Walking Dead Recap: Say Hello To The Lonely Road

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“The Walking Dead” returns this week from its pre-Christmas, midseason hiatus and it wastes little time throwing us back into the thick of things.

This episode picks up right where we left off. a Rick Grimes, Michonne and the rest of the Dead Rabbits gang managed to cleanse themselves of the contagion that has gripped their group and were ready to live a life of ease in their zombie-filled planet.

But this peace (and I remind you that it took almost the entire first half of the season to reach this peace) is short lived because The Governor shows back up to fuck up paradise and take it for himself. Or for his group. Or just to stick it to Rick because he hates him. Who the hell knows? We took a meandering detour with The Governor for a few episodes, saw his humanity return for a split second, leave just as quickly and then find itself drowned at the bottom of a lake. Guy grew one sweet beard though.

He attacks the prison folks, with a tank and everything, and gives his life to destroy the life that Rick and his crew had built for themselves. The prison is destroyed, the zombies are overrunning the joint, the Governor is dead and the group is splintered. Now you’re up to speed for this episode! Go you!

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We start this episode with Michonne surveying the aftermath of the prison amongst the invading zombies that were likely attracted by the sound of the fucking tank. You get a glimpse of the crippled vehicle as a reminder of just how stupid the Governor’s plan was in the first place.

Elsewhere we have Rick and Carl moseying down the road and it’s evident from the get go that the younger Grimes is not content in his current situation. Rick has no clue of course because he’s always been a bit of a dullard, not to mention that he’s still feeling the effects of the Governor’s wicked beat down.

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But then we run into zombie Hershel. Or what’s left of him see as the Governor lopped off his head in the mid-season finale (brutal, dickish and stupid. A winning package).

This all weighs heavy on Michonne and the episode plays around with it throughout, providing a nice set piece for both stories to find contrast and eventually converge by the end.

Carl and Rick are on the other end of the spectrum at the moment. Where Michonne is on her own and attempting a return to her previous tactics, Carl and Rick are in uncharted waters. Rick is desperate to keep Carl safe while also relying on what he knows with the group, but Carl is having none of it and wants to break out.

It doesn’t help matters that Rick is severely weakened by his injuries and his mind weakened by loss. Judith is missing and presumed dead, the prison is in shambles and the group is splintered to the point that anything could happen. It’s Rick’s lowest point and the worst moment for Carl to smell the weakness, but he can’t help it.

Carl lashes out and rebels against his father, wishing him to be dead at one point and insinuating he isn’t a true man like Shane, Rick’s former psychotic best friend played by Jon Bernthal until the end of season two. He’s disgusted by his father’s unwillingness to go after the Governor when he had the chance and no longer sees a leader or a protector, he sees a wuss.

After finding a house to hide in, Rick falls unconscious and it gives Carl the opportunity to put his skills to the test and back up his strong words to his father. He heads out a few times to seek out food, running into trouble each time and fending it off with growing confidence. Tough guy.

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But even with Carl going out and flexing his lone wolf muscles a bit, this episode truly belonged to Michonne The key moment came midway through when we finally got a glimpse at what life was like before the zombie apocalypse befell her and her loved ones.

And it’s a wonderful taste too because instead of it being a straight forward flashback like we would get earlier in this series or in “Lost,” it’s a dream sequence. It’s the most David Lynchian thing plopped right into the middle of a “Walking Dead” episode.

But it’s still a telling glimpse for a dream. You see a smiling Michonne, drenched in color, working in a kitchen and taking care of her child while Mike and maybe Terry (??) bicker at a nearby table. It’s jarring at first because it isn’t what you’re used to with Michonne, but I found myself cheering a bit when it happened.

I want to know her backstory from the television series so bad that they could kill Daryl and I’d still come back to watch that episode.

Also it was great to see Aldis Hodge back on my television. I was a little bummed when Leverage ended and he was one of the reasons to even tune into that show. It was a dumb show, but an innocent watch. It shall be missed.

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The flashbacks are a warning sign for Michonne though and a call back to the theme introduced early in this season: you can’t go back. She can’t shake her memories and the loss, seeing her current path in the face of a passing walker, she snaps and murders an entire pack of them in the woods nearby.

Michonne can’t rely on what she once was. It’s not what got her where she is at that point. When she passed road and saw Rick and Carl’s footprints earlier in the episode, she thought she could shrug it and leave it behind. That’s not the case anymore and it finally clicks. So she heads back and seeks out Rick and Carl.

Walking Dead Recap: Say Hello To The Lonely Road

Speaking of Carl, he’s doing pretty well for himself despite a few hiccups. I certainly would’ve eaten an entire fucking can of chocolate pudding too if I had just survived a close encounter with the undead. Especially if the son of a bitch took my shoes.

The real telling point comes when Carl thinks his father has died and is now a zombie. Carl holds up the pistol and attempts to kill the undead Rick that is crawling towards him. The emotions come pouring out in that moment and we see that Carl is still the little boy from season one. He’s not a monster. And he’s certainly not that fucker Shane.

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The two then talk it out and come to an understanding on the future. If anything, this is the nice moment I think we could’ve done without. I know talking about realism in a show about zombies is insane, but this isn’t realistic dammit!

What is real is Michonne finally tracks them down and gets us back on track for the episodes to come. It’s going to be a slow trudge for the next few weeks as we catch up with the entire group and move them closer to our next big set piece. It’s fun when “The Walking Dead” is a roadshow, but it isn’t the most feasible thing to do for a television series.

Next week we get to catch up with Daryl for a bit and see how he’s handling the loss of Carol and the end of life in the prison.

Will Rick ever explain the birds and the bees to young Carl? Is it too late for Michonne to go back to her dream world like in “Inception?” Is “The Walking Dead” nothing more than the final look at a world where Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” is a reality? Do they still sell pudding in a can? I used to love that shit. You’ll have to tune into “The Walking Dead,” Sundays at 9pm on AMC.

TV Show: The Walking Dead

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