‘The Walking Dead’: Pudding and pop

The Walking Dead
February 9, 2014

HELLO, HELLO, Walking Dead fans. I apologize for the lateness of this recap, but it turns out AMC decided to schedule its Walking Dead winter premiere against the Sochi Winter Olympics, which I happen to also be blogging. And because the Games are newsy and can’t wait, The Walking Dead had to just sit out on the roof with a giant can of pudding and bide its time. (Although I apparently am one of the few viewers who chose The Olympics over walkers. Not that I blame them: The Walking Dead is much less gory than Bob Costas’ gloopy eyes.)

A quick refresher from our last episode: last we saw of Team Prison, they were being attacked by The Governor in Prison Raid 2: The Squeakquel. The Governor is far more successful this time around, and he manages to kill Hershel before busting through the prison’s defenses with a tank. While beating the ever-living stuff and things out of Rick, The Governor was finally stabbed by Michonne and shot in the head by his erstwhile girlfriend. But even though the Big Baddie is finally dead, everyone from Team Prison scatters because SO MANY WALKERS. After finding The Baby’s car seat emptied and bloodied, Carl and Rick hurry into the woods, convinced she is dead. (She is probably not dead.) As to everyone else’s fates: Mystery!

So Carl and Rick, who is worse for wear after the sound beating he took from The Governor, flee from the smoking ruins of the prison through the woods, but not exactly together, as Carl is HELLA MAD at his father and stomping ahead of him. Rick tries to ask his son to slow down — they need to stay together, find shelter, food … but Carl is a honey badger at the moment, and NOT. INTERESTED.

Eventually, they stumble into a diner, where Rick tries to go in alone but Carl is like, OH, STOP IT, and pushes his way inside. There they find a walker trapped directly in front of the diner’s remaining food. Rick pats the walker on the head a few times with an axe, but the axe, it does nothing. So Carl steps forward and shoots the walker in the face, thereby solving the problem. Rick is exasperated that Carl wasted a precious bullet on a walker that could have been taken down with a little more axing. After all, Rick foreshadows, you never know if you’ll need that bullet later. HMM, I WONDER IF CARL WILL NEED THAT BULLET LATER.

The pair load up on the scarce food supplies available, and make their way down the train tracks towards a residential neighborhood that was so wealthy that they once employed a team of robot lawn mowers before the world was taken over by zombies. Solar-powered robot lawn mowers, apparently, as all of the lawns are still perfectly manicured. The house they choose to rest in is, for a refreshing change, completely walker free. Carl explores the previous resident’s teenage bedroom and has a sad for the adolescence he’ll never have. Boo hoo.

And then Carl and Rick argue over food and whether or not to eat now or later and how to secure the door and Carl is all, “SHANE!” in his dad’s bloodied face, and just generally is terrible. He’s so terrible! Quit being terrible, Carl.

The next morning, Carl grabs his gun and a bowl of cereal and waits for his father to wake up. Rick does not wake up. Not even when the walkers begin clawing at the front door. Carl, unable to rouse his father, heads outside to deal with the walkers himself, and leads them down the street while walking backwards, so it is no surprise at all when he stumbles into another walker behind him lurking. HAVE YOU TRIED JUST LOOKING AROUND EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE, DUM-DUM? Struggle struggle fight struggle, and Carl shoots the first two walkers who collapse on top of him, conveniently trapping him for the third walker to nom on. Carl fires blindly at the third walker and manages to hit him, but not after wasting a bunch of bullets, good job, Carl.

Carl stomps back into the house to ACT! brag to his unconscious father that he killed three walkers on his own and saved Rick’s life, and that he doesn’t need Rick anymore. In fact, no one needs Rick, because he couldn’t protect Hersh or Maggie or Glenn or Michonne or Daryl or MOM or THE BABY, all he wanted to do was plant stupid peas and hide behind stupid fences, and in conclusion, UNCONSCIOUS RICK ISN’T MUCH OF A LEADER.


And with that, Carl storms back out of the house again because what’s the point at soliloquizing at someone who won’t respond? Carl rather ineptly breaks into another nice house down the street, where he finds himself a giant can of chocolate pudding (gross) (and also, what family buys 122 ounce cans of chocolate pudding? are they running a secret nursing home in the basement?) and another walker at whom he wastes a bunch of bullets, firing them into the ceiling. COME ON, CARL, LEARN TO AIM. The point is, Carl manages to escape the walker, writes a message on a door inside the house about how a walker stole his shoe, and goes outside on the roof where he eats his disgusting enormous can of chocolate pudding.

Unfortunately, this is not the episode where Carl Learns About Botulism, but instead, he returns to the original house where Rick STILL isn’t awake. In fact, Rick’s breathing becomes loud and creaky and labored and he begins reaching towards Carl in a walkery way, and Carl is just so full of pudding that he can’t bring himself to shoot at his father like he was the ceiling. Instead, he just sits and cries and waits for his father to eat his face. But good news! Rick isn’t a walker: he doesn’t need Carl’s brains, he just needs some Tylenol.

Fortunately, this episode is not merely Carl ACTING! while Rick sleeps on the couch: we also follow Michonne on her stabby journey. Following the fall of the prison, Michonne lured a couple of walkers onto the big sharpened sticks which I am sure have a name but which escapes me at the moment, and turns them into a new set of leashed pets to help her navigate her way through the streams of walkers. But before she leaves the prison once and for all, she puts her sword through Hersh’s reanimated head because, oh, Hersh.

Michonne and her new pets find fresh footprints on a muddy road, but choose to head into the woods, instead, because, I don’t know, she’s traumatized or something. And there, in the woods, Michonne backstories via a dream of her life before everything went zombie. While holding her son, Michonne has a conversation with her original two pets, boyfriend and baby daddy, Mike and some other guy (COMIC ALERT! in the graphic novels, his name is Terry and he’s Mike’s friend) about the nature of art, before it takes a dark turn and Mike begins wondering what even the point is anymore, there’s nothing left for them or their son anymore, what is the answer? why? And then Mike and Friend of Mike are suddenly jaw- and arm-less and Michonne wakes up screaming.

Michonne and New Pets walk amongst a river of other walkers, where she is discomfited by a walker who bears an eerie resemblance to herself. Walking through the zombie woods, walking through the zombie woods, walking through the zombie woods and after a while, Michonne is like, UGH, BORED WITH THIS PLAN, and just cold slices everyone’s heads off.

Michonne then returns to those muddy footprints which she opts to follow this time. They lead her to the diner where Rick and Carl fought about bullets. There, she finds the shot walker and a message from the diner’s owner begging someone to “please do what he couldn’t.” This leads Michonne to have her own soliloquy directed at someone who can’t respond, Mike, where she tells him that she misses him and that he was wrong — she’s still around and both Mike and “he” could have been, too. Oh, and also, she “know[s] the answer. [She] knows why.”

Unfortunately, she does not illuminate the rest of us, instead heading further down the road where she finds the discarded pudding can. This leads her to peek inside the house where Rick is telling Carl that he’s a man now, even though HE MOST CERTAINLY IS NOT. Michonne bursts into tears, knocks at the door; and Rick, peeking through the eye hole, informs his son that it’s for him.

So is this how it’s going to be now? Just straight up boring episodes about pudding and naps and father-son issues? I mean, I guess I could go on here about Michonne and how the woods represent her subconscious where she battles her inner demons and chooses life over becoming a lonely zombie or whatever, or Carl having a similar journey that leads him to realize that he’s not quite the big boy he thinks he is and “live together, die alone”and all that. But I’m guessing you don’t need me to point any of that out to you, considering how heavy-handed the whole business was. SO HEAVY-HANDED. And if this is how it’s going to be now, it’s time to start thinking about an end game, writers. (Bring! Back! Glen Mazzara!)

In short: I’m mad at this episode and I don’t want to talk about it ANY MORE because I was taught that if I don’t have something nice to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. And for perhaps the first time in my life, I’m going to follow that advice.

Let’s hope that next week is 100% more Daryl and 100% less Carl. Because Carl is now officially the worst.

The Walking Dead airs on AMC on Sundays at 8/9 p.m.

This post originally appeared on the Hearst site Tubular.

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