child – why else would Carl be such a dick from the moment we see the pair walking? It’s hard to see actual development when you know he’ll eventually take back the harsh words he spews at a comatose Rick. It couldn’t be more textbook than “I’d be fine if you died’, even though in this environment the words hold a more realistic meaning. As I said, it’s necessary that we have this episode and that Carl says these things and comes to realizations that he does, but I can’t say it was the most interesting thing the show had to offer.
Conversely, the develop we get with Michonne is far more interesting. We’re given so much rich information about this character that has taken her time to unfold before us. If we’re looking at who can carry and episode, Gurira is right up to task – she utters no dialogue aside from in the trippy dream sequence, yet we learn a ton about her character. From how she honours Hershel’s (Scott Wilson) zombified head, to the slow buildup of her breakdown before taking out the heard of walkers, Gurira exhibits the layers of emotional baggage that Michonne simply needs to expel before she can rejoin humanity (visually echoed in returning to the footprints in the mud and following them). When she finally does see Rick and Carl through that windowpane, her catharsis is very acutely felt. If we’re able to get story arcs like this going forward, I’d be a happy camper.
- I’m on the fence about the dream sequence. I definitely admire how the plays with temporality are done so deftly, but I was incredibly distracted by Michonne’s horrendous crop top.
- And the ‘Most obvious plot point to be revealed’ award goes to: Michonne having a young son. Shocking.
- Teenagers are really the cruelest human beings. Case in point: Carl mentioning how Shane taught him how to tie a knot while Rick struggles to push a couch, as he is likely BLEEDING INTERNALLY.
What did you think viewers? Does this episode get you stoked for the rest of the season? Do you think the group will be reunited before season’s end? When that does eventually happen (because we all know it will) will Rick reclaim his role as leader? Do you think we’ll ever get the full story about what happened to Michonne’s baby daddy? Let us know your theories in the comments below.
A gentle reminder that we adhere to a SPOILER FREE zone here, so please keep any plot points from the graphic novels to yourself.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9pm EST on AMC.