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"After" finds The Walking Dead in a more contemplative mode, and provides a fascinating glimpse into Michonne's backstory.
Sunday night's feature focused on Michonne ... and Carl.... Both stories delivered.
Where do you go with a story and characters who know there's no light at the end of the tunnel, just an undead garbage disposal waiting to cut them from the opening credits?
At least for now, "After" is exactly the step The Walking Dead needed to take toward reminding us why we fight, and for the viewers, why we still care who lives and dies.
Robert Kirkman has said that the show is testing out new episode formats in the back half of season four, including some that will focus on only a few characters at a time... It's an admirable goal.
I would not argue with you if you said, "OMG dis ep wuz so BORING!" because large stretches of "After" were, indeed, boring.
"After" is one of the stronger episodes of the season, and for now, it's enough to make one curious about where the next seven chapters are headed.
When Greg Nicotero directs an episode of The Walking Dead, you know you're in for a treat. "After," the first episode of Season 4b, is no exception.
More intriguing was the Michonne subplot, which finally gives us concrete answers - even in the context of dreams with dream logic - about who and what she was before the apocalypse.
It does a terrific job of raising a fundamental question ("Why keep living if this is the world?") and then answering it in a way that doesn't come off as a cheat.
Best of all is a long-awaited glimpse into who Michonne was before the apocalypse.
Carl tried to move forward too quickly and Michonne finally moved backwards too ardently. It wasn't always clear that they would meet in the end, but we have to put our group back together somehow, and this was a very good place to start.
If you thought watching Peyton Manning's legacy getting kneecapped last week was gruesome, you haven't seen anything.